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Episode 99 - Sign o' the Times vs. Stop Making Sense


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Poll: Sign o' the Times vs. Stop Making Sense (58 member(s) have cast votes)

Which movie should be inducted into the Canon?

  1. Sign o' the Times (9 votes [15.52%] - View)

    Percentage of vote: 15.52%

  2. Stop Making Sense (49 votes [84.48%] - View)

    Percentage of vote: 84.48%

Vote Guests cannot vote

#21 Galactiac

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Posted 25 April 2017 - 09:55 AM

 sycasey 2.0, on 25 April 2017 - 08:10 AM, said:


This is also a good point. If there is one movie to canonize as representative of Prince's cinematic output, it's Purple Rain.

Personally, I might not canonize any of them, just because I find that Prince as a filmmaker has some key limitations (indulgence, overconfidence in his own abilities as an actor) that prevent his movies from 100% "clicking" with me. But Purple Rain is clearly the big dog among them.


Something about Purple Rain didn't work for me until I saw it in a theater last year with really good sound. The story isn't the greatest, and he really isn't much of an actor, but the stage performances really make up for it and tie it all together. Sound is such an important component to Purple rain. If you're watching it on low volume or with tv speakers then you're not getting that same venue feel.

#22 sycasey 2.0

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Posted 25 April 2017 - 10:39 AM

 Galactiac, on 25 April 2017 - 09:55 AM, said:


Something about Purple Rain didn't work for me until I saw it in a theater last year with really good sound. The story isn't the greatest, and he really isn't much of an actor, but the stage performances really make up for it and tie it all together. Sound is such an important component to Purple rain. If you're watching it on low volume or with tv speakers then you're not getting that same venue feel.


The musical performances definitely are what works about the movie.

#23 klmonline

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Posted 25 April 2017 - 11:25 AM

This is merely a "me too" post to make it more convenient to gauge listener sentiment. I vote Mr. White out of The Canon. Listening to him swung me back and forth between bored and frustrated. That's a matter of personal opinion, but isn't this entire show a personal opinion meter?

Which brings up an interesting point... Is Amy considering bringing back well-liked guests for repeat appearances? It feels petty to critique the critics rather than the movies up for debate, but isn't it valid to say whom we would rather listen to going forward?

And if we talk about guest presenters we enjoy or don't enjoy listening to, is mentioning Amy's presentation style off-limits? I don't want to be vindictive for the fun of it, but is it an attack if we point out oft-repeated vocal mannerisms of Amy's that actively distract from being able to listen to the points she is making? I sometimes get so hung up on "like" and "it's true" that I have to force myself to concentrate again on the topic. This has nothing to do with her analysis of the films or quality as a reviewer. But in her role as starring host of an audio podcast, her delivery and performance style matters.

The obvious retort is "If you don't like it, you don't have to listen." Certainly true. The fact that I keep listening means I like it enough to stay with it. But if film critics can offer their perception of the creative and technical aspects of a movie that influenced their opinions, are we within our rights to do so as well with regards to the podcast?

I have a bad feeling this is opening a bucket o' worms unrelated to this week's vote, but we were already deep into a thread with people opining about the reviewer rather than the reviewed. I have no wish to be disrespectful to Amy or her guests, and I hope I won't be perceived as a troll or flamer.

Thank you.

#24 LTL

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Posted 25 April 2017 - 11:49 AM

The only reason Stop Making Sense is winning because none of the voters have seen Sign O Times ..

#25 GeneShallot

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Posted 25 April 2017 - 01:31 PM

In the spirit of this episode's guest, I'll be contrarian and say Armond certainly didn't match my mental image of him (ie. a bitter and cantankerous grump). Separating his appearance here from all else he's written - I thought it was a surprisingly fun conversation!

Didn't really catch a "mansplain-y" vibe; seemed like polite back & forth with some gentle disagreement, though I guess it's Amy's perspective that really matters. Seems like Armond's got a precise, academic way about him, but does that qualify as "quasi-intellectual"? The concepts and arguments were sound, even if I didn't always agree.

But dismissive?? YES, and that's a huge turn off for me with critics - and not just singling out Armond, there's quite a few out there. Even if I agreed La La Land isn't a strong musical, it's not like there aren't other reasons to appreciate a movie. To assume it only got acclaim because audiences lack "erudition" is arrogant. You can convey disagreement without being an asshole about it. As if internet comment sections weren't bad enough... (not anyone here though, y'all are the bee's knees)

Anyways, haven't been able to find Sign o' the Times yet - surprised so many voters here have - but Stop Making Sense is indeed incredible. Abstaining for now.

#26 sycasey 2.0

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Posted 25 April 2017 - 01:35 PM

 GeneShallot, on 25 April 2017 - 01:31 PM, said:

Anyways, haven't been able to find Sign o' the Times yet - surprised so many voters here have - but Stop Making Sense is indeed incredible. Abstaining for now.


I will admit to using certain "extra-legal" means to obtain it.

Generally I do not condone this practice (I paid to rent Stop Making Sense on Amazon), but when the film in question is not commercially available where I live then I have no qualms.

#27 MadScientist

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Posted 25 April 2017 - 01:51 PM

The board ate my post, but it was some snarking at Armond White, and a plea to consider Purple Rain for the Canon instead.

#28 ClaraSax

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Posted 25 April 2017 - 02:28 PM

For me it has to be Sign O The Times (I bought a bluray copy from Amazon, there doesn't really seem to be any other legal means of seeing it); though Stop Making Sense is more consistent in what it offers Prince's film is daring and driven with a chapbook-like narrative, balancing its theatricality with cinematic motifs & evocation. Stop Making Sense opens brilliantly and builds beautifully but loses power in its last stretch (all the best songs of the film stacked up in the beginning). There is a neurotic magnetism to Byrne but putting it next to Prince does it few favors-- every moment we're with Prince in Sign O The Times he is catching us up in his wake, bringing us into the gossamer tangle of imagery & melody that seems to (almost physically) ooze from him, as if he is a valve of the primordial and here, yes, he is turning.

#29 sycasey 2.0

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Posted 25 April 2017 - 02:44 PM

 GeneShallot, on 25 April 2017 - 01:31 PM, said:

In the spirit of this episode's guest, I'll be contrarian and say Armond certainly didn't match my mental image of him (ie. a bitter and cantankerous grump). Separating his appearance here from all else he's written - I thought it was a surprisingly fun conversation!

Didn't really catch a "mansplain-y" vibe; seemed like polite back & forth with some gentle disagreement, though I guess it's Amy's perspective that really matters. Seems like Armond's got a precise, academic way about him, but does that qualify as "quasi-intellectual"? The concepts and arguments were sound, even if I didn't always agree.


Agreed. In general, I thought that when Armond stuck to what he liked about Sign o the Times and Stop Making Sense, the discussion was enjoyable and his comments often insightful.

But some critics can deliver negative criticism in a way that isn't mean or dismissive, and therein lies the problem with Armond White. We're probably lucky that this was a "vs." episode where both critics were positive on both movies.

#30 Galactiac

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Posted 25 April 2017 - 02:59 PM

 LTL, on 25 April 2017 - 11:49 AM, said:

The only reason Stop Making Sense is winning because none of the voters have seen Sign O Times ..


I went in with a big bias towards Prince but now I'm Stop Making Sense all the way so I'm not sure you're right. I did watch both. There's really no way of knowing what would have happened, but there's definitely no way Sign O The Times was ever going to win this under the current circumstances.

#31 Lexotron

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Posted 25 April 2017 - 03:15 PM

Do we need to put either of these into the Canon? Can I vote "None of the above"?

#32 HoldenMartinson

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Posted 25 April 2017 - 04:38 PM

 Lexotron, on 25 April 2017 - 03:15 PM, said:

Do we need to put either of these into the Canon? Can I vote "None of the above"?

It's an either/or situation. Otherwise, you can simply abstain.

#33 Teddy Gomi

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Posted 25 April 2017 - 05:41 PM

Ok, I listened to this podcast today; and my biggest takeaway from it is does Armond White really believe that Miles Davis was on the side of Traditional Jazz? This blows my mind, not just that Miles Davis released albums of avante garde "Jazz is the Future" like "On the Corner" and "Call It Anything"; it's that the entire "Traditional Jazz is better than Modern Jazz" garbage was created as a reaction specifically against Miles Davis' music. What is really sad is that Armond White was alive when this reactionary backlash happened. Miles Davis back in the late 60s early 70s made crazy experimental futuristic music that was attracted a massive audience and traditional jazz fans started this backlash against it due to it's popularity. The whole "Traditional Jazz" is the real deal trope killed jazz music.

#34 Susan*

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Posted 25 April 2017 - 07:10 PM

I have a lot of history with both movies. I have seen both many times (mostly in theaters). Sign of the Times used to be a midnight movie here off and on for years after its initial theatrical run and my best friend is a massive fan. But I don't love it the whole way through. Stop Making Sense is the only movie that made me sit in the theater for back to back showings in its initial run. I also have a lot of history with both bands/artists. Prince is close to my heart, having grown up in his hometown and having seen him perform many times. I'm one of those those who think he was a genius. But I have a love for Talking Heads that has lasted three decades after they broke up, and despite knowing how much Tina hates David. :/

I'd like everyone to see Sign of the Times -- I'm always recommending it to people and have long been sad that it's tough to see, but Stop Making Sense is one of my all-time favorite films. And all time favorite albums even though there's some bad editing in the album. I'm sure I'd prefer Stop Making Sense as a movie even if I could set the music aside. I'm so thankful that there are no crowd shots. It helps make it timeless for me.

Purple Rain is an bad movie. Of course I saw it a couple of times in a theater a year ago (after Prince died). The movie is awful but the concert footage at First Avenue is worth it. Last time I saw it, I cried hard during the opening number. RIP

#35 alt0782

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Posted 26 April 2017 - 05:32 AM

((WET BLANKET ALERT)) I am not a fan of concert films and I don't think either host really sold me on the cinematic worth of them. Interesting time capsules, but this conversation sounds more like talking about how great Prince and the Talking Heads were as musicians (yes, true). I'll agree with Armond, if there's room for one there should be room for both. They're both great musicians of the 80s and while I don't agree concert films should be anywhere near the canon, well... fuck it, Clerks is already in.

#36 daustin

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Posted 26 April 2017 - 06:51 AM

Ugh, that was some painful man-splaining. I wish I had access to Sign O the Times so I could vote (plus it sounds great, would love to see it).
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#37 daustin

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Posted 26 April 2017 - 07:10 AM

And now Jonathan Demme has apparently just died, geez.
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#38 sycasey 2.0

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Posted 26 April 2017 - 07:55 AM

 daustin, on 26 April 2017 - 07:10 AM, said:

And now Jonathan Demme has apparently just died, geez.


And people were thinking the Prince movie would get the sympathy vote.

#39 cbbruuno

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Posted 26 April 2017 - 08:14 AM

Nothing more enjoyable than listening to a Freudian with a condescending tone of voice.

#40 cbbruuno

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Posted 26 April 2017 - 08:14 AM

Nothing more enjoyable than listening to a Freudian with a condescending tone of voice.