Directed by Chris Smith
Starring Mark Borchardt, Mike Schank
Stands there not the man jack amongst you who doesn’t think, “hey, even I could make a movie?” Certainly, but not that many of us are willing to give up a good job flinging newspapers or sweeping up at the cemetery to obsessively pursue that great American Dream. Hoser Mark Borchardt is obsessed with film — not good at it, mind you, but obsessed. When not slamming down peppermint schnapps and PBR, he spends his odd moments attempting to grant destiny to the poor souls wandering into his cinematic flytrap. After three years of filming people drinking in a junk yard, he finally finishes the 35 minute by 16 millimeter B&W epic, Coven . Good for him. The long quest of mooching money from old geezer relatives, not paying bills, and dreaming that 3,000 other losers will shell out $14.95 has ended.
Shot as a mock documentary, this movie strikes close to home for indie film fans, ex-Milwaukeeans, or anyone with drugged-out dreamers for friends. The acting is certainly good enough — glazed eyes and slurred speech could be Method skill, or just cheap brewski. Mark’s folks have a Germanic disdain for anything short of a good second shift job at Allis Chalmers, and you can just about smell Uncle Bill and his $280k. Low budget mockumentaries shall dog us for years to come — this one at least has enough laughs and authentic noodle heads to entertain you for 110 minutes.
American Movie explores whether dogged determination and obsession overcome a lack of talent and financing. The answer is never clear. The common advice from those who succeed — never give up — appears as a fruitless quest for Mark and his dedicated friends and relatives. I hate to discourage anyone, but repeated failure in the face of great odds is nature’s way of telling you to get a day job.