At the World Cinema Showcase, Liverpool then and now. By TIM WONG.

SCANDALOUSLY under-financed and out-of-action since 2000’s The House of Mirth, Terence Davies carries a less-than-sunny disposition into his latest film, Of Time and The City – a sensual, if unusually prickly recollection of hometown memories and bitter resentments. Liverpool, for better or worse, is memorialised through an arrangement of found archival footage and occasional hurdles into the present, to which the city’s earthy brick and mortar is gradually overwritten by municipal concrete tumours, and the endless symmetry of modern, industrial planning. Davies though is far more eloquent as a essayist when moving across time and in between personal transformations – Catholicism to Atheism, pop to classical music (and back again: see soundtrack), growing up gay – than he is unleashing throaty, often monotonous tirades on soul-destroying architecture and Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation.

Formally, Davies’s films are the antithesis of British kitchen-sink malaise, able to thrust the darkest moments into a state of rapturous melancholy. Of Time and The City – commissioned by Liverpool to celebrate its naming as European Capital of Culture last year – instead comes awfully close to wallowing in the filth, with the director’s own irritable, overwrought narration an uncharacteristic and unpoetic blot on an otherwise stirring documentary film. Time, thankfully, has not entirely wrinkled the lyricism and tainted nostalgia of Davies’s filmmaking, and Of Time and The City is still awash with the misty hallmarks of The Long Day Closes and Distant Voices, Still Lives. This Liverpudlian though is less interested in a paean to Old England than he is a grizzly lament for paradise lost. In its place? Anus mundi, proclaims Davies’s churlish, ill-tempered whinge.