Davies. Terence Davies delivers the harsh realities of life in a swooningingly lyrical style. His resume includes a top 500 film, 3 films in the top 100 of their respective decade (and The Long Day Closes and The House of Mirth aren’t far off from making it 5). Davies makes clear and consistent aesthetic choices as well. He makes period films that feel like they’re evoked reminiscences rather than reality (even though they are often dismal and dark). There is a vintage crisp photography and immaculate mise-en-scene staging with each film.
Best film: Distant Voices, Still Lives. Still his most boldly visionary and greatest work.
total archiveable films: 5
top 100 films: 0
top 500 films: 1 (Distant Voices, Still Lives)
top 100 films of the decade: 3 (Distant Voices, Still Lives, Sunset Song, The Deep Blue Sea)
most overrated: I hesitate to say it as I really need two viewings of any Davies’ film (the second viewing of Sunset Song solidified it for me) but I wasn’t blown away by for first viewing of A Quiet Passion and that is #16 of 2016 on the TSPDT consensus list of the best films of the 21st century. Perhaps coming off of 2015’s Sunset Song just the previous year I was bringing that baggage/expectations in and was too hard on it. Davies has two films in the TSPDT top 1000 overall list and I’m good with those- Distant Voices, Still Lives and The Long Day Closes.
most underrated: Sunset Song easily! I have it as #52 of the 2010’s decade and, unbelievably, it cannot even find a slot on the TSPDT top 1000 of the 21st century- damn. It is shot in 65mm and look at the results— spectacularly luminescent.
gem I want to spotlight: The Long Day Closes. It confirms the brilliance of Davies’ and proves that Distant Voices, Still Lives wasn’t going to be his last word. Davies’ adds these superb overhead shots to his formal repertoire of shot choices.
stylistic innovations/traits: Davies’ seems to be inspired by memory and antique photography. There’s almost a texture to them. The décor of his films is painstakingly curated and it pays off—some of the richest mise-en-scenes in recently cinematic history. He often goes to the tableau shots (Greenaway did this around the same time, Wes Anderson after, Dreyer at times before). The content of his films (you have to mention the brilliant formal choice of the singing in Distant Voices, Still Lives) are often about the hardships of reality (poverty, abuse) while his photography is on par with the greatest of auteurs. It was extremely easy to find these images on the page—what was harder was to limit it down to less than 20 standouts.
- Distant Voices, Still Lives
- Sunset Song
- The Deep Blue Sea
- The Long Day Closes
- The House of Mirth
By year and grades
|1988- Distant Voices, Still Lives||MS|
|1992- The Long Day Closes||HR|
|2000- The House of Mirth||HR|
|2011- The Deep Blue Sea||HR|
|2015- Sunset Song||HR/MS|
*MP is Masterpiece- top 1-3 quality of the year film
MS is Must-see- top 5-6 quality of the year film
HR is Highly Recommend- top 10 quality of the year film
R is Recommend- outside the top 10 of the year quality film but still in the archives