May 20, 2016

10 reasons why there can't be a Prince bio pic... ... and there shouldn't be.

From BET, including:
Ninety-five percent of the time, Prince was not here for it. Shall we direct your attention to the "We Are the World" moment where Prince was sucking on a lollipop completely uninvolved?

I don't know why that makes him unfilmable as opposed to worth figuring out. (We are the children?) Isn't it like "Citizen Kane"? Make it a Prince-like character, in his weird palace, with childlike attributes — like a favorite color — and a more intense work ethic than anyone we know — but most of the work product was put in a vault. Open the vault and pan over the mystery:


MisterBuddwing said...

The somewhat maligned Pauline Kael wrote, "Part of the fun of the `March of Time' parody for the audiences back in 1941 was that, of course, we kept recognizing things about Hearst in it, and its daring meant great suspense about what was to follow in the picture."

I think we're a bit too advanced - as well as cynical - to go along with a movie about a fictionalized Prince.

Fabi said...

Prince was probably sucking on that lollipop to protest Jackson and Richie's abominable songwriting for the title track.

Laslo Spatula said...

Have Cate Blanchett play him...

sdharms said...

would all of those who care a whit about Prince please stand up. I thought so.

Bob Ellison said...

I don't understand why Prince is considered such a genius. His songs are lousy. He was obviously a charismatic and talented performer, but the music itself sucked. Purple Rain, please. Nothing Compare 2 U, please. That's awful stuff.

richlb said...

They already made a Prince biography. It was called "Purple Rain." Anything else is unnecessary.

David said...

I like that he sticks the lollipop in the mike guy's face and then pulls it away when the guy goes to lick it. Just a droll little moment but I got a good chuckle out of it.

A documentary about Prince could be great. He would be playing himself.

Virgil Hilts said...

Bob Ellison said " I don't understand why Prince is considered such a genius." I think you're setting up a purple straw man there. I liked Prince because he was bizarrely charismatic -- watch the video for 1999! His music was just OK, but he was really fun to watch (like a lot of WASPs, I paid to see Purple Rain in the theater, but never owned a Prince album).
I think it is hard to make biopics about charismatic people. Whether you like him or not Bill Clinton (same as JFK) had charisma maybe only one in a million people have. That's why Primary Colors is hard to watch. Travolta, while a good actor, cannot hold a candle to Clinton and cannot come close to mimicking his charisma.

Curious George said...

"Bob Ellison said...
I don't understand why Prince is considered such a genius. His songs are lousy. He was obviously a charismatic and talented performer, but the music itself sucked. Purple Rain, please. Nothing Compare 2 U, please. That's awful stuff."

I'm with you.

Ann Althouse said...

"A documentary about Prince could be great. He would be playing himself."

Go around talking to people about him, trying to understand him. That's actually the plot structure of "Citizen Kane."

Ann Althouse said...

If you're thinking about what is good and what is bad, give some thought to whether your comments are good or bad. Do you really think that dropping your little poop of disapproval in this discussion is worthy? Have you not already pooped that poop elsewhere? Do you think it has any valuable sustenance for the reader?

Bob Ellison said...

Is there any sustenance in art criticism?

PackerBronco said...

Actually I thought Prince's actions in that video were quite appropriate. He was just telling all of us: "Y'know? This song really sucks."

BTW the best way to watch that video is with the sound OFF.

knox said...

would all of those who care a whit about Prince please stand up. I thought so.

How dare you.

Laslo Spatula said...

Scene from "Prince: The Purple Avenger."

Criminal: "Wait! Who is that in the alley attempting to thwart my escape?"

Prince: "It is I, Prince: The Purple Avenger."

Criminal: "Prince? Like "Purple Rain" Prince?"

Prince: "Indeed. I write funky songs, play guitar and fight crime."

Criminal: "Man, I loved "Purple Rain"! I can't believe it -- I robbed a bank, and now I get to meet Prince."

Prince: "Prepare to be subdued, criminal."

Criminal: "Um, Dude: you're, like, a foot tall. Don't make me hurt you."

Prince: "I've taken down bigger than you. I have seen every Bruce Lee film ever made."

Criminal: "C'mon, man. Shouldn't you be at your mansion, playing piano or banging some hot chick?"

Prince: "Where there is Crime, there shall be... The Purple Avenger."

Criminal: "You're in high heels, dude. With a purple cape. You can't be serious."

Prince: "Watch me."

(fight scene)

Criminal: "What the Hell just happened?"

Prince: "I defeated you with my Prince-Fu, and have tied you up in Purple Rope -- the sign that The Purple Avenger has captured another criminal."

Criminal: "Aw, shit. This is gonna be embarrassing in prison."

Prince: "Naw. Embarrassing would entail being captured by R. Kelly and having him pee in your mouth..."

I am Laslo.

knox said...

I don't want to <understand Prince. A good part of his gloriousness is his inscrutability. Don't destroy the mystery!

traditionalguy said...

Everybody takes him too seriously. He used music to seduce you. But The Prince was also a cut up with a sneaky sense of humor.

What people find hard admitting is that they were seduced by a comedian. So lets just say he was superior in every way, his music was great, and leave it there.

Unknown said...

It strikes me that Prince's insecurity about his height indirectly led to his death. Wearing those heels ruined his hips which led to the pain killers. Yet he did not stop wearing the heels.

knox said...

Everybody takes him too seriously.

How dare you.

Graham Powell said...

Laslo beat me to it (with his first comment, not The Adventures of the Purple Avenger): have different actors play his different facets. Having said that, did anyone know Prince well enough to say what he was really like?

Bill Peschel said...

Prince insisted on projecting a persona in public. Of course, every public figure does, but he was very good at refining it and maintaining it.

It's only after his death that his personal flaws are revealed. He would not have wanted that. Even Kevin Smith (who had filmed one of his album release parties and concerts for the Prince vaults) regretted talking about that time while he was alive, even though it revealed nothing bad about the man.

To those who say "I don't know why people think he's great," you get a pat on the head and my deep sympathy for your need to crap on other people's life and works. Did you ever consider that admitting your ignorance and lack of interest in something is not a good look?

Howard said...

I always admired Prince. Not for his music, which I have tried to listen to many times, but cannot make a connection, but because of the huge impact he had on the field of music and entertainment. He was a very eccentric artist who seemed almost oddly normal in real life. A real shame opioids were his undoing, but that seems to me part of his normalcy, not related to his celebrity.

For those reasons, I would very much look forward to a documentary or biopic.

Bob: Appreciation of art at the highest levels is a matter of taste. Someone as successful as Prince obviously is a substantial and talented artist with a huge loyal following. The fact that you and I don't care for his art says more about us than Prince... and no one cares about us, we are nobody. Prince was a Giant Man. Admire that.

Mark Daniels said...

Movie biopics ARE generally, horrible though, as the BET slideshow points out.

Tonight, I watched the last half-hour of 'Jersey Boys.' Horrible! (Of course, it might have helped if the Four Seasons' music, which I hated while growing up during the sixties, was good.) But, in any case, the film industry has a way of butchering and pasteurizing their subjects, melding them into musicaleverybodies. Didn't the Johnny Cash and Ray Charles biopics look like they were about the same person? Biopics have a way of disintegrating into a kind of reality TV version of 'Behind the Music,' every story the same.

When Hollywood went to work on telling George Gershwin's story, almost none of it bore any resemblance to George Gershwin's story. The same is true of 'Yankee Doodle Dandy,' the biopic about George M. Cohan, which at least has the redeeming quality of being entertaining, spiced as it is by James Cagney's extraordinary, all-in dance stylings.

But there have been two more recent movie biopics that seem to have fairly hewn to the actual stories of their subjects' lives and careers. The most creative of these is Kevin Spacey's 'Beyond the Sea' (2004). It's Spacey's telling of Bobby Darin's life story. There's little fiddling with the facts, though there are interesting flashbacks and flash forwards. Spacey, a terrific mimic, does a good job channeling his inner Darrin on the latter's catalog. A thoroughly enjoyable film.

Another successful recent music biopic is the 2014 release 'Ragamuffin,' focused on the life of Rich Mullins, an early practitioner of Christian contemporary music. Mullins' music was honest and so is this film. The music is great too. A film both enjoyable and deeply moving.

BET, I think, is wrong for thinking that Prince staying away from social activity, renders him unfit for film treatment. As you suggest, that aspect of his life may warrant exploration. What were his reasons for doing big charitable events, while keeping his significant personal philanthropy quiet?

In fact, a similar shying away from association with big causes--in spite of appearances and reputation to the contrary and a few exceptions--will face any prospective producer of a film about Bob Dylan. Dylan's 'Blowin' in the Wind' was an anthem for many in the 60's civil rights movement. But his connection to the movement or to the protests of the war in Vietnam were limited to non-existent. Dylan wasn't really a cause guy; he was more of a Dylan guy.