Purple Rain, Puurrrrrple Rain
A late night showing of Purple Rain revealed many new things to me. But first, we take a lot of weird looks for trumpeting the wonders of Prince. To be fair he's an odd guy, all blouse and high heels and pouty eyed looks. We're firm believers that he would be just as maligned as Michael Jackson if he wasn't such a overtly sexual creature (Jackson's problem even as early as Thriller was that he seemed almost a-sexual, despite the fact that every girl wanted him, lending itself to suspicions of a) homosexuality b) pedophilia or c) culkinilia ). But Jackson could never rip a guitar like Prince and that is ultimately his saving grace. As Zappa proved, you can be as weird as you want, hell name a kid or two Moon Unit or Diva Muffin, so long as you can play guitar really well.
ANYWAYS Purple Rain has a lot going for it - awesome performances, bare breasts, Prince riding a motorcycle twice the size of him etc. There's also extended shots of Prince's basement apartment (where his parents live upstairs) - the basements scenes are always delightful because it's impossible to view them as an actual place and instead we were left convinced that basement is what the inside of Prince's mind looks like - there's all these weird drawings on the walls of seductive half faces, a bunch of French clown figurines (???!!!), lots of candles and inscence and plenty of windows so everyone can see you having dirty sex. The acting itself is pretty B-rate but man the music is awesome - the surprise favourite was "Beautiful Ones" a song that we always thought was way too slow and boring but in the movie Prince just starts yelling and squealing and rolling around on stage, putting on a giant stink over some girl and it gets turned into wickedness.
That's not to say there weren't problems, the most glaring one seems to be that Prince is sort of a misogynist dick: he treats Appolonia like shit, leaving her bare breasted and freezing on the side of a lake and hitting (or almost hitting) her twice. Now the abuse thing is supposed to be OK because his Dad is abusive towards his Mom and somehow that makes it more understandable. He's actually a relatively unlikable character yet, again, because he plays ridiculous guitar and composes sweet pop songs, who can resist?
And not to ruin the ending but the last set, to save his career, he finally breaks down and plays "Purple Rain" (a song partly composed by his father, who shot himself in the scene before, and the two female band members he's been bagging on the whole movie). Everyone in the club ends up in tears. Literally, everyone is crying. It's a sad yet hopeful ending and then it fades to black. ONLY IT DOESN'T. He actually opens his set with "Purple Rain" then plays two more songs after. What the fuck? No wonder he's stuck playing in a shitty club, competing with other shitty bands (The Time, the other villain band, is atrocious but kind of funny in a over-the-top 80s dance moves way). He doesn't even know to save his best song for last. Instead it ends on "I would Die 4 U" and then "Baby I'm a Star" - decent songs but no "Purple Rain". Then the last shot is this. Totally cheese!
As an end note, the most succinct criticism we ever heard of 8 Mile was: "I liked it better the first time I saw Purple Rain." We can't really argue.
Also, in case you're one of the six people who haven't seen it, here's the Chappelle Prince sketch:
It's like we never left.