Sunday, January 22, 2017

I Heard Voices. . .

"There is something sinister about film. In film we remember events as if they had taken place and we were there. But we were not." -- Norman Mailer
Can any currently working American director even approach this moment?

Not by a light year.

Terence Davies is the greatest British filmmaker we've had, not named Hitchcock. Beginning in '76, his output is spare: three shorts, five features, and a documentary. (Almost paralleling the greatest living U.S. director, Charles Burnett, also since the 70s: six shorts, six features, two docs. The Coen Boys and Ronnie Howard? 48 features combined since '84. )

Has any other director ever shown such awe and respect before the magic and transfigurations of popular culture -- popular culture at its most earnest, passionate, beautiful, sweet, and simple? Such love of particular place and time, misshapen faces and bodies, of the individual voice?

His first feature is a masterpiece of memory, a ribbon of immanent moments, before which the director's cranes, tracks and tableaus genuflect: Davies's Liverpool family of the 1940s and 50s.
We'll never see the likes of this again.

Distant Voices, Still Lives (1988)