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8/10
Life, but not as we know it...
17 April 2006
For me, the best & most memorable movies are often those which on first viewing I know nothing about. American Movie is a perfect example of just such a gem. Watching TV late one evening, I spotted the one & only good review among the dross - thankfully I settled in for a real treat. American Movie is a documentary following the unforgettable Mark Borchardt (pronounced "orchard", I believe), a highly articulate & charismatic Wisconson lad, as he struggles to write, direct and produce "MidWestern", a gritty, low-budget Horror movie on which he has been working for years. In Mark we discover a young man filled with contrast. His appearance is of the classic trailer-trash stereotype - skinny, bum-fluff mustache, '80s heavy metal styling, mullet hairdo, etc. To camera however, Mark reveals startling wit & insight as he philosophizes upon life, love, movies & the American way. As the movie unfolds, it sadly becomes clear that Mark's lack of discipline & heavy drinking are relentlessly sabotaging his creative efforts. American Movie is a charming watch, filled with hilarious moments & vivid characters. Chief among these is Mark's lovable buddy Mike Schank, a soft-spoken reformed stoner who, having conquered an addiction to scratch cards, is now dependent on soda pop. I absolutely loved American Movie. It generates real empathy between the viewer & principal characters, and provides hilarity without feeling exploitative. I would wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone.
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