American Movie | Chicago Reader

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107 minutes
Who isn't tired of American independent filmmakers with yuppie bank accounts and film-school pedigrees? Meet Mark Borchardt, Milwaukee high school dropout with three kids, impossible debts, a drinking problem, and part-time jobs as a paperboy and a janitor at a cemetery—who's also writer, director, editor, and overacting star of a low-budget splatter movie he's been struggling to finish for years. He's the improbable protagonist of Chris Smith's marvelous feature documentary, an alternately hilarious black comedy and sad story of a screwed-up chronic overreacher who's always involving his peculiar family, his girlfriend, and his lawbreaking drinking buddies in his Ed Wood-like movie schemes. Borchardt: “The American dream stays with me every day—and thank God they've extended my phone bill until Friday.” (In a bargain-basement George Romero, Sam Fuller kind of way, Borchardt's horror-psychodrama Coven is pretty fascinating outsider cinema.)

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