Of Time and The City

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Cannes, Out of Competition

CANNES -- A visual tone poem playing Out of Competition, "Of Time and the City" is an absorbing love paean to the city of Liverpool by one-time Liverpudlian Terence Davies. A remembrance of things past, it's also a sobering realization for the filmmaker that past places only dimly still exist.

Invigorated by Davies' salacious free-verse voice-over, even those of us who only associate Liverpool with the Beatles will be moved by his stirring depiction of the rough, working-class river city.

Cinematically akin to James Joyce's "Dubliners," the film's brilliance is that through its depiction of the city's structures and history, the people emerge -- we know them. "Of Time and The City" transcends the mere educational-channel type profile. Poetically composed, with marvelous lumps of wit and perspective, "Of Times and The City" is a masterwork It will shine on the festival circuit and enhance a cable network's selections.

This documentary percolates with the filmmaker's affectionate and sardonic memories of his home city. Archival photos, old news footage and stark cinematic scopings are interlaced with Davies' mordant wit. From the bowels of slums to the claws of church steeples, Davies composes a visual symphony that's both a damnation and a canonization of his city.

Curdled amid Davies deep affections are venomous verbal assaults on institutional hierarchy: The Catholic Church and the royal family are skewered. Davies does not pull punches, but it's obvious that they are inspired by his deep love for the people of Liverpool.

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