American Movie Reviews

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April 18, 2015
If you like this movie, go make fun of Special Olympians
Super Reviewer
February 17, 2015
There is a particular bent in documentaries lately to take the oddest people in society and make them think that they are being filmed for a serious purpose when in actuality, you are filming them to be mocked by broader society. In this case we get our laughs in at the moronic Borchardt and later feel equally annoyed and wanting some pity to a person who will clearly never make it.
February 6, 2015
Directed by Chris Smith (The Yes Men (2003), The Pool (2007) and Collapse (2009), this documentary came about after Smith met aspiring independent filmmaker Mark Borchardt, who had aspirations to make an epic horror film in his native Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin. This shows just how difficult it is to make a film, and how it's a lot more than just pointing a camera at something and calling action. This tells the story of how small time filmmaker Mark Borchardt made Coven (1997), a 36 minute black and white horror film. Originally, Borchardt had wanted to make a horror epic called Northwestern, but that one proves to be too ambitious. So, using the same money they'd raised for Northwestern, Borchardt decides to make Coven, with help from his senile 82 year old uncle Bill. However, production proves to be difficult with various mishaps and setbacks happening. Mark, a chronic alcoholic, takes to the bottle when shooting gets stressful, but his friend and collaborator Mike Schank, who beat alcoholism, is determined to see Coven through. It's a true underdog story, and it shows that if you fight hard enough, you can get what you want to make made. But, it's a sad fact that independent films are the hardest films to get made in the cutthroat world of filmmaking. But, the fact that Borchardt fought against the odds to get Coven made is inspiring.
Super Reviewer
October 14, 2014
A midwestern independent filmmaker marshals his friends to produce his horror film, Coven, a title that he decidedly pronounces "Coe-ven".
What word means the opposite of "inspiring?" I suppose it's "discouraging," but that doesn't quite capture how this film makes me feel. Oftentimes, I get a paroxysm of courage that tells me to "just make the damn movie; use your iPhone if that's all you have." But this film casts a shadow of doubt over such moments because I fear that I could look as foolish and incompetent as Mark Borchardt, whose limited cinematic vision, failure to understand basic story-telling concepts, and utter lack of self-reflection are only eclipsed by his self-assuredness and courage. He's no doubt an idiot, but he's an idiot who fashions himself an artist, and there are lower ambitions that a man might set himself to.
American Movie is Borchardt's story, and your patience with his brash, over-taxing ambition will determine your patience with the film. For my part, I found him pitiable and my viewing of the film uncomfortable.
Overall, this documentary serves as an unwelcome mirror for those who fashion themselves artists; I only wish it were required viewing for all Hollywood execs as well.
July 24, 2012
filmed in Wisconsin? Makes me want to see it even more!
½ October 4, 2014
This is a quietly endearing documentary about the idealistic and irrepressible Mark Borchandt trying to fund his magnum opus by completing a silent horror film that he started 6 year previous. It is ultimately quite heartfelt and the sheer commitment to his film overlaps with his personal life in quite a touching manner.
September 18, 2014
Documentary which follows a young director trying to put a horror film together.
September 9, 2014
A hilarious documentary centred around a dreamers attempt to make it big in the film industry and the varied characters he drags along in his quest.
½ August 25, 2014
It takes you right through the indie-film-making-world. Hilarious during some moments, and really interesting from the begining,
August 25, 2014
Goes to show that you need belief (and not neccessarily talent) to make your dreams come true - and after all the bullheadedry, it's hard not to warm to these guys
August 24, 2014
At times it is hard to shake the feeling that these people are being exploited. Like, all over the place. Uncle Bill is getting money taken from him by Mark that is not really going to the most worthwhile pursuit, all the while we the audience point and laugh at these not-quite-high functioning alcoholics. But you know what? They signed the waivers so screw 'em.
½ August 14, 2014
Hilarious documentary that showcases real passion and a wonderful message.
July 22, 2014
Tuesday, July 22, 2014

(1999) American Movie

This is my second or third viewing of optimistic horror filmmaker Mark Borchardt with documentary filmmaker, Chris Smith documents some of Mark's tribulations regarding directing low budget horror films who was inspired by the likes of Tobe Hooper of "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" fame and George A Romero of "Night Of The Living Dead" and Dawn Of the Dead. Putting a lot of time and money into a movie called "Coven" as well as using family and friends. The most engaging character is Mark's uncle, Bill Borchardt.

3 out of 4 stars
July 20, 2014
a bizarrely inspiring tale that at once becomes a ragtag success story as juxtaposed against the harsh realities of blue-collar life, borchardt is framed as a quasi-tragic figure but with a unique personality, authentically quirky
June 15, 2013
Is that what you wanna do with your life? Suck down peppermint schnapps and try to call Morocco at two in the morning? That's senseless!
June 9, 2014
Very slow moving but very funny and kind of gripping. Although this is a documentary and you know they aren't, you can't help but wonder if the best showcased are characters. Haha.
April 30, 2014
My Favorite Film Is 1941's Citizen Kane.
April 30, 2011
Funny, entertaining and inspiring to aspiring film makers.
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