Friday, May 28, 2010

The Apple

Cannon Films, run by Israeli entrepreneurs Yoram Globus and Menahem Golan, pretty much captured the zeitgeist of the '80s. Their low budget films revolving around ninjas defined a decade that is now forever associated with ninjas, low budget, and video games. However, Cannon was hardly consistent, or good, and they had this strange obsession with musicals that they could never shake, which resulted in the modern classic Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo (which I actually own, because it was $5 and I could say I owned Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo on DVD for that low, low price). This odd love of musicals resulted in The Apple, today's subject.

I've heard the Apple described as a completely insane disco musical that failed spectacularly. That might be overselling it a bit, but it is a disco musical that is also influenced by equal parts Fahrenheit 451 and the Bible (hence the Apple of the title), with an ending that comes completely out of left field. It is certainly strange, but I'm not sure if it's strange enough, to capture that sense of batshit insanity that a truly nuts film has to do.

It's 1994, and the World Vision Song Contest - It's supposed to be like Eurovision (which is going on right now!) except in the world, though it shares a name with a charity. In this 1994, a big media corporation called Bim controls the world, run by Mr. Boogalow (I wonder why Golan and Globus love that word so much). Mr. Boogalow (Vladek Sheybal, hamming it up) is the devil, quite literally, and runs the world with money and sellout disco music. But, from out of nowhere comes two plucky young kids from Moose Jaw (a running joke which is naturally annoying to me, being from Saskatchewan and all) who capture hearts with a sappy love song that is also not very good, but pure. Bibi (Catherine Mary Stewart) and Alfie (George Gilmour, with a distinctly non-Moose Jaw accent) are subsequently invited to make deals with the devil, becoming a super famous pop star like Lady Gaga and a hippie bum respectively.

Possibly the most interesting thing is the depiction of 1994, which actually manages to get some things right, even way back in 1980. Okay, nobody listened to disco, but people did wear lots of neon pink, and to get one detail right in these supposed futures is always impressive. Hell, look at the list of product placement in 2001 that showed mostly businesses which no longer existed in 2001. Naturally, some things didn't pan out. The 1970s mustache died an ignoble death, and for some reason glittery gold speedos never caught on - given the sheer number of glittery speedos captured on film, one wondered if Golan and Globus had stock in a company that made them - but hey, neon, we sure wore that.

The Apple does have some fairly astonishing scenes, like when an older pop star (in a silver speedo) convinces the female lead to both eat the Apple and that it's a natural, natural desire to meet and actual, actual vampire. There's also an amazing sequence when Alfie trips balls at an orgy and we are treated to the underwear kama sutra with men in golden speedos and women in nighties while we're treated to a surprisingly explicit song about seduction. The ending, which does not make sense in any context, is also worth noting, though I suspect that it was a focus group thing and the original ending was much more grim.

There is a problem with the Apple though, and that's that it tries to have it both ways. It decries the sell out nature of disco music while packing the soundtrack with disco hits. It decries the status of entertainment and has a corporate run state, but doesn't do anything with them. It reaches out to dirty hippies without having a single song that a dirty hippy could "dig". It seems like it wants to convert its audience away from disco, which is sort of noble, though in 1980 people were naturally moving away from disco anyway, possibly because it sucked.

It's hard to say that the Apple is worth watching, but it is fairly memorable when it hits its insane highs. Golan, who also directed, soon realized his true calling, which involved breakdancing and ninjas (and ruining Superman) but in this, the most nonsensical of musicals, he decided to get personal, and state what was wrong with music and the world. The strange thing is, he was sort of right - the story of Bibi doing a complete image shift from singer songwriter to vapid disco queen bears a striking resemblance to Lady GaGa's rise to fame - he just expressed it in the most bizarre way possible.

No comments:

Post a Comment