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Greetings from Tim Buckley DVD Review

Greetings from Tim Buckley (2013) movie poster Greetings from Tim Buckley

Theatrical Release: May 3, 2013 / Running Time: 104 Minutes / Rating: Not Rated

Director: Dan Algrant / Writers: Dan Algrant, David Brendel, Emma Sheanshang

Cast: Penn Badgley (Jeff Buckley), Imogen Poots (Allie), Ben Rosenfield (Tim Buckley), Frank Wood (Gary Lucas), Jennifer Turner (Jen), Kate Nash (Carol), Isabelle McNally (Jane), William Sadler (Lee Underwood), Norbert Leo Butz (Hal Willner), Jadyn Strand (Young Linda), Frank Bello (Richard Hell), Jessica Stone (Janine Nichols), Tyler Gilham (Young Lee)

Buy Greetings from Tim Buckley from Amazon.com: DVD Instant Video

There are numerous ways to measure a dead musician's hold over the public, including enduring media coverage and posthumous album sales and downloads. A less reliable way of assessing interest is by looking at the existence of a biopic and the impact it has, for this doesn't always convey a singer's fame and legacy.
For instance, Johnny Cash and Ray Charles lent to major Academy Award-winning theatrical releases last decade, while the story of Elvis Presley has somehow always been relegated to television and no one seemed to care about Nowhere Boy's dramatization of John Lennon's adolescence. The individual subject can only take a film so far. Beyond that, it is up to the story, the cast and filmmakers to attract interest.

This is my roundabout way of saying that just because Greetings from Tim Buckley never played in more than three theaters doesn't mean that people have stopped caring about its subjects, the prematurely deceased folk-jazz singer/songwriter Buckley and Jeff, the son that followed in his footsteps.

In "Greetings from Tim Buckley", Jeff Buckley (Penn Badgley) mockingly imitates every musical act Allie (Imogen Poots) points out to him in a record shop.

Primarily set in April 1991, Greetings therefore focuses chiefly on Jeff Buckley (Penn Badgley), a 24-year-old Angelino enlisted to contribute to a tribute concert for his prolific father, who died of a drug overdose in 1975 at age 28. Jeff shows up at the concert's unlikely venue, St. Ann's Church in Brooklyn, where everyone comments on the resemblance he bears to his father.

Jeff's feelings towards Tim are complicated. Although their lives overlapped by nearly ten years, Jeff hardly saw his father, who was so dedicated to his music he released nine albums before his young death. Jeff knows his father's music and music in general, having been around it his whole life. But he's never covered his father's songs or been asked to. The large shadow cast by his revered, romanticized absentee father hangs over this young man, who agrees to partake in the concert nonetheless.

While preparing for the show, a romance sparks between Jeff and Allie (Imogen Poots), an intern with a "huge, huge crush" on his father. We also occasionally journey back to 1966, when a 29-year-old Tim Buckley (Ben Rosenfield) sings and cheats on his pregnant wife, whom he thinks hates his music.

Tim Buckley (Ben Rosenfield), curly-haired icon of his generation, is depicted in the occasional scene set in 1966. Much of the film's attention goes to Allie (Imogen Poots), a concert intern and love interest invented for the film.

Greetings produces an unusual mixed reaction. While you gain from it an appreciation for the real subjects, especially Jeff, who went on to record one successful album before his 1997 drowning, the movie isn't all that easy to like. The romance is a pure invention seemingly designed only to allow Jeff to voice his inner conflict. Casting an actor to play the elder Buckley feels all wrong, as it humanizes a character who is supposed to feel distanced and larger than life. Even if, like me, you aren't all that familiar with Tim Buckley, you likely know enough to recognize
he shouldn't be reduced to this unflattering secondary portrayal that Rosenfield, whose singing is overdubbed by Jann Klose, cannot do justice.

Much time is devoted to recreating the 1991 concert (whose title is borrowed), Jeff's public singing debut and the performance that ultimately launched his own short but celebrated career. Both as a singer and as an actor, Badgley does a more impressive job filling this lead role than you'd think possible of someone made famous by "Gossip Girl." Poots' natural English accent disappears in the somewhat thankless co-lead love interest role.

Greetings keeps director Dan Algrant on his one movie every ten years schedule, with this becoming only his third feature credit, following the 1993 indie Naked in New York and the little-known Al Pacino drama People I Know (2002). Algrant, who also shares screenplay credit with first-timers David Brendel and Emma Sheanshang, does not seem able to hide the time off, his direction at times seeming dull or detached, but there's enough intrigue in the film's focuses to drum up some viewer interest. Just not that much interest, as after making the festival rounds starting with Toronto 2012, the film had to settle for that limited big screen engagement here, before making its way to foreign markets.

It hits DVD today from theatrical distributor Tribeca Film and their home video partner Cinedigm.

Greetings from Tim Buckley DVD cover art -- click to buy from Amazon.com DVD Disc Details

2.40:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Dolby Digital 5.1 (English), Dolby Stereo 2.0 (English)
Subtitles: None
Closed Captioned; Extras Not Subtitled or Captioned
Release Date: September 17, 2013
Single-sided, dual-layered disc (DVD-9)
Suggested Retail Price: $26.95
Black Keepcase in Cardboard Slipcover
Also available on Amazon Instant Video


The DVD's 2.40:1 transfer makes the film's independent nature apparent. The sometimes dark and grainy picture obviously lacks the definition of Blu-ray and of bigger studio fare, but it serves the material well enough. Full of Tim Buckley songs, the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack is sufficiently lively and expansive, though you'll have to be sure to select it, as an alternate Dolby 2.0 stereo mix is chosen by default. Regrettably, the disc opts for closed captions instead of subtitles, which will be inaccessible to the many watching on an HDMI cable these days.

Director and screenwriter Daniel Algrant speaks from the real St. Ann's Church in Brooklyn Heights, where he shot his third feature film. Green sweatered actress Imogen Poots is one of three briefly interviewed in the DVD's short making-of featurette.


The only extra is a short piece (3:08) comprised of on-set interviews of Penn Badgley, director Daniel Algrant, and Imogen Poots. They discuss the material and the actors' roles with little room for major insight or any aftertaste.

The disc opens with trailers for Janie Jones, The Comedy, Somebody Up There Likes Me, and Detachment.

The static, silent menus unremarkably employ imagery from the film.

The uncut black Eco-Box keepcase holds an insert promoting other Tribeca Film releases and is topped by a slipcover reproducing the same artwork.

Jeff Buckley (Penn Badgley) closes the St. Ann's Church tribute to his father with a star-making acoustic cover of "Once I Was."


While Greetings from Tim Buckley seems unlikely to garner much attention beyond fans of either Buckley and Penn Badgley, it's a moderately compelling drama that holds your interest despite some questionable aspects about its design. This light platter lends to a rental for those with interest.

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Reviewed September 17, 2013.

Text copyright 2013 DVDizzy.com. Images copyright 2013 Tribeca Film, Focus World, Celluloid Dreams, From A to Z, Smugger Films, Cinedigm, and New Video.
Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.