Sunday, December 04, 2005

REV: Rent (2005)

I went to see Rent for one basic purpose -- so that i'd know what goes on in those conversations at the right parties where everyone has been goo-goo about the play for ever.

You know i'm not a musical kind of guy. Period. Just don't like 'em. Maybe it's my Led Zeppelinish background or something. I don't know. All i do know is that to get me to approach the concept of like about a musical is to produce one that's about the story and not the songs. And even there you're treading a thin line.

So i went to see this thing knowing a) the storyline roughly, and b) it was most likely firmly entrenched in the very category of things i most dislike as a film/theatre genre.

Yep. It was.

But i have some good things to say about it. And it's going to be through looks at the parts, and scene-by-scenes -- it seems that's the only way to look at it since the story has little to recommend it, and the focus is on the set pieces.

Some of the characters were truly likable, however shallow. Chief among them were Joann the lawyer, played by Tracie Thoms, and Collins/Tom played by Taye Diggs. They earned the same cred from me here as i've heard about them from the stage version.

Everyone else though ranged from bland to in&out of character to preposterous. Odd considering Adam Paschal had so much kudo from the stage version -- i just find him not immersed in the role here.

The set, for what it was and was supposed to be was mostly effective, although the exteriors lit like a stage were annoying.

And the music . . .

Well, i thought there were some soaring pieces here; some truly likable pieces of music. Unfortunately the ones i liked best were not the major film pieces. And the ones that were set up to be the defining sections of score did not achieve the level necessary to make them household singalongs. It's a shame that the script (and perhaps the playscript as well) does not tend to enthuse Red-State America or a few of the pieces might be pop radio fare. Oh well, opportunity missed.

Among the occasionally effective portions of the film are the once-in-a-while dance scenes. Two in particular stand out (in fact some of the others are just plain miserable, mostly due to having several main characters with zero dancing chops trying to pretend otherwise). The first is the dream sequence tango. While Mark is no dancer at all, he is at least solid enough to allow Thoms to use him as a pedestal. More effective is the use of the other dancers. The group choreography is very tasty.

The second scene is the one aboard the subway with Taye Digges and Wilson Jermaine Heredia. It's a bit off the wall, but nicely done. There is an odd vector-cross in the sequence that, even for someone who doesn't know what a vector-cross is, is enough to make anyone stop and go "What the heck happened." It was intentional but a bit jarring.

Beyond those good cop/bad cop comments i can only say the the entire movie seemed overly shallow. I never felt comfortable that there was any kind of real relationship under the melody, except maybe the Collins/Angel thing. It's just been rendered too short in service to the songs that no serious feelings of commitment can evolve, especially among three (+/-) couples. Couple that with a plotline that has about three Shyamalan-like false endings and you have an evening of unknown pop-diva vehicle pieces that goes on way too long.

At least now i know what it's about, and can avoid those conversations.

One note on physically seeing the film. There was a total of four of us in the theatre tonight. Myself. One young lady who sat behind me and sniffled all night. And a couple of boys who not only sang every word of every song, but whispered every line of dialogue to each other. Oy.

I propose that part of the slump in movie attendance has to do with the disappearance of theatre etiquette. It's much more pleasant to sit at home and watch on dvd and have only your own bodily dysfunctions to distract.

P.s. In my never-ending critique of CG-garbage: Never have i seen a worse example of the inanity of CG fire FX. Please. Burning books, scripts, trash floating gently to the street like autumn leaves. Cute. But so obviously fake as to be distracting. Of course, it's a musical. Everything is fake.

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