Giuseppe Makes a Movie Blu-ray Review
Written by Robert Gold
Blu-ray released by CineliciousPics
Directed by Adam Rifkin
2014, Region A, 82 minutes, Rated R
Blu-ray released on July 14th, 2015
Giuseppe Andrews has spent the majority of his life making movies, either acting in mainstream features like Independence Day, Cabin Fever and American History X, or working behind the scenes as an independent micro-budget filmmaker (Touch Me in the Morning). His passion resides in this latter category, as he has directed more than thirty films, and will admit that almost ten of those are actually pretty good. He lives with his father Ed in the Ramona Trailer Park in Ventura, California, and has surrounded himself with a non-traditional troupe of talent. The people who work with him are either homeless men or are his neighbors in the trailer park. Many are addicted to drugs and/ or alcohol, some are senior citizens and all are down on their luck. Separately they struggle from one day to the next, but working together they can relax and have fun making a movie.
Giuseppe is about to start his latest production, Garbanzo Gas, on a two-day schedule with a budget of one thousand dollars. The plot involves a vegan cow on a weekend vacation, enjoying a taste of freedom before being returned to the slaughterhouse for execution. The cow meets two men in a scummy motel and mayhem ensues as the unlikely trio learns some valuable life lessons...or something. Although surrounded by sordid activities, the anti-meat, animal rights message remains powerful and there are also some unexpectedly strong performances. The movie stars many of Giuseppe’s regular cast members, including Walt Dongo, Miles Dougal, the awesome Vietnam Ron (as the cow) and the incomparable yet incontinent, Tyree.
Director Adam Rifkin cast Giuseppe Andrews in his film Detroit Rock City (1999), and has continued to work with him for many years since. Rifkin encouraged the young actor to follow his heart and make his own movies. Giuseppe cranked out a wealth of product in a relatively short period of time and with each new flick, Rifkin grew more intrigued by this man’s strange world. Giuseppe Makes a Movie is a fly-on-the-wall documentary that presents the latest endeavor, warts and all, as an artist lowers his guard and grants full access to an outside camera to reveal his creative process. What follows is an unbelievable whirlwind of creativity as we quickly discover the unique manner in which these films are made.
Before co-funding his son’s movies, Ed was a studio musician who played and toured with the Bee Gees in the late 1970s. We never meet or discuss Giuseppe’s mother, but the commentary track suggests the divorce was less than pleasant. Rifkin manages to capture a lot of quality moments in his documentary, particularly the strong love shared among all of those involved. This makeshift family will do anything for each other, as Giuseppe proves more than once when handling his friend Tyree. Although the majority of the faces we meet are male, there are two women in the young director’s life: his close friend Tiffany and his girlfriend Mary. Both of these women clearly love Giuseppe to death and are happy to be in his life.
Giuseppe Andrews is resourceful, determined and focused on making films, drawing inspiration from such directors as Godard and Fassbinder. His enthusiasm is infectious as he discusses foreign language art films and the joy they bring him. It is also particularly sweet to see how dedicated he is to friends and family and that he stresses the importance of having a fun time when making films. The scripts are filled with jarring poetry and the unexpected nudity can be surprising, but the artist’s heart is unmistakable to anyone watching closely. I have been familiar with this guy’s work for many years, but never imagined that his universe was so special.
Video and Audio:
Presented in the original 1.33:1 aspect ratio, the picture looks great, likely better than the feature being documented. Colors are strong and flesh tones appear natural. There is a lot of nice small-object detail, particularly in the lines of Vietnam Ron’s face.
The audio is presented in a straight forward Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo mix that is more than sufficient at getting the job done.
English subtitles are provided and may be occasionally useful, as some of the performers are difficult to understand.
The supplements for Giuseppe Makes a Movie are spread across two discs. Disc one contains an audio commentary with director Rifkin and producer Mike Plante that details how the project came together and the long process of completion. Rifkin is particularly candid in his reverence for what Andrews has accomplished. There are a lot of interesting stories that complement the onscreen material and I highly recommend this entertaining discussion of all things Giuseppe.
The original trailer for the film is the only additional special feature on this disc.
Moving on to disc two, this is where things get really good. Starting things off is Garbanzo Gas (2007, 75 minutes) for audiences eager to see the finished product. For newcomers, this experience will play a bit easier having watched the production process. Longtime fans will be happy to know this falls in line with the majority of Andrews’ other directorial efforts and is a dark piece of fun.
A collection of deleted scenes called Schlong Oysters (25 minutes) takes a look at some of Giuseppe’s artwork and includes moments interacting with Rifkin. We see the cast receiving more direction and a little more tension between father and son. I can see why these scenes were ultimately cut, but they are still interesting and are a nice addition to this release.
Giuseppe Andrews interviews Bill Nowlin, a longtime actor in his early films, in Bill Nowlin Lives (14 minutes, 2005). Topics range from early production tales to Bill’s extrapolation theory.
Directed by Giuseppe Andrews is a sample (5 minutes) of opening titles sequences from his numerous works.
Giuseppe sits down for a half-hour interview (Vizual Medium Obzervation, 2012) to discuss the many changes in his life in the years following Garbanzo Gas. I will not spoil anything, but suffice it to say he is doing well.
Director Adam Rifkin pitched a television show with Andrews and company, but not surprisingly every network declined to put it on the air. The pilot episode of 5th Wheel (27 minutes) is included for your viewing pleasure. This show could have been awesome and I would love to see something like this on television.
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