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The Dirk Diggler Story (1988)
Amazing look into the world of the other Dirk Diggler.
This was PT Anderson's first film, made when he was just 17, it's shot on video and was edited together on two VCRs. This is just an amazing film, shot as a documentary on the rise and fall of porn star Dirk Diggler, covering his career through the late 70s and into the 80s, featuring excellent deadpan narration. All of which was later re-written and expanded on for his second full-length film, Boogie Nights. The film features lots of on set footage as we watch Dirk in action during filming; this is interspersed with interview footage with his friends and fellow porn stars. Some of the major characters that would feature in Boogie Nights are already here, including Reed Rothchild, Dirks best friend and sidekick in their films, here played by a huge bodybuilder, with an amazing mullet haircut. Also present is director Jack Horner, here played by Robert Ridgley, who was in Boogie Nights playing the Colonel, he turns in a great world weary performance as Dirk's mentor, never once taking off his massive shades, his performance is excellent and he's easily the best in the film. Dirk himself is played by Mike Stein, a good friend of Andersons, who plays Dirk perfectly, with long flowing dark hair and a slim muscular physique. His performance is great as he goes from top of the world star to bottom of the ladder gay porn films, one of the differences in this film is that here Dirk is bi-sexual and Reed is his lover as well as friend. Anderson manages to cover lots of ground in the short 30 minute running time, covering Dirks porn career and then his successful album, which we get to see being recorded. Here we get to see him singing exactly the same song Mark Wahlberg sings, `The Touch'; the mixing of the album even features the discussion about the bass line drowning out the vocals. After this we get to see Dirk's attempt to get into the world of TV, through his own show `Angels Live In My Town'. The opening credits sequence is fantastic, easily the equal of the same scene in Boogie Nights, with Dirk running up and down alleyways, jumping over fences and doing karate kicks, all the while decked out in flares, waistcoat and cool shades. After this its all down hill for Dirk as the drugs begin to take over his life. The main thing that comes through from this short film is that Anderson is very assured about what he wanted to do, the film runs along very quickly and he gets amazing performances out of the actors. There is a great attention to detail and he manages to create a great sense of authenticity on the sets of the different films we see getting made. Anderson uses his limitations very well and creates a rawness and reality with the video footage looking very realistic in capturing the mood of the characters as they reminisce about Dirk. The dialogue is also spot on and features some classic lines and some very funny moments. The final of the film plays out in slow motion as we see Dirk and Reed hanging out while the Carpenters `Memories' plays over the top. The film is a great insight into what was to come for Anderson as well as showing how talented he must have been at 17 to be able to make something as realistic and entertaining as this. It's a must see if your into Boogie Nights or if you just want to see a very entertaining film.
Insightful look at the new wave of filmmaking in the late 60s.
An early film from director George Lucas that chronicles the making of Francis Ford Coppola's The Rain People', Lucas goes on the road with the crew and documents the processes and troubles involved in the making of the film. Starting off with shots of the cast in rehearsals with Francis, then heading off through the countryside as the cast and crew travel to the different locations. Lucas focuses his film on Francis and mostly just chronicles the process of daily filming, using narration from the different crew to explain the problems they had making a low budget film. One of the most interesting points of the film is its depiction of the new wave of filmmaking, as the equipment was now lightweight it was easy to break away from the studio backlots and go out on the road. This gave directors a new sense of freedom which Lucas's film captures perfectly. The cast and crew travel around in cars and had problems when parts of their convoy would get lost. Lucas manages to capture the spontaneity of low budget filming and shows Francis rewriting the script to include a local parade that's happening in town. Francis is show arguing on the phone with the Directors Guild about their insistence that he take along an extra assistant director, which he vocally disagrees with. Afterwards he claims that the current system will be brought down by its own weight. One of the highlights of the film is seeing Francis without his beard, Lucas explains in his narration that everyone had to get their hair cut to look presentable on the road so they would be aloud to shoot in the towns they came to. Francis looks unrecognisable without his beard. It's an informal film and shows that Lucas was in tight with Francis as he's allowed access to everything, while his direction is laid back but also reveals a lot about the making of this underrated film.
Fascinating look at the early work of James Cameron.
This was James Cameron's first entry into the world of directing, it's a short sci-fi film that is set up as if it is part of a long running series, as if you are just watching one episode without having seen any of the others. The story covers a search across the universe to find a place where man can begin the cycle of creation again. The most amazing thing about this short film is how many ideas and images it contains that are present in Cameron's other work, as if he has always had theses images in his head and was determined to use them on a bigger canvas. Starting off with white credits on a black background, the film then has a minute long introduction that fills you in on the back-story via narration, which plays out over a series of paintings depicting the story. It's here that the first reference to his later work appears, one of the paintings depicts a man holding a woman, the flesh on his arm is missing, and showing that the arm is mechanical. Looking exactly like the shot in Terminator 2 when Arnold takes the flesh of his arm to reveal he's a robot. Then the film itself begins with Raj walking in part of a massive abandoned space ship; here he finds a gigantic care-taking robot. Similarity two occurs here, as the robot is an exact match for the gigantic war machines on tracks in the future battle sequences in T2, right down to having the same style of tracks. The robot then proceeds to attack Raj, this is where the most amazing similarity occurs as his fellow explorer, Laurie, comes to his rescue. She breaks down a door in a long legged walking robot, that she controls from inside by using joysticks, looking exactly like Ripley at the finale of Aliens taking on the Queen alien. The actor even looks like Ripley, there are shots of her inside the machine that also look exactly like the shots of Mary Elizabeth Masterantonio in her sub in the The Abyss'. The two machines then have a spectacular battle, which literally ends on a cliffhanger. Cameron manages to get an awful lot into his short 12 minutes and the film is exciting and interesting. His effects work is fantastic for what must have been a limited budget, which brings up another theme that was already emerging in his work, that of always going for the big movie with plenty of effects work, though with strong characters to root the action around. A theme that is also obvious is that of the very strong female role, as it's Laurie who comes to rescue Raj from the robot. This short is a must see for anyone interested in Cameron and will blow you away with how many ideas are in here that would later turn up in his other films, I couldn't believe it when I first saw it.