TIFF 2012 Yellow and Greetings from Tim Buckley Reviews (Kirk Haviland)

Photo from http://www.tiff.net

Yellow (2012)

Starring Heather Wahlquist, Sienna Miller, David Morse, Gena Rowlands, Melanie Griffith, Lucy Punch, Max Theriot, Ray Liotta and Daveigh Chase

Written by Heather Wahlquist and Nick Cassavetes

Directed by Nick Cassavetes

Mary (Wahlquist) is a substitute teacher who flounders through her days with nonsensical daydreams and sneaking out to her car to drink mini-bar sized bottles of alcohol and pop at least 30 pain pills a day. Her shrink, or so we believe him to be, thinks she’s over-medicated and her complaints of not being able to feel anything stem from this. When Mary disappears into a broom closet to have sex with the parent of a student during a PTA meeting, even she knows she has gone too far. Broke after being fired by the school, she packs up her car and sets out alone on a road trip back to see her family to confront old demons and get her life back.

Photo from http://www.tiff.net

Yellow is a departure for Cassavetes as it is way more fanciful than I can remember him being. The movie is basically a vehicle for its lead actress Wahlquist and proves to be a star making type role. Wahlquist is terrific as Mary, her performance taking her from what could have easily been a despicable person and makes her sympathetic and engaging. The fantasy sequences work well for the most part, there are a couple that aren’t as strong and the end sequence doesn’t completely work, but Cassavetes shows a capable hand behind the camera for staging animated and CGI sequences. Blessed with a fantastic supporting cast that fills out the script, Griffith shines as the mother who would rather ignore than deal with the past, the weaker scripted second half benefits from their efforts. The strong lead performance is more than enough to see the film. Yellow is a recommend.

Photo from http://www.tiff.net

Greetings from Tim Buckley (2012)

Starring Penn Badgley, Imogen Poots, Ben Rosenfeld and William Sadler

Written by Emma Sheanshang, Dan Algrant and David Brendel

Directed by Dan Algrant

In Greetings from Tim Buckley director Dan Algrant follows a  young Jeff Buckley (Badgley) in the days leading up to his 1991 performance at his father’s tribute concert in St. Ann’s Church. Jeff develops an immediate attraction with Allie (Poots), a young woman working at the concert. With the help of Allie, Jeff finds himself coming face to face with a lifetime of mixed feelings about his absent father and their bond, which consists almost entirely of music.  Algrant juxtaposes Jeff’s entry into his father’s world with scenes of Tim (Rosenfeld) in his heyday, which was also his decline. The film builds to the performance night and a stirring encore delivered by Jeff himself.

Photo from http://www.tiff.net

Greetings works mainly due to the strengths of it leads. The film is not horribly original in context or execution, we’ve seen this before in other docu-dramas, but the context is unique in that it has no inclination to examine the coming stardom of Jeff. Instead it keeps the focus of the story years before his landmark album Grace. Even his drowning in 1997 is left to a simple end title card sequence. Badgley is terrific as Jeff, matched only by the mesmerizing work of Poots. The chemistry between the two is palpable and makes the scenes between the two so much stronger than the rest of the film. Sadler is criminally underutilized here as one of Tim’s former band members and best friend, there for the concert as well. The music is the other star of the film, using mainly Tim’s songs not Jeff’s, as we see through the talent of the father what may have become of the son. Like Yellow, Greetings from Tim Buckley is worth tracking down for the performances alone. Greetings is a recommend.

Till Next Time,

Movie Junkie TO

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