Giuseppe Makes A Movie is one of the most fascinating documentaries that Schlockmania has seen in a while, the kind of film that gives you a thumbnail sketch of a scene that is captivating yet leaves you with questions about what you just saw. Thankfully, the film’s distributor Cinelicious has seen fit to give it a 2 blu-ray release that uses its generous dimensions to cover all the nooks and crannies of the subject matter that a single documentary would not allow.
The first disc is devoted to the main feature. The transfer does its best by admittedly rough source material: Giuseppe Makes A Movie was shot in 2005 on consumer-grade video gear so the color and clarity can only be so strong in any presentation. That said, this transfer gets the most out of it. The audio is a simple Dolby 2.0 mix of recording taken directly from the camera microphone but it sounds pretty decent given the recording situation.
Where this set excels is the extras. The first bonus is a commentary track from director Adam Rifkin and producer Mike Plante. It’s a must-listen for the film’s fans as it offers a lot of detail on how Rifkin became involved with Giuseppe Andrews, additional info on Andrews’ collaborators and plenty of stories about the documentary’s action-packed 3-day shoot. Most importantly, the track makes a case for Andrews being sincere about his filmmaking and that he isn’t exploiting the people in his films. The other bonus on the first disc is a trailer that sells the film’s blend of eccentricity and pathos nicely.
And that’s just the beginning of the extras. The second blu-ray is devoted entirely to extras. The first is Garbanzo Gas, the Andrews feature whose production is chronicled in Giuseppe Makes A Movie. As the documentary suggests, it’s a crude but fast-moving mix of scatalogical humor, free-form improvs, John Waters-esque dialogue and a pro-vegan moral. Whether or not you like it is a matter of personal taste but you’ve never seen anything like it – and any fan of the documentary should check it out at least once.
Next up is “Schlong Oysters,” a 25-minute selection of outtakes from the documentary. Highlights include Giuseppe’s father telling some interesting stories of his early childhood, a funny dad/son fight and some compelling fly-on-the-wall footage of Giuseppe directing his actors. “Visual Medium Observation” is a 25 minute chat with Andrews several years after the documentary: he offers a philosophical essay on cinema that gives the segment its title but also discusses his love of Fassbinder films and serves up an amazing anecdote about how Grumpy Old Men and Dolemite profoundly influenced his approach to filmmaking.
“Bill Nowlin Lives” depicts Andrews interviewing a regular from his early films who didn’t make it into Giuseppe Makes A Movie. The director has a genuine rapport with a star who opens up and offers a window into a kind of down-and-out life that others might never catch a glimpse of. “Fifth Wheel” is – believe it or not – a sitcom pilot that Andrews made in his trailer park featuring many of the actors who appear in Garbanzo Gas. It’s not hard to figure out why the t.v. channels didn’t bite but it’s a fun short form version of the Andrews style, complete with a fun scene where Tiffany and Tyree play a bickering lesbian couple.
“Directed By Giuseppe” is a quick montage of opening titles moments from several Andrews films. Taken out of context and quickly strung together, these moments gel into a free-form riot of cheaply recorded yet catchy music, scatology and undefinable eccentricity. A final extra is provided by an insert booklet that offers heartfelt appreciations of the documentary and Andrews’ work by Bill Gibron and American Movie subject Mark Borchardt.
In short, if you love the experimental/outsider-art fringe of cult cinema then you need to pick up this set.
To read Schlockmania’s film review of Giuseppe Makes A Movie, click here.