The Year of Rock – Part 2

At the recommendation of my dad and another friend, I am planning to rectify the gap in my musical movie/documentary viewing history. I will be watching at least a dozen movies or documentaries about rock music this year. I will be blogging about these as I go. The plan is to watch one per month, but that won’t always happen.

Read Part 1

Purple Rain

Not really sure where to go with this one. I’ll admit that I know very little about Prince. I know he is a charismatic performer with a unique style and multiple Grammys. I know that he has a major cult following, but outside of the song “1999”, which I am only familiar with because it was played a lot at the end of 1998, I don’t really know any of his songs.

This movie is very strange, and in my opinion, not very good. The story has potential but but acting and characters are so bad it just goes nowhere. It’s also so over the top 80s it’s almost comical at times. Morris Day plays Prince’s antagonist, and apparently the two were close, but Day is one of those guys I know almost nothing about. There isn’t another recognizable face (at least to me) in this one.

The story follows Prince’s character The Kid as he tries to make it at a club in Minneapolis. He is struggling with his father’s domestic violence issues, his feud with Day and his love for the new girl in town. There is a lot of footage of Prince playing songs in concert format, and it’s easy to see why people love seeing him in concert, but his music, at least in this movie, does absolutely nothing for me. And the story was pretty lame overall. Probably not a movie that most people are really missing, and the 78% on Rotten Tomatoes says to me that Prince has a lot of loyal fans.

Amazing Journey: The Story of The Who

Very well executed documentary detailing the story of The Who. It features tons of old footage and photos especially from the early days. It also features comments from Sting, The Edge, Noel Gallagher and Eddie Vedder. It does a good job of chronicling their rise in London, and their early hits, which is something that most Americans won’t know about. It goes through their early times in the U.S. and the innovate albums that followed. It talked about the drug abuse, and eventual death of Keith Moon and how they had to make adjustments to life without him.

There were some things that could have been better. While they did talk about their destruction of instruments, it would have been nice to hear a number of guitars actually smashed, and also how much in debt they really got to the companies they owed to. There was also no mention of Woodstock, which seemed like a weird omission considering it’s significance in rock history.

The last part of the DVD covers the dissolution of the band in the early ’80s, John Entwistle’s financial woes and the decision to get back together to help him. It also was no secret that his death directly contributed to a new bond between Townshend and Daltrey that maybe had never existed previously.

Overall this was a very enjoyable experience. Obviously I am biased because I like The Who so much, but this was easily the most enjoyable thing I have watched as part of the Year of Rock so far.

Help!

The Beatles are the most famous musical group in history, and they used that fame to make a few feature films. Help! was the second of these and the first in color. This movies are very hokey, and intentionally so. Wikipedia is a spoof like Mr. Magoo with “Marx Brothers-style zaniness”. Part of the problem is that you have to be familiar with The Beatles’ individual personalities to really appreciate this movie, if it’s possible to appreciate.

It has a couple of moments that evoked a mild chuckle, but for the most part it was pretty stupid. It does contain most of the full length songs from the album Help! so it has that going for it, but that is about the only redeeming quality. Just to put it into perspective, the premise of the story is that some civilization is attempting to sacrifice someone but need the ring she was wearing to do it, and she has sent this ring to Ringo. The entire story is about the civilization trying to recover and Ringo trying not to die.

If you go in expecting nothing, this one could be fun, otherwise, it was a tough watch.