Wednesday, September 10, 2008

TIFF 2008: Day 7

Not Quite Hollywood (Mark Hartley, 2008, USA)
An obvious labor of love, Not Quite Hollywood highlights Aussie exploitation films from the ‘70s and ‘80s. Short on social context but long on Adobe AfterEffects, this documentary is an assault on the senses with its barrage of clips and breakneck editing pace (few shots last longer than three second).

Broken into roughly three parts, the film’s structure gives the impression of following a timeline rather than investigating subgenres of sexploitation, horror/gore, and road mayhem. Featuring interviews with many key players involved in Oz genre films, their prolific proliferation makes the absence of a few key players even more of a gap. The most notable absentee, Bruce Spence, appears in the first featured clip (Stork). His roles in 20th Century Oz, The Road Warrior, and many of the films highlighted in Not Quite Hollywood have made him the gangly face of Australian Cinema (at least as much as Dame Edna, Noah Taylor, Paul Hogan, or Yahoo Serious).

The lack of discussion about The Road Warrior is unsettling but far stranger is the inclusion of clips from The Cars that Ate Paris with nary a mention of this unusual artsploitation film. Proudly lowbrow, it’s Australian film critics Jim Ellis and Philip Adams that provide the loudest voices of dissent against the films Not Quite Hollywood embraces. They also are a valuable counterbalance to the pervasive interview with fanboy Quentin Tarantino who proudly proclaims “This is my favorite [Insert Adjective Here] film!” far too often to be sincere.

Mark Hartley does a fine job highlighting numerous films that have otherwise remained under the radar for U.S. genre fans; some gathering dust on video shelves and others never getting release in the United States, much less their native Australia. The frantic pacing of Not Quite Hollywood could use some help as the film runs out of gas right when it should gain its stride with the road movie section. This final chunk stalls out, becoming a hodgepodge of loosely-related clips (though Hartley gets a lot of mileage out of one clip from Mad Max that he uses four times).

A good first attempt, here’s hoping that Not Quite Hollywood spurs another, sharper-focused look at Outback Cinema.

Sexykiller (Miguel Marti, Spain, 2008)
In 1996, Scream provided an insightful commentary on horror film conventions. It spurred an unsuccessful franchise, parody series (Scary Movie), and countless ripoffs. Remarkably, Miguel Marti’s film manages to be both unsuccessful and a ripoff. And, with star Macarena Gomez looking like a Spanish Anna Faris, the film is also reminiscent of Scary Movie (of which Faris is the recurring star). If you’re keeping track, that’s three strikes.

Starting with a Scream reference, this derivative mess goes downhill from there. Written by Paco Cabezas, Sexykiller tries to lasso too many genres. The movie begins as a serial killer film (a la American Psycho 2), moves to science fiction territory (a la Unforgettable, Wild, Wild West), and then ends up like a zombie film—all of it related to the audience via main character Barbara (Gomez) breaking the fourth wall in her narration of the story. All of this mugging and overstylized pilfering keeps reminding the audience of better films that Sexykiller has taken from and how good it should have been.

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