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Sarcasm Aside

random thoughts of a self-diagnosed neurotic with the attention span of a five-year old... a blog by Alternati

525 thousand six hundred minutes

Monday, August 07, 2006




I wasn't supposed to watch Rent last night. My original intention was to browse through the film so I'd know what it's about, but I was sucked into the film when I saw the opening scene. The eight cast members on a stage, with individual spotlights singing Seasons Of Love. I haven't seen the musical nor heard the score prior to last night, but this opening number is so familiar. Must have heard it from a friend who does theater in high school, and subconsciously cached it in my subconscious.

I've always had a thing for musicals... something about the way the cast breaks out in song in the middle of a conversation. That would be awesome to do in real life, you could really get your point across (note to self: get a voice transplant first). I did some googling and I found out that Rent debuted off-broadway in 1996 (just ten years ago). It was written by Jonathan Larson (who died a week before the movie premiere) and he based it on Puccini's La Boheme. In a nutshell, Rent is about the lives of eight bohemian friends whose lives crossed on Christmas Eve. Set in New York's East Village, the rock-musical happens in the span of one year, and the characters struggle through relationships, HIV, drugs, writer's block, intimacy, commitment, conformity, corporate America... all the nice gritty stuff.

The movie cast, as far as what I've read, stayed true to the original musical cast on Broadway except for a couple of alterations. I didn't know most of the actors, they were broadway stars who have numerous acting accolades (A disadvantage of living in the third world, no access to certain media). I did know Rosario Dawson (25th Hour), Taye Diggs (Ally Mcbeal) and Jesse Martin (Ally Mcbeal). I also knew Tracie Thoms but this took a lot of thought... I have seen her!... I can't quite figure out where... (an hour after the movie credits)... ding! I saw her on Wonderfalls. The performances that really carried the movie were those of the other four. Anthony Rapp as Mark Cohen the filmmaker, Adam Pascal as Roger the songwriter, Wilson Heredia as Angel the infectious drag queen, and Idina Menzel as Maureen the flirtatious diva.

I have developed a thing for Mark Cohen... haha, I just love his awkward dance steps especially in the La Vie Boheme scene in the restaurant. Movie cast and ensemble gathered around a long table singing about non-conformity. Its interesting to note that the top Anthony Rapp wears here is exactly what performers of Mark Cohen wearin Broadway. Similar with his striped black and white muffler and with the outfits that Angel wears. Three particular scenes also stick out for me. One, the Take Me or Leave Me scene a.k.a. Maureen and Joanne's engagement party. Funny. Fun. The second one was Angel's funeral. I felt my eyes watering up when Mimi started giving her eulogy, escalating as each eulogy was delivered and finally bawled my eyes out when Collins sang. The last one I like was actually deleted from the film (the director explained quite well why they removed it), it's good however that its included in the DVD Special Features. The Goodbye Love scene. This was supposed to be the scene between Angel's funeral and Roger leaving for Santa Fe. One part of the scene is Roger and Mark argument-singing and the other Mimi saying goodbye.

All in all, I loved the movie from start to finish. Some people who have seen both the musical and the play loved the transition from Broadway to silver screen, but others didn't. If you like movies about passion, living on the edge, the creative spirit and non-conformity (and don't mind having it sung to you), then I'm sure you'll like Rent too.
The opposite of war isn't peace... It's creation. ~ Mark (La Vie Boheme)

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