Saturday, July 18, 2009

The Apple

I learned about this film at the "Joy of Bad Movies" panel during ConVergence last summer, and it was actually shown twice at the convention (once by popular vote as to which film should be granted an encore presentation at Cinema Rex), but I never got the chance to see it until very recently. And oh, what an experience that was.

"The Apple" is a bizarre glam/ disco mash that reminds me of "Rocky Horror", The Village People's "Can't Stop The Music", "Velvet Goldmine", and even "Fahrenheit 451". Quoth Netflix: "Two Canadians... fight the leaders of a future dystopia (set, interestingly enough, in the now-distant past of 1994) when they test their fate at the Worldvision Song Festival. Their sweet and smart lyrics earn them the admiration of many, but corporate giant Boogalow International Music pushes for another team to win. When BIM offers them a contract, however, the pair wonders whether the gift is really a trap."

And so on... many spectacular song-and-dance production numbers follow, and an inexplicable plot careens on a collision course with the viewer's utter bewilderment. The elaborate costumes, sets and lighting are truly unbelievable.

One of the many truly odd aspects of this film is a kind of hamfisted satire of real-world America circa 1980-- the BIM regime enforces values of totalized decadence and unconcern for one's fellows, all in the name of the corporate revenue stream. One gets the sense that some (though, sadly, not all) of the performers understand they're partaking in a monumentally silly undertaking, and the writer(s) must have been cognizant of it as well.

But that makes the film sound considerably more savvy than I mean it to. The colossal train wreck of all these ideas is what makes "The Apple" such a hoot, especially since the characters introduced to oppose BIM's values (or lack thereof) are... a commune of hippies who live in a cave? It's one of those artifacts of an era when the question of "How did this happen?" likely has something, somewhere, somehow to do with cocaine. Sample the trailer linked above, and if it looks like your cup of tea then kick back with this film and get get ready for a real treat.

Failed Westerns

A fun game I ran across on Twitter yesterday: subjecting Westerns to titular sabotage. Choice entries include "The Adequate Seven" and "Oklahomaphobia"; someone just decided to call one "Palin". I offered "Midwestworld", "The Mild Mild Mild Mild West" and the contribution of which I'm proudest, "The Oscar Wilde Bunch". Vote for your favorites.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Recent listening

Bonnie Prince Billy-- Beware
Brown Rainbow-- Advantage: Y'all, Undergrounders, The Littlest Puppetmasters
Beseppy-- Sferic Witch
The Best Of The Johnny Cash TV Show 1969-1971-- Ray Charles' rendition of "Ring of Fire" is incredible, and hearing Joni Mitchell and The Man in Black do "Girl from the North Country" is quite charming.
The Hip Hop Box, Disc 1-- never heard "Freaky Tales" by Too Short before. Hilarious.
PJ Harvey-- Rid of Me, To Bring You My Love-- I've always liked Pajama Harvey, but why wasn't I listening to this stuff constantly during the 90s? Better late than clever, I guess.
Paul Metzger-- Deliverance
Mogwai-- The Hawk Is Howling
Arthur Russell-- Love Is Overtaking Me-- can't get enough of this album.
The Smiths-- Rare
Stockhausen-- Theatre of Voices
Lucinda Williams-- Little Honey-- some terrific songwriting, as usual, especially the ballads. And her cover of AC/DC's "It's A Long Way to the Top" is wrong in a way that's just right.

A very boring story

Out for a walk this morning, I passed a big earth mover machine making a lot of interesting sounds. Swung home to pick up recording gear, then headed back.

A dismal failure of a recording in that a) I had the recorder set on "mono", thus neutralizing the charm of binaural playback, and b) the guy had turned off the machine by the time I got back anyway. The contractors working on a nearby garage made sure to lapse into silence as I passed too... A dog started barking at me at one point, though, and I'm sure that'll come in handy sometime.

Later at home I sat on the couch reliving this underwhelming experience via headphones. My cat Abigail, sitting on my lap as she obsessively does, could apparently hear a lot of the sounds even though the headphones were fairly isolating and I didn't have the volume up very far. She's a jumpy one, and she flinched at a lot of the sounds (she didn't like the barking dogs very much, of course). But when the recording reached the passage where I was unhooking the front gate, she leapt off my lap, ran into the dining room, jumped up on the table and gazed out the front window expecting someone to come in as if she'd heard the gate itself. So I guess I captured that part pretty well anyway.

See? Told you it was boring. Can I sell it or what?