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Wednesday, February 04, 2009
PIFF film # 2 - Of Time and the City
You know you're in for some pure art house arrogance when a documentary opens not only with a pair of theater curtains parting but a lengthy James Joyce quote. Director Terence Davies' love letter to his lost youth and the Liverpool of yore is certainly heartfelt and the historical footage he acquired is nothing short of amazing. The film weaves together hypnotic clips of bonfires, beauty contests, boardwalks, piers and slums. Unfortunately, his heavy-handed narration adds a lofty, pompous air to the proceedings, making the whole thing feel like a lecture from a grandparent that not only thinks everything in human history that happened after 1962 is completely awful but who also not-so secretly hates you.
For Davies, post WW2-era Liverpool was nothing short of a paradise that was a cultural epicenter until those pesky Beatles came along and ruined everything. Yes, he actually bashes the Fab Four and admits that, as a teenager growing up in the city, their songs turned him off from rock music forever. Different strokes for different folks, I guess. He also makes the mistake of including ill-fitting music over several sequences. I'm still wondering why he decided to slap the Hollies 1969 hit "He Ain't Heavy" over footage of the Korean War.