09 December 2005

American Masterpiece

Have I ever told you how much I love documentaries? Really, I do.

Per the previous post, it should plant the seed to that very idea. But, I just finished watching another golden nuggest to re-affirm my affection for nonfiction celluloid.

The title of this gem, you ask? American Movie.
Just the name itself is something to behold.

Here's a review that I think sums it up nicely:

So sad, it's good
13 October 2003
Author: cortell from Austin, TX

I have mixed feelings towards this movie. I found the movie fascinating in the way people are fascinated by car wrecks, and I found it funny in the way one might uncontrollably burst out a laugh at the sight of an eldelry person slipping on an icy sidewalk. It's a sick and guilt ridden enjoyment. The lives of most of the people this movie brings you in contact with are so pathetic that you can't help being intrigued. But lives hardly worth living do not a good movie make. No; there was more to it than that. What sucked me in to this documentary was the perserverence and tenacity of the characters that carry on day after day in an existence that would drive most people to jump off the nearest bridge. People standing around in robes in a forst in the dead of winter for hours on end to help a friend that will no doubt produce a film only 400 locals would pay to see. A barely coherent old man who's too cheap to use the phone for local calls lends $3,000 to his nephew for a project he is certain is doomed. A mother who is as clueless as her heart is big sticks by her son through thick and thin. These things tug at the heart and, despite all the pity and head shaking they provoke, reveal a humanity that one can't help but be in awe of.

Oh, and the comedic moments are priceless. Uncle Bill steals the show in that department, but many others contribute. (The kitchen cabinet door scene nearly rolled me off the couch.) Yep; there are some priceless laugh spots in this film that almost make you wonder whether this isn't truly a mockumentary in the style Christofer Guest (Spinal Tap, Best In Show). But it's not; it's real life making you laugh, and that makes it funnier.

Yes; I enjoyed the movie quite a bit, but probably for the wrong reasons. But so did countless others. In the end, it doesn't matter. A good movie is a good movie.

Now, I know you're thinking, "Dude, you're just now seeing that movie? It came out 5 years ago"
Actually, it's nearly 6 years, but who's counting?

If you're like me and hadn't seen it yet, it's the story of a downtrodden filmmaker slaving away on his unfinished work, trying desperately and ambitiously to finish his dream with the help of his family and friends. All this beneath the snowy, gray flannel skies of Wisconsin.

Talk about someone perpetually behind the 8-ball.

While there are some life-affirming moments for our heroes in the movie, the film is a comedy of errors for the most part, played out over 2 years and the production and abandonment of as many movies.

I won't spoil the ending, but if you haven't seen it...check it out. I will admit it's an acquired taste, in that you'd really must live the filmmaking experience and shared the hero's dream to find the pathos behind the film.

But if you look hard enough and don't give up on it, you found something profound and beautiful against all odds.
Much like Mark's journey in the film.

It's all there. Your patience will be rewarded.

Hey, it worked for Mark.
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