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Cheap Thrills 

Wednesday, Aug 5 2009
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At the same moment that directors like Peter Weir and Gillian Armstrong were earning festival kudos and critical acclaim for the early films of the Australian “new wave,” the more industrious/shameless likes of director Tim Burstall (“Tim liked getting tit in the shot”) and producer Antony I. Ginnane (“the Roger Corman of Australia”) were churning out low-budget quickies equally ripe for world export—albeit to the grindhouses instead of the art houses. Mark Hartley’s boisterous film-buff documentary Not Quite Hollywood pays loving homage to the latter camp, who played an equally important role in the 1970s revival of a moribund Aussie film industry, even as their movies popularized the notion of the outback as a haven for loose women, slobbering boozers, and homicidal biker gangs. Mostly alive and well and happy to share their war stories before Hartley’s camera, these “Ozploitation” mavens run the gamut from larger-than-life, carnival-barker hucksters (like The ABC of Love and Sex: Australia Style impresario John D. Lamond, interviewed in front of a pole-hugging go-go dancer) to ingenious genre purveyors (like George “Mad Max” Miller and the late Richard Franklin, whose Hitchcock-inspired Patrick and Roadgames beg rediscovery). But the talking heads here are routinely upstaged by the exploding ones—plus lots of jiggling jugs and airborne motorbikes—provided by Hartley’s exuberant film-clip montages. The rise of video and the death of the drive-ins would eventually bring the curtain down on the Aussie schlock industry, but for two glorious hours, Not Quite Hollywood returns us to a time when the price of admission was cheap and the thrills even cheaper.
Aug. 14-20, 2009

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Scott Foundas

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