Rare Birds (Rental) (2001)

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Rental Version Only
Available for Rent

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy Main Menu Audio
Theatrical Trailer
Rating ?
Year Of Production 2001
Running Time 96:57
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Sturla Gunnarsson

Universal Pictures Home Video
Starring William Hurt
Andy Jones
Molly Parker
Case ?
RPI Rental Music Jonathan Goldsmith

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio Unknown 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

    Dave Purcell (William Hurt) is separated from his wife and seems to be both aimless and wallowing in self pity. He also appears to be a touch simple. According to his friend Phonse (Andy Jones) he's also not a bad cook, especially when it comes to his duck  When Dave announces that he's going to sell his restaurant, The Auk, which is located on a remote headland in Newfoundland, and is constantly empty Phonse decides that what's needed is a plan to attract people to the area and hence the restaurant. After some in-depth research in the local library Phonse hatches a plan that requires Dave to anonymously call a  bird watcher's radio show and announce a phoney sighting of a "Sulphurous Duck", an extremely rare bird. The plan succeeds and soon The Auk is filled to capacity with bird watchers. As a consequence Phonse's cousin Alice (Molly Parker) volunteers to help out at the restaurant and this provides Dave with a much needed chance for some romance.

   As a comedy Rare Birds is mildly amusing due to the quirky nature of both the characters and the story. As a romance this movie never really gets off the ground.

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Transfer Quality


    This transfer, which is 16x9 enhanced, has been made in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1. I wasn't able to find out the original aspect ratio but I'll venture it was 1.85:1.

    While there was no sign of low level noise, and the shadow detail was very good, the most disappointing aspect of this transfer was that it was lacking in sharpness. Note, however, that there was one scene, starting at 18:38, which intentionally used soft focus to distinguish a dream sequence from the rest of the story. There's also some very slight edge enhancement, but this is not frequently apparent.

    A very vivid full colour palette is on display in this movie, which makes extensive use of bright colours and beautifully captures the stunningly coastline and rugged landscape of Newfoundland. Unfortunately, there is some colour bleeding which can be seen occasionally such as at 48:40 and 18:45.

    Some very subtle aliasing can be seen from time to time if you look really closely. The only significant problem is the quite noticeable pixelization from time to time. I didn't spot a single film artefact.

    No subtitles are provided.

    As this is a single layer disc so there is no layer change.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    Two English audio tracks are provided: the default is Dolby Digital 5.1 and the alternative track is Dolby Digital 2.0 surround encoded. I listened to the 5.1 track in its entirety and sampled the 2.0 track. The 5.1 audio provides a slightly richer sound and, of course, has the advantage of the dedicated LFE channel which is used to good effect in this sound track.

    The dialogue is mostly clear, but the odd word is hard to understand because of the accents. For this reason there are a few times when the subtitles would have been handy.

    There were no audio sync problems.

    The subtle musical score by Jonathan Goldsmith nicely complemented the story.

    All channels are used to generate a 360 degree sound-field to place you right inside the movie. While this is not an action film there are still a number of opportunities available to use directional sound effects and this movie makes the most of these particularly with respect to the front channels.

    The subwoofer is used quite effectively on a number of occasions, primarily to accentuate the effect of the sea breaking on the rocks.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


    The extras are limited to just a trailer.


    The 1.78:1 aspect ratio menu is 16x9 enhanced and features Dolby Digital 2.0 mono audio. No animation is provided.

Theatrical Trailer (1:22)

     A typical trailer displayed in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, and therefore not 16x9 enhanced, with Dolby Digital surround encoded audio.

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 version of this disc misses out on:

    The Region 1 version of this disc misses out on:

    Since the R4 is a rental only disc at this stage, fans of the movie should hope that when it's released to buy it will contain the additional features of the R1 while  keeping the Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track.


    Rare Birds is a quirky comedy that is only likely to appeal to a select audience. If you liked Waking Ned Devine then I'll venture that you'll like this movie too.

    The video quality was a disappointing due a number of problems but mostly because of the lack of sharpness..

    The audio quality is very good except for some hard-to-understand dialogue.

    The extras are limited to a single trailer.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Peter Cole (Surely you've got something better to do than read my bio)
Wednesday, October 16, 2002
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-515, using S-Video output
DisplaySony VPL-VW10HT LCD Projector, ScreenTechnics 16x9 matte white screen (254cm). Calibrated with AVIA Guide To Home Theatre. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationYamaha RXV-995
SpeakersFront L&R - B&W DM603, Centre - B&W LCR6, Rear L&R - B&W DM602, Sub - Yamaha YST-SW300

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