Make It Happen

Documentary film by Mark Hartley, Featuring Quentin Tarantino, Dennis Hopper, Jamie Lee Curtis, Barry Humphries and George Miller
Running Time: 103 mins
Rated: Rated MA 15+ (nudity, sex and violence)

The wild, untold story of "Ozploitation' cinema: a time when the Australian film industry showed the world explored sex, violence, horror and foot-to-the-floor, full bore road action. An often forgotten cinematic era, these Aussie genre films of the 70s & 80s drew huge box office (Mad Max, Alvin Purple, Barry Mackenzie), repelled critics, and proved the inspiration for some future filmmakers such as Quentin Tarantino, Greg McLean (Wolf Creek) and the creators of the Saw horror series.

If you intensely dislike "ocker comedies', slasher films, and the road crash genre, then do not under circumstances go and see Not Quite Hollywood.

If, however, you are an adult who wants to see what all the fuss was about in the early years of the remerging Australian film industry, or you want some nostalgia, then maybe this documentary could be considered.

I am somewhere in between the two positions, appalled at how many bad films were made by filmmakers who just did not care about the content of their films, as long as it was "great entertainment' and made a quick buck, as well as grateful that one film now brings them all together into some sort of coherent story.

This film challenges the regular misconception that the cinema causes social change. It does do that to a certain degree, but much more so it follows social change, reflecting back to a society what shifts have taken place.

1970-1986 was a pivotal era in Australia. The youthful population were strongly asserting themselves over and against the structures and strictures of previously unchallenged political, social, military and religious institutions. Drugs were more available, the sexual revolution was in full flight, protests against the Vietnam War preoccupied University students and freedom without responsibility was the accepted path to happiness.

Not Quite Hollywood celebrates the films of this movement and mindset.

By the mid 1980s these movements were unmasked for the falsehoods they contained and promised. In world now filled with AIDS, social and family breakdown and terrorism, freedom with responsibility became the new mantra.

The problem with this documentary is that while it touches on serious issues of censorship, film funding, and films as a social barometer, it does not dwell here for long enough. There is next to no self critical analysis of just how monocultural, sexist and racist these films were. And in an ironic touch, we return with regular monotony to the godfather of contemporary, violent schlock, Quentin Tarantino, to keep telling us how "cool', "awesome' and "brilliant' these films were. There is more than a little cultural cringe about it.

One of the most insightful comments comes from Barry Humphries who disliked the ocker culture so much he helped produce the Barrie McKenzie films. "It is amazing how some people see satire as documentary', he observes.

And given that Not Quite Hollywood argues for a rebirth of these genres in our present industry Humphries ends us being a most unlikely prophet.

Madman Films Out August 28

Fr Richard Leonard SJ is the director of the Australian catholic Film office.

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