Of Time and The City
"If Liverpool did not exist, it would have to be invented." So opens arthouse director Terrence Davies's documentary on his native city. It's unclear, however, why this isn't at the closing credits as Davies doesn't show it in the best of light and skims over what makes the city stand out. Of Time And The City has a lot in common with Guy Maddin's recent My Winnipeg: Where Maddin's was a jack-of-all-trades documentary when it came to style and reinvented the documentary in the process, Davies too has a different approach, using poetry as a voiceover; both documentaries are niche-niche, appealing to little outside their respective areas; and both too are very personal projects, detailing how their city shaped them as people. More importantly, however, is that both are boring more often than not. Scraping together tons of footage, Davies takes us through a 20th century Liverpool, showing us the hubbub of the docks and leads us down slum back alleys and through schoolyards of the '40s, the building of high rise flats in the '50s (flats that would become crime-ridden within twenty years), and into the '60s explosion of The Beatles and the trophy winning exploits of Liverpool FC (not one shot of Bill Shankly, it must be noted). All vignettes are breathlessly short (sometimes even seconds) as Davies scoots through the city's contemporary history, except when it comes to the underprivileged. The director loves to spent time with the slum-dwellers, when he should have spent more time with the mop-tops and the Kop - two symbols synonymous with the city. There's a twenty minute segment in the middle of Davies's documentary that would work perfectly for a half-hour TV documentary, but to recommend forking out money to see this on the big screen is a hard push considering the economy's current climate.
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