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Thread started 04/21/13 8:05am

rudeboynpg

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Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert's reviews of Prince's theatrical feature films

Roger Ebert: "The rock star Prince came out of Minneapolis to national stardom. His album Purple Rain went triple platinum. He's the star of a movie named Purple Rain. It's sort of the combination of a rock concert and a backstage musical. In the summer of the Michael Jackson phenomenon, another rock star Prince stole the show. Prince is the star of an exciting movie named Purple Rain, which was sort of based on his life and tells the story of a Minneapolis rock star who's music is inspired by his personal problems. The movie includes the number one chart hit of the year of 1984, When Doves Cry, and also includes a romance between Prince and a beautiful Hispanic rock singer named Apollonia Kotero, who wants to make it to the top. Purple Rain has an interesting solution to the problem of trying to combine a dramatic story with a lot of musical footage. Long passages in the movie are almost wall to wall music and then there are brief, sharp, highly emotional dramatic scenes, in which the drama is condensed into intense emotional exchanges. The result is one of the best combinations I've seen of music and drama. This is the first movie they've made together, Prince and Apollonia come across with really exciting romantic chemistry. I like the movie."

Gene Siskel: "Purple Rain is an exciting film representing the film debut of the rock star Prince, who hasn't achieved the same public recognition of say, Micheal Jackson, but the talent is there, that's for sure. Prince just plays outside of the pop musical mainstream. He's more of a hard rocker, mixed with blues and jazz influences. In Purple Rain Prince plays a character pretty much like himself. The musician from Minneapolis who's cut off from everything in his life except his music. But then a beautiful young woman walks into his life and he romances her while she asks him to help her with her career."

Gene Siskel: "That's not Lake Minnetonka. A little game being played there. Apollonia Kotero is her name and she's impressive in this film, as he is. Purple Rain is about their relationship and there's a terrific love triangle in this film between the two of them and another male musician, a very hip character played by another real life rock performer Morris Day, and I think he's an excellent actor and I'd like to see him do another movie sometime. All the while Prince performs his music in a local club. Music that has a lot to do with pain and self-discovery, and when he works out with his guitar you can see a lot of Jimi Hendrix in his work."

Gene Siskel: "His performances don't come across as just mindless music videos in this film, they work dramatically within this movie - a story of a 'kid' who expresses his rage and confusion artistically. Some of his rage has to do with his family background which includes his father who's a wife beater. I thoroughly enjoyed Purple Rain. A lot of fresh young talent in this film. Very good."

Roger Ebert: "Prince sings number one songs on the charts in his movie Purple Rain. I thought it was the best rock film since Pink Floyd's The Wall. I thought it was really good. Prince was good. Apollonia Kotero, I'm only a human being. Can I be human for a second? I thought she was electrifying. I thought their scenes together we're the most erotic love scenes that I've seen in a movie in a long time. I thought she was good on stage. His music is good. The cinematography is good. The way that they balance that fantastic stage presence with those intense little vignettes that push the story ahead, each one not too long. Makes it into a really interesting movie. "

Gene Siskel: "I think this film ought to be studied for the way it uses music dramatically. In other words, there has been this whole thing of these little insert music videos which are mindless, there just little snap shots and you just throw them in the middle of the film (Breakin', Beat Street, etc.) and everybody just sort of gives up and just doesn't try. This film is very sophisticated in the way it has music videos I suppose by definition, but they move the story along, their adding new information about his family background. His little secret lair, his little hideout, the way that's introduced non-verbally, he doesn't say, 'I have this little hideout I want to take you to, and it's down there.' It's very, very well directed."

Roger Ebert: "It's one of the best combinations I've seen of rock music and dramatic information, or really a fact of Prince. We've already said that Prince is very good in his movie debut in Purple Rain, but what kind of a movie career can he look forward to? You can make a whole list of singers who became movie stars, from Crosby and Sinatra, to Jagger, Bowie and Kristofferson, and at one point or another they've all had to decide what comes first - singing or acting. Mick Jagger tried serious acting for the first time in the 1970 movie Performance where he played a criminal outcast. David Bowie did the usual concert film but he also played serious roles, like his performance as a prisoner of war in Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence. Kris Kristofferson is probably the most successful of the modern actor/singers, starting with 1976's A Star is Born. Now what about Prince? Purple Rain is a skillful, exciting, personal film, but can he play other roles, other kinds of people? I think he can. I think he has the stuff. I though he was very strong in the movies dramatic scenes. He was willing to take chances. I mean, how many big rock stars would play a character who still lives at home? And yet, it worked."

Gene Siskel: "I think he's very good, too, and I think basically what we're doing is saying to this guy is 'do more.' I read in his press notices that he may want to direct his next motion picture and I'd say 'wait. Give us another performance before you try directing.'"

Roger Ebert: "One of the movies on both our best of lists of 1984 is Purple Rain, starring Prince, the rock phenomenon from Minneapolis. For me, this was one of the big surprises of 1984. The best rock n roll debut film since The Beatles made A Hard Day's Night. Purple Rain was a lot more than just a music film, it was also the story of a 'kid' in an unhappy household and it was also a love story with love scenes starring Prince and he's electrifying discovery, Apollonia Kotero. Of course that whole movie was engineered by Prince and his people personally and not a year goes by without some rock superstar or another announcing that he's gonna produce his own movie, he's gonna control everything, just like he does on stage or in the recording studio and then the movie comes out and it's a disorganized and pretentious mess."

Gene Siskel: "That sounds like the 1984 Paul McCartney movie Give My Regards to Broad Street."

Roger Ebert: "You'd think Paul McCartney, after twenty years, would know at least as much as Prince, but not on the basis of what we saw in 1984. That's one of the reasons Purple Rain is such a surprise. Prince did control this project. It is based more or less loosely on his own life story and on a screenplay that he plotted and co-wrote and it was made out of the Hollywood mainstream. Made out in Minneapolis by people Hollywood hadn't even heard of before, and yet it's a combination of real content and real sensitivity combined with incredibly high energy rock, and that's why it's on my list."

Gene Siskel: "It is expertly done on every technical level. There is no sacrifice in going out of Hollywood. They have made a first class picture. You compared it to A Hard Day's Night, and that's a good comparison. I'll compare it to Saturday Night Fever. This is just seven years later, approximately, and it's the same story - young man wants to be a musician or wants to be a dancer, tries to see if he can be friendly with a girl, he knows he can be hostel and angry with a girl, can he be friendly with a girl? And then their dealing with the parents and their households are almost just as violent. And it's updated, different kind of music. It's a classic youth story."

Roger Ebert: "Another interesting thing about it - In the old days whenever there was a new rock star, Hollywood would always try to figure out what kind of a role he could play. Elvis Presley, Pat Boone, Frankie Avalon. They'd try to figure out what kind of character could he play. Prince plays himself. He's like nobody else we've seen in the movies. He's an individual. He's unique, and that's what makes the movie."

Gene Siskel: "And that's what makes it smart for him to control the project."

Roger Ebert: "Now let's take a look at my list of best films of 1984. Number 10, Purple Rain with a lot of music and a lot of truth from Prince."

Gene Siskel: "Now here's the rundown from me. Number 5, Prince's film debut in Purple Rain."

Roger Ebert: "A real disappointment from Prince, who's Purple Rain is one of the best films of 1984. His bad movie of 1986 is named Under the Cherry Moon and I was never able to figure out what he was trying to do in this movie, but maybe he was trying to combine an old Fred Astaire film with a perfume commercial. Filmed from the French Riviera, where he and his buddy are gigolos bagging for an extension on their rent at one point."

Roger Ebert: "I guess it takes a certain amount of courage for anyone to allow himself to be photographed that way, and my advice to Prince is, be a coward the next time. The whole movie achieves the nice, glossy black and white look and it never figures out anything entertaining to do with it. Prince is an entertainer who can shock with the power of his music, but as a recycled Fred Astaire he seems a little bit lost. The movies plot is so thin and so silly that even Prince's fans laughed at it instead of laughing with it, and that's a bad sign. The movie didn't even last in the theater more than two weeks."

Gene Siskel: "Yeah. I saw it in a theater with people and they were laughing at the film. I think the creativity stopped almost with the art direction. I think they wanted to do the stylized, kind of old fashion '30s black and white movie and that is where the creativity stopped, because it's a stupid story. Script failure."

Roger Ebert: "Sign "O" the Times is a concert film by Prince, the rock superstar who's first movie, Purple Rain, is one of the biggest and best rock music movies ever made. But Purple Rain was also more, it had a very strong storyline along with the music. Sign "O" the Times has a thin storyline, it kind of creeps in here and there, but basically this is a concert film and it's a pretty good one, with Prince sharing some of his screen time this time with his co-star, Sheila E. The energy level in this movie is amazing. I don't know how Prince has the strength to do this and still sing."

Roger Ebert: "By now most rock and concert films have a tendency to look more or less the same in terms of cinematography, the stars above, the fans below."

Roger Ebert: "For me the high point of the movie was the sensational drum solo by Sheila E."

Roger Ebert: "And that is terrific, and we know the energy that Prince has when he's on the stage, it was generous of him to give that time to Sheila E who's also terrific in this movie. She says she considers herself to be a drummer first, a musician first, a rock star second, and you can certainly see that there. She knows her way around the percussion section, and she could play drums for anyone. She and Prince do a great duet later in the film and in general this is an energetic, hard driving, strong rock 'n' roll movie. It's good, but it doesn't stand up in comparison to Purple Rain, but maybe I'm being unfair. That was a great movie, it's in a different category. It's kind of Prince's life story. As concert films go, this goes pretty well."

Gene Siskel: "This one goes very well. I mean, my bottom line about movies about authors is - does it make you want to read the books they write, and on a concert film about a rock star - would it make you want to go to the next concert. Well, next time Prince is in Chicago, I'm gonna try to get two tickets, hint, hint, because I like this movie. This guy is terrific in concert. It's great. I had fun."

Roger Ebert: "I think I like Prince so much that I'd even be willing to buy my ticket."

Gene Siskel: "How about buy mine?"

Roger Ebert: "Very funny."

Gene Siskel: "Graffiti Bridge is a romantic musical film from the rock star Prince and it's quite awful. An extended music video about a battle between two musical stars over their respected nightclubs, their approach to music, and also over a beautiful woman. Prince plays a character called 'the Kid,' modeled after his character in his first movie, Purple Rain. Competing with Prince is Morris Day, also from Purple Rain. His own nightclub is red hot and he is also the owner of Prince's club. Morris Day doesn't like Prince's new musical act. The dialogue is so awkward and stilted. The romantic interest has an empty role. There's a whole lot I can't believe about Graffiti Bridge - the spirituality battle is lame. Prince is not the least bit appealing when he isn't singing, and actually the performance there I didn't think was particularly exciting. Morris Day isn't as funny as he was in Purple Rain. In fact we both liked Purple Rain so much, I now have to wonder if that film was a fluke."

Roger Ebert: "Purple Rain had so much energy, so much passion, so much conviction. Those are three qualities that are lacking here, and another thing this movie doesn't have, from beginning to end, is an electrifying song and dance sequence that really takes off and carries you with it. It's a real flat, low energy film."

Gene Siskel: "Prince is shot in the fog a lot of the time. In fact the whole film is foggy."

Roger Ebert: "Prince's first movie, Purple Rain, made my best film list in 1984, but the sequel to that movie, Graffiti Bridge, made a different kind of list. All of the energy and excitement of the first film was missing. Instead we got a dumb plot about two guys fighting for control of a nightclub. What made the experience worse is that we have certain expectations about the performers and we were disappointed. Prince was electrifying in Purple Rain, so where did the electricity go to in Graffiti Bridge? When performers give us something really special in a movie, they've got their work cut out for them in their next movies. They've encouraged us to hold them to a high standard."

Links to the televised reviews:

[Edited 5/6/13 12:37pm]

prince "Don't dance with the devil in the pale moonlight. The curious try and always die." prince
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Reply #1 posted 04/21/13 8:46am

Shockedelicus

Two of my idols. I especially dug Roger and Gene's video review for Sign 'O' the Times. That kind of chemistry is like bottled lightning.

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Reply #2 posted 04/21/13 9:49am

kenkamken

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Under the Cherry Moon, and Graffiti Bridge are unqualified disasters add films, but I'll still watch them from time to time. It's a shame he didn't enlist actual filmmakers for these projects, I know he fired the original director for Cherry Moon. Being a brilliant musician doesn't equate being a brilliant filmmaker, they're two very different art forms. Each of those films would have been so much better with actual directors, but his ego would not allow that. Does anyone think he might have another film in him (as long as he didn't direct)?
"So fierce U look 2night, the brightest star pales 2 Ur sex..."
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Reply #3 posted 04/21/13 11:19am

ludwig

kenkamken said:

Under the Cherry Moon, and Graffiti Bridge are unqualified disasters add films, but I'll still watch them from time to time. It's a shame he didn't enlist actual filmmakers for these projects, I know he fired the original director for Cherry Moon. Being a brilliant musician doesn't equate being a brilliant filmmaker, they're two very different art forms. Each of those films would have been so much better with actual directors, but his ego would not allow that. Does anyone think he might have another film in him (as long as he didn't direct)?

You know the story about 3121 - the movie?

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Reply #4 posted 04/21/13 3:50pm

Shockedelicus

kenkamken said:

Under the Cherry Moon, and Graffiti Bridge are unqualified disasters add films, but I'll still watch them from time to time. It's a shame he didn't enlist actual filmmakers for these projects, I know he fired the original director for Cherry Moon. Being a brilliant musician doesn't equate being a brilliant filmmaker, they're two very different art forms. Each of those films would have been so much better with actual directors, but his ego would not allow that. Does anyone think he might have another film in him (as long as he didn't direct)?

Nope. He's gotten to a point where Prince controls everything in Princeworld. Other people's opinion isn't even an option.

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Reply #5 posted 04/22/13 6:29pm

Superfan1984

ludwig said: kenkamken said: Under the Cherry Moon, and Graffiti Bridge are unqualified disasters add films, but I'll still watch them from time to time. It's a shame he didn't enlist actual filmmakers for these projects, I know he fired the original director for Cherry Moon. Being a brilliant musician doesn't equate being a brilliant filmmaker, they're two very different art forms. Each of those films would have been so much better with actual directors, but his ego would not allow that. Does anyone think he might have another film in him (as long as he didn't direct)? You know the story about 3121 - the movie? no. what's the story?
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Reply #6 posted 06/06/13 10:38pm

rudeboynpg

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I don't know what the 3121 movie story is, either.

prince "Don't dance with the devil in the pale moonlight. The curious try and always die." prince
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Reply #7 posted 06/07/13 8:14am

outsideofthebo
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ill have to disagree with them about under the cherry moon. it wasnt as bad as some of the other pop star cult movies that were shown on tv and I remember when I was helping a white family at the airport back in 2009 and I used the movie line.."the more you drink, the better I sound" and they busted out laughing and I told them that it came from under the cherry moon which is a prince movie and they said that they would check it out.

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Reply #8 posted 06/08/13 6:38am

SoulAlive

Oddly enough,I liked UTCM back in 1986 when it came out.But I was watching it a year ago and I could see many shortcomings.Let's face it,guys....it's not a very good movie lol It was cool seeing Prince play a comedic role,but the film really could have used a skilled director.

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