The Rage in Placid Lake: Special Edition (2003)

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Released 11-Aug-2004

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy Main Menu Introduction
Main Menu Audio & Animation
Audio Commentary-Director, Producer And Rose Byrne (Actor)
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-Livin' The Dream
Interviews-Cast & Crew
Featurette-Q &A Session With Tony McNamara And Ben Lee
Alternative Version-Alternate Beginning, With Optional Commentary
Notes-Placid Lake Vs The World Comic Strip
Theatrical Trailer
Biographies-Cast & Crew
Gallery-Photo
Trailer-Loves Brother, Erskineville Kings, Japanese Story
Trailer-I'm With Lucy
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2003
Running Time 86:25 (Case: 90)
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Tony McNamara
Studio
Distributor

Twentieth Century Fox
Starring Ben Lee
Rose Byrne
Miranda Richardson
Garry McDonald
Christopher Stollery
Nicholas Hammond
Francis McMahon
Saskia Smit
Toby Schmitz
Nathaniel Dean
Stephen James King
Socratis Otto
Jordan Brooking
Case ?
RPI $36.95 Music Cezary Skubiszewski
Ben Lee


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (384Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

Australian musician Ben Lee has had his detractors over the last few years. He's been labelled pretentious and precocious by some, mainly due to a few of the things he has said in public. One of his better known comments was the rather odd statement made in 1998 when he declared that his just released album Breathing Tornados was the greatest Australian album ever released. This smug and arrogant attitude won him few friends and opened him up to a whole range of criticism from many in the industry who labelled him a precocious brat who had been signed to a record company since the age of 14, had released a couple of competent (if not overly successful) albums, and dated Hollywood starlet Claire Danes, but who had not really achieved all that much.

So imagine the surprise of many when Mr Lee, not just content with producing the greatest Aussie album of all time decided turned his hand to acting. And not just a support role like many of his musician contemporaries, but rather the lead role and title character of this quirky Australian film. Would this be the greatest acting performance ever? I don't think even the usually bold Ben Lee would be making that prediction this time around.

The Rage In Placid Lake is not only the film debut by Lee, but also the first movie by Sydney theatre director Tony McNamara, who is also responsible for writing some of the episodes of The Secret Life Of Us. It is based on McNamara's play The Cafe Latte Kid and is a dark comedy take on Australian middle class society and what it means to fit the norm.

Placid Lake (Ben Lee) is not your average high school kid and is most certainly not normal. Having grown up with a pair of hippie parents, who not only gave him a very peculiar first name, but forced him to challenge everything from gender roles (his mother makes him attend his first day of primary school wearing a dress) to not fighting back when he is regularly beaten up at school by all manner of bullies. Placid takes all of this beating in his stride and doesn't even attempt to fit the norms of his school. He seems to take pride in his being different and actually revels in it on occasion. He has few friends apart from the geeky Gemma (Rose Byrne), who is in a similar situation to Placid with her above average intelligence making her different to most of the girls at school.

With the final year of school about to end and after a particularly nasty incident with some school bullies who Placid has just humiliated in the most extraordinary way only he could, our hero finds his life about to head off in a rather different direction. He suddenly decides that he has had enough of being different and wants to conform to mainstream society's expectations. This means a new haircut (modelled on George W. Bush if you don't mind), a new suit, and a job. But it's not just any sort of job. Placid has found a position with an insurance company and will head off to work each day with all the other suits to perform one meaningless task after another. His parents (played with relish by Garry McDonald and Miranda Richardson) are horrified. This is not the Placid they raised, so in between getting caught up in their own selfish anxieties they set about trying to make him see the error of his ways. Gemma is also horrified, especially when a smitten and over-sexed work colleague of Placid's starts making advances towards the new boy in the office. Despite Gemma's insistence that her relationship with Placid is purely platonic, she feels some pangs of jealousy towards this new woman in his life.

Will Placid maintain this falsehood of a life in the corporate world or will he realise that he is different and that he doesn't need to conform just to fit in? This often witty, sometimes dark, yet often deeply resonating tale of mainstream acceptance and finding your place in the wide world will enlighten and entertain despite being a little hit and miss with the comedic angle at times.

The verdict? Well Ben Lee can actually act. Even if he is just playing a slightly nerdier version of himself, the effort here is not as dismal as I was expecting. Sure the writing helps him along a great deal with a host of witty monologues that require nothing more than a dead-pan delivery style. It's maybe not the greatest Australian acting performance ever - but you've got to start somewhere.

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Transfer Quality

Video

This is a rather nice looking video transfer with no real problems to report.

It is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1 and is 16x9 enhanced.

This is a nicely detailed transfer with heaps of saturated bright colours and no issues with edge enhancement or shadow detail.

Compression artefacts are absent, as are any major film-to-video artefacts. The source used is also clean of major film artefacts.

Unfortunately there are no subtitles. This is a real shame.

This is a dual layered disc but the main feature is located solely on one layer. As a result there is no layer change.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

There are two audio soundtracks on this disc. The first is an English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack and is of course the main soundtrack of choice. It is joined by an English Dolby Digital 2.0 commentary soundtrack.

This is a fairly front heavy soundtrack that, while featuring a few nice sound effects, is dominated by dialogue. Said dialogue is extremely well placed and balanced in the overall mix and there are no audio sync problems.

The score by Cezary Skubiszewski suits the off-beat nature of the film exceedingly well.

There is not a significant amount of rear channel activity, and likewise the subwoofer is called upon only occasionally.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Main Menu Introduction

Main Menu Audio & Animation

Audio Commentary - Tony McNamara (Director), Marian MacGowan (Producer), Rose Byrne (Actor)

A fairly informative and entertaining commentary that deals with plenty of behind-the-scenes activity and other various filming anecdotes.

Featurette-Behind The Scenes

Best described as a behind-the-scenes featurette that mirrors the quirkiness of the film. This incredibly off-beat feature is called Livin' The Dream and is in no way like anything you would have seen before. Interviews with many of the cast and crew are included, but the questions and answers are rather strange and virtually no one is taking things seriously. For example Ben Lee is asked about the biggest challenge he faced while making the film. The answer - having to shave every day and maintain a high personal hygiene level! Runs for 10:01.

Interviews-Cast & Crew

20:55 of interviews with the principal cast including Ben Lee, Miranda Richardson, Garry McDonald, Nicholas Hammond and Rose Byrne. All pretty much the usual sort of thing we are accustomed to with interviews, but at least they are of a decent length.

Featurette - Q &A Session With Tony McNamara And Ben Lee

This is easily the best extra on the disc. In August 2003 the film was shown at the Cinema Nova in Melbourne and then the audience was asked to participate in a question and answer session with director Tony McNamara and star Ben Lee. Hosted by film reviewer Laurie Zion, this is an informal session that provides a wealth of information, some real laughs, and proof that Ben Lee is not such a pretentious arrogant t*** after all. Runs for 29:04.

Alternative Version

An alternate set of opening scenes to the film that runs for a whopping 17:29 and is available to play with or without commentary from the director.

Notes

A rather bizarre (and quite risqu) set of comic strips called Placid Lake versus the World. There are six strips in total, all quite nicely drawn, that feature Placid in a series of situations that mirror the film.

Theatrical Trailer

A quirky and quite funny trailer, this one runs for 2:23 and is presented in the modified aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is not 16x9 enhanced. After seeing this at the cinema before the film had been released and thinking it looked quite funny, I now realise that almost all the good jokes and funny situations are included in this trailer.

Biographies-Cast & Crew

Detailed biographies for the principal cast and crew.

Gallery-Photo

A swag of really nice looking full colour photos that utilise the full 1.78:1 frame of the screen.

Trailer

Bonus trailers for Love's Brother, Erskineville Kings, Japanese Story, and I'm With Lucy.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

This title has yet to be released in Region 1.

Summary

The Rage In Placid Lake is a quirky Australian film that focuses on one young man's journey to fit in with the norms of society. Having been brought up by incredibly off-beat and somewhat selfish hippy parents and with few friends, his task of becoming normal will be a challenge. A job with an insurance company will probably just about do the trick. A somewhat larger-than-life performance by Ben Lee and some terrific assistance from the supporting cast including Garry McDonald and Miranda Richardson are the highlights of this somewhat hit and miss film.

The video and audio transfer are of superb quality.

The extra material included here is of excellent quality and quantity, with the 30 minute question and answer session being the pick of the bunch.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Darren Walters (It's . . . just the vibe . . . of my bio)
Tuesday, September 21, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDLoewe Xemix 5106DO, using RGB output
DisplayLoewe Calida (84cm). Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL). This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL).
AmplificationHarmon/Kardon AVR7000.
SpeakersFront - B&W 602S2, Centre - B&W CC6S2, Rear - B&W 601S2, Sub - Energy E:xl S10

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