Laura Morgan
May 26, 2000 AT 04:00 AM EDT

No-budget filmmaker Mark Borchardt’s bullish determination is either divinely inspired or pathetically misguided. In American Movie, in gritty non-glory, director Chris Smith chronicles Borchardt’s ramshackle attempt to make his horror opus, Coven. While Smith’s portrayal is never condescending, it is occasionally cringe-inducing: Watching Borchardt’s family members predict his failure gives viewers an ugly insight as to why the fabled American Dream continually eludes this would-be cult hero. B+

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