Saturday, May 28, 2016

This Thing Called Life

It's funny, but until now, we'd never seen Purple Rain (1984). It took the occasion of the Purple One leaving this sphere to get us going.

The movie actual starts with Prince and the Revolution performing "Let's Go Crazy" - "Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to get through this thing called Life." After this wild scene, we meet Apollonia, a broke kid from the sticks coming to the big city (Minneapolis) to make it big (or just to "make it after all"). When she walks into the nightclub, everyone ignores her, except Prince and his rival Morris Day.

Morris Day is a lot of fun here - he plays a super-vain dandy, calling for a mirror in the middle of a number with his band, the Time. He is a great dancer, in that odd MC-Hammer style of 89s dancing: knees out, hips up, like you're wearing parachute pants. But of course, he isn't, just sharp suit with a zebra collar.

Prince is a little harder for me to lock onto here. I expected an Apollonian love-diety - cool, lofty, imperturbable, almost detached. Instead, when he wasn't on stage, he was a little tentative, uncertain, and shy. He is also a total dick to his band members, Lisa and Wendy, refusing to listen to their compositions and insulting them. His courtship of Apollonia starts out smoldering - he gives her a silent, thorough once over in the club - but he also acts like a jerk to her, playing tricks on her and demanding she trust him.

I'll skip over his family problems, except to say that Clarence Williams III plays his dad. I guess Prince's persona made sense against that background, but it is so weird to think of him as human. I prefer to think of him as a perverse force of nature.

Apollonia's band was basically an excuse for them to pose in lingerie. Her acting was about par for a lot of 80s hair-oriented actresses. The crowd at the club were super 80s too, from the asymmetric hairdos to the star, rainbow, etc warpaint makeup.

But the songs were the best - Prince performs 4-6, including "Darling Nikki", "When Doves Cry", and the climactic "Purple Rain". For this, he unbends and gives some credit to Wendy and Lisa, and I guess everyone forgives him.

Not a great movie, but great music, and good fun. We've queued up Cherry Moon and Graffiti Bridge, but they are on Very Long Wait allocation. We'll see if we ever get them.

1 comment:

mr. schprock said...

"...but it is so weird to think of him as human. I prefer to think of him as a perverse force of nature." Good line.