March 14, 2005

Does There Have To Be An Upside?

There is something to be said about film directors who, when casting themselves in their own movies, give themselves the part of the schmuck. Sure, Woody Allen does it sorta but his schmucks always land the hot model/ingénue even though they're schmucky and where's the verisimilitude in that? No, CC's talking about making yourself look like a complete wanker, with horrible facial hair, clothing and and perhaps some sort of disfiguring tick.

That's why Cinecultist salutes Mike Binder writer/director The Upside of Anger who gives his character in the movie not only the unfortunate name of "Shep" and the predilection for dating girls half his age but he's also sporting the most atrocious handle-bar mustache. Now here's an auteur dedicated to his art form. CC enjoyed this little flick, which isn't going to revolutionize cinema as we know it, but has some lovely performances and a flair for the dramatic American family.

Solid step number 1 on Binder's part: casting Joan Allen as the Detroit suburban housewife Terry Wolfmeyer, whose abandonment by her husband unleashes an embittered, drunken period in her life. Are there too many good things to be said about Joan Allen's abilities as an actress? We think not. She's just solid. She knows what she's doing up there. Surprisingly enough, so does Kevin Costner who plays her washed up, former baseball star neighbor who installs himself on the couch for happy hour and then just never leaves. Their middle-aged chemistry is quite fresh and the scene where he stops her car in the middle of a suburban street to discuss the pros and cons of going back her place just crackles with energy.

Those who know CC also know we loves us some Keri "Felicity" Russell so her segue onto the big screen, along with other young starlets to watch Alicia Witt, Evan Rachel Wood and Erika Christensen is reason enough for us. While these four girls don't really look like sisters and the fact that they're all so flipping gorgeous is never addressed head-on in the film, we still enjoyed all of their contributions. There are some movie worlds that while they don't seem particularly believable. their Ethan Allen bougie interiors are pleasant enough for a two hour habitation. While Allen's rage upon being left does take on some interesting gradations, the level to which she manipulates her daughters and how little they do to fight back seemed like an unadulturated fantasy.

Posted by karen at March 14, 2005 8:36 AM