BR: Giuseppe Makes a Movie (2014)

April 30, 2016 | By

GiuseppeMakesAMovie_sFilm: Excellent

Transfer: Excellent

Extras: Excellent

Label:  Cinelicious Pics

Region: A

Released:  July 14, 2015

Genre:  Documentary

Synopsis: Documentary on actor and indie auteur Giuseppe Andrews as he makes his latest outlandish feature film “Garbanzo Gas.”

Special Features: Disc 1: Audio commentary by director Adam Rifkin and producer Mike Plante / Theatrical Trailer — Disc 2: Bonus 2007 feature: “Garbanzo Gas” (75:00) / Deleted scenes (25:01) / 2012 Giuseppe Andrews interview (28:56) / 2005 Bill Nolin interview (14:06) / Unsold TV Pilot “5Th Wheel” (22:09) / Filmography Montage “Directed by Giuseppe” (5:11) — 8 page B&W booklet with liner notes by Bill Gibron and Mark Borchardt.




In 1999, Adam Rifkin (Look, and screenwriter of Mouse Hunt and Small Soldiers) directed the cult film Detroit Rock City, in which a group of teens try to crash a KISS concert. Co-starring with Edward Furlong (T2: Judgment Day) was Giuseppe Andrews, by then a veteran to child and teen roles in TV (Nick Freno: Licensed Teacher) and film (Unstrung Heroes, Independence Day), and within 3 years Andrews would start writing, directing, editing, scoring, producing, and sometimes acting in his own work, adding roughly 20 titles to his own directorial C.V. – most of them feature length movies.

Although he would still take acting roles outside of his own oeuvre, Andrews focused primarily on developing a lo-fi style, writing the scripts in feverish spurts, and not touching the text until the day of shooting, using actors who lived within his own environs – a trailer park in California – or more often than not, homeless men with their own share of heavy pasts. Alcoholics, drug users, victims of abuse, war vets, drifters, potheads, and surfers.

Over the years, Andrews would visit Rifkin and show him his latest work, a canon perhaps best characterized as extremely idiosyncratic tales with outrageous humour. In some cases those films – in whole or in their original versions – no longer exist, because of Andrews’ penchant for junking props and films due to their subjectively perceived irrelevancy.

Rifkin was utterly fascinated by Andrews’ working methods, his theatrical troupe of bruised souls, and the hugely bizarre stories packed with poetically demented dialogue and explosively profane sexual similes, metaphors, and grungy nomenclature. Sensing Andrews’ California filmmaking endeavors were unique and ephemeral, Rifkin proposed shooting a documentary on his friend.

Trust was key, hence one man shooting band Rifkin acting as cinematographer, soundman, and director as he played fly-on-the-wall to Andrews during the creation and filming over two days of his 2007 feature film Garbanzo Gas, so named when Andrews ate a bowl of garbanzo beans… and farted. A pivotal creative breakthrough.

After filming of Garbanzo Gas ended a half-day early, Rifken hung around for the wrap party and headed back home, after which the hours of footage sat around for years until producer Mike Plante bugged him to do something with such fascinating material.

What ultimately emerged was a hypnotic glimpse into fringe filmmaking by a character some might initially call insane, exploitive, vulgar, and amateurish, but as the doc slowly progresses into the first day of filming, opinions on Andrews as a filmmaker shift a bit, especially when part of the story involves interviews with the men and women that make up his acting troupe.

The doc’s trailer is a lively sampler of the craziness within the film – the most hysterical bits have him repeating absolutely vulgar dialogue to Tyree, the elder statesman of his troupe who frequently appeared naked in prior work – but Andrews isn’t insane or a full-grown nut; he’s an entrepreneurial artist thriving in his own weird world, doing his thing on his own terms, and letting his troupe have fun playing ridiculous characters using costumes and props furnished from the local dollar store.

A few of his movies were picked up by Troma, and works not destroyed are available – along with his written work and music – from his website,

Cinelicious Pics 2-disc set features both Rifkin’s documentary – a superb little gem about fringe filmmaking and its eccentric multi-hyphenate poet – and Garbanzo Gas, which has to be seen.

No excuses. Not because it’s so awful, but because it’s a validation of Andrews’ eccentric working methods. In Rifkin’s doc, it’s seems impossible to believe whatever Andrews is shooting will make sense, given the hastily shot, rapidly written film takes three stories that converge in the last few minutes: a cow is awarded an all-expenses paid trip to a motel before he’s collected for slaughter; two schnooks check into the same motel to watch a football game before blowing out their brains at checkout time; a senior who follows the murderous commands of his orthopedic shoe arrives at the same motel where another man is also hiding out after following the teasing murderous urgings of towels.

Seriously. That’s the plot. And at the end, the cow is rounded up by a butcher and taken away for slaughter.

Andrews’ dialogue is unspeakably graphic – it’s amazing his actors can deliver the clusters of still-wet-and-sticky profanity without cracking up – but it works, as do the loose performances of his troupe, with Tyree stealing the film by just existing within any given frame. Andrews’ music is an almost perfect fit, and most impressive, the film isn’t a visual mess.

In Rifkin’s doc, Andrews hops around his actors wearing a running suit to be ‘loose and flexible and fast’ during the 1.5 day shoot, setting up shots in seconds, panning and framing everything in tight wide angles using a consumer grade DV camera, and even from the extracted footage, it seems as though the damned thing can’t flow even on a visual level… but it does, and as Rifkin and Plante observe in the disc’s excellent commentary track, all those jump cuts between the few takes with the actors and cross-cutting between the various groups of characters are fine.

There is a certain craziness to the whole conception and production of Garbanzo Gas, but Andrews isn’t insane… just an eccentric with a knack for ridiculous stories and characters that exist in some deranged trailer park. And it is sad when the cow acquiesces to the butcher and heads back to the abattoir, ready to become hamburger meat and steaks.

If Andrews is the main character of Rifkin’s doc, his costars are the troupe of homeless souls with Vietnam Ron (the cow) being the most compelling, especially after telling Rifkin a horrible tale of being run over and dragged by a shitty driver and rebuilt by surgeons.

Andrews’ career probably wouldn’t exist without the support of his father, Big Ed (aka Joey Murcia), a top session guitarist who played on the bulk of the Bee Gees’ albums and tours, after which he became homeless, and moved to a trailer park with Giuseppe where they settled into and started their own filmmaking ventures.

Blu-ray extras (all of which should be devoured whole) include some deleted scenes where his father talks a bit more about their lives, and a 2012 interview with Plante and Andrews after the latter’s move to Austin, Texas, plus Andrews interviewing former troupe member Bill Nowlin in 2005 (shot by Rifkin) who was unable to participate in the wonder that is Garbanzo Gas.

There’s also 5th Wheel, a short film reportedly pitched as the pilot for a TV series which networks ‘resoundingly rejected,’ starring Tyree as a transgendered octogenarian who realizes his new trailer home won’t be covered by social security payments, and rounds up his extended family to collect trash at the crack of dawn to make ends meet. It’s insane, vulgar, and might have worked as an online show if Andrews was able to concoct enough unique stories to keep his eccentric cast busy.

The liner notes by Bill Gibron and Mark Borchardt (American Movie, Coven) celebrate Andrews’ feisty independent spirit and Goddardian ethic to smash conventions, but how much viewers will side with their admiration depends on the amount of Andrews’ work they wish to relish. The bonus montage “Directed by Giuseppe” offers a collection of clips from assorted main title sequences, and for connoisseurs of strange indie visions, Andrews’ whole ‘cum-filled filmographic burrito’ is online to buy in separate DVDs.



© 2016 Mark R. Hasan



External References:
Editor’s Blog — IMDB: Giuseppe Makes a Movie / Garbanzo Gas  — Composer Filmography
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Category: Blu-ray / DVD Film Review

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