Reviewed by GREG KING.
Mark Hartley’s engaging, thoroughly enjoyable documentary exploring the renaissance and resurgence of the Australian Film Industry in the ‘70’s and ‘80’s was a great choice for the opening night film for this year’s MIFF, since one of the main focuses of the program was on Ozploitation.
Hartley’s film is a wonderful reminder of a time when local film makers actually made great genre films, films that audiences were willing to pay to see, and wanted to see. Films produced during this prolific era offered audiences plenty of sex, bawdy fun, distinctively Ocker humour, violence, action, car chases, spectacular stunts, monsters, and buckets of blood and gore. It was one of the most successful periods in Australian film making history, yet, as Hartley points out, it barely rates a mention from serious cineastes.
A veteran of rock music clips, Hartley has directed over 150 videos throughout his career. But he also has an interest in “ozploitation” films, having worked at Madman video, where he helped a number of these ignored and neglected films find new audiences through DVD releases. He has also spent some ten years researching this history of Australian genre films, and it shows in this well-researched, informative and vastly entertaining documentary. Hartley explores a lot of topics; including the “cultural cringe” that seemed to shape many of our films and audience responses; the importing of overseas actors to star in the films; censorship; our own sense of cinematic identity; and the old entertainment versus culture viewpoint. An enthusiastic Quentin Tarantino is front and centre, and waxes lyrically about some of his favourite moments and scenes from this exciting period of creativity that drove the local industry.
This rapidly edited doco also includes lots of clips and will bring back a lot of memories, particularly for older audiences. There are also insightful interviews with many of the people involved in this renaissance of Australian cinema. Hartley has filmed interviews with maverick directors like the late Tim Burstall; Richard Franklin, Australia’s own “answer to Alfred Hitchcock”; and sleazy exploitation director Antony I Ginnane, the self-proclaimed Roger Corman of Australia, best known for films like Fantasm; Brian Trenchard-Smith; Russell Mulcahy, and Philippe Moira. As well there are interviews with actor, writer and now production and distribution head Alan Finney; actor Roger Ward; and even noted stuntman Grant Page, who relates some wonderful stories about his experiences. There are lots of fascinating, behind the scenes anecdotes as well. But there are also the sceptics, like critics Bob Ellis and Phillip Adams, a former champion of the local industry who offers an opposing point of view and decries the industry making these populist genre films.
Not Quite Hollywood is far more entertaining and memorable than many of the films showcased in the doco itself. To paraphrase Tarantino himself: “This movie fucking rocks!” Not to be missed!