The Upside of Anger (2005)

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Released 5-Oct-2005

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Main Menu Audio & Animation
Trailer-The Longest Yard, Bewitched, Beauty Shop
Interviews-Cast-Kevin Costner, Joan Allen, Mike Binder
Interviews-Cast-Round Table-Erika Christensen, Evan Rachel Wood,Keri Russell
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2005
Running Time 111:55
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (82:38) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Mike Binder
Studio
Distributor
Media 8
Sony Pictures Home Entertain
Starring Joan Allen
Kevin Costner
Erika Christensen
Evan Rachel Wood
Keri Russell
Alicia Witt
Mike Binder
Tom Harper
Dane Christensen
Danny Webb
Magdalena Manville
Suzanne Bertish
David Firth
Case ?
RPI $39.95 Music Alexandre Desplat


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
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

    The first thing that struck me when The Upside Of Anger arrived for review was...what is it about Kevin Costner and baseball? Following on from his roles in Bull Durham, Field of Dreams and For Love Of The Game, The Upside Of Anger sees Costner in the role of Denny Davies, a washed up baseball star who is forced to spend his days as a radio show host and hocking signed memorabilia baseballs to make a living.
   
    But don't be mistaken into thinking this film is about Costner and his self-indulgence for baseball. It isn't and he is not even the star here - Joan Allen is. Allen is Terry Wolfmeyer, a middle-aged housewife whose world is turned upside down when her husband disappears, presumably to Sweden with his lovely Swedish secretary, leaving Terry and their four teenaged daughters to fend for themselves. Terry's mood turns to extreme anger and she in turn takes to the bottle. Terry's daughters - Hadley (Alicia Witt), Emily (Keri Russell), Andy (Erika Christensen) and Popeye (Evan Rachel Wood) - are all concerned for the wellbeing of their distraught and drinking mother, but also have their own troubles to deal with in what is now a female dominated house.

    Enter Denny Davies (Costner), a former major league baseball star who has obviously been a friend of both Terry and her husband for several years. He's obviously also harboured a bit of a thing for Terry, as no sooner does he learn that Mr Wolfmeyer has done a runner than he move in on the vulnerable Terry. Terry eventually responds, but still harbours some intense anger about her runaway husband, taking it out on all who cross her path. These include her now pregnant and soon to be married eldest daughter, her soon to be son-in-law and his parents, and Denny's boss from the radio station, the lecherous Shep Goodman (Mike Binder), who has a fling with Terry's daughter Andy. Throw in health issues with Terry's other daughter Emily, and the youngest daughter Popeye who is trying to experiment with sex and drugs and Terry has a lot on her plate. But like the title of the film, all this pent-up anger has an upside, as she is about to find out.

    There are some good characterisations here with plenty of complexity to each of the women and the affable Costner. He plays the downtrodden former baseball star with a drink problem quite well and leaves no hint of an ego anywhere. He's essentially a good guy trying to bring some sanity to the chaotic world of the Wolfmeyer women. You are going to either love or hate the ending, which does come a little unexpected, but does provoke some interesting moral discussion about the decisions we make based on our emotions at the time they occur.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    Oh dear, just what is going on here. In a major step backwards to the dark days of early DVD releases, this disc is a major disappointment with the video transfer presented in the incorrect aspect ratio.

    The video on offer here comes in an aspect ratio of 1.78: and is 16x9 enhanced. This is in direct contrast with the original theatrical ratio of 2.35:1. This has left several scenes feeling very cramped, while others instantly look cropped and scanned. Consider the scene in the restaurant at 44:44 where the image is unable to fit all the actors in and pans to the left, then right and back again several times, or the scene with Popeye and Denny in the car at 78:56, where the sides of their heads are positioned on the extreme edge of the frame and the frame moves to fit them both in. How this treatment could even be contemplated for a film originally shown at 2.35:1 in 2005 is completely bewildering and a sad indictment of the quality of this Region 4 DVD.

    Other than the extreme disappointment with the framing, this transfer is very sharp and detailed throughout, with no evidence of any edge enhancement. Shadow detail is handled very well and grain is virtually non-existent. There is no low level noise. What more can you ask for? Well the right aspect ratio would be a good start.

    Colours are quite splendid, with deep and brightly saturated tones when required, such as the various outdoor scenes and the lovely look of autumn leaves. Skin tones are spot-on and black levels are perfect. There are no problems with bleeding or oversaturation. Bright and very colourful is the best way to sum up this effort.

    No compression artefacts are evident and with this being a new film, I hoped there would be few, if any film artefacts. I was not disappointed as this is a very clean and near-pristine transfer in that regard with only a couple of minor white specks scattered here and there.

    Just as I was calming down after the insult of the wrong aspect ratio I learnt of another major flaw. There are no subtitles! This I can understand from a small independent distributor, but not a major outfit like Columbia Tristar. Not good enough and another half star removed from the overall score.

    This is a dual layered disc with RSDL formatting. The layer change is at 82:38.

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

Audio

    There is only one audio track available on this disc, and this is a Dolby Digital 5.1 effort encoded at the higher bitrate of 448 Kb/s.

    Thankfully, unlike the video transfer this is an excellent audio effort with plenty of full surround separation and response across a wide dynamic range. The dialogue is clearly balanced in the overall sound mix and there are no audio sync problems.

    The musical score is composed by Frenchman Alexandre Desplat, and suits the on screen situations very well.

    Being a dialogue-heavy drama, there is only a little chance for surround use, but these moments are handled well.

    The subwoofer received only minor use for much of the film.



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

Extras

Main Menu Audio & Animation

Interviews-Cast

    Three separate interviews (they are the usual promotional style with an unseen Spanish interviewer asking the usual sorts of questions) featuring Kevin Costner (6:15), Joan Allen (8:02), and director/cast member Mike Binder (7:19).

Interviews-Cast

    Three of the younger cast members (Kerri Russell, Evan Rachel Wood and Erika Christensen) give their thoughts on the film in a round table style discussion. Runs for 3:21.

Trailer

    Bonus trailers for The Longest Yard, Bewitched and Beauty Shop.

R4 vs R1

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

    The Region 4 disc misses out on;

    The Region 1 disc misses out on;

    A complete no contest with the Region 1 disc containing not only a handful of extras (including a commentary track) and some subtitles, but a dts soundtrack and most importantly of all, the film shown in its proper aspect ratio. Probably the easiest win to a Region 1 disc in some time and a real indictment of a poor quality Region 4 release.

Summary

    The Upside Of Anger is an interesting film about life, relationships and how the choices we make affect both to a significant degree. Joan Allen is excellent as the angry wife, while even Kevin Costner (albeit in more of a support role) plays the washed-up baseball star with ease (he's had plenty of practice with the baseball part).

    The video transfer is fine apart from one cataclysmic flaw. It is presented in the wrong aspect ratio and it shows - badly at times. This is simply unacceptable for such a recent film. The fact that there are no subtitles does not help either.

    The audio transfer is excellent, but unfortunately Region 4 misses out on the dts track found on the Region 1 disc.

    The extras are very basic and not a patch on Region 1.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Darren Walters (It's . . . just the vibe . . . of my bio)
Sunday, October 09, 2005
Review Equipment
DVDDenon DVD-3910, 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

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
Incorrect Aspect Ratio - Distributor Comments?? - Tom (read my bio)
MY ASS HURTS!!! - Anonymous
I'm angry and there is no upside. - Anonymous
The Upside of Anger - Audio Sync - Mark Newton