When I think white trash, I think of the famous tv show
COPS. One that stands out vividly in my memory is one where "Daddio"
gets the tires on his car slashed because his shitfaced neighbor feels the
need to stumble over into daddio's yard and slash his tires in a drunken
stupor. COPS intervene, (thank god) Daddio himself is sitting
on his porch drunker than a Baptist in a closet, retelling the grandeur of
his sorrowful tale of his poor vehicle to the hard working COPS, when they
cut quickly to the before said drunk neighbor. He of course, like
Daddio, is drunk sitting on his porch himself, drinking a finer domestic
canned beer found in the "Shit" end of any local beer/wine
store. To make a long ramble short Daddio will not be receiving new
snow tires from his neighbor who will be "according to him"
returning from the police station in about "30 minutes" this of
course shortly after downing the backwash of a beer in his hand before the
place a knee on his head while handcuffing him.
All this has nothing to do with this movie per
se, just a good drunken ramble every now and then is good eating.
This movie is basically Joe Blow's attempt at making an independent movie.
Which sucks hairy donkey dick by the way. But this documentary of
his struggles is actually an entertaining flick. Think of a 30
something white trash porch monkey living at home with a divorced mother.
This should be enough to lay down the mindset to enjoy a movie where you
really do laugh AT someone, and not with them.
"If you've ever wanted to make a movie, see "American
Movie," a documentary about someone who wants to make a movie more than
In my opinion, Mark Borchardt is a successful filmmaker. I'm less
convinced he's a good filmmaker. Borchardt is the subject of a visceral
documentary called American Movie (the best film of 1999).
Borchardt has been making short films since he was a boy. His taste is
questionable. Most of his pictures are horror schlock. None of this
matters in American Movie, however, because Borchardt's quest to write and
direct a film is astounding. Borchardt is persistent, irresponsible,
funny, morose, inspiring, embarrassing and often drunk. Say what you will
about Borchardt, but his passion to create won me over.
Borchardt dreams of completing a drama called Northwestern. He has a
script. He has actors, assistants and no money. Borchardt's only financial
resource is his Uncle Bill. Bill is one of three or four people in
American Movie who can only exist in real life. No character in a
fictional movie is as estranged as Borchardt's uncle. Bill lives alone in
a dilapidated trailer. Although he's barely able to take care of himself,
he has over $200,000 in the bank. It's hard to tell if Borchardt is using
his uncle for his money.
The rest of Borchardt's family is unsupportive. His father refuses to give
him money. His brothers acknowledge Borchardt's persistence, but come
right out and say that he will never amount to anything. Borchardt's
mother is willing to assist (at one point she operates the camera), but
doesn't believe in his future as a filmmaker. I found it amazing that
Borchardt's family is willing to say these things with the documentary
Events unfold and Borchardt is unable to complete Northwestern. He decides
he must finish another project (a horror short called Coven). Borchardt
believes that if he can finish Coven and sell enough video copies, he can
Ironically, Borchardt's "unusual" friends come to the rescue. His best
buddy is Mike Schank. Much of my time watching American Movie was spent
trying to decide if Mike was a real person or some kind of This is Spinal
Tap phony. Mike is the kind of guy who overdoses and then attempts to drop
acid in the hospital. His wardrobe consists of concert tee-shirts and
baggy jeans. His hair is a long, dark, matted mess. Mike appears to be a
stereotypical heavy metal stoner. But, he sticks by Borchardt; and he's
not without talent. The American Movie soundtrack is performed by Schanks
on guitar. Several of the tracks are original. It's a haunting, completely
appropriate score; a surprising amateur touch in a film co-produced by
R.E.M.'s Michael Stipe. Oh, and Schanks has one more extraordinary talent.
In one of American Movies funniest scenes, Mike dubs possibly the greatest
horror film scream in the history of the motion picture. Mark Borchardt is
literally taken aback, saying, "that was wicked man!"
I admired Borchardt's childhood friends for their loyalty. Sometimes you
get the feeling they don't have anything better to do. Still, they support
Borchardt in the eleventh hour: performing as extras, and splicing film.
A lot of people would call Borchardt a loser. Others would compare him to
Ed Wood. I don't think either description is accurate. Coven has
individual scenes of grainy, black and white cinematography which are
better than anything Wood ever filmed.
American Movie debuted at the Sundance Film Festival. It won the Grand
Jury Prize. Borchardt was on hand. And in a moment of cosmic justice, the
entire audience stuck around to watch Borchardt's 35-minute Coven. He