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Not Quite Hollywood (2008)

November 24, 2009

7/10 Vegemite Sandwiches

Just one more reason why I need to get off my ass and make my own damn movie already.

Not Quite Hollywood is a documentary about the revolutionary Australian genre exploitation movies that came to rise in the 1960s but never quite made it to the big time and have since been all but forgotten. This isn’t Baz Luhrman and Peter Weir we’re talking about, this is gratuitous sexploitation romps, grisly C-grade horror movies drenched in karo syrup, and some of the most badass car chase action movies you’re likely to ever see.

It’s a pretty fitting title for one utterly insane look back at a whole slew of groundbreaking movies that Hollywood wouldn’t even go near, not even by today’s standards. Chances are you’re in the same boat as me and haven’t heard of 99% percent of these movies outside of Mad Max, but that doesn’t matter, because if things go according to plan, you might just find yourself with pen and paper in hand ready to write the names of these suckers down.

Then again, I can see how this one might not necessarily go according to plan for a lot of people out there. Not only is this a movie about movies you’ve never heard of, but it’s only really catering to all us cinephiles/nerds in the audience as it more or less boils down to people talking about movies for two hours. And while those are two hours I’d gladly spend, I’m not gonna delude myself into believing that this is gonna convert anyone that’s not already part of the congregation.

So for all you out there who are still reading and still interested, here’s what the movie breaks down to.

Not Quite Hollywood is split up into three sections that all provide the audience with a look into what was really going down in Australia when the rest of thought it was all boxing kangaroos and dingoes eating babies.

The first part covers the whole sexploitation genre, and who knew those Aussie’s were such horny bastards. Can’t say that I’ve ever seen such a constant barrage of full-frontal nudity in a movie before, so much so that it could easily pass for softcore porn after a while, so…way to go, Australia, I guess. It gets to be a little much after a while as it’s not exactly glorifying the female body as it is exploiting it, but, man, times were different back then. Pretty interesting in light of the Australian censors nowadays, something that could be said for the next two sections as well.

The second and third parts focus on the horror and action genres. The horror stuff has this early Sam Raimi vibe to it, and even though there’s not a whole lot going for this section, it’s interesting to look at these movies in contrast to what America was putting out at the time. But the action genre…wow. If you’ve seen Mad Max, you’ll understand what I mean. They still don’t make car chases like the Australians did back then, and boy howdy do they stand the test of time. No special effects, overtly dangerous camera angles, complete disregard for personal safety, tons of destruction, super high-octane, and enough badassery to go around to make Vin Diesel piss himself running. Fast and furious my ass.

It’s all really interesting for the most part and some of the commentary had me laughing out loud, but after a while it gets to be a little overwhelming. There’s a lot going on with these movies and in between trying to catch what everyone is saying and the total overstimulation of it all, Not Quite Hollywood sort of ends up being its own worst enemy. And some of us can only listen to people talk about B-movies like they’re golden oldies for oh so long.

Recently I read an interview with one Rob Zombie where he said that Hollywood has turned into a “scared town” that is too afraid to back original movies in lieu of financing another shitty remake that’s going to be box office gold. And you know, Rob is right. As someone who’s had it up to here with all the bullshit that gets released in theaters nowadays just because a frightening amount of people are more than ready to dish out their money on movies that fucking suck, I take a look back on the movies showcased here in Not Quite Hollywood and I think, “What the hell happened?”

Sorry if I’m going off on a bit of a tangent here, but this is one of those movies that gets you thinking, primarily about how ridiculous the so-called “limitations” are that have been put on amateur and veteran filmmakers alike by the producers who only have eyes for the Benjamins. It’s very fitting that Quentin Tarantino is one of the main commentators here, because this is a guy that truly loves movies regardless of their budget and is living proof that you can make effing great movies as long as you just go out and do it.

To say that movies in general have changed a good deal over the course of 40 or 50 years is one disheartening understatement. This is a celebration of filmmakers who had balls, of guys who just went out there and did it regardless of their budget, of movies that are unabashedly lewd, horribly gory, and unanimously crazy, and considering how much green the new Transformers sequel raked in this year, these are indeed qualities to be celebrated. Not Quite Hollywood isn’t for everyone, and sorry for the long review, but if you’re a total movie geek like me and are interested in this kinda stuff, it might just be right up your alley.

Good on ya’!

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