Thursday, August 21, 2008

The Apple (Menahem Golan, 1980)

The amount of anguish I had to endure before savouring Menahan Golan's insanely brilliant The Apple was out of control in terms of prankish prodigality. I started off with some Nepalese breathing exercises followed by some mild calisthenics. However, I felt I needed an extra boost in the celestial department, so I decided to cleanse myself spiritually by pretending to cut a misshapen triangle into my forehead with a dull X-Acto knife. Now whether these unnecessary rituals assisted my viewing experience or not will never be debated by scholars. But the fact remains that this festering hunk of nonsensical cinema is one of the most electrifying musicals ever made by a man born in the ancient city of Tiberias. Oozing undiluted meretriciousness–and I mean that literally, just ask the floor in front of my flickering box, The Apple is a mind-blowing spectacle that soars beyond the meager realms of art and commerce. Transcending the dilapidated confines of heaven and earth with its unapologetic use of colour, the florid film provides enough tawdriness to nourish even the most hardened of fruit lovers for the duration of at least twelve lifetimes. Unfolding in a futuristic netherworld, where the antithetical spheres of fascism and body glitter collide with one another to create a hellish state of illusionary happiness, this salacious tale of disco decadence gone awry follows the musical misadventures of Alphie and Bibi (two wide-eyed singers from Moose Jaw) and their attempt to make it in the concrete domain of Mr. Boogalow, the founder and president of BIM (Boogalow's International Music).

Now, you're thinking to yourself: "How does the CEO of a record label control an entire city"? Well, it's simple, he's multilingual, owns a receding hairline and possess a well-lubricated sense of self. Plus, he's got an army of jackbooted BIM-police to do his bidding. Anyway, enough about Mr. Boogalow (Vladek Sheybal), the important question is, will Alphie (George Gilmour) and Bibi (Catherine Mary Stewart) be able to transverse the morass of BIM-ville without selling their souls? It's hard to say, and I've seen the film three times this week alone, but you'll care. Believe me, you will care.

What I liked most about The Apple was how all the songs were audible. I mean, the fact that I could hear them just by using my ears was a bold masterstroke by the filmmakers. The songs, while not as catchy as the ones heard in Xanadu, somehow still managed to sound like actual music. I may be standing on a limb overlooking a precipice, but I'd say the use of musical instruments such as keyboards, drums, guitars, and a wide variety of horns, no doubt helped the film achieve this astonishing feat.

The always wonderful Catherine Mary Stewart (Night of the Comet) lip-syncs her little Albertan heart out as the naïve Bibi. Her transformation from wide-eyed folk singer to sexy disco queen was as smooth as Donna Summer's thighs on a mid-October morning. The manner in which she kicked and screamed during "Speed" was a definite highlight.

Picture if you will, Catherine's expertly-combed hair (imbued with an odd array of pinks and blues), triangular BIM-mark (which is struggling to stay stuck to her perspiration-covered forehead), and sexy silver outfit skillfully meshing with a throng of bi-bikers in black leather, and you will understand the eye-catching magnificence that is The Apple.

Despite his lacklustre Moose Javian accent (more like suburban Regina), George Gilmour's many looks of abject confusion and hallucinatory flights of fancy were still topnotch as the integrity-plagued Alphie. The misguided allure of Vladek Sheyhal's constant winking and sinister hand clasping were a force to be reckon with as the depraved Mr. Boogalow. And his right-hand man Shake (a fabulous Ray Shell) and Grace Kennedy's Pandi added that extra bit of zing to the proceedings. Grace's voice during "Coming For You"–and not to mention, all the unclothed leg kicking–could melt broccoli.

This may sound a tad ill-sorted, but my arousal-based infrastructure usually juts outward in a departing fashion when I'm watching most movies. However, since The Apple isn't most movies, I couldn't help but notice that my one-eyed penetration baton seemed to jut inwardly, almost as if it was trying to violate itself. Weird. Still, can you really blame it?

Seriously, the production design by Hans Jürgen Kiebach (Cabaret) was out of this world and the costumes by Ingrid Zoré were downright awe-inspiring. I mean, you'd have to be completely inactive on the inside not to find the sight of fifty or so sequin-covered crotches cavorting in what looked like an abandoned food court somewhat appealing. Screaming titillation at every turn, the visual splendour that is this movie will energize even the most stagnate of nimbuses.

Oh, and one more thing, unlike most of the people who have attempted to type words extolling the virtues of The Apple–you know, the ones who seem enamoured with their own glibness–my love comes from an extremely sincere place.


1 comment:

  1. this is one of the best movies of all time, i even named a club night after it. my favourite bit is the car in the sky.