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American Movie (1999)
Director: Chris Smith

American Movie is the story of filmmaker Mark Borchardt, his mission, and his dream. Spanning over two years of intense struggle with his film, his family, financial decline, and spiritual crisis, American Movie is a portrayal of ambition, obsession, excess, and one man's quest for the American Dream.

American Movie (1999)

Inarticulate Speech of the Trailer Park

I am the perfect candidate audience for this. I watch a couple theatrical projects a day. I love film and am hungry for new and/or intelligent experiences. Plus, I have a passion for “folded” films, films that about themselves in some way. Moreover, this project comes with Sundance buzz attached, and trailer park voyeurism can be cinematic (“Gummo,” “Kalifornia,” even “Freeway”).

What we have here is a film made (in ways that its making is overt) about the making of a film. The interesting possibility is the distance between the damaged filmmakers we see (lots of attention is given to the drug addled friend Mikey) and those we don’t see. Those latter are clearly competent, detached and omnipresent — everything the crew we see is not. It gives us a smugness, but it gives us nothing else of value.

What we have instead is sport: a soap opera structured in such a way that we can read and judge the stereotypes easily — a “” where the characters don’t pretend as much.

This is pretty damaging stuff for a viewer. If what you are about is building a self using film as an aid, you can’t do much worse. It is a drug, no more.

Posted in 2003

Ted’s Evaluation — 1 of 3: You can find something better to do with this part of your life.


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