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Prince, Jerome Benton, Kristin Scott Thomas, Steven Berkoff, Emmanuelle Sallet, Alexandra Stewart, Francesca Annis
Writing Credits:
Becky Johnston

Two brothers from Miami are in the Mediterranean, enjoying life by scamming money off of rich women.

Box Office:
Domestic Gross

Rated PG-13

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
German Dolby 2.0
Latin Spanish Dolby 2.0
Latin Spanish
Castillian Spanish
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 100 min.
Price: $14.98
Release Date: 10/4/2016

• Trailer


Panasonic TC-P60VT60 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


Prince: Under The Cherry Moon [Blu-Ray] (1986)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (October 2, 2016)

After the enormous success of 1984’s Purple Rain as a movie and - especially - as an album, Prince could pretty much write his own ticket. Already pretty egotistical, he decided he could direct and star in his own movie.

Bad call! Parade, the album that accompanied 1986’s Under the Cherry Moon, did fairly well. No, it didn’t sell like Rain, but led by the megahit “Kiss”, it moved a reasonable number of units.

Moon, on the other hand, was an unmitigated disaster. It came and went from theaters so fast that when I didn’t see it in its first two weeks, I didn’t get the chance to watch it; it was gone by weekend three.

I finally checked it on video at some later point, though I don’t recall that I did so enthusiastically. As with Paul McCartney’s Give My Regards to Broad Street, Moon generated such a negative critical stench that I almost dreaded watching it.

Nothing about that screening changed my mind, though I honestly can’t recall what exactly I thought of Moon at the time. I might have hated it - who knows? In any case, I was curious to appraise it once more with this disc.

Set on the French Riviera, Moon introduces us to mercenary musician Christopher Tracy (Prince). He only cares about money, and along with the assistance of his cohort Tricky (Jerome Benton), he uses rich women for their wealth. When he sees that billionaire heiress Mary Sharon (Kristin Scott Thomas) will come to town, he wants to go after her.

Her absentee father Isaac (Steven Berkoff) throws Mary a 21st birthday party. Chris and Tricky crash the shindig and try to insinuate themselves but she catches onto their act quickly.

Mary bickers with Chris, who soon hooks up with Mrs. Wellington (Francesca Annis), the friend of Mary’s mother and also her father’s mistress. When Mary comes to a bar to snap at him, they engage in more romantic tension and eventually connect.

Chris rapidly antagonizes Isaac as well. The movie follows the love affair between Chris and Mary along with the problems with her father.

Look up “vanity project” in the dictionary and you’ll likely find a listing for Moon, as the film essentially exists as an ode to the glory that is Prince. It favors the visual much more strongly than any storytelling elements, and the photography often concentrates on long, lingering shots of its lead.

Prince gets glamour lighting that would look perfectly at home when used for a leading lady of the Forties. The movie accentuates Prince’s looks to the point of absurdity.

Otherwise, the visual elements of Moon stand as the film’s only strengths. The photography seems very good, as cinematographer Michael Ballhaus helps create an attractive movie.

We also get a nice look at the Riviera that gives it a classic and attractive appearance. The film’s appeaing visuals come as something of a surprise since it was shot in color and not specifically composed for black and white; I’d never have guessed that, as it presents a nicely distinctive presentation.

Too bad good looks are all Moon has going for it. Essentially the film presents a mix of music videos and travelogue footage, as the story lacks coherence or depth. The tale fails to develop or go anywhere. It shows us lots of lovely images that don’t mesh well, and the flick just plods along slowly and blandly.

The flat characters don’t help. I will say Prince displays more life than he did as a version of himself in Purple Rain, during which he came across as flat.

However, Prince overcompensates as Chris with a broad and campy performance that seems amateurish. None of the other actors do much better, and Benton comes as a particular disappointment. He added pizzazz to Rain but displays an oddly mincing and fey performance here.

Actually, the movie features a heavy homoerotic vibe between Chris and Tricky that may or may not have been intentional. The pair spend a lot of time together in close contact while half-naked, and I get the impression Tricky really lusts after his buddy and not the women he dates. Sure, Tricky pursues them throughout the movie, but he gets awfully jealous when Chris connects with Mary. It’s a weird tone to throw into the mix, and it doesn’t work.

Not that much else does succeed in Under the Cherry Moon. Essentially Prince’s love letter to himself, it moves slowly, explores its characters poorly, and lacks any cleverness or wit. The soundtrack offers some good tunes, but even that material falls short of Prince’s best; I can rattle off at least half a dozen superior albums. Put bluntly, it’s a really bad movie.

The Disc Grades: Picture B/ Audio B-/ Bonus D-

Under the Cherry Moon appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. After a moderately rocky start, the picture quickly rebounded and presented a reasonably solid affair.

Sharpness consistently looked good. A smidgen of softness interfered on a few occasions, but not enough to cause significant distractions. Instead, the movie mainly stayed crisp and distinctive. No issues with jagged edges or moiré effects occurred, and I noticed no edge haloes. Though the opening seemed awfully grainy, the rest of the film felt more natural, and I witnessed no print defects.

The black and white picture demonstrated nice contrast and delineation. Blacks appeared deep and firm, while whites were bright but not overly so. Low-light shots demonstrated good opacity and smoothness. All told, this ended up in a generally good picture that earned a “B”.

As for the DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of Under the Cherry Moon, it didn’t excel but it seemed fine for this sort of flick. Music dominated the proceedings and offered moderately good stereo imaging.

Effects offered some nice delineation and localization, but they didn’t have a lot to do. They presented general atmosphere and not much else. The surrounds contributed light reinforcement but that was about it.

Audio quality was acceptable but music caused some disappointments. I know the Prince songs well and they didn’t sound terribly good here. They lacked much definition, so while they never seemed badly off-kilter, they needed greater breadth and life.

Effects played a small role but sounded clear and accurate, and dialogue was fine. A little edginess occasionally crept into the mix, but the lines usually appeared natural and concise. Nothing great came from the audio, so Moon merited a “B-“.

How did the Blu-ray compare to the original DVD? Audio seemed fairly similar, as the lossless track failed to add a lot of life to the material. Visuals demonstrated improvements, though, as the Blu-ray looked tighter and cleaner.

In terms of extras, we get the movie’s trailer and nothing else. Since the DVD included four music videos, this becomes a major disappointment.

Under the Cherry Moon is nothing more than a misbegotten vanity project. It soothes the raging ego that was Prince in the mid-Eighties and fails to entertain, amuse or move. The Blu-ray offered generally positive picture and audio but lacked supplements. Time hasn’t helped Moon, as it remains a bad movie.

Note that Under the Cherry Moon can be purchased as a solo release for $15 or as part of a $25 “Movie Collection” that also includes Prince’s films Purple Rain and Graffiti Bridge. If you want Blu-rays of all three flicks, the “Movie Collection” offers a bargain.

To rate this film, visit the DVD review of UNDER THE CHERRY MOON

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