American Movie

While watching Mark Borchardt and his friend Mike discussing production issues, the party days of yore or hopes and dreams, I started to think about how much power the filmmakers of documentaries have.  I know nothing about these people except what I’m shown, so I have to subjectively draw conclusions with the evidence they choose to give me and can only speculate what they have left out.  It is pretty clear Mark has big dreams and is… a bit different.  At least different from his parent’s part of the family.  The filmmakers know this and it made me start pondering about exploitation.

It would be hard for the filmmakers to convince me that Mark isn’t an odd character, and that’s ok, he is who he is.  But I started wondering about his friend Mike and the snippets of him they use in the film’s first half.  Most of them were short and almost nonsensical.  Don’t get me wrong, I found them hilarious and so did most of the room of viewers I was in but some seem unnecessary.    I had trouble buying it at first until a scene later in the film where he explains his past drug and hospital adventures.  Still, for a while I was wondering if the filmmakers were using his cheery/goofy nature as laughs for the movie to make them all seem sillier.  It is easier to feel sympathy for someone who can make you laugh.  All that being said, Mike made the movie better, whether it was his quirky interviews or his slow acoustic performance of Metallica’s Fight Fire With Fire accompanying an editing montage.


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