Australian Cinema Collection, Volume One (Umbrella Entertainment/Region Free/Zero/PAL DVD
Picture: C+ Sound: C+ Extras: C+ Films: B-
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
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+
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
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.
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.
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.
above, you can order these PAL DVD import sets exclusively from Umbrella at: