Under the Cherry Moon Preview

Nearing the end of our time wallowing in 1986 and this week we get to target a Razzie release from that year. Of the five films nominated for Worst Picture we still have two unwatched: Under the Cherry Moon and Blue City. I think the choice is obvious. This was Prince’s follow-up to Purple Rain and he decided to direct it himself to… interesting results. Not much more to say. Let’s go!

Under the Cherry Moon (1986) – BMeTric: 24.5

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(Yet again a pretty standard linear BMeTric plot but … can we revel in the fact that Under the Cherry Moon barely broke 2000 votes at this point? That is absurd. It won a Worst Picture for the Razzies. It has the late great Prince in it! Just weird and wild stuff)

Leonard Maltin – 1.5 stars –  Supremely silly vanity film with Prince self-cast as American gigolo/entertainer in the south of France who has a devastating effect on women (yes, it’s a science fiction story). Stylish-looking fairy tale/fable, filmed in black & white, is a triumph of self-adoration, and overall embarrassment. Some music throughout, but in fragmented scenes. Kristin Scott Thomas’ film debut.

(The mere fact that this got 1.5 stars instead of bomb is pretty unlikely in the first place. Also it is like Leonard Maltin can’t help himself: what is the deal with the alternative-separated-by-a-slash in this review? “gigolo/entertainer” I could have dismissed, but to follow so closely with “fairy tale/fable”? Unacceptable. At least he doesn’t dismiss it as merely boring. We got that going for us, considering this feels like the spiritual successor to Harlem Nights.)

Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IwkqXsWPY1k

(This trailer consists of a series of random clips from the film with Prince’s ‘Kiss’ playing over them and an announcer telling me to “See it”… and it was amazing.)

Directors – Prince – (BMT: Under the Cherry Moon; Graffiti Bridge; Notes:  Won the Razzie Award in 1987 for Worst Actor, Director, and Original Song for Under the Cherry Moon; Nominated for the Razzie Award in 2000 for Worst Actor of the Century;  Nominated for the Razzie Award in 1990 for Worst Actor of the Decade; Nominated for the Razzie Award in 1990 for Worst New Star of the Decade for Under the Cherry Moon; Nominated for the Razzie Award in 1991 for Worst Actor, Director, and Screenplay for Graffiti Bridge; Nominated for the Razzie Award in 1985 for Worst Original Song for Purple Rain; He only made three major movies and directed two of them! Born in Minneapolis, Minnesota (holla!) he did a lot for that community his whole life. He had season tickets to the Vikings and I believe owned part of the concert venue First Avenue (which featured in Purple Rain). Is recognized for his highly sexualized lyrics which got him into some trouble with parents groups early in his career … I liked Prince, it was very sad that he died earlier this year.)

Michael Ballhaus – (BMT: Under the Cherry Moon; Notes: From a show business family (his father was a German actor and his sons are cinematographers and second unit directors). He is German and mostly known for cinematography (he’s been nominated three times for an Oscar including for Gangs of New York). He was kicked off of this movie after disagreements with Prince and is often listed as uncredited.)

Writers – Becky Johnston (screenplay) – (Known For: Seven Years in Tibet; The Prince of Tides; BMT: Under the Cherry Moon; Arthur and Mike; Notes:  Nominated for the Razzie Award in 1987 for Worst Screenplay for Under the Cherry Moon. Very strange, hard to find info. I say it is strange because she wrote Seven Years in Tibet and was nominated for an Oscar for Prince of Tides. I can only assume she is a producer / script doctor now … but seriously, I can’t find anything.)

Actors – Prince – (Known For: Purple Rain; BMT: Under the Cherry Moon; Graffiti Bridge; Notes: See above for Razzie details and biographical details. Graffiti Bridge is a sequel to Purple Rain by the way … I didn’t know that.)

Jerome Benton – (Known For: Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back; Purple Rain; BMT: Under the Cherry Moon; Graffiti Bridge; Notes:  Won the Razzie Award in 1987 for Worst Supporting Actor for Under the Cherry Moon. Musician and comedian who worked with Prince and Janet Jackson among others. As a member of The Revolution he obviously had major parts in all of Prince’s films)

Kristin Scott Thomas – (Known For: The English Patient; Four Weddings and a Funeral; Only God Forgives; The Golden Compass; Suite Française; Mission: Impossible; Gosford Park; The Other Boleyn Girl; Ne le dis à personne; Bitter Moon; The Horse Whisperer; Salmon Fishing in the Yemen; Life as a House; Nowhere Boy; Easy Virtue; The Invisible Woman; Dans la maison; Richard III; BMT: Random Hearts (BMT); Bel Ami; Confessions of a Shopaholic; Under the Cherry Moon; Notes:  Nominated for the Razzie Award in 1987 for Worst Supporting Actress and New Star for Under the Cherry Moon; Most recently we saw her in Random Hearts with Harrison Ford. Off the top of my head I do know she is fluent in French and tends to provide her own French dubbings in film. A lot of her films are French for the same reason.)

Budget/Gross – $12 million / Domestic: $10,090,429

(Yeah … so that isn’t a good result. It is specifically mentioned in Prince’s IMDb biography as a giant bomb like … why mention it? Anyways, yeah, catastrophic.)

Rotten Tomatoes – 32% (10/31): Under the Cherry Moon may satisfy the most rabid Prince fans, but everyone else will be better served with this vanity project’s far superior soundtrack.

(Kind of shockingly high given it might as well as swept the Razzie Awards. I am excited for the soundtrack especially given that it appears to be a Harlem Nights-esque period piece vanity project.)

Poster – Under the Cherry Sklog (B-)

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(Really old fashioned looking. I like the font on the letters and the fact that Prince is drawn. Should have scrapped the screenshots of Jerome Benton and Kristin Scott Thomas. Benton’s in particular is really odd with him standing there holding a phone.)

Tagline(s) – See It – Hear It – Feel It – Live It (C+)

(Hate it (slaaaaaammed). I think it is a classic sounds-like-a-tagline tagline. But have to give it some credit for being short and trying to have some cadance.)

Keyword(s) – love; Top Ten by BMeTric: 85.2 The Last Airbender (2010); 84.9 Date Movie (2006); 81.4 Alone in the Dark (2005); 80.6 Vampires Suck (2010); 78.9 In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale (2007); 75.4 Troll 2 (1990); 74.7 From Justin to Kelly (2003); 72.9 Hannah Montana: The Movie (2009); 70.4 Grease 2 (1982); 70.2 Universal Soldier: The Return (1999);

(Weird list, but that’ll happen when literally like 800 movies have the same keyword. Has some of the worst of the worst according to the BMeTric, and yet only Grease 2 really should be watched for BMT. Only From Justin to Kelly is really a “romance” per se, which is a bit annoying. There are so many bad romance movies too.)

Notes – Prince took over from original director Mary Lambert over “creative differences”. Because the production was filming in Europe, it did not come up against the Director’s Guild of America, which has rules against firing a director in favor of a lead actor. (Oh shit, not that is a fun fact)

Kristin Scott Thomas has since been disdainful of the film. In an interview in 2005, she said that “When I left drama school…I was more afraid of not working at all than of the actual material I was being offered. And if you look at my very first film, you’ll understand exactly what I mean.”

The movie had an unlikely spot for its world premiere – the Centennial Twin Theater in Sheridan, Wyo. – in June 1986. Local resident Lisa Barber won the right to host the premiere by being the 10,000th caller in MTV’s “Prince Under the Cherry Moon” contest. Several members of the cast (including Prince) and a few notables such as Joni Mitchell and Ray Parker Jr. showed up in the north-central Wyoming city for the event, which also featured a post-movie party and a 45-minute private concert from Prince at the local Holiday Inn. (Prince is a cool dude. I still kind of regret not going to his pancake pajama party in Minneapolis a few years back. That also involved an impromptu private concert)

Filmed in color, released in black and white.

Prince wrote the Bangles’ “Manic Monday” using the pseudonym Christopher Tracy, the character he plays in this film. The song became a hit for the band the same year this film was released.

Madonna was originally offered the role of Mary Sharon. Susannah Melvoin was then cast as Mary but was replaced before filming began. (Goddamn)

The picture was nominated for Worst Picture at the Hastings Bad Cinema Society’s 9th Stinkers Bad Movie Awards in 1986. (The Stickers! Rarely mentioned these days)

Awards – Won the Razzie Award for Worst Picture

Won the Razzie Award for Worst Actor (Prince)

Won the Razzie Award for Worst Supporting Actor (Jerome Benton)

Won the Razzie Award for Worst Director (Prince)

Won the Razzie Award for Worst Original Song (Prince)

Nominated for the Razzie Award for Worst Supporting Actress (Kristin Scott Thomas)

Nominated for the Razzie Award for Worst Screenplay (Becky Johnston)

Nominated for the Razzie Award for Worst New Star (Kristin Scott Thomas)

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