I went to see rent. See previous post for links and info.
As I was sitting in the theatre I had to remind myself that I wasn’t gay. Looking around I noticed that there were either 3 groups of people. Couples, larger groups of friends or gaggles of girls.
Me – alone.
Anyways that’s not the point of this post.
I did cave and sing softly through a handful of songs and I think I heard a few other people doing the same. But shamefully I did not Moo. Oh well. Maybe it’s a theatre thing.
If you haven’t seen the movie or rather not read anything that might ruin your experience please stop now. But do go down and read posts that you may have missed, they start here. (this will bypass this post)
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Here are my initial thoughts about the movie version of rent.
I will break it down into pros and cons.
First the pros.
~ It was really nice to have actual sets and environments for the characters to run around in and be a part of. While I love what is left to the imagination in the stage version, it is nice to be able to expand the visuals of actually being in a location instead of just seeing a table or a chair. I especially liked when Mark and Joanne tango, Roger driving through New Mexico, the Life Cafe, the Life Support meeting and the church.
~ The acting was good, especially since it’s a musical, but due to film there were many more opportunities for the actors to convey things with their faces and body language which is usually lost if you sit behind row H.
~ I really enjoyed the scenes that involved the Life Support group. The intimacy that was conveyed during those scenes is lost when all you see is a few people sitting in the upper-left of the stage in a small circle. Also those are some of my favorite songs and the direction for the scenes was great. Though I must say I missed Gordon singing his line about fear. “I’m a New Yorker, fears my life.”
~ The sequence in the Life Cafe along with the song La Vie Boheme – simply amazing. The atmosphere that an actual location brings to that song, truly brings it to life more fully. One of the highlights of the film for me.
~ The Tango Maureen, while not one of my favorite songs, it does have my all time favorite chord in the whole show. The ending two notes sung by Mark and Joanne – wonderful. I really enjoyed the choreography during this scene, the addition of a fantasy is a nice way to fill out the situation the two find themselves in. I did miss the singing in the intro of the song, when Mark and Joanne first meet.
~ Angel’s funeral is capped by a beautiful sanctuary where the cast remembers her life. A nice subtle touch to a powerful moment in the story.
~ I really enjoyed the acting during Goodbye Love, the play between the characters in accentuated by the emotion conveyed on their faces now just in their voices. And the cemetery looks beautiful with the fall colors.
Now the Cons.
First let me say, while the cons out number the pros it does not mean that I overly disliked the movie, the show will always have a special place in my heart as well as many others and really nothing can top a live performance of RENT.
~ While I enjoyed being able to see faces and body language better, some parts were lost in the experience of only being able to see shapes of bodies and a full stage all at once.
~ On a similar note, I must say that my imagination and the places in a stage show where you are forced to fill in the gaps is far better than seeing someone else’s vision for the scene. Same went for LOTR.
~ I really, really didn’t like the CG breath that was added to convey cold. It wasn’t consistent and over done, except during I Should Tell You (I liked it then).
~ I felt the music was over produced. Especially the instruments. I really like the raw sound that 4 guys on stage bring to the over all performance. While I know there were many concessions made in terms of the music, I thought that the voice recordings should reflect the space that the scene was in. Hearing a “recorded” voice, when a space such as a large hall or church would produce such a nice tone, wasn’t fun for someone who knows that things like this are possible to do. That made it seem like less real in the sense that on the stage you get stage quality and atmosphere, and in a movie, (I at least), would like to hear sound that reflects the environment that it is being sung in. And over and over it is clear that they are lip-syncing. ESPECIALLY during Today For Me, Tomorrow For You – bad!!!
~ While I know they couldn’t put all the songs and little singing parts in, I felt they failed to incorporate a consistent amount of either just new dialogue or dialogue converted from lyrics. Whenever someone said something that used to be a lyric, it felt very rhyme oriented or sing-songy, I didn’t like that. I would have liked it if they had just said the line with feeling instead of trying to be reminiscent of the musical aspect of the line, or better yet since they took time to put the line it, they could have just sung the line.
~ I didn’t like the fact that the first 2/3s of the movie now takes place over 4 days instead of 1 night.
~ The extra scenes were Ok. The one I was most disappointed with was the Maureen/Joanne engagement party thing. Not for moral reasons, but just for flow and exposition. And almost equally I didn’t like the meeting with Alexi Darling. That’s such a funny/good bit with the answering machine.
~ Maybe I missed it, but I really wanted to hear “Honest Living!!!”. I am thankful that “You can take the girl out of hicksville, but you can’t take the hicksville out of the girl.” made it into the movie, even though it wasn’t sung.
~ I didn’t like the music video feel to the song portions, while there were a few exceptions that work really well in that format and were carried by some nice editing, multiples locations and cinematography, the rest of the scenes felt flat. The multiple angles of people singing to each other in a not-so-artsy way left me feeling unfulfilled. I would have rather watched them from one angle and one length than multiple camera angels. Not to say that this ruined the film, but it becomes quite easy to see where the time and care was put into certain songs that made them “look good” for the screen.
Well that’s it. I don’t know if I’ll see it again in the theatres. I think I’d much rather see the stage version or listen to the Broadway Recording.
I’ll give the movie a solid 7, but encourage people not to settle for the movie and go and see it in real life.