There Is No Cat

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Tuesday, April 30, 2002

It's alright! It's okay! There's something to live for!

I finished watching the DVD of American Movie yesterday. It's a wonderful movie. If you haven't heard of it, it's a documentary about a guy in Milwaukee, Mark Borchardt, trying to make a movie. He seems like the least likely person to be able to make a movie, between living in his parents' basement and drinking too much, but damned if he doesn't pull it off. He doesn't make the movie he intended to, but he does get a short horror pic made. The movie is just really sweet, and the two main characters are amazing. Every Don Quixote has to have a Sancho Panza, and Mike Schank fills the roll perfectly. Mike is just the sweetest guy. At one point he says that if it was up to him, he wouldn't be making a movie, but his friend is, so he is. I thought that just said a lot. Mark's mom is another star; there's a priceless scene where Mark is trying to convince her to come out into the woods because he needs extras for a scene he needs to shoot that day and most of his extras begged off. The real heart of the movie, though, is Mark's relationship with his uncle, a crusty old miser who turns out to have been paying a little more attention than it seems.

The DVD is just crammed full of extras. In addition to the movie, there's a commentary with the director and producer and two main characters. Probably the most interesting thing I took away from the commentary is just how similar the productions of the documentary and the horror film were; made on shoestrings, bumming film wherever possible, took freaking forever. The documentary looks a lot better than the horror film, though. There are a bunch of deleted scenes that the director makes clear were great material, but got in the way of the story and made the film too long. This sort of thing really shows off the advantages of DVDs. I wish they had these back when I was in college taking film courses. It's a great thing for anyone who has an interest in film.

Anyway, I really found the determination of this guy trapped in nowhere jobs like delivering newspapers and caretaking at a cemetery uplifting. The man has grit. He actually accomplished something, and that's admirable. The documentary's makers really painted a beautiful portrait of this man and his family and friends.

The web site for the movie is excellent, and continues the story. Mark Borchardt has a journal on the site, and it appears he's still working on the film he was trying to make at the beginning of American Movie, the one that was postponed in favor of the horror short. I hope he gets it made; it sounds interesting. It seems like the past few years have kind of distracted him with all the attention he gained from the documentary. One of the neatest features of the site is that it gives you a phone number to call Mike Schank in his basement. In the movie, Mark says that the reason he's making the horror pic is to make money to fund his big movie, and that if he can sell 3,000 copies of the horror pic on video, he'll have paid for the movie, paid back everyone who loaned him money, and have the money for the next film. It's good to see on the web site that he's well-surpassed his goal.

The director of American Movie, Chris Smith, has another web site, an Internet TV station called 0TV (that's a zero). One of the things on the site is a show about Mark and Mike, so you can see even more about what's happened to them since the movie. Neat stuff. There's a lot more stuff on the site, though. One thing I was playing with tonight was the "Guess My Name" game. Very clever.

For a long time, I was really reluctant to watch movies on video. I worked in a video store after I came home from college, and I think it really burnt me out on the experience. While I worked there, I was able to bring any unrented video home for the night for free, so I gorged on movies. After I left, for years I just had no desire to watch videos. I did once in a while, but really no more than once or twice a year. Since we got the DVD player last year, though, I've been getting into it a lot more. Hey, it only took 15 years to get over that crappy job at the video store. :-)

Posted at 11:02 PM


Note: I’m tired of clearing the spam from my comments, so comments are no longer accepted.

Have you watched the porn show on Otv? It's cool.

Posted by jodi wellindorf at 9:34 AM, June 20, 2002 [Link]


This site is copyright © 2002-2024, Ralph Brandi.

What do you mean there is no cat?

"You see, wire telegraph is a kind of a very, very long cat. You pull his tail in New York and his head is meowing in Los Angeles. Do you understand this? And radio operates exactly the same way: you send signals here, they receive them there. The only difference is that there is no cat."

- Albert Einstein, explaining radio

There used to be a cat

[ photo of Mischief, a black and white cat ]

Mischief, 1988 - December 20, 2003

[ photo of Sylvester, a black and white cat ]

Sylvester (the Dorito Fiend), who died at Thanksgiving, 2000.


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