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Jozef K. Richards
Jozef K. Richards,
Documentary that chronicles how Francis Ford Coppola's Apocalypse Now (1979) was plagued by extraordinary script, shooting, budget, and casting problems--nearly destroying the life and career of the celebrated director.
On the northwest side of Milwaukee, Mark Borchardt dreams the American dream: for him, it's making movies. Using relatives, local theater talent, slacker friends, his Mastercard, and $3,000 from his Uncle Bill, Mark strives over three years to finish "Covan," a short horror film. His own personal demons (alcohol, gambling, a dysfunctional family) plague him, but he desperately wants to overcome self-doubt and avoid failure. In moments of reflection, Mark sees his story as quintessentially American, and its the nature and nuance of his dream that this film explores. Written by
In the "elevator sequence" that is briefly shown as part of the movie "Coven", the actors that are portraying the doctors are wearing their driver's licenses on their lab coats instead of hospital staff identification badges. See more »
[to cast with covered faces]
You guys gotta look menacing! Can you be more menacing?
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Okay, so I'm a sucker for a good documentary, particularly where it tells a modern-day Don Quixote story. A caveat: I met Mark Borchardt in the winter of 1995/96 while he was still working on Coven. But I'll save that story for later. American Movie, which commenced production not long after, accurately portrays the person that I knew, although in greater depth than I expected or believed existed. This is simultaneously a very funny and very sad film, and is brilliantly executed. Mark comes across as his own worse enemy: his childlike ambition and optimism -- which I admire -- is undermined by his apparent artistic ineptitude as well as his bizarre fiscal expectations. But he's also a charismatic guy. His loyal Sancho Panza sidekick is equally likeable: loyal, if frazzled, to the core. Like Don Quixote, American Movie presents an often-ignored inefficient aspect of freedom -- that people will be drawn toward professions to which they are not particularly well-suited, irrespective of repeated failure. It is a great film.
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