I watched this again recently and really changed my opinion about it. The first time I liked some of it, but was left slightly disappointed. On rewatch however I found it mesmerisingly beautiful. A superb combination of image, music and voice.
(3 & a half) Sharp, sarcastic, mordant, vicious; and yet heartfelt and personal, not unlike an old man tearfully re-telling the low-points of a 50 year marriage to keep himself from being torn apart by longing and sorrow now that his spouse has died. Terence Davies asks "asleep or dead?"--I don't know, but certainly not forgotten.
A languid, lugubrious lope down memory lane, Of Time and the City is neither particularly probing about Liverpool's post-war history nor notably revealing about Davies' own overlapping story as it played out there. The voice-over, moreover, can wax ponderously florid. But as a hazy dream of a tone poem, it works. The tenor of tender bafflement and gentle regret in the face of inexorable change holds true to the end.
Terence Davies' documentary portrait of his native Liverpool manages a strange hypnotic quality through its blending of archival footage, personal anecdote, and overly-poetic narration. It's not without its overwrought moments, but it manages to stay compelling throughout and has a number of inspired images.
Through meticulously selected imagery and narratives, Davies crafts a timeless cinematic language that captures his voice, memories and subconscious. If only other filmmakers had such a brilliant capacity.