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Please forgive the cheesy opener. I know that "Rent" hasn't started off
with the best press in the world. Some questioning Chris Columbus'
direction, some questioning the actors, some questioning the film in
general. All I can say, however, is wow! I must admit that I was
extremely skeptical about the entire project, and that I'm not a
"rent-head", and this wasn't one of the movies on my wish list to see,
but it satisfied me plenty. First off, lets talk story: most know the
story, the one of eight East Villagers struggling with everyday life,
with a few extremes. Just problems like money issues, drug addiction,
and AIDS! A story that could easily be drove full speed into cliché
heaven, but doesn't. It makes you feel the ups and downs of these
characters. And how they convey all this not only through dialogue, but
through song as well. Which brings me to my next point: the music.
Being a theater major, I have heard the original cast album quite a few
times, and not that it was bad, its just the movie music has this "pop"
to it that vibrates your eardrums and your heart in the best ways. And
like I said, no disrespect to the original. My final point centers
around what many are saying will destroy any chances of this movie
entering the Oscar race: the direction. Well, sorry to disappoint the
Columbus skeptics out there who think he should stick to "Home Alone's"
and "Harry Potter's", but he captured exactly what this movie was
about. The grittiness, the hardships, life, love, NEW YORK! He gives
the movie realistic credibility, which is always hard to accomplish
with musicals (i.e. - people breaking into song and dance on the
subway). These people sing, and it makes you think no differently of
life. And to touch up on one more thing, the acting, what can you say?
This cast overcame unbelievable obstacles to make this work, and they
did just that. Anthony Rapp does an amazing job in leading this cast.
"La Vie Boheme" hasn't left my mind since I left the theater. Adam
Pascal and Rosario Dawson are such a couple to watch. Such chemistry
between the two. Their developing relationship throughout the movie
makes you laugh, cry, and, well, cry a little more. Another scream of a
relationship was Idina Menzel and Tracie Thoms as Joanne and Maureen.
Talk about an unlikely couple! Somehow, though, they make it work oh so
well. Taye Diggs is gold, as usual, as the roommate turned landlord to
Mark and Roger. The two that really caught my eye, though. The
performances that will go in my photographic movie character memory in
a very special spot are Angel and Collins (aka Jesse L. Martin and
Wilson Jermaine Heredia). Two guys I have yet to see on film (exception
with Martin on "Law and Order") brought to the movie what this movie
was about the most, and that is love. "I'll Cover You", sung by the
duo, will melt your heart in a second.
In conclusion, all I can say is just give this movie a chance. Don't just go off the negative buzz, because this truly is a beautiful movie. A movie that will have you appreciating your life more and more by the second. The movie that will take you on the emotional roller coaster of life. See the Holiday movie of the year.
"No Day but Today"
So I'm reading the reviews...none seem too terrible, most are lukewarm,
and some are even good. But one theme seems to override them: the
material is "dated." Figures that journalists, whose livelihoods depend
on presenting news flashes that will easily fall into the shadows after
something more captivating happens, would find this material dated. You
really think the topic of people living with -- not dying from -- AIDS
is dated? Wake-up, friends...I'm not one to throw around statistics,
but even I can tell you that AIDS is a much bigger problem today than
when Jonathan Larson -- a genius in his own right -- wrote this almost
20 years ago. And drug addiction? Yeah let's not even guess how much
that statistic has surged.
True, the material is not as shocking as it was when it first graced the stages of NYC 10 years ago. But -- though I never knew the man -- I have a feeling Mr. Larson was not going for shock value. I am sure he realized in his day that his masterpiece would create quite a stir, but I highly doubt that was his purpose. What was it, then? If you ask me, it is obvious ...the human condition.
The elements of humanity that satiate the stage version are virtually all apparent in the film version. These characters are vastly different from each other on the surface -- but listen to their songs. They are all experiencing life. And not only that, for the most part they aren't afraid to experience life -- the devastations, the love, the convictions, the laughter, the tears. Just listen to Seasons of Love -- it's all in there. That song, to me, is the premise of Mr. Larson's story -- this is life. It isn't necessarily glamorous, it isn't always glorious, but this is what happens in a year of these peoples' lives. And the one thing that gets them through it is the fact that they have each other -- their love for one another overshadows all of the intricacies of day-to-day life. And that theme, to me, is never dated, especially when it is portrayed so well, as Chris Columbus and the incredible cast have managed to do.
I applaud everyone who had any part in this film -- aside from the excellent adaption of Jonathan Larson's exquisite piece of art, I think it is extremely important to constantly expose our society to controversial topics, about which most of us don't like to think. And I think the ones that are dubbed "dated" are the most important, because it means that those are probably the ones we have forgotten. But just because it seems "dated" does not mean it has gone away.
Everything said in the first post is pretty much correct - except some
minor points. I'm a MAJOR Musical Theater fan, but I've never been much
of a 'Rent-head', (I find the story a bit pretentious and self aware -
basically a modern version of "Hair") - yet the emotion and energy is
real and infectious, fueled by an incredible and memorable score.
As I remember, though, both the songs "Halloween" and "Goodbye, Love" were NOT in the final cut I saw last night (11/6), but the interview with the cast and director was inspirational!
The best factor for me was that Director Columbus made a decision to shoot it AS A MUSICAL and not try to hide it's musical theater roots (like say, "Chicago"). Also, he cast many members of the original cast (a throwback to old movie musicals). These were brave and successful moves, and should finally knock down that door to MORE movie musicals.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I have been sitting on this review for a while, and I actually have not
had time to come around and post my thoughts. A crew member of mine
from OC scored me some advanced screening tickets through Sony Studios,
which basically meant there was about thirty of us in a small theater
watching RENT on the big screen.
So on to the movie. To say the least, it was an incredible and moving experience. I am the most critical RENT head. I love everything about the lesson of Larson, but I was one of the most doubtful of whether or not this movie could pull through. But it did, and in fact it was one of the most incredible refreshing flicks I've seen in a while. Too often are we left with movies that we've seen too many times before. Hackneyed plots and overzealous characters. RENT is none of that. From the minute the first chord of the movie starts, you are whipped into that "emotional and visceral sensation we all had going to our first rock concert" as Chbosky would put it. "So God damn happy." No, really on to the movie. The first fifteen minutes are overwhelming. But in a good way. I'm not one to spoil, in fact I refuse to do so. But the flash backs and forwards of character motivations and livelihoods and the song "Seasons Of Love" accompanying it all is a great way to start the film, and by the time the actors really start acting you already feel incongruously close to them.
The structure of the film is genius in itself, and is what the play version is mostover lacking. With the opening montage and character motivations, you immediately are attached to love these eight individuals. With the fun and excitement that follows through and pursues, your bonds are strengthened so much more with each of them so that when the heartbreaking conclusion does occur, you are all the more affected.
Not one performance was lacking in emotion, and the choice to bring back the majority of the OBC and bring onboard Dawson and Thoms were fantastic casting decisions. To me, the standout performance of the feature was Jesse L Martin as Tom Collins. Not only is he given the biggest character dilemma to deal with, and arguably one of the most fantastic character arcs in the movie, but his acting is superb and in the event of Angel's death - you're right there with him. As emotionally wrecked as he.
Rosario Dawson's portrayal as Mimi was phenomenal. The only reason Dawson failed to stand out as much as Martin is that she is obviously less 'musically inclined' than the rest of her cast. Her "Out Tonight" dancing, however, is hot and floored every male in the room. Dawson easily snagged her first nod buzz with this role, as supplemented by the FYC poster with only her upon it, and she very well could give any other actress a run for their money. Her spirit and her charm are almost entrancing to the audience, and when she loses it all - and essentially dies (emotionally and mentally) it leads to a more heartbreaking moment than Angel's passing.
Thoms and Menzel are the other two shining jewels of the cast offering two equally stunning performances and vocal talents. Menzel does well in portraying a very flirty, ditzy (and very Jewish) Maureen - however, even though some are saying Menzel will easily land a nomination Maureen is too realistic of a character to considerably be phenomenal acting, and Menzel is really only given one scene to show the sensitive side to her frivolousness, and the acting isn't anything to write home about.
The other notable performance is by Adam Pascal. Mediocre scene motivation, but incredible emotion and fantastic vocals. Pascal won't land any nomination for his portrayal, but he certainly helps Dawson carry the movie as being the other lead in the love story between the two.
Diggs, Rapp and Heredia all do well in their individual role. Rapp is offered much more of a lead role than in the play, but he fails to comprehend the fact that he is in a film and doesn't have to be as 'big' as a theatrical production. Diggs is solid for his scenes, but rarely involved. And Heredia's performance is truly outstanding, and when supplemented with Martin's Collins' is heartbreaking, it's just a shame that he has absolutely no name for himself to land a nod. He certainly deserves it.
All in all, RENT is a masterpiece and should be recognized as so. Despite its PG-13 rating, it is a very fierce and intense movie that really draws out the issues of homelessness, homosexuality, AIDS and bohemianism in New York in the 1990s. The screening I saw included both Halloween and Goodbye, Love (contrary to what others are saying), so whether or not the cuts were actually made, I have no clue about.
Needless to say, RENT will be a blockbuster hit among all generations and is definite Oscar material and after such negative reviews of most contenders, I'd say it has a shot at the gold. The Picture, Direction and Cinematography were fantastic and the performances of Dawson and Martin may easily land them nominations. The movie doesn't feel the need to deal with the controversial subjects delicately, because they are anything but delicate subject matter - but they do handle every situation with class and that is the class that gives RENT its charm.
The movie is certainly a very moving piece of art, and just as Colombus said on the OMS, I caught myself crying "Thank You, Jonathan Larson."
this movie made me cry. out of joy and sadness combined. the music makes me want to sing and love. the music heals. the story inspires. the music heals. i'm glad musicals are still made. :-) wow. that's really all i can say. beautiful. exquisite. gorgeous. bountiful. soulful. well-edited. and unbelievably acted. and unbelievably directed. with unbelievably beautiful cinematography. and choreography that knocks your socks off. i loved this movie. it's wonderful, and heartening, that in a world and nation so full of hate art can be produced such as RENT! that reminds, affirms, validates, expresses, navigates, investigates, perpetuates, stimulates, fumigates, explicates, redirects, and instigates nothing other than love. and enjoying the moment. and not holding onto the past. timeless lessons. timeless music. Oscar gold written all over this.
I saw 'Rent' at a screening on Nov.12. I had seen the stage version both in NYC with the original cast as well as in LA with a different cast. The music and story has been echoing in my head for the past 10 years. So I was bound to be critical, but determined to be open-minded as this was going to be a film, not a stage musical. Chris Columbus did a wonderful job in preserving the message and feelings Jonathan Larson I think wanted people to take away with them. The changes made to bring this story to the screen were artfully accomplished. The film is gritty and sad and has a feeling of hopelessness that was difficult to transmit in a stage venue. The music that made it into the film is spectacular, and the soundtrack is indeed better than the OBC recording. The loss of several songs, though at first disappointing, works in the context of the movie. I hope all you fellow 'Rentheads' give this film the chance it deserves. I will be in the theater on opening day next week to see it again for sure.
It's obvious this musical has an incredible fan base. That became
evident when we saw the movie version the other day. There were a lot
of young people in groups that came to see what director Chris Columbus
did to the musical that is still running on Broadway after nine years.
The screen adaptation is by Steve Chbosky.
"Rent", written and composed by Jonathan Larson, started as a small musical at the NY Theater Workshop and then was transferred to the Nederlander theater where it's still playing. The film has six of the original cast members in it, the exception being Freddie Walker who is substituted by Tracie Thoms and Daphne Rubin-Vega who was the original Mimi, a role that went to Rosario Dawson in the film.
This movie will definitely resonate with a younger audience. The music is targeted to them. This is a pop-rock opera and make no mistake about it. Don't go thinking you are going to find anything resembling Puccini's "La Boheme". The musical is extremely loosely based on the characters from the opera, but that's where all the comparison ends. The people one sees in the musical are more real because the pain of what is going on in their lives is clearly evident. The AIDS epidemic affects a few of the characters; there are gays and lesbians just being themselves without anyone judging what they do. At the bottom of it all is every day survival in that environment.
What "Rent" is, it's a celebration of the life on that side of New York during the 80's when anarchists populated the lower east side of Manhattan squatting in abandoned buildings and living precariously at the edge of a society that didn't want them around. The young people that were attracted to the area brought with them a new way of living without prejudice.
Alas, everything comes to an end. In fact, just a tour of the area today will show the gentrification that is taking place after Mayor Giuliani and his ilk got these bohemians evicted in order to give way to condominiums and new luxury dwellings where the people the movie celebrate will have no chance to live in them at all. This seems to be the problem when artists create spaces that later on are taken over by the establishment, only to displace the creators, as has happened in Soho, Dumbo, and will not be too far behind in displacing the Williamsburg's artistic settlers.
As a film, "Rent", has great moments. Even though one has heard the songs many times, there is still a fresh take on them by the talented cast that sing them. Anthony Rapp, Adam Pascal, Wilson Jermaine-Heredia, Jesse Martin, Taye Diggs, Idina Menzel, Tracie Thoms and Rosario Dawson work as an ensemble under the direction of Mr. Columbus, who would have appeared as an unlikely candidate for directing the film, but who brings the best from his talented cast.
By the way, "Rent" was filmed in the west coast, so don't go looking for any authentic East Village locations, since most of what one sees was probably shot in a studio. The Horseshoe bar is shown on the outside, and a scene of Tompkins Square Park, but the rest is fake.
I thought it was great. I am a huge fan of the stage version but i felt very much the same in watching the movie. i did miss certain favorite moments that had been removed but i feel like the movie worked completely! i wish i could own it already! I felt like Jesse L. Martin and Adam Pascal were amazing to watch. I love everyone but those two really stood out to me. the bursting out into song was not awkward at all and the whole feel of the move over all just really worked. I feel like Christopher Columbus really stayed true to the overall feel and really stayed true to the fans. I was glad to be so moved by a movie. I cant wait to hear more response from fans....new or old.
I saw an early screening of rent tonight in Toronto and loved it! I had seen the musical several times and didn't think the movie could live up to the play. I was mistaken, the movie was incredible!!!! I wanted to clap after every number and I cried just as much as I did when I watched the play. This movie did not hide the fact that it was a musical, the characters would break into song walking down the street, in the subway or at a restaurant. I did hear some people discussing the film afterwords saying that they had to hold in laughter every time a character started to randomly sing. I must say it was a little weird though knowing every line of a movie the first time you see it. If you are a huge Rent fan like myself and know the original CD by heart you will find yourself talking and singing along with the film. This movie is a solid 10 and truly lives up to the musical.
"Rent" is an excellent adaptation of the stage musical. It is
handsomely filmed and very well acted. The movie version takes the
story out into city's real locations.
Most of this movie is singing, but it is so well done it never breaks the 'suspension of disbelief' that as an audience we grant the fiction we are watching.
This 'rock operetta' is about a group loft-dwelling 'Bohemian' New Yorkers, some of whom have AIDS. The stage version has a devoted following of 'Rentheads' including director Chris Columbus, for whom this film was a labor of love.
I saw it with several young people and they really connected with the story's message of friendship, tolerance and living every day to the fullest. Some elderly members of the audience thought the music was being played too loud and they couldn't identify with the lifestyle depicted in the story.
This movie could attain the cult status of the stage musical.
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