Friday, April 22, 2016

Purple Rain

***In Memory of Prince (1958-2016)***

Directed and co-edited by Albert Magnoli and written by Magnoli and William Blinn, Purple Rain is the story of a talented but trouble musician who tries to maintain his spot at a Minneapolis music club where he spars with a rival singer while they both try to get the attention of new singer. The film isn’t just a look into the Minneapolis music scene of the early 1980s but also a story of a musician trying to get his break as he deals with his own family and demons. Starring Prince, Morris Day, Apollonia Kotero, Olga Karlatos, and Clarence Williams III. Purple Rain is a majestic and exhilarating film from Albert Magnoli.

Set in the music scene in Minneapolis, the film revolves around a singer known as the Kid (Prince) who is extremely talented with the aid of his band the Revolution but often has a tendency to fall short of what he could do at the First Avenue Club. Especially as he has to contend with the club headliner Morris Day and the Time who often bring in the crowd and make money as Day is also close with the club’s owner by bringing in a girl group to the club that would be led by the newly-arrived singer Apollonia (Apollonia Kotero). It’s a film where a young man doesn’t just contend with his demons as it relates to his parents who had the chance to be successful in music but their own demons destroyed that chance. He also has to deal with his own issues as an artist who wants to do things his way as opposed to what Morris Day is doing as well as expectations of the club.

The film’s screenplay doesn’t just play into Morris’ own ambitions with the help of his longtime assistant/Time bandmate Jerome Benton into being the king of the Minneapolis music scene. It also shows that struggle into the world of art where Morris is very successful in what he does which is commercial while the Kid is someone that is very gifted and can do great things with his music. Yet, he tends to be his own worst enemy as his own band is starting to fall apart since Wendy Melvoin and Lisa Coleman have ideas for songs but the Kid rejects them. The Kid’s fascination towards Apollonia isn’t just about love but also showing her that there are ways of making it but her encounters with Morris and his idea into how she would be a star causes trouble as well as a bigger conflict between Morris and the Kid.

Albert Magnoli’s direction is definitely stylish where it does play into a lot of the visual tropes that was prevalent during the age of MTV. Yet, Magnoli doesn’t rely too much on that sense of style as it relates to the performances that are captured on stage by the Revolution, the Time, and Dez Dickerson & the Modernaires. Much of it is presented in a wide and medium shot to not just capture the band but also the reaction from the audience as well as the atmosphere of the clubs where it is actually shot in the First Avenue club in Minneapolis with some exterior bits shot in Los Angeles. For the non-musical moments, Magnoli does bring in bits of comedy as much of the direction in those scenes as well as the dramatic are straightforward. Even in the way Magnoli has the camera set up for some of the intense dramatic moments as it relates to the Kid and his parents along with these eerie moments where the Kid has to stop his parents from fighting including a moment where the Kid has to confront his father (Clarence Williams III). The film’s climax is one of the most exciting as it relates to the music where it is about the Kid and what he needed to do. Overall, Magnoli creates a rapturous and dazzling film about a musician trying to get his break and deal with his own demons and other competitors.

Cinematographer Donald E. Thorin does excellent work with the look of the film with the usage of low lights in some of the interior scenes at the Kid‘s home along with some of the exteriors set in Minneapolis at night while some of the interior lights in the day during the first rehearsal scene for the girl group Morris is trying to create. Editors Albert Magnoli and Ken Robinson do amazing work with the editing in not just creating bits of fast-cutting style for the film‘s opening sequence but also maintain something that is straightforward in some of the performances as well as in the dramatic moments. Production designer Ward Preston and set decorator Anne D. McCulley do nice work with the look of the Kid‘s home which he lives with his parents as well as the places that Morris lives in along with a few decorative pieces at the actual First Avenue club.

Costume designer Marie France does fantastic work with the costumes from the stylish clothes of the Revolution, the suits that the Time wear, and the lingerie of Apollonia 6 would wear. Sound designer Richard C. Franklin does superb work with the sound in capturing the atmosphere of the club and their reaction to the music along with some of the intimate moments set at Prince‘s home. The film’s music by Prince, John L. Nelson, and Michel Colombier is incredible as the score which is a mixture of funk, electronic, and soul play into aspects into some of the original songs that Prince writes while the soundtrack album that features so many classics such as its title track, Let‘s Go Crazy, The Beautiful Ones, Darling Nikki, and many others are among the best songs ever while cuts from Apollonia 6, Dez Dickerson and the Modernaires, and of course, Morris Day & the Time are just phenomenal.

The casting by David Graham is terrific as it feature appearances from such Prince cohorts as Jill Jones as the club waitress, Billy Sparks as the club’s owner/manager, and Alan Leeds as a stagehand. Other notable roles as versions of themselves include former Prince guitarist Dez Dickerson, members of the Time, Wendy Melvoin and Lisa Coleman of the Revolution as the two women who feel frustrated over not having their input be included, and as other members of the Revolution in keyboardist Dr. Matt Fink, bassist Brown Mark, and drummer Bobby Z. Jerome Benton is hilarious as Morris’ assistant/bandmate Jerome as a man who says some funny things and helps Morris anyway he can while giving the Kid his own advice about things. Olga Karlatos and Clarence Williams III are excellent in their roles as the Kid’s troubled parents who are both abusive to each other in their own way as they represent the drawbacks the Kid might have as it relates to his own potential.

Apollonia Koteros is wonderful as Apollonia as an aspiring singer who falls for the Kid yet also catches the eye of Morris where she eventually takes up the latter’s idea to become a star only to realize what he is really all about. Morris Day is great as a variation of himself as this arrogant yet slick-lookin’ motherfucker who always wear expensive suits and always bring in the money as well as know as what it takes to make money and be successful. Finally, there’s Prince in a phenomenal performance as the Kid as this talented but troubled musician who has all the tools to be great but is filled with personal demons as it relates to his parents as well as his own selfishness as it relates to his music where he’s not able to really do more to make himself as great as he really is.

Purple Rain is a sensational film from Albert Magnoli that features an incredible performance from Prince. It’s a film that is really fun from start to finish as well as feature incredible music from Prince & the Revolution and the always cool Morris Day and the Time along with moments that are funny and intense. In the end, Purple Rain is a phenomenal film from Albert Magnoli.

Related: Prince Tribute

Prince Films: (Under the Cherry Moon) - (Sign “O” the Times) - (Graffiti Bridge)

© thevoid99 2016


Brittani Burnham said...

I've never actually seen this film in full. Just clips of it here and there. I really should change that. Great review!

ruth said...

I can't believe I haven't seen this yet but my friend is lending me her 20th anniversary disc so I can't wait to finally watch it! RIP Prince.

thevoid99 said...

@Brittani-Thank you. See it now or I'm going to get freaky on you honey.

@Ruth-Oh! You're from Minneapolis and you haven't seen this! It's a good thing you have a friend that is lending you that film because you got to show some respect for your hometown hero and after that. You will need to purify yourself into the waters of Lake Minnetonka.

Dell said...

Excellent work on this one. Prince killed it on stage and Morris and Jerome stole the show off it, though their performances were pretty good, too. Rapturous is a perfect way to describe that ending. And Appollonia...mmmm.

thevoid99 said...

@Wendell-Thanks. That review was for you. I love this film and Morris was one of my mofos as a kid. Him and David Lee Roth. Apollonia... mmm indeed though I prefer Jill Jones in those black, fishnet stockings as I finally.... saw the Automatic video and lost my shit.