J.B. Spins

Jazz, film, and improvised culture.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

BIFF: Apollo 54

No publishing house will ever crank out a book about the science of Apollo 54. That is because anyone with a third grade education could tell there isn’t any. Embracing its low budget with crude but inventive effects, director Giordano Giulivi’s Italian sci-fi spoof Apollo 54 (trailer here) is not exactly going for realism. Screening this week at the Brooklyn International Film Festival, A54 is an odd little film in search of a weird cult following.

As A54 opens, the Earth’s television and computer screens have been taken over by a mysterious signal broadcasting cryptic symbols (except for the television set showing the news broadcast which provides this exposition). Walking through the countryside, slovenly scientist Bobby Joe discovers a giant interstellar cable, which might be the source of the disruptive signal. Instead of telling somebody, he fashions an interstellar sky-gondola to follow the cable, evidently adapted from his house. Together with his sidekick Jim Bob, they set off to find the source.

Frankly, it is unnecessary to go any further into the storyline, and don’t even waste your time poking holes in the plot. Yes, the whole orbit and rotation of the Earth would make it impossible for it to be attached to other planets by a taut line of cable. Just like opening a spaceship’s hatch while in hyperspace would probably not be a wise idea. A54 is for those who want to revel in its grade Z goofiness, without the constraints of killjoy logic.

At times A54 is very funny, with a bizarre eye for detail—the table lamp on the spaceship dashboard is a particularly homey touch. However, it gets a little repetitive in the second half, and the final revelations borrow heavily from the Matrix trilogy. Yet for a certain geek audience, this film can’t miss. You already know if you are one of those people.

Adventurous but not demented audiences might enjoy A54 too, if in the proper mood. It screens again as part of BIFF on Saturday at the Brooklyn Heights Cinema.

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