American Movie: The Making of Northwestern is a movie documenting amateur filmmaker Mark Borchardt's attempt to film his opus Northwestern. As hard as it is to believe, this is a real documentary, filming real people doing unbelievable stuff, trying to get a movie made on a skeleton budget. Several times I had to double check that this wasn't a fictional movie, as the characters as just too bizarre to believe!
Mark Borchardt is a loser in the game of life, who has been making hack horror "films" (and I use the term loosely) since he was first given a camera when he was in his early teens. Chris Smith, the director of American Movie and producer Sarah Price, follow Mark for over two years, as he tries to get his epic film of ordinary Midwest life made. They document the early filming, the break to finish up his current horror short Coven (included on the DVD) to generate money for Northwestern, to starting back up on the epic, which never does get finished during this documentary.
It's hard to relate to any of the people in this film. It also doesn't help that a central event in the film is the Packers slamming the Patriots in Super Bowl XXX in 1996! Mark Borchardt is an unemployed dreamer who talks big, thinks small, and drinks alot, imagining himself to be a film visionary, while his friends and yes, even synchophants, all float around him in a hazy group. Some of the scenes of the film on Coven are hard to watch, especially the one where one of the actors gets his head repeatedly slammed into a cupboard door, trying to break it, only to find out they didn't score the wood enough!
I'm not sure if I can recommend this movie. It is an interesting look at filming a shoestring budget film, but the movers and shakers in this film are just so far beyond normal it is hard to relate to them. It might be different if these guys showed some talent, and you could pull for them to get the film off, but they just don't have any! But there are some good scenes and it is a fun movie to watch. Rent it, I guess!