Not Quite Hollywood (2008)

Strewth, mate, that’s a mighty fine doc you got there…

Although the documentary has become one of the most prolific genres in recent years, it is also one of the most potentially problematic. In this age of readily available technology anyone can pick up a camera and wax lyrical about any subject they choose, but it still takes some serious film-making talent to make said subject accessible and entertaining for a wider audience. With Not Quite Hollywood, Mark Hartley proves he is such a director – and then some.

Hartley’s breakneck look at Australian exploitation cinema is fascinating, insightful and fun in equal measure. His riotous journey begins in 1971 when, with the introduction of the R-certificate, the landscape of Australian cinema changed overnight; Ozzie theatres began to heave with home-grown, experimental art house films, such as Peter Weir’s Picnic at Hanging Rock, gut-busting schlockers, including Brian Trenchard-Smith’s Turkey Shoot and gnawing, post apocalyptic nightmares like the seminal Mad Max.

Hartley’s fascinating doc takes in all of these landmarks and more, peppering his excellent film with bold, brash, expertly chosen clips from many of the movies so as to showcase what a visceral impact they had on audiences at home and abroad. And these incredible – often unbelievable films – are dissected by a truly impressive array of talking heads, all who have had their lives affected by this genre. From those who were involved with it, including stars Jamie Lee Curtis (1981 highway thriller Road Games) and Dennis Hopper (1976 Ozzie Western Mad Dog Morgan), to those who have been indelibly influenced by it, like film-maker Quentin Tarantino – who’s enthusiasm practically gushes off the screen – it’s an astounding ensemble of talented people. All who simply can’t contact their passion for Australian exploitation cinema.

Indeed, by the time Hartley’s film screeches to a halt, you’ll certainly have been won over too. Not only does it celebrate a lesser-known faction of international cinema, it also pays homage to its creators without fawning, and introduces a new audience to the delights of Australian cinema without dictating. It’s a triumph of documentary making, and a truly entertaining movie in its own right.

5 stars

Director & Screenplay
Mark Hartley
Running Time
99 mins (approx)