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Category:    Home > Reviews > Comedy > Drama > Teens > Period Piece > Cars > Road Trip > Australia > Australian Cinema Collection, Volume One (with The FJ Holden & Puberty Blues/Umbrella Entertainment/Region Free/Zero/PAL DVD Set)

Australian Cinema Collection, Volume One (Umbrella Entertainment/Region Free/Zero/PAL DVD Set)


Picture: C+     Sound: C+     Extras: C+     Films: B-



PLEASE NOTE: This DVD set can only be operated on machines capable of playing back DVDs that can handle Region Zero/0 PAL format software and can be ordered from our friends at Umbrella Entertainment at the website address provided at the end of the review.



These are the films we have previously covered, accompanied by their links:


The Adventures Of Barry McKenzie C-



The Big Steal C+



The Devil’s Playground C+



Mad Dog Morgan C+



Malcolm C+





New to the site includes:


Don’s Party (1976) is the first of three Bruce Beresford-directed films here, a story of old friends getting together after many years from their young days will remind many of The Big Chill and was likely a forerunner of that film, but is only so effective and does not have the best conclusion.  Graham Kennedy, John Hargreaves and Pat Bishop are among the cast.


The FJ Holden (1977) is a very good film about two teens who get their hands on the classic car of the title and make a fun summer out of driving it around and everyone crazy.  A fun vehicle-related film in the mode of The Van or American Graffiti, this is not a gimmick film, but one that is very well made, written, acted and put together all the way to the end.  That surprised me and along with Puberty Blues, was the most pleasant surprise of the set.  Director of Photography David Gribble (The World’s Fastest Indian) did a great job filming this and leads Paul Couzens and Carl Stever are totally believable.  An audio commentary track in included.


The Getting Of Wisdom (1978) is the second of three Bruce Beresford-directed films here, this one a stuffy drama about classic division a few centuries ago that so handled a little better than most, but still is the same melodramatic tale we have seen before.  Acting and sets are a plus.


Monkey Grip (1982) is Director Ken Cameron’s mixed drama about a divorced woman (Noni Hazlehurst) trying to raise her daughter and juggle a drug-addicted boyfriend (Colin Friels) while trying to stay in an outside segment of the music business.  It is ambitious, but did not always work despite interesting ideas and good performances, but I can see why it is in this set.


Picnic At Hanging Rock (1975) is Peter Weir’s international hit that is a pretentious that promises a mystery, but the real mystery is why this overrated exercise always gets such critical acclaim.  This is the single-disc version of the double set Umbrella issued before about some schoolgirls and their headmistress who go to the title location and disappear.  Loosely based on a true story, they say.


Puberty Blues (1981) is the third of three Bruce Beresford-directed films here and the best, a very effective teen comedy set in the time of release where a young lady (Nell Schofield) tries to fit into life, but with several complications.  Not a stuffy drama or exploitation film, it is an impressive look at then-modern life in Australia and could go a few rounds with most U.S. and U.K. films on the same subject in its realism and naturalism.  The great Tim Finn (Split Enz, Crowded House) wrote the title song and two of his Split Enz classics show up as good remakes.  Donald McAlpine was Director of Photography on all three Beresford films in this set, but this looks the best and was shot in anamorphic 35mm Panavision.  Interviews and trivia are included.


Travelling North (1987) is Graham Kennedy’s other film appearance in this set and his last feature film as a supporting player in this amusing road trip film with Leo McKern and relatively younger Julia Blake (recently in the Wolverine feature) that has the twist that they are older and there is some chemistry here.  McKern steals his share of scenes and it is worth a look, even if it is not one of the best of these types of films.


All the films are often restored and widescreen, in which case they are anamorphically enhanced.  Most are Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono or Stereo with weak surrounds, but Picnic has been upgraded to Dolby 5.1 with little improvement.  Trailers abound on all the DVDs, while there is also text on some of the film’s respective discs, a few featurettes surface and a few even have stills and scene tests, so most of these are far from basic editions.



As noted above, you can order these PAL DVD import sets exclusively from Umbrella at:





-   Nicholas Sheffo


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