Thursday, December 31, 2015

What's Next On My List? RENT

Here we are, the end of another year... I have been writing reviews for five years now and I can tell you that it is still one of my favorite things to do. I love movies and I love to talk about them. My audience is pretty limited, although I am very proud to see the number of views go up and up as time passes. To end this year, as you may have seen, I have reviewed musical movies in an attempt to let people know maybe they shouldn't listen to the critics... for last I saved one of my all time favorites, because I wanted to ask everyone:
"How do you measure a year in the life?"

Mark is a wannabe director. He is making a movie about his life and friends. His roomate Roger was a musician who struggles to write a new song. He starts dating a young girl from downstairs, Mimi, who is a drug addict and has no intention to quit for Roger. Collins is their best friend who visits them on Christmas Eve but is badly beaten up on the street. He is helped by Angel, and over the holidays the two fall in love. Maureen is a born performer, Mark's ex, who is now engaged to Joanne, but she struggles with monogamy. Finally you have Benny, former best friend of Mark, Roger and Collins, who decides to marry rich to get out of the bohemian life the others chose for themselves. For this decision they despise him. Most of them, however, share another thing in common: HIV. Mark's movie reflects that perhaps one day he'll be the only one left alive, and then, how should he go on living?

This musical is actually a modernization of Giacomo Puccini's La Boheme, in which the disease in question was tubercolosis and not HIV. Nonetheless, nasty diseases... Getting back to this version, I love this musical for various reasons, among them the songs, the cast, the story, but ultimately what I adore is how it conveys the message of love. It doesn't matter if you are black or white, boy or a girl, young or old, rich or poor, sick or healthy, you deserve to be loved! And you deserve to love someone and have no regrets about it! What is the point in arguing over nonsense when life is limited? When time isn't endless? Why would you turn away from your feelings when they are the only thing that keep you alive? That is what this movie taught me. Sorry, this musical. And when you think about all those damn romantic stories that actually lack stories but want to push "LOVE" in your face, you realize they just lack substance... you do need a good story, you do need to be able to get from A to B, with character development, shades of background and the moral of the story has to speak for itself - and not be said out loud over and over again... That is why this musical is simply wonderful.
That having been said I did have two small problems, something my sister and I both talked about. After saying all these good things you might call me a hypocrite, but I will only criticize two things from the movie version, something to do with editing and not the musical! One was cutting a song, "Halloween", which was also on the DVD, so they did shoot it (click here to watch it on Youtube!). I was sad because there is a bit of a weird cut where Roger leaves them and after the funeral Mark sings about his fear of being lonely, as all the couples broke up and half of them are sick. What follows is him getting caught up in work and Roger leaving to finish his song, and it is very intense, but I missed an intro to that, and that song was perfect. The other thing we didn't agree with was the ending... on the DVD there is an alternate ending that resembles that of the beginning of the movie (an homage to that play): they eight main characters stand on the stage and sing the opening song "Seasons of Love".
In this ending the eight stand there again and Angel is missing, they sing "Finale B" and well... there is a moment where Angel comes out to the stage and your heart simply skips a beat, it is so perfect! We cry everytime we see that ending. The problem with the one they kept is that they start watching Mark's film which is simply a collection of images from the movie that we have already seen. If they decided to go that way, I would've prefered images we haven't seen yet instead of flashback to something that happened literally 10 minutes earlier... I don't know why they chose that in the end, but I feel that if they paid attention to having that homage to begin with, they really could've ended with it as well.

I watch this movie every year, because I keep showing it to my friends... almost everyone is on board now, but I still have a couple of people to turn to the Rent side of the force :D My favorite couple is Collins and Angel. Their song, "I'll Cover You" rings in my ear every other day; how both wished to be a safe haven for the other is very beautiful to me. The second has to be Maureen and Joanne, mostly because I have been in love with a person like Maureen and I could see their struggle and I love "Take Me or Leave Me" and recommend it to all my friends who have at least fallen for one who couldn't see the wonderful person in them! In the end the two end up together as they realize that all the problems they have are foolish and they love each other. More people should be like Maureen and Joanne!

Why is this musical also important? On the one side, the Hungarian version was not successful, simply because we don't have - and that is no offence to the mother country that originates this musical - an HIV problem. It isn't totally uncommon, but I don't even think that the percentages of infected people reach the decimals. Many people cannot understand love between a two gay man - one a transvestite -, nor the love between two lesbians - one of which doesn't believe in monogamy. And not because they don't want to, it is simply that they haven't encountered it. But that doesn't take away from the depth and importance of a story like this. Other than the movie, and the Broadway version (click here to watch on Youtube!), that I love as well, I await the 20 year anniversary special coming in 2016! Something to look forward to in the new year!

Watch it? Do you need any more reasons? :)


_ _ _ _ _ 

Mark Cohen - Anthony Rapp
Roger Davis - Adam Pascal
Mimi Marquez - Rosario Dawson
Tom Collins - Jesse L. Martin
Angel Dumott Schunard - Wilson Jermaine Heredia
Maureen Johnson - Idina Menzel
Joanne Jefferson - Tracie Thoms
Benjamin Coffin III - Taye Diggs


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