Not Quite Hollywood: The Wild, Untold Story of Ozploitation! (2008)

Director: Mark Hartley

Reaching for the comfort food again. This is such a joy, it was when I first saw it at the preview theatrette under the State Theatre in 2008, it was again tonight after I’d rummaged through a pile of DVDs to find it, the opportunity to hate-watch those unspeakable bores Phillip Adams (who still won’t admit The Naked Bunyip was, in its own way, just as exploitative as any of the later genre films he hates) and Bob Ellis (hey Bob! Any more guesses as to when the Abbott government will collapse?) is always good, and the sheer enthusiasm of the film for its subject—the wacky world of Australian genre filmmaking in the 1970s and 1980s—is completely winning. Particularly Quentin Tarantino; I know some people were a bit grumpy at having this American tell us how great our popular cinema back then was (though I gather his participation was kind of a necessary condition for getting the film funded and made at all), but his pleasure at these films is so explosive and genuine that it feels churlish to complain about his presence. And to be sure not everyone in the doco is equally enthusiastic about their participation in the sometimes shabbier end of the Australian film industry revival (I’ve been kind of hard about some of the fruits of same myself in the past); the somewhat cavalier attitudes evinced in the making of a number of the films under discussion—particularly when it came to the safety of stuntmen and actors—can’t always be regarded as admirable as such, so some of the mixed feelings are perfectly understandable. Yet sometimes all you can do is admire the sheer nerve and gall on display; it stuns me that Grant Page in particular is not only still alive but actually having something of a late-career renaissance in the 21st century. Not Quite Hollywood is pretty damn good as an actual piece of filmmaking in its own right, sharply edited and stylish, and a terrific primer on a side of the industry I daresay most of our guardians of film-cultural taste still wish had never happened…

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