Felicity/Centrespread Blu-ray Review (Umbrella Entertainment)
In director John D. Lamond’s own words, Felicity was meant as an homage, or perhaps a rip-off, of the very popular French erotic film Emanuelle. The intention was to create an adult, softcore pornographic film built less on overly lurid displays of sexuality and more on the artistic merits of sexiness, focusing on titillating the viewer rather than inciting a wankfest and turning off the rest of the movie. Employing the help of young and cute Glory Annen as the main character, Felicity follows the exploits of the protagonist as she leaves her monastery completely bewildered about her budding sexuality, and she gets to experiment with all kinds of situations after traveling to Hong Kong to stay with her sister. Cue the typical male fantasy elements: sex in public, women turned on by watching other women have sex (even her sister), various steamy Asian brothels, and a “romance” wherein both seem to make out very well. Felicity wants to be a film about a young woman understanding her own sexuality, but it has to less to say about that than a pretty broad statement that “repressed woman veryyyyy horny.”
The story itself is particularly lackluster, so if you’re watching for a realistic portrayal of youthful sexual freedom, it’s probably best to look elsewhere. Though Lamond and his wife Diane Lamond are credited (or uncredited, rather) as writers, the entire film smacks of the male Lamond’s lurid eye. A lot of the plot doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, but the gist is that throughout Felicity’s various romps she finds the most satisfactory are with a person she loves (Christopher Milne, whose penis is apparently hidden away until the very end of the film). Still, that doesn’t stop her from having lesbian sex when her boyfriend leaves on a job, or having a few public encounters just for the fun of it. There’s not much to the romance, and the abrupt happily ever after at the end of the film is even more questionable after both admit to having their fair share of fun times in the couple of days they’ve been apart. Polyamory is certainly fine for some, but the film never seems to be attempting to sell this as its theme.
But most likely I’m looking way too far into Felicity (that’s a pun I guess, because you’ll see a lot of Annen). It’s a fairly erotic film I guess, though most encounters are pretty bland in their displays despite some fetishistic qualities. As an actual film, it doesn’t yield much enjoyment for the average viewer, but as a softcore porno it does its job.
Umbrella’s Blu-ray release seems to be extremely similar to Severin Films’ transfer from 2016, possibly using the same transfer since it is again set at a 1.78:1 transfer. The film often switches between hazy, blown-out whites with soft focus and less filtered lighting, and this Blu-ray retains that look as much as possible to the point where it can seem as though Umbrella has made a mistake with contrast. Not so, though; it’s just the look of the film. Occasional damage and speckles do crop up from time to time, and some loss of definition can be seen in certain sequences. It’s hard to say if these are part of the original film, though, since the production is not great in general. Audio is a DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 mono track and sounds quite good with no distortion. No English subtitles are included, though.
Umbrella has ported over features from previous releases, including an audio commentary with John D. Lamond and Glory Annen, a lengthy series of interviews cut from Not Quite Hollywood with Annen, Lamond, and Gary Wapshott, an earlier interview with Lamond from Umbrella’s previous DVD release, still galleries, and a trailer. Nothing new here, but a pretty good release for Australian audiences and those who don’t own Severin’s prior Blu-ray.
The second sexploitation film on this set is Tony Paterson’s Centrespread, an extremely lackluster effort about a futuristic photographer who is tasked with finding a new type of model for his nude art because a mysterious magazine organization called Central demands it. Centrespread is basically a series of nude photo shoots, as though Paterson is just documenting a day in the life of a Hustler photographer in a sci-fi setting. Ultimately, this 82 minute film is about as erotic as a National Geographic documentary; there are a couple of lesbian encounters, but for the most part it consists of endless scenes of main character Gerard (Paul Trahair) walking around with a ridiculously bulky futuristic camera as he takes pictures of the world’s most boring sets.
Gerard spends his off-time trying to get Niki (Kylie Foster) to do some nude photography because she’s the new model that Central wants to see. The film never really makes it clear what’s different about Niki besides maybe her bubbly personality; it’s not like her physique is any different from the bevy of women we see naked throughout. In the end, Gerard falls for Niki at the expense of his career, but they end happily ever after in an abrupt finale.
It’s hard to recommend Centrespread to anyone. For those looking for more hardcore skin flicks, this is not particularly explicit; but the story is also done quite poorly. In the end, Paterson should have just make the film into a documentary, because the making-of featurette on this disc is more interesting since it documents women’s exhibitionist qualities and the life of a photographer.
Centrespread was previously released alone on DVD by Umbrella as part of their Ozploitation Classics line, but here they have done a new restoration although the details on the source is not available. The HD transfer looks quite good, with a medium grain body, nice detail, and some great exterior shots. The film’s futuristic look is quite poor and not creative but this Blu-ray certainly enhances the low-budget look. Occasional damage is visible including some distracting blue edges and burns here and there. Audio is a DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 track and it sounds quite good, especially the title track “Centrespread” by Lisa Edwards. No english subtitles included.
Umbrella collects a number of features including an interview with Greg Lynch excerpted from Not Quite Hollywood, a 45-minute plus archival making-of featurette with a lot of additional nudity not seen in the film, the alternate UK cut that has a few minutes trimmed from the film (not restored), an image gallery, and two trailers.
Bottom line, this collection is for skin flick collectors only, though Umbrella has done a good job with both films’ transfers and special features.