Category Archives: The Appointment
With Eric’s words (“DON’T YOU WANT ETERNAL LIFE?”) (kidding, I mean the part about the two ways to get to Heavne) ringing in her head, Liz sets out to get the word from The Man on the Street. And the Woman on the Street, too, I suppose.
And, just so we’re clear on the timeline, it’s now the 13th, so Liz has six days to—
Wait a second!
How can it be Tuesday on the 11th and on the 13th?
WHAT SORCERY IS THIS???
Perhaps Liz has found a way to cheat death: by bending time and space so that it is Tuesday FOREVER.
(Sadly, the sorcery seems to be that they forgot they needed another shot of a calendar. See the lower left of the 13th page? It says 317. And the 317th day of the year is November 13th…which was a Tuesday in 1990. Looks like they kept ripping pages off the calendar, all willy-nilly, until they realized that the audience might wonder how much time Liz has left.)
Anyway, for the most part, the Human on the Street come down pretty much how Eric expected—they think the way to get to Heaven is to be a good person. Shockingly, Liz doesn’t seem to solicit the opinions of any Hindus, wiccans, or atheists, with the possible exception of a sunglassed guy in a Hawaiian shirt, who simply responds, “Who cares?”
I love you, man.
And, for the record, a good number of people cite helping others and giving to the needy as requirements. Which I suppose makes them better people than Jesus, since doing these things isn’t a requirement to get to Heaven, but believing he is God, is.
The only person to give the “correct” answer is a black guy in an Adidas shirt (product placement!). In fact, he is so correct that…he basically recites Eric’s line about “there are only two different ways that people are trying to get to Heaven.”
It’s almost as though the screenwriter forgot to give different characters different voices or something!
It is now the 17th (and perhaps still a Tuesday!) and Liz’s boss gives her some news: she and June will be heading to Hawaii earlier than expected…on the 19th!
*dramatic musical sting*
(I’m not kidding around. There actually is a dramatic musical sting at this line.)
It is now the 18th (damn, time is flying!) (though it is probably still Tuesday) and Liz has a fraught phone conversation with Steve. And I guess they are dating after all, since they talk about how much they want to see each other before she leaves. But the convo is fraught because Steve thinks she’s still worried about “the thing with the religious nut” and…well, he’s not wrong. Anyway, Liz points out that her flight doesn’t take off until “after five” on the 19th (remember, she’s supposed to die at 6:05 p.m.), so they plan to meet up before that.
Liz settles down on the couch to relax, and damn, girl, got enough mismatched knick-knacks yet?
She flips past game shows and sports and an old movie (that’s where I would have stopped), finally deciding on the news…and the news is that an airplane just crashed.
Okay, that has the potential to put the heebie-jeebies into anyone who will be flying the next day, not just someone who has been told she’ll die the next day.
(If it puts Liz’s mind to rest at all, I think we can pretty safely assume that if she dies, it won’t be in a plane crash. This movie doesn’t have 1/1,000,000th the budget that such a scene would require.)
Poignant music plays as Liz contemplates her plane ticket.
I have two other ideas for what Liz could have done here, though:
1. Why didn’t she rush out to cover the crash? Reporter’s instincts and all.
2. Failing that, why not have her be the evil atheist, and callously reflect that her own flight might be delayed or even canceled because of the crash?
But neither of these things happen. Instead, we cut to September 19th (!!!) (still Tuesday, probably), and Liz tells her boss she won’t be going on the trip.
Shockingly, neither her boss nor June, who is standing right there, imagine that this sudden case of cold feet could have anything to do with the massive airplane crash that took place not ten hours ago.
Did these people forget that they work for a newspaper???
Instead, June asks if she is having problems with Steve. So, yeah, those two are definitely dating.
(Which makes the previous scene with Bill (the guy who asked her out) even more bizarre. Why didn’t she just tell him that she’s already seeing someone?)
Liz just cites “personal problems” which will all be over “after today.” Which I suppose is true whether Angelic POV Shot is right or not, har.
The boss folds like a cheap suit and says he’ll get someone else to go, and June is super disappointed, given that Liz is her buddy and all. And I’m a bit surprised that neither Liz nor her boss thought to simply fly her out a mere half-day later than planned. If her “problems” will be over after tonight, why not just reschedule her to leave the next morning?
Oh well, I guess that’s why I don’t run a newspaper.
Her boss even tells her that she should take the day off if she’s having problems, and Liz says she wants to be at work. So the boss is a nice fellow, if nothing else. (Though he probably thinks such nice gestures are the way he’ll get to Heaven, the sinner.)
Liz whiles away the morning by reading On Death and Dying, then asks after Eric…who is out of town.
Nooooooo!!! Now who will teach her how to make the transaction?
(Liz’s reading choice is an interesting one, though perhaps not for the reasons the movie imagined. In the years following On Death and Dying, Elizabeth Kubler-Ross descended into speculations on NDEs and the nature of the soul that would make even Doctor Marissa blush. If anyone is interested in reading about this in greater detail, I recommend S.T. Joshi’s God’s Defenders: What They Believe and Why They Are Wrong.)
Liz re-listens to the recording of the guy talking about how you need to accept Jesus and not just be a nice person. Bear in mind that he said this less than seven minutes ago, movie time.
Stupid Bill interrupts her listening, since he can’t take a hint…
Bill: Hey, Liz.
Liz: *is startled out of her reverie* WHAT? What do you want?
Bill: Wanna grab a bite?
Bill: My treat!
Liz: Bill, I said no!
Bill: Boy, are you edgy today.
Dude, she has a boyfriend! Lay off! And even if she didn’t, she’s already turned you down, like, four times! You look like a creepy wuss when you keep asking like that!
The day ticks on by, and Liz is the last to turn out her light and leave her office, having not done one bit of work all day. I really don’t know why she didn’t take up her boss on his offer of a day off—I know I would feel safer in the privacy of my home. Just crawl into bed for ten hours, yanno?
It is now two minutes to six…
Oh, and since it is, why haven’t Liz and Steve contacted each other, as they said they would? I mean, Liz isn’t going to Hawaii anymore, but Steve doesn’t know that. I think the movie forgot about him.
Liz walks slooooowly through the empty office, and both the music and her manner indicate that Jason Voorhees is about to spring from the shadows.
Frank, one of the nonbelieving reporters, provides a good old-fashioned jump scare (speaking of Jason Voorhees) and Liz begs him to hang out with her for a few minutes. But he has a hot date and has to run. Too bad, so sad. (For Liz, not for him.)
It is now two minutes after six…
Liz sits in someone’s chair, apparently determined to just wait it out. She calls the time. (Ha!—remember when people did that instead of just checking their phones?)
Looks like it’s Eric’s desk, because there’s a Bible there! Liz sloooowly opens it at random, acting as though she expects a spider to jump out of it…
And she is startled by a noise!
Look, Liz, it can wait! Just sit there for two more minutes for your peace of mind!
But no, she heads for the noise, talking to herself about not taking the religious nut seriously, and how she’s not going to die. Which, sorry, Liz, but you took a wrong turn and ended up in a Christian film.
Turns out the noise, though it sounded like something small falling, was caused by…this small bonfire?
I kinda think they meant for this to be the darkroom, but is it just me, or is that a pile of kindling and hay?
Liz: I’m gonna burn!
Really, movie? Really? You didn’t think that was just a tad on the nose?
The fire alarm sounds and Liz makes a dash for the exit.
It is 6:04…
She gets outside just as the firefighters pull up (damn, that is a great response time, guys!), and Liz’s last act on Earth is a helpful one, telling them where the fire is and that she’s pretty sure nobody else is in the building.
Liz slooooowly (and without looking where she is going) backs away from the building, and as the clock ticks to 6:05, she trips off the sidewalk and falls into the street…
Where a car hits her.
Like I said, it’s not like this movie has any kind of effects budget, so this is the best they can do to demonstrate what happens to Liz.
And Liz didn’t convert. She did, indeed, burn.
So the omniscient, omnipotent God was indeed fucking with her the whole time.
Damn, that God guy is such an asshole.
Oh well. If nothing else, it’s a nice lead-up to the War on Christmas!
Next up…my annual Black Friday introduction to our Wintermas romance read!
Happy Turkey Day!
Here we are, you guys: The Appointment, about the hellbound reporter lady.
I suppose I’ll give credit right away: this movie actually centers around a woman. A single, sinful, atheist woman, mind you, but a woman all the same.
Written, produced, and directed by Rich Christiano, of (most recently) Time Changer fame. In our timeline of Christian(o) films, The Appointment came out a few years after The Pretender, and right before Second Glance.
Much like Pamela’s Prayer and The Pretender, The Appointment stars a bunch of people we’ve never heard of before. These were Ye Olden Days of Christian films, when starring in them was a one-way ticket to nowhere, not an indication that you are a former B-lister who can’t get work anywhere else.
It’s kinda fun that we’re hitting this movie right after Six: The Mark Unleashed, because it really does show how far the genre has come: quite a long ways in terms of effects and getting name actors, not so far in terms of storytelling or offensive theology.
It doesn’t help one tiny little bit that the movie opens with two of the worst actors I have ever had the privilege of seeing here. They are a pastor and his wife (we know this because they declare it VERY LOUDLY to each other), and their purpose is to introduce us to the writings of our main character, a newspaper columnist.
Seriously, I hate to harp on this, but these people cannot convincingly wish each other a good morning.
Plus, it would have been much more effective to simply skip the bit with this couple and start with the next bit—shots of people from all walks of life reading the paper, as the writer reads her words in voiceover:
At last count, there were nearly 400 denominations of the Christian Church in America. Weren’t there only twelve apostles? You’d think there’d be only twelve groups.
*snicker* I kinda like this lady.
But more denominations mean more churches, which mean more jobs for those fast-talking, three-piece-suited prophets of God called preachers, where the love of money seems to be the root of all their sermons. I’ll support the United Way any day. There may be a god, but the hypocrites playing church are giving him a bad name. Let’s get on with our programs of feeding the poor, housing the homeless, and reforming the downtrodden. Then, issue them this warning: stay out of a church, because if you go there, you’ll end up more messed up than you were before. Amen, brother?
Honestly, this is not so bad. Coming on the heels of Six and Brody’s and Jeseca’s views on those who believe in Jesus, it’s downright tame. Nonetheless, we cut to the newspaper office, where our anti-heroine, Liz, is fielding her fourteenth critical phone call of the day. She is nonplussed by this, though, as are her (largely) nonbelieving coworkers.
Nameless coworker: Some people take their religion too seriously.
The one exception to this is clean-cut young Eric, who whines that Liz “keeps going after the religious issue.” Um, yeah. Seems to be working out for her, what with being the most-read columnist in town and all.
Vaguely angelic music plays as a POV shot crosses the street to the newspaper office…
…and a coworker asks Liz out.
Is this as bizarre a conversation as I think it is?
Bill: Hey, Liz. What’re you doing Friday night?
Liz: Hey, Bill.
Bill: I have it all planned: we’ll have dinner, I have tickets to a play—
Bill: Liz, we’ll have a great time—
Liz: How old are you?
Liz: Bye-ee. *wanders off*
Bill: *calls after her* Thirty-one?
There is no possible way Liz could be more casual about this, btw. The “no” and “bye” are practically sing-songed. And, not for nothing, but why is thirty-four too old for her? Liz looks to be around that age herself.
I admit I don’t get it.
POV Shot enters the elevator. Angelic music continues…
Liz arrives in her office and rips the date off her calendar—it’s September 11th.
Damn, remember when that date wasn’t automatically ominous?
(It’s a Tuesday, in case anyone is interested. The Appointment came out in 1991, but is obviously set in 1990.)
(And it looks like it was shot in 1983.)
Angelic POV Shot wanders around, and an employee asks if he can help him.
Shouldn’t the angel (or whatever) know everything anyway? Like exactly where Liz’s office is?
Angelic POV Shot manages to find his way there, and confronts Liz. (You can see the main thrust of the conversation in the trailer.)
Angelic POV Shot: I have a message for you; it’s from the lord.
Liz: Lord Who?
APS: The Lord Jesus Christ.
APS: Liz, on September 19th at 6:05 p.m., you are going to die.
Damn. And, just as with getting asked out, Liz is almost comically blasé about it.
Though at least she acknowledges that it is a threat.
Liz: Nobody’s threatened me quite like you have. … If you’d like to file your opinion with the editor, his office is right down the hall.
APS: I’m not here to threaten you, Liz.
YOU JUST DID!!!
But here’s the weird thing: even if Liz was a believer, there is no reason she, or anyone, should think this POV Shot (that we never see in human form) is an angel at all. Other people on the street and in the newspaper office, see this guy and treat him like any other person, so it’s not like he glows or appears only to specific people or anything like that. (Unlike the angels in the Left Behind series who, credit where it’s due, did do such things and thus made themselves different from ordinary folks.)
Later that day, Liz has lunch (or possibly dinner) with a guy names Steve. I’m unclear whether Steve is her boyfriend or just her friend. Anyway, they repeat the “from the lord,” “Lord Who?” joke, and Steve shows a modicum of concern for Liz’s safety (more than she seems to have herself) and warns her that one of these days, one of the crazies is going to kill her, “thinking they’re doing God’s work.”
Still later that night (Liz is home alone, so maybe she and Steve are Just Good Friends), Liz learns that she and her coworker June have been tapped to go to Hawaii for ten days (damn, what paper do they work for?)…starting September 30th.
The next morning, Liz finds that Angelic POV Shot is waiting for her in her office. Which is deeply creepy, but Liz once again barely bats an eye.
APS: The lord is giving you information that others never get.
Heh, yeah, I guess so. Still, it might be more productive for the lord if he sent it in a way that would make Liz take it seriously.
Liz: Well, until you can prove to me that you’re from the lord, I guess I’ll sit tight.
This is by far the most reasonable point raised so far…and it is completely ignored by our Angelic POV Shot.
And this is really troubling, since if we’re talking about an omniscient and omnipotent god, he knows exactly what it would take to make Liz believe, and he has the power to make it so. So if he’s just sending Some Dude down to Earth to talk to Liz, and she has no objective reason to believe he is anything other than Some Dude…then God’s really just toying with her.
Also, if God is omniscient…doesn’t he already know whether Liz will change her mind?
Angelic POV Shot has pre-placed a Bible on Liz’s desk for her (since we never get to see his body), and Liz has one parting shot for him.
Liz: Oh, by the way, mister, I can’t die on the 19th. My boss is sending me to Hawaii on a business trip on the 30th for ten days, and I’ve never seen Hawaii.
APS: And you never will.
Okay, that has to constitute a threat!
Liz tosses her Bible off her desk after Angelic POV Shot leaves…and fresh-faced Christian Eric sees it!
The mayor drops dead of a heart attack that very day, which makes Liz think about death even more, to the point that she can’t sleep. Also we pan over Liz’s nightstand, which has the most bizarre collection of objects on it…
What is she taking medication for? And what’s with that lady?
(Like so many women in the movies, Liz goes to bed without removing her makeup. Also, I can’t blame her for not being able to sleep, since she has the LOUDEST TICKINGEST ALARM CLOCK IN THE WORLD.)
The next day, Liz takes out her frustration and sleepless night on poor, hapless Eric, telling him of the “Jesus freak” who told her she’s going to die in a few days. Eric, like almost everyone else, is nonplussed that Liz was threatened. He keeps his eyes on the prize, you see:
Eric: Don’t categorize all Christians as freaks. And don’t let this guy affect your view of Jesus.
Thanks, Eric. You’re a true, supportive friend.
It segues into a religious debate:
Liz: What makes you think your way is right? There are so many religions in the world and I know a lot of religious fanatics who don’t live any better than I do.
Too true, but the Christian (as usual) avoids any difficult question.
Eric: I know there are a lot of different religions in the world, but there are only two different ways that people are trying to get to Heaven. They’re either trying to live a good enough life to earn Heaven, or they’re receive [sic] eternal life as a gift by entering into a personal relationship with Jesus as their lord. All religions and people fall into these two categories: you take Buddhism, Hinduism, Mormonism, or most of the people in the church—they’re all trying to earn their way into Heaven.
Or, like Liz, who is standing right in front of you, Eric, they don’t believe in any sort of god or afterlife. Or their afterlife has nothing to do with Heaven.
Films like this do themselves no favor at all by showing how ignorant they are of the world.
This puts me in mind of one of the many problems with Pascal’s Wager (Hi, Brody!): the underlying idea is that there are only two ways to be: Christian and Not-Quite Christian. You can understand Pascal, in the sense that he lived in a world that seems much smaller than ours, with little to no exposure to other peoples and religions. But Eric has no such excuse.
Liz: I thought you weren’t going to preach at me.
Eric: DON’T YOU WANT ETERNAL LIFE???
Damn. Dude, chill.
Eric then goes on to talk about all the “joy” and “peace” he has since he became a Christian. Yeah, you’re really showing it, pal.
He then challenges Liz to take a poll on the street about how to get to Heaven. Liz snarks that she totally would, but for the death threats she might receive from someone like Angelic POV Shot.
There is no possible way Eric could care less:
Eric: But what if he’s right? What if you do die on September 19th—then what, Liz? Where are you going to spend eternity?
Well, me, after I die, I’ll be dead. I wasn’t conscious of not existing before my life on Earth began, so there’s no reason to believe I will be conscious of not existing after I die.
But, of course, Eric is Really Making Liz Think…