Wednesday, September 15, 2010

BMC MOVIE OF THE WEEK: THE APPLE

The Apple
    Unleashed just as the disco phenomenon had peaked and was slipping out of public favor, this one-of-a-kind pop musical is set in 1994, when a Mephistophelean entrepreneur named Mr. Boogalow (Vladek Sheybal) controls the international recording industry through the Worldvision Song Contest. Boogalow's wildly theatrical protégés, a decedent dance-pop group called Bim, seem a sure bet to walk off with the grand prize and worldwide fame, but at the last minute Alphie (George Gilmour) and Bibi (Catherine Mary Stewart), a folk duo from Canada, nearly steal their thunder with their song "Love, the Universal Melody." While Boogalow rigs a victory for Bim, he sees moneymaking potential in Alphie and Bibi and offers to sign them to a contract. Alphie, suspicious of Boogalow, declines, but Bibi leaps at the chance, and is soon remodeled into a stylish pop star while heart-broken Alphie throws in his lot with a gang of hippies living in the park. Bibi comes to regard fame and wealth as hollow and empty, but discovers walking away from Boogalow is easier said than done. Featuring an inarguably remarkable finale, The Apple was shot primarily in Germany, despite being set in the United States; while George Clinton is credited with writing lyrics for several of the original tunes, be advised it's not the same George Clinton who led Parliament and Funkadelic in the 1970s and '80s. – All-Movie Guide
    60% liked it

    PG, 1 hr. 30 min.

    Director: Menahem Golan

    Sept 12, 2010: Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C)

    Set in the distant future of 1994 where most of the population slavishly devotes all of their attention to a televised talent competition while the world literally goes to hell around them (oh sure, like THAT could happen in real life), The Apple is so wincingly bad, and yet so mesmerizingly fascinating, that you absolutely can’t stop watching it once you’ve pressed play.

    The songs range from the cloying (Love, The Universal Melody) to the hysterical (the beyond-innuendo I’m Coming For You), the acting is predominantly amateurish (most of the extras were culled from off duty military personnel), and the costuming looks like some failed attempt at a homoerotic homage to The Jetsons. Worst/Best of all is the ham handed biblical allegory running throughout the story. You’ve got the eeevil single horned Mr. Boogalow who is in the business of manufacturing fads to satisfy the world’s endless material desires. You’ve got the innocent young Bibi who ultimately falls to temptation during an oh-so-subtle musical dream sequence in which she is offered a beach ball sized apple to taste. And in a jaw dropping conclusion, you’ve got the all-in-white Mr. Topps descending from the sky in his golden Mercedes to whisk all of his holy hippies away to a new planet free from the machinations of Boogalow.

    Oddly enough, up until the finale, The Apple actually manages to stay more or less theologically correct, i.e. Love & Faith = Good; Materialism & Hedonism = Bad. But the filmmakers just couldn’t resist letting a little cynicism creep in at the very end and have God give up on His promise to redeem this world. A good Jewish boy like director Menahem Golan should have known God doesn’t change his mind like that. Oh sure, we get verses like this week’s reading from Exodus which seem to blatantly show God doing that very thing, but that’s not really what’s going on.

    Without getting too technical, God couldn’t possibly change His mind because that implies that He received some new information which caused him to alter his decisions. But for an omniscient (all-knowing) God for whom “all moments of time are present in their immediacy”, there couldn’t possibly be NEW information. So omniscience inevitably leads to immutability (never changing). The “changes” in God’s mind we see in the Biblical narrative are not meant to be taken literally, but are to be seen as a literary device which caters to the limitations of our own locked-in-linear-time perspective. God may know what’s going to happen, but we don’t. But rather than stopping in mid-story to launch into a tedious discussion of free will and pre-determination, it’s much easier to illustrate the eternal consequences of our decisions by stating that God thought to destroy us, but changed his mind after we repented. It’s always about salvation first when it comes to the Bible, the rest can be argued out in philosophy class.

    Oh, and just to prove I haven’t been hyperbolizing about The Apple, here’s a little number from the movie for your viewing pleasure... or pain… or both. Probably both.

    P.S. By the way, I’m well aware that The Apple technically makes the same theological error as 2009’s Legion, a movie which I’ve verbally defecated on at every opportunity over the past year. The difference is that The Apple still keeps God on our side whereas Legion turns God into a schizophrenic sociopath hell bent on wiping out humanity. So, yeah, The Apple, one of the most splendidly wretched films ever made, is still a better and more watchable movie than Legion. I poop on Legion once again.

    14 comments:

    newguy40 said...

    Ooo... Thanks for the vid.
    It usually takes me about 10 viewings before I start to see Christian images in a movie or song. Or, I have some one like you to point it out to me.

    EegahInc said...

    "It usually takes me about 10 viewings before I start to see Christian images in a movie or song."

    Not a problem with The Apple. Look up the title number on YouTube. I think the religious imagery will hit you in about ten seconds. Watch out for the loin cloths, though.

    Derrick said...

    last line of the P.S. Is hilarious. Suggested new keywords for certain posts: "pooping on legion" (or something to that effect).

    Thank you for this blog by the way. I'm fairly new to it, but I enjoy the format and your writing, including the theological insight contained therein.

    EegahInc said...

    Thanks for the kind words, Derrick. Any insight on this blog is gleaned from centuries worth of smarter folks writings. The pooping, however, is all mine.

    Smiter the Archdeacon said...

    When they schlepp out Mephistopheles at the end of that ditty, the director missed an opportunity to have him in a codpiece - just to drive home the point even more blatantly.

    Anonymous said...

    "The Black Russian one! That drives all the clergy mad!"
    Edmond Lord Blackadder

    Xena Catolica

    PaperSmyth said...

    A future when "most of the population slavishly devotes all of their attention to a televised talent competition while the world literally goes to hell around them (oh sure, like THAT could happen in real life)"?

    I could faint dead away from lack of oxygen due to laughing at the first paragraph alone! Brilliant!

    MissJean said...

    I hate to say it, but I LIKE that clip! That is possibly the silliest thing I've seen a long time, and frankly the songwriter was pretty good with a catchy tune and that tempo-change to keep things interesting.

    Can't say I want to watch it, though.

    EegahInc said...

    Well, I can't say I remember the Blackadder codpiece making an appearance in The Apple (although I've seen it way too many times at the Renn Fest), but the movie has no shortage of other questionable fashion choices.

    The talent show thing was actually kind of weird considering Pop Idol wouldn't debut for another 20 years. I have to give the movie props for that.

    And don't worry, MissJean, you're not the first to succumb to the dubious charms of The Apple. Not all of the songs are as enjoyable as the one I posted, but you can find them all on YouTube if you want more. Or if you have Netflix, it coincidently showed up on Watch Now just last night.

    Wildrow12 said...

    A Faustinian disco musical?

    Well, I'll give you this much: that's a new one on me.

    Now all we need is a Heavy Metal Faustinian musical which ends with "Hard Rock Hallelujah" by Lordi. Now that's entertainment.

    romishgraffiti said...

    Have you commented on DePalma's Phantom of the Paradise and I just missed it? This reminds me that.

    MissJean said...

    On second viewing (yes, I am succumbing, Mr. E), I notice that the young black man is wearing low-riding girl pants that WERE popular in '94. And he definitely pre-figures LadyGaga.

    EegahInc said...

    "Now all we need is a Heavy Metal Faustinian musical..."

    "Have you commented on DePalma's Phantom of the Paradise..."

    Stay tuned.

    "And he definitely pre-figures LadyGaga."

    This being 2010, he could actually BE Lady Gaga!

    romishgraffiti said...

    Now all we need is a Heavy Metal Faustinian musical

    I believe there have been several recordings like this, but no actual stagings. Hear Kamelot's The Black Halo for instance.