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American Movie (1999).

February 9, 2010

The Scoop:
We Americans sure like to dream big, don’t we? This is the nation that gave birth to the notion of social mobility. We like to think that we, too, can be rich, famous or powerful, no matter what our humble beginnings. Of course, we Americans also don’t think that we could possibly have any shortcomings that could possibly get in our way. So, while we may be a nation of Bill Gateses, we are also a nation of Mark Borchardts.

“American Movie” is a terrific documentary from Chris Smith that follows demented Wisconsin hoser Borchardt and his best buddy Mike Schank as they try to make Borchardt’s “great American movie,” titled “Northwestern,” and a short film, “Coven” (pronounced “Coh-vin”). The result is a hilarious (often unintentionally) look at a typical American schmuck with big dreams.

If Borchardt can ever get his shit together long enough to finish a film, he could well make his mark as the Ed Wood or Coleman Francis of his generation. Unfortunately, shit keeps getting misplaced.

“American Movie” offers a rare first-hand glimpse an outsider cinema artist of the Wood/Francis type at work. And in the process, it shows us a little bit about our own dreams as well.

Best Line:
“There’s some corny dialogue that would make the Pope weep.”

Side Note:
The soundtrack, performed by Schank, features covers of music by Bach, Metallica and “Mr. Bojangles.”

Companion Viewing:
“Coven” (1997) and “Ed Wood: Look Back in Angora” (1994).

Links:
IMDb.
Official site.
Salon.

Take a Look:
The trailer:

Mike proves why he’s the best second banana in the film business:

In this deleted scene, Mark shares his love of Burger King:

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