Giuseppe Makes a Movie by Adam Rifkin

Giuseppe Makes a Movie
Directed by Adam Rifkin
Initial release: April 26, 2014
Screening: Oakland Underground Film Festival, Oakland, CA
September 28, 2014, 8:00 p.m.
Watch trailer here

Review One

An off-the-wall and oddball film, Giuseppe Makes a Movie fails to disclose anything reminiscent of theme or plot. Being a documentary about a film, it mainly follows around a man holding a camera. By telling a story within a story, a typical yet flat postmodern aesthetic is revealed. 

What is this movie about? It's a question without an answer. We could say it is about a movie where an escaped cow takes a trip to a motel, and we could also say it is about the crazy cast of characters who participate in the film, or we could say it's just a zany way of exposing the evils of eating meat. But none of these claims would be as true as saying it revolved solely around a guy named Giuseppe and his passion for making films.

Though Giuseppe believes he's casting a bunch of eccentric and original characters, including a homeless man whom he pridefully associates with because he's “nonconformist and authentic,” these actors have long gray hair, wear baggy clothes smeared with dirt or showing their oversized midriffs, and struggle to speak the English language. Further, none of these actors – from a senior citizen who's in the first shoot with a shoe on his head, to Giuseppe's girlfriend who waxes about her boyfriend's originality and how he takes her along on his various projects, to some guy with long, black hair and an unconstrained beard which he uses in oral sex —add much perceivable value or creativity to the blank canvas created by Giuseppe.

Though the plot could be commended for being completely impromptu, it fails to carry along the guiding principle of improv—that each happening accumulates into a narrative. The film lacks coherency, and appears as a jumbled mess of scenes involving a man who snorts flour as if it were cocaine, Giuseppe directing an overweight girl to do a clumsy two-footed dance move before sticking out her rear end in front of an old man's face, and a whole lot of other nonsense.

In summary, this is a crude and low-brow film with very little to redeem it, save for its service as a warning of what will happen to culture when form, structure, and standards of artistic talent are removed. The end credits were kind of fun to watch, too.

Overall rating: 1.5/5 stars

Shelby Keizer
Nomadic Press
Keizer is a writer, thinker, and aspiring Renaissance woman with a special affinity for the past and for the future. She is wedded to the invisible.

Review Two

In Giuseppe Makes a Movie, Giuseppe makes a movie. Kind of.

Giuseppe Andrews (originally Joey Andrews) has been in films you've seen, but you don't remember him. He seems always to have been the little brother or the best friend of a secondary character. Still, knowing that his resume includes bit parts in films including Independence Day and American History X, it can be difficult to understand his current direction in film.

It can also be difficult to understand what he's doing in film at all. Let's start by saying that the Hollywood lifestyle has not followed him onward from his blockbuster roots.

Giuseppe Makes a Movie follows Andrews as he shoots his latest film using a low-quality hand-held camcorder starring whomever in his trailer park neighborhood is willing to join in the fun. Toothless old men with Vietnam-War-widened eyes and local punk kids named “Spit” are on the no-star roster of his latest piece, Garbanzo Gas, which is named (not kidding) after the canned-chickpea flatulence that Andrews experienced while scripting.

Garbanzo Gas is absolutely artless, as is Giuseppe Makes a Movie (the film about the film). Utterly crass language, talent-free acting, revolting imagery, bottom-shelf props, and deliberately offensive referencing of base urges pepper the entirety of both with not even an attempt at an excuse or a justifying reason. The plot is about a sentient cow who is aware that he (she? The cow is played by a bearded old man wearing a cow costume with an udder) will be sent to slaughter after his (her?) all-expenses paid vacation—to a cheap motel—while the encasing documentary meanders through the excruciating experience without seeming to grant the viewers a catharsis worth their time.

One should perhaps not waste effort trying to give Andrews credit for being a legitimate filmmaker, but this is beside the point. The point is that Giuseppe Andrews really, truly, genuinely loves making his films. His bright eyes and the energetic animation of his rail-thin frame as he takes his project to completion reveal his passion for creating as well as for including his absurd menagerie of cohorts in his work. If anything is to be learned fromGuiseppe Makes A Movie, it is that doing what you love is worth it for its own sake. And it better be, because for Andrews, absolutely nothing else is going to come of it.

Justin Quirici
Nomadic Press
Quirici is a writer and a wanderer. Having studied the philosophy of consciousness and the science of communication, Justin uses what he has learned to merge perspectives where possible and to offer his own views from outside the norm where needed.