NOT QUITE HOLLYWOOD
Starting in 1971 when the era of savage censorship ended with the introduction of the R certificate, enabling audiences to see films that confronted the socially conservative mores, several Australian filmmakers pursued genre filmmaking, often with very small budgets and maverick methods. Many of the films were (and still are) derided, but just as many were commercially successful, here and overseas. Many of the filmmakers have their say, as do some of their critics and the films are explored in the context of Australian cinema history.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Action, horror, nudity, sex and bad taste, as seen in the cheap and cheerful genre films of the 70s and 80s, now labeled Ozploitation ... the umbrella name for the maverick Aussie movies ranging from Barry McKenzie to Mad Max, from Long Weekend to Turkey Shoot, from Alvin Purple to Stone, which were snubbed by the critics and the likes of the erudite Phillip Adams or the bitter and hateful Bob Ellis, but which are championed by the likes of Quentin Tarantino. And they all have their say in this fun packed, fast paced, entertainingly packaged doco that is a combination of energetic showcase and comprehensive overview.
Mark Hartley's approach is as irreverent as its subject matter, although it does give its many interview subjects a respectful hearing. The works of producer Antony I. Ginnane and directors Tim Burstall, Brian Trenchard Smith and John Lamond make up much of the material that is revisited, with plenty of time left for George Miller, the late Richard Franklin (to whom the film is dedicated) and many of the actors and stuntmen who sometimes almost perished making them.
The film is a valuable work because it not only presents these films in context, it draws on the diversity of opinions which greeted them - many of which persist but many have been seasoned by time and perspective. (Bob Ellis' opinions excepted.)
But the most appropriate aspect of Not Quite Hollywood is that it is as much fun to watch as the films it discovers were intended to be. There are some serious explorations, too, about who those early 70s films were exploring the Aussie psyche - or at least the less sophisticated side of it. The debate about their lasting value is valid since it encourages the view that filmmaking can and should offer a great diversity, just as any other form of popular entertainment does. High artistic value is not necessarily the only valid ambition in filmmaking ....
Review by Louise Keller:
An exhilarating full throttle look at genre movies Oz style, when in a changing world, life seems to have no restraints where censorship, nudity, gore and splatter are concerned. Mark Hartley's candid, funny and thoroughly entertaining documentary is not only a social document, but totally captures the essence of the time when life seemed less serious and cleavage was not smut but cheek with dimples. Quentin Tarantino plays a large and important role in taking us through the various stages of the Ozploitation genre as he comments on many of the films with a contagious tank-full of hyper-enthusiasm. Other film industry stalwarts like filmmaker George Miller, cinematographer John Seale, director Brian Trenchard Smith and producer Antony I. Ginnane make strong contributions as they recall the days, the projects (failed and otherwise), with Tarantino siting on the sidelines like a commentator at a race track, geeing us on as we watch what went right and what went wrong. This was a revolutionary time when women burned their bras, a war was going on in Vietnam and yet there was an unbridled sense of fun in a world that offered the promise of everything.
'I never thought that Australia needed culture,' Barry Humphries says. 'Culture after all is cheese.' He refers to the early Barry McKenzie films in which vomit took a life of its own ('Nauseating to think about,' notes director Bruce Beresford). Nudity found new ground ('The eye piece fogged up regularly,' says Oscar-winner John Seale) with the advent of TV shows such as Number 96 and Alvin Purple, in which streams of buxom beauties 'did it for Alvin' (Graeme Blundell). We see them then and we see them now - in interviews and on the screen. 'I didn't want to put audiences to sleep,' comments Ginnane, now based in Los Angeles, and who made his considerable reputation as producer of films such as Fantasm and Turkey Shoot. There is no chance the audience would even begin to nod off in films that obviously are 'Gonzo filmmaking' as George Miller puts it. Films like Mad Max, Brian Trenchard Smith's The Man From Hong Kong and Sandy Harbutt's seminal bikie drama Stone.
There are fascinating interviews, clips galore (showing breasts of all sizes and one penis of impressive proportions), harebrained stunts (when there are no safety precautions), splatter on a platter and a flashback to a time when if the script demanded it, real dope was smoked and real booze was drunk. The naysayers are an academic Phillip Adams and a sour Bob Ellis who comes across badly as he snubs and derides all and sundry. There are wonderful scenes from Philippe Mora's Mad Dog Morgan in which an out of control Dennis Hopper played out his 'method' acting by indulging in cocaine and rum before breakfast. This is a gem of a film with an explosive energy and one that exudes a wild sense of abandon and makes us damned glad to be alive.
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NOT QUITE HOLLYWOOD (MA)
CAST: Documentary featuring Antony I. Ginnane, Brian Trenchard Smith, John Lamond, Quentin Tarantino, John Seale, Bruce Beresford, Phillip Adams, Bob Ellis
PRODUCER: Craig Griffin, Michael Lynch
DIRECTOR: Mark Hartley
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Karl von Moller (Germain McMicking, segment)
EDITOR: Jamie Blanks
MUSIC: Stephen Cummings
RUNNING TIME: 100 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Madman
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: August 28, 2008