• Felicity / Centrespread (Umbrella Entertainment) Blu-ray Review



    Released by: Umbrella Entertainment
    Released on: January 2nd, 2019.
    Director: John D. Lamond / Tony Paterson
    Cast: Glory Annen, Chris Milne, Joni Flynn, Kylie Foster, Paul Trahair
    Year: 1978 / 1981
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    Felicity / Centrespread – Movie Review:

    Umbrella Entertainment continues their Ozploitation Classics line with a double feature focusing on the sexier side of vintage Australian exploitation pictures. Here’s a look…

    Felicity:

    Felicity Robinson (Canadian born Glory Annen of Norman J. Warren's Alien Prey) spends her days at an all-girl's boarding school dreaming of the day she'll be able to branch out on her own and spread her wings a little bit. That opportunity comes faster than she expected when her father surprises her with a summer vacation trip to the exotic locales of Hong Kong.

    Jumping at the chance to take in some exotic scenery and cut loose a bit, Felicity decides that her first and foremost priority for the trip shall be to explore her carnal desires in more detail by way of physical encounters with pretty much anyone who is willing to give her what she wants – be they male or female. She soon meets up with a local girl named Me Ling (centerfold model Joni Flynn who some might recognize from Octopussy but who also has the distinguished credit of playing the 'girl from Castle Anthrax' in Monty Python And The Search For The Holy Grail!) and together they take in as much of what the island has to offer as they can. It's all very footloose and fancy free until Felicity meets Miles (Christopher Milne of the Australian horror film, Thirst), an exciting photographer who she not only lusts after but starts to have genuine romantic feelings for. With that monkey wrench thrown into her plans, Felicity basically has to decide if she wants to continue her wanton ways of exploring her wild side or settle into a nice, comfortable groove with Miles and commit to something a little more monogamous. When Miles has to travel and she's left without him for a while, will the mouse play while the cat is away? It wouldn't be much of a movie if she didn't!

    While the most obvious point of reference for the film is Just Jaeckin's Emmanuelle (and the countless knock offs and sequels it inspired the world over), there are also shades of Lolita in here as we follow Felicity's exploits wherein she blossoms into womanhood through the permissive world of the seventies. As such, it's very much a product of its time from the costumes to the attitudes of the characters to the cinematography to the score. Writer-Director-Producer John D. Lamond (watch for a cameo from the director as the peeping tom hanging out in the garden) keep things moving along at a good pace and knows enough to make sure a reasonably graphic scene of copulation is thrown into the mix every few minutes to keep us from noticing the fact that while the story is reasonably interesting, there really isn't a whole lot to it.

    That being said, Felicity (not to be confused with the late nineties television show of the same name!) is rather clever in a few ways. First and foremost it tries something different by having the lead's father be the one to open the door to the world of promiscuity for his daughter whereas more often than not in films about a teenage girl and her blossoming sexual maturity the father is the one holding her back and preventing her from running around with whatever beau happens to have caught her eye. Felicity is also forced to have to choose, and in a sense mature, when she starts to have feelings for Miles and while it definitely takes her a while to get there, she has learned something about herself and the ways of the world by the time that her adventures come to a close, giving the movie more meat to chew on than simply a plethora of wonderfully shot softcore love scenes.

    That being said, in no way does the film skimp on the skin. A popular late night cable TV staple during the eighties, Felicity packs plenty of bumping and grinding into its ninety minutes, primarily of the guy-girl variety but highlighted by a girl-girl scene in the steamy sauna/shower room that is positively guaranteed to tighten your pants. The other scenes also hold up well, light very softly to give things a more passionate look that's common for the skin flicks of the era, hardcore and softcore alike. While the dialogue is a little on the hammy side and the performances nothing to write home about, Glory Annen proves to be sexy and charismatic enough to carry the rest of the cast, her frequent and very welcome nudity only adding to her screen presence.

    Centrespread:

    The second feature takes place in the somewhat dystopian Australia of the future. Here the government has set in place strict conditions under which the populace must abide, creating a society bent on eliminating violence and other unseemly, albeit very human, impulses. Stuff like this is relegated only to magazines, which are used by the population as an outlet of sorts.

    Enter Gerard (Paul Trahair), a photographer in the employ of one such magazine. His specialty is providing pictures that combine sex and violence and while he’s very good at his work, the higher ups want him to bring in some fresh faces to keep things interesting for their readers. Soon enough, he discovers the luminous face of a beautiful young woman named Niki (Kylie Foster). He’s immediately smitten with her but his editor (Ivor Louis) soon takes issue with his photographer’s intentions towards their latest find, making Niki choose between becoming the next big things or accepting the love of one of his lower level employees.

    The only feature film directed by Tony Paterson (who is best known for editing pictures like Mad Max, Fantasm Comes Again and The Survivor), Centrespread is an interesting look at an over-regulated future, where technological advancement has replaced the need for human companionship in so many ways. Large cameras leer over the people that inhabit this world, but that’s about as ‘sci-fi’ as it gets after the initial setup. The movie doesn’t exploit this element of its storyline nearly as well as it could and should have. Instead, the story focuses more on Gerard’s attraction to Niki and her reaction to his feelings and the complications that come from the editor’s intrusions into this. This results in the film playing out more like a soap opera than a sci-fi picture.

    Shot in and around the Australian city of Adelaide, the film will still be of interest to fans of Australian exploitation pictures. While it’s a fair bit tamer than the feature that it shares this Blu-ray with, there’s just enough exploitation elements to keep things interesting. In addition to the naked frolicking you’d expect, there’s also some weird body painting early in the film and some of the photo shoot sequences are also pretty interesting. The picture is well shot and does a nice job of capturing its locations. It also features a decent score and some genuinely catchy theme music (performed by Lisa Edwards) over the credits. If it isn’t as titillating as other sexploitation/softcore films, it’s still worth seeing for those with an interest in the genre, especially if you have an affinity for Australian pictures of the day.

    Felicity / Centrespread – Blu-ray Review:

    Both film are offered on the same 50GB Blu-ray disc and presented in AVC encoded 1080p high definition. Felicity is framed at 1.78.1 and it generally looks quite good. The movie was definitely shot soft so detail isn’t going to melt your eyeballs the way it might with a different film but all in all it looks decent enough here, easily rising above how it would have appeared in standard definition . Centrespread also looks quite good, framed here at 1.85.1. widescreen. The image is grainy but not distractingly so and there isn’t much in the way of print damage to complain about. Skin tones look good and colors are reproduced nicely. Eagle eyed viewers might spot some minor compression artifacts here and there but nothing really distracting at all. Both transfers are pleasingly film-like, showing no evidence of noise reduction or edge enhancement.

    Audio chores for both films are handled by 24-bit English language DTS-HD 2.0 Mono mixes. Clarity here is pretty decent. The dialogue is easy to understand and to follow and the levels are nicely balanced. There are no problems with any hiss or distortion. Unfortunately, no subtitles are provided here.

    Extras for Felicity start with the commentary track that was originally included on the DVD release from 2006. Here director Lamond is joined by Felicity herself, Glory Annen. A surprisingly jovial and informative talk, the two wax nostalgic about the time they spent on the film with Lamond asking Annen for her take on various aspects of the production in addition to giving his own thoughts on the film. They cover the sets and locations, some casting details, and what it was like working on some of the more risque scenes that the film has become known for over the years.

    If that weren’t enough, we also get thirty-six minutes of outtakes from the documentary Not Quite Hollywood with Glory Annen, John D. Lamond and cinematographer Garry Wapshott. Amusingly enough, Lamond is interviewed about the content of his movies while a striper works a pole behind him. Lamond talks about her work as an actress on stage and screen while Wapshott talks up some of the shoots that he was involved with over the years. There’s some interesting stuff in here, take the time to check it out.

    The nine-minute Confessions Of An R-Rated Movie Maker interviews John D. Lamond for a bit about his career in sexploitation pictures. Here he speaks about the success of Alvin Purple and how that sort of helped to launch a naughtier side of Ozploitation. He then shares some stories about some of the product he was responsible for in the seventies and how many of them are quite tame by modern standards, even if they were considered pornographic at the time.

    A theatrical trailer is also included.

    Extras for Centrespread include a featurette called Behind The Centrespread which starts with an interview with director Tony Paterson that lasts forty-seven minutes. It’s an archival piece that also includes some interesting behind the scenes footage shot during the production of the film. Lynch talks about his feelings on sexuality and exhibitionism and more. Paul Trahair also shows up here, talking about how he was intrigued by the idea of exploring the character that he played in the film, what it was like working with some of the cast and crew and his thoughts on the film as well. Kylie Foster also talks about her experiences and the character that she plays in the film. Producer Wayne Groom also appears on camera to talk about the film’s qualities and how much of an asset Paterson was to the production.

    Also included is six-minutes’ of outtakes from The Other Hollywood wherein producer Greg Lynch is interviewed about Australian sexploitation pictures, how they tried to promote these films to couples rather than the ‘raincoat crowd,’ the influence of Emmanuelle, the boom years of Australian exploitation pictures, how as a producer he insisted on having more ‘vital content’ added to the film and more.

    Umbrella has also included the alternate UK cut of the film that removes just under nine-minutes of racier footage from the uncut version that serves as the feature attraction. It’s presented fullframe and sourced from what looks like an analogue tape of some sort. It’s unlikely to be anyone’s ‘go to’ version of the movie but it’s always interesting when alternate cuts are preserved for pictures like this. It features very different opening credits and some other interesting changes.

    Rounding out the extras for Centrespread are two different trailers and a still gallery.

    Felicity / Centrespread – The Final Word:

    Felicity holds up really well, an entertaining and well-made blend of softcore tomfoolery, light comedy and effective drama. The direction is strong, the cinematography typically beautiful and, well then there’s the stunning Glory Annen in the lead on top of all that. Centrespread is the lesser of the two films but still worth seeing and amusing enough in its own right, making it a nice second feature. The disc looks and sounds quite good and features plenty of extra features as well.

    Click on the images below for full sized Felicity / Centrespread Blu-ray screen caps!