Portland Black Film Festival: Sign O' the Times

Purple Rain was one of the five biggest things to happen to pop-culture in the '80s. This is undeniable fact. Also undeniable: None of why it resonates has anything to do with its qualities as narrative fiction. Purple Rain is, of all Prince's stabs at storytelling through cinema, best described as "the least half-assed." This is why Sign O' the Times is such a treasure—Sign O' the Times doesn't want to tell you a story, it wants to stand next to Stop Making Sense and then blow it off the stage if it can, and almost all of Prince's effort (and it's a lot) is devoted to that goal—well, that and moving more copies of the accompanying album, which never sold anywhere near as well as it should have. Watching him in his prime, devoted fully to his performance, in 35mm on a giant screen? This is as close to resurrection as you're gonna get.


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