Nightlife

The Apple

by D. Bishop
Contributor
Tuesday Aug 24, 2004
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Some films achieve fame by employing talented performers, mind-boggling special effects, creative storylines or magical cinematography. Other films grab audiences with compelling emotional content, haunting scores, or heart-pounding action sequences. And then there are films that gain notoriety not for the quality of the production, but because they are, quite simply, strange. The Apple is strange… not disturbing-strange like Eraserhead, not goofy-strange like Ace Ventura: Pet Detective… wacky-strange, like a Bible student dressing up in their mother’s old 70’s futuristic disco outfits flipping between pop and easy-listening stations while studying. It’s definitely not going to be to everyone’s tastes, but I have no doubt some will consider this cheesily-flambouyant musical among the most memorable films ever made.

If you strip away the make-up, glitter and spandex, The Apple is a very thinly (VERY thinly) disguised Biblical morality tale which teaches that greed does not lead to happiness, and that God, or Mr. Topps (Joss Ackland), will eventually return to lead those not in league with the Devil, or entertainment executive Mr. Boogalow (Vladek Sheybal), to a better place. Alphie (George Gilmour) and Bibi (Catherine Mary Stewart) are a duo song act specializing in nostaligic, romantic songs that are not exactly in fashion in the futuristic world of 1994, but which can still speak to the audience’s heart if heard. Unfortunately, Mr. Boogalow, who is more interested in usurping their talent than furthering their careers, tempts Bibi away with a lucrative recording contract and promises of success, leaving poor Alphie to struggle with his music alone while lamenting their lost love. Alphie and Bibi must overcome their own greed and jealousy if they are to escape the influence of Mr Boogalow, who slowly begins to insinuate himself into every aspect of daily life, and find salvation.

I expect that this production on stage, given a decent budget and a good choreographer, would be pretty spectacular to watch. In style it reminds me very much so of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. However, where that film, though completely quirky, actually has some legitimate production value, The Apple suffers from poor camera work, lame choreography, and slipshod editing. Shots held uncomfortably long during dance numbers, unwisely framed sequences, and dancers flying across the screen at nonsensical times detract from music, which in some cases is not that bad at all (I especially liked Speed, Where Has Love Gone, and Coming). This is a particular shame, since almost without exception the non-musical parts of the film are nearly as painful to watch as a film student’s first forays into exposition. The story itself, while amusingly clever in places, contains far too many holes and confusing jumps to be viewed as anything but amateur. It is as if someone decided one day that they wanted to tell a Bible story using rock music and transvestites, and slapped this piece of work together over a stoned weekend. I can forgive low-budget special effects and props in a musical, and I can appreciate the exaggerated dance sequences inserted because they ARE comical, but there is no reason why a film of this type should fall down on the basic technical aspects. That’s just poor filmmaking.

I would have a very hard time recommending this film to most people. However, to the select few who are addicted to cheese, gold lame, enormous false eye lashes and exaggerated social satire, turn the lights out, grab yourself a feather boa, and sing with me about “being a Master”!

Unfortunately, outside of a Teaser Trailer, there is no extra material included on this DVD. I feel this movie screams out for special features - I had a lot of questions about the intent, the direction, and the talent choices which, if answered, might have helped me have a clearer view of what the point of the picture was, outside of functioning as a morality tale.

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