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Apples

****
2020

‘Apples is a minor gem, an art house film that punches well above its weight when it comes to identifying a few truths about the human condition, and what makes us who we are.’

If you ain’t got pictures, it didn’t happen,’ said an uncouth commenter decrying some garment-touching celebrity story on my blog the other day; it seems that in the digital age, the art of telling a good story is secondary to snapping an intrusive photograph. Yet some of us hate snap-happy photography with a passion; the shutter falls like a guillotine on a precious moment, killing it instantly, in my experience. Christos Nikou’s film is precisely about that question of what makes a memory; is it an artefact, or a feeling, or what?

Sure, this is an art film, from Venice 2020 and a debut from a Greek director, but it’s also a type of film that we’ve seen before; the idea could have come from Spike Jonze or Charlie Kaufman, and it’s easy to imagine the film remade with Steve Carell and Aubrey Plaza. In an alternate universe, a virus has decimated the world, causing instant and total amnesia for the victims. Aris Servetalis plays Aris, a man who finds himself sitting on a bus, having no idea where he came from or where he was going, knowing only that he likes the taste of apples. Recovering, he takes part in a government assistance programme that encourages people to make their own memories, and become happier human beings for having a firm sense of their own identity. Couched by a voice on a tape recorder, Aris has one-night stands and plans parachute jumps, and is armed with a Polaroid camera to capture the moment for his memory book. Things get complicated, however, when he meets a young woman doing the same…

Nikou does a neat job with the film’s conception; the technology is very late 70’s, with no smart-phones or computers, just lo-fi. But that’s not to say his film avoids the here and now; right now, many of us are crawling back out of lockdown, trying to remember who we used to be and how we used to act, and Apples couldn’t be more timely. Like the Blade Runner movies, Apples asks; what are we that is more than just our memories, what is it that makes us human? And the answer that it comes up with feels agreeable and well-worked. There’s also lots of fun on the edges, like getting locked out of your house, or wandering around a multi-story car-park when you lose your bearings.

Apples is billed as a comedy, but this ain’t Ghostbusters, it’s art, so there’s a lot of net curtains and men pensively eating fruit. That said, there are some very funny sequences, a static shot of a man on a diving board in a communal pool that’s universal in the way that a Benny Hill sight gag would be. And there’s a deft costume party in which Batman suddenly gets carted off in an ambulance, leaving Catwoman unexpectedly single; moments like this have a silliness which could come straight from 80’s tv comedy Russ Abbott’s Madhouse. Apples is a minor gem, an art house film that punches well above its weight when it comes to identifying a few truths about the human condition, and what makes us who we are.

Thanks to Curzon for advanced access. See this movie from May 7th 2021 in the UK via

https://homecinema.curzon.com/film/apples/

 

 

Comments

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  1. Very neat idea for an arthouse movie. I guess in some way all out memories are selective but it would be interesting if we could find some way – not necessarily a virus – to retain only the good ones.

  2. Like the sound of this one. I also enjoy the taste of apples, so I guess me and the protagonist could associate on that subject. Wouldn’t mind forgetting a few things – did I tell you about the time I had a picnic in a graveyard…?

    Do you moderate other things than just comments? Is this a new hobby for you?

  3. As we mock in my family, “If it’s not on Facebook, it didn’t happen.”

    So, does he start remembering from the moment on the bus forward? Thus living life starting as an adult?

    Or is it one of those stories where everyday he wakes up again remembering nothing?

    • No, it’s not a Groubdhog Day, or Palm Springs scenario. He’s kind of wiped clean, and his family do not claim him. While I do love memories, I hate the idea of ruining memories in order to provide evidence. I think you will dig this film, it’s quite a sweet, very arty and imaginative look at how we work out who we are.

  4. a curiosity, sometimes people make film I think I’d write. I still wonder why we’re so addicted to story-telling. Where are the “free jazz” movies? We had Brakhage and other purer artists, but why aren’t we being offered more in this direction? Seems to me music and color coupled with a bit of DMT could fill the houses. 🙂

    • Write some and see how it looks. I get that a movie like this plays to the converted, but it’s also very off-beat and as you say, could well be a way of filling houses again with those keen to dine off-menu…

  5. Well I’m spot of the ‘art house’ and ‘comedy’ tags, I quite like the sound of this one. Also reminds me I’ve got a few packs of Polaroid films to shoot….

  6. Does this address the serious side of mass amnesia and things like power plants, etc? Any civilization that is advanced enough to have tape recorders is going to have power grids, sewers, etc. Just wondering if any of that is touched on, or just ignored?

    • I hear you, but this is a comedy, and things are done with quite a light touch. You have to bring your own social issues to the party…any suggestions for where people should look for info?

            • That is what it did to me. Just call me Donatello, but I’m unlikely to respond due to amnesia.
              Curses, that Democratic party and their hoaxes!

              • What? Who said anything about the Dem’s? It was Trump and the Repubs who initiated Operation Warp Speed..

                What color is your eye covering? All ninja turtles have to have colored eye coverings. It’s in The Code….

  7. Sounds like a possibility. Maybe it’s just the Greek connection, but it sounds like it has a Yorgos Lanthimos vibe to it, like from Alps.
    I’d like to hear more about this insightful commenter on your blog. Where did he make this astute point about pictorial evidence? Links or it didn’t happen.

    • I don’t keep a note of every bald Canadian walloper who leaves a moranic comment on this blog, despite hefty security measures to stop him doing so. I guess we just have to bear the thuggish behaviour of such mutants. Yup, think this one might be up your street, so maybe in 70 years time you could review it.

      • Hm. So you just made it up. I see. *sigh* Though I thought you would have wanted to take note of a comment that showed the wit of a Rick Moranis.

        • That was my joke, well done for understanding.

          I think the moron in question was one Alex Good, but there’s no point in trying to shame someone like that, so far beyond society’s norms that he literally cannot be shamed by his own fetid behaviours.

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