Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Greetings from Tim Buckley

Directed by Daniel Algrant and written by Algrant, Emma Sheanshang, and David Brendal, Greetings from Tim Buckley is the story of a 1991 tribute concert for the cult folk singer as one of those who would attend and perform at the concert is his son Jeff. The film is a dramatic account into Jeff Buckley’s legendary 1991 performance as he would cope with the legacy of the man he never knew as Penn Badgley plays Jeff and Ben Rosenfield stars as Jeff’s father Tim. Also starring Imogen Poots and William Sadler. Greetings from Tim Buckley is a somber yet exhilarating film from Daniel Algrant.

The film revolves around the 1991 tribute concert to the folk singer Tim Buckley in which his son Jeff would make a public debut that would eventually be a springboard of sorts for his own career. While the concert is partially-dramatized, the film is mostly about the weekend leading up to this concert where Jeff Buckley not only copes with the legacy of his father but also the fact that he never really knew his father as he only met him twice in his lifetime. It is essentially a dramatic account about what Jeff Buckley must’ve been going through in the days leading up to this tribute concert for his father. The script also has this paralleling storyline which revolves around Tim Buckley trying to make it in the folk music scene as he is sleeping around with women while getting messages from people who knew his first wife that his son is about to born.

Though the narrative is a bit uneven at times, it does play into Jeff’s struggle over his father as he is surrounded by people who aren’t just fans of his work but also the few that actually knew Tim. One of the people that Jeff meets is a young woman named Allie (Imogen Poots) who is a fan of her father’s work as she would spend time with Jeff as they would go to places including the town and home where his father lived as a boy. All of which plays into Jeff not only trying to know who his father is but also to try and comprehend into why he wasn’t there and had died at such a young age without much to show for other than his music.

Daniel Algrant’s direction is quite simple in terms of the compositions that are created as the concert is shot on the actual location where it took place which is St. Ann’s Church in Brooklyn as it would be the film’s centerpiece. Much of it is shot on location in New York City with some shots set in California as well as upstate New York as it plays into Jeff’s journey to find out more about his father. There’s a few wide shots as Algrant aims for something that is more realistic and intimate that includes a key scene where Jeff and Gary Lucas (Frank Wood), jam as they would eventually create something that would become one of Jeff’s songs. The concert sequence is presented with some wide and medium shots plus a few close-ups and hand-held camera moments as it would feature a recreation of Jeff singing Once I Was by his father as it’s one of the film’s most chilling moments. Overall, Algrant creates a very engaging yet compelling film about Jeff Buckley’s journey into knowing and paying tribute to a man he never knew.

Cinematographer Andrij Parekh does excellent work with the film‘s cinematography as it‘s very straightforward for much of the daytime exterior scenes while using some stylish lights and moods for the interior/exterior scenes at night. Editor Bill Pankow does nice work with the editing as it‘s quite straightforward with some jump-cuts and montages to play into Jeff struggling with the memory of his father. Production designer John Paino and set decorator Robert Covelman do superb work with the look of the clubs that Tim played as well as some of the decorations and stage setting for the film’s climatic concert.

Costume designer David C. Robinson does terrific work with the costumes as it‘s mostly casual to play up the early 90s look as well as the look for some of the characters in the Tim Buckley sequences. Sound editor Dave Paterson does brilliant work with the sound from the way instruments sound during rehearsal as well as the atmosphere of the concert itself. The film’s music largely consists of songs by Tim Buckley that includes his own originals as well as performances of his songs that include vocal performances by Kate Nash, Frankie Bello of the seminal thrash-metal band Anthrax, and Penn Badgley in their respective roles plus a couple of covers of Jeff’s songs sung by Badgley as well as a few folk-based score pieces by Gary Lucas.

The casting by Avy Kaufman is amazing as it features appearances from Frankie Bello as punk-rock legend Richard Hell, Frank Wood as the musician Gary Lucas who would become a future collaborator of Jeff’s, Norbert Leo Butz as the concert organizer Hal Wilner, Kate Nash as one of the concert’s performers in Carol, Jennifer Turner and Jann Close as a couple of concert performers, Jessica Stone as one of Tim’s lovers in Janine, and William Sadler as the famed folk musician Lee Underwood who actually knew Tim as he tries to tell Jeff some things about his father. Ben Rosenfield is excellent as Tim Buckley as the folk musician in his early years as he tries to make it as he copes with the idea that he’s becoming a father.

Imogen Poots is brilliant as Allie as a young woman who is a fan of Tim’s music as she gets to know Jeff as she tries to understand his feelings towards his father. Finally, there’s Penn Badgley in an incredible performance as the late Jeff Buckley as a young man trying to cope with the father he never really knew as well as trying to pay tribute to him in a concert as Badgley has an amazing singing voice as he definitely captures the wailing falsetto of Jeff without trying to imitate it.

Greetings from Tim Buckley is an excellent film from Daniel Algrant that features a phenomenal performance from Penn Badgley. Along with a superb supporting performance from Imogen Poots and a killer music soundtrack, the film isn’t just a compelling piece about a moment in time that would be a catalyst for Jeff Buckley’s brief but celebrated career but also into the music of his father Tim. In the end, Greetings from Tim Buckley is a marvelous film from Daniel Algrant.

© thevoid99 2015


Dell said...

I kept seeing this title pop up here and there but had no clue what it was about. It sounds interesting, though. Adding it to the to-watch list.

thevoid99 said...

I would see this if you're a fan of the works of Tim & Jeff Buckley while the story itself is still very interesting as it relates to the journey Jeff Buckley took in that year.

Ruth said...

This sounds interesting. I've only seen Penn Badgley in Margin Call, he didn't impress me, looks like some kid in a boy band. Glad to hear he's quite good here.

thevoid99 said...

@ruth-He is really good. I actually liked him in Margin Call. I think he's actually underrated.