[lit-ideas] Re: Rent

  • From: Andy <min.erva@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Sun, 2 Mar 2008 19:12:47 -0800 (PST)

Lawrence probably meant to send this to the list.  Thanks for your reply, 
Lawrence.  Now that you mention it I have this vague idea that I played some of 
the songs on the piano way back when, and they are in fact beautiful, very, 
what's the word, round, singable.  The music in this thing has among other 
things rock as well as singing but it was just not well done.  Maybe I couldn't 
relate to the characters or to the story line?  Ordinarily I side with the 
victim ("victims create victims") and I understand the problems that go into 
drug addiction but there was no indication of that.  I just couldn't feel sorry 
or much of anything for these people.  They were flat.  I also didn't like them 
usurping the word "bohemia" to mean do anything you want any time you want and 
let someone else pay for it.  I'm really curious as to your reaction to it.
  Regarding ratings, I do look at the ratings that Netflix viewers give.  I 
generally will ignore bad ratings because I know my tastes are not mainstream, 
and where possible I go with critics (unless it's the NYT, especially on 
documentaries).  I did notice that this had high ratings from viewers but I 
figured it was a hit on Broadway, based on a classic, so how bad could it be, 
  Actually, far superior to this if you haven't seen it is the movie Chicago.  
The music and dance is in a different universe.  Rent, uh, Rent, has two 
musical sequences, one a tango which is good, and the other is Maureen's effort 
to save tent city which struck me as almost  Andy Warhol-ish or something I 
can't quite put my finger on.  But those two scenes, in my opinion didn't 
redeem this movie.
  It just popped into my head that, so long ago that I don't remember it and so 
young that I wouldn't have appreciated it, I read a play by Maxim Gorky called 
The Lower Depths, 1902 about basically the dregs of society.  I'm tempted now 
to dig it up except I don't think I have it anymore.  Contrasting that might be 
the work of F. Scott Fitzgerald who wrote of the completely opposite, if no 
happier, end of the spectrum.  Sex, drugs and unhappiness with and without 
rent.  The Renters did strive for community though, which I think Fitzgerald 
lacks.  I can't wait now to hear what you think.

Lawrence Helm <lawrencehelm@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:
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  I am a long time aficionado of Bel Canto opera --- through recordings 
primarily.  La Boheme is one of the best known of that tradition.  
  I hadn?t heard of Rent and so ordered it through Netflix.  I expect to be 
disappointed -- unless they use Puccini?s music.  From your description I 
expected the Netflix watchers to have given it a low rating.  Had they done so, 
I would not have ordered the movie, but they gave it about a 4.3 out of 5 which 
is pretty high.   Maybe being familiar with the opera helps.  I?ll let you know.
    From: lit-ideas-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx 
[mailto:lit-ideas-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx] On Behalf Of Andy
Sent: Sunday, March 02, 2008 7:08 AM
To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
Subject: [lit-ideas] Rent

    I saw the movie Rent last night.  I'm assuming that something got lost in 
the translation between the Broadway hit and the movie.  The movie was awful.  
Apparently it's based on LaBoheme, which I know nothing about.


    It's even worse than Titanic for taking tragedy and turning it into 
melodrama, and more boring than Heartbreak Kid.  Heartbreak Kid at least had 
some pretty interesting psychological profiles in it looking back on it, and I 
was curious how they would end it.  Rent was a mishmash of drug addicts and 
sexually confused people who think their rights are infringed upon because they 
can't, collectively no less, pay the rent.  The prostitute with a heart of gold 
becomes the homosexual with the heart of gold.  


    On top of which, the music and lyrics were abysmal.  I've heard Steven 
Sondheim criticized as all his stuff sounding the same, but now I know why his 
shows are so popular.  I kept hoping that one of the characters would break out 
into the song Memory.  I saw the movie version of Sondheim's Joseph and the 
Multicolored Coat not too long ago, and it was okay, but it was downright art 
compared to this.  I really hope the show Rent is better than the movie.  
Either that or people will pay a lot of money for the opportunity to indulge in 
some vicarious slumming.  Morbid curiosity accompanied by really bad music, a 
universe away from the Bohemia of John Reed and Louise Bryant or the Beats.  


    If the medium is the message, then this message found its perfect medium in 
a really bad movie.  Midnight Cowboy it wasn't.  Eric, do you know anything 
about this show?



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