Being the random thoughts of Greg Tito, age 29.

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Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Larson knows what I'm talking about

"No day but today."
-Rent (2005)

For years, I did not really consider myself a musical guy. I mean, I liked the random songs of my childhood from "The Hills Are Alive" to a rousing Muppet Love Song. It didn't help that the only music I listened to in my room were the Disney movie soundtracks of The Jungle Book and Cinderella. I always liked the fast, witty songs with lots of clever rhyming lyrics. The "Spoonful of Sugar" (I must have some weird obsession with Julie Andrews) and the Dentist song. Any slow love song would bore the crap out of my 8 year old mentality and when the movie was on VHS, I would usually fast-forward.

Last week, Mephistopholes and I went to go see the movie verision Rent the day it came out. I found myself watching the film with tears in my eyes for most of its duration. Not because of it was sad and not because I was gay (well, maybe), but because it is so emotionally charged. I had the same feeling when I saw "The Lion King" on stage or the national tour of Superstar.

There is so much power in someone belting out exactly how they feel in song. Laying it all out in clever turns of phrase. The sheer performing of it is powerful too. The characters, more often than not, are singing to each other. Some people don't like musicals because it doesn't make any sense for someone to start singing when they should be talking. But that's exactly what makes musicals cool, the characters get say what they are feeling in somewhat poetic language. Sometimes it is the magnitude of having such a vivid stage picture with singing dancing and moving sets that makes my eyes well up with the beauty of it all. (I don't get it. I'm not a very emotional guy but nearly I every time I go to these shows, I end up sobbing like a little bitch.)

MINIREVIEW OF RENT THE MOVIE: I've never seen Rent on stage but I've had the original cast recording for years. The movie is set in 1989 New York, the dirty crime infested peak of the city's sordid past. It made sense to keep the original cast from the musical, even though most of them were too old for the roles, it didn't matter. The magic of movies is that a 26-year-old can play a teenager (Can't Hardly Wait) and nobody bats an eye. Anthony Rapp (better known as Tony from Dazed and Confused) was great as the dorky filmmaker and I liked the original Tom Collins and Angel. They kept most of the songs from the score, even though they "musicalized" the script a bit. Rent was actually an opera where all the words were sung. In the movie, they spoke some of the lyrics and added bits of dialogue and, sometimes, whole scenes. This works for the most part but I missed two moments. One is the "Christmas bells are ringing" medley that probably wouldn't work on film where all the characters have their different plotlines mingle right before Maureen's performance. In the movie, these events are stretched out over several days. But one song, or portion of a song really, that was wrongly cut was Mark's and Roger's fight near the end of Act Two. It's really the only time that anyone calls out Mark as being the only one who is A) not in love B) not gay and C) not dying of AIDS. Without Roger telling him off, we are left to question Mark's place in the whole movie. Why is he there? Why does he merely observe as opposed to actively participating? And the weird thing is, I'm almost positive that scene was shot and it ended up on the cutting room floor. The next scene is "Living in America" in which Mark and Roger sing about their fight (it also has a cheesy montage of intercut scenes of Roger on a butte in Arizona and Mark on the roof of a building in NY that is laughably lame). That song makes no sense if the previous fight is cut but yet they did it, probably for "pacing reasons." (How many director's commentaries have you heard where they describe a deleted scene was cut because of fucking pacing? Who cares about pacing?)

Anyway, the movie was good. And I like musicals. There I said it. Fuck off.

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