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Kiki Overthinks Every Thing
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Kiki Overthinks Every Thing
November 27, 2005
Viva La Boheme
Mood:  celebratory
Now Playing: Rent
Topic: Movie Reviews
What is Bohemianism?:
Though a Bohemian is a native of the Czech province of Bohemia, a secondary meaning for bohemian emerged in 19th century France. The term was used to describe artists, writers, and disenchanted people of all sorts who wished to live non-traditional lifestyles.he term reflects the French perception, held since the 15th century, that the gypsies had come from Bohemia. Literary bohemians were associated in the French imagination with roving gypsies, outsiders apart from conventional society and untroubled by its disapproval. The term carries a connotation of arcane enlightenment (the opposite of 'Philistines'), and also carries a less frequently intended, pejorative connotation of carelessness with personal hygiene. Bohemians were often associated with drugs and self-induced poverty. --

Rent...the movie
A review by Rocki White
November 27, 2005

I will admit first off that I am not a Rent-o-phile. I have never seen the musical although I do know that the musical, now entering its tenth season on Broadway, has had more guest performers than the entire run of the Love Boat. I know it is supposed to be based on the play/book La Boheme, which I know nothing about. I also know the creator, Jonathon Larson, died before the show hit Broadway. I also know the show won a Pulitzer for best drama, and a slew of 1996 Tony Awards. During the 1996-1997 Broadway season, I saw another innovative show that critics loved--Bring in Da Noise, Bring in Da Funk. From the Broadway: The American Musical compilation CD, I knew the popular song Season of Life from Rent. However, I didn't discover that until winter 2004. Needless to say, I went into the movie not knowing much about the plot of the show, but looking to be entertained and not disappointed by the film adaptation.

I was not disappointed with Rent...the movie although it was directed by Chris Columbus (who ruined Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone and the Chamber of Secrets for me). Out of four stars, I give it three solid stars. However, I should delve into the flaws before I heap on the praise. That would only be fair.

Rent is a time capsule of a New York City that no longer exists. As a matter of fact, the NYC that Rent takes place in didn't even exist when the show hit Broadway. In 1995, AIDS was no longer a death sentence and phrases like "living with AIDS" were the norm. AZT was replaced with Protease Inhibitors. The heart of NYC bohemia, SoHo and Greenwich Village, became filled with Yuppies who were the only ones able to afford the soaring rents (no pun intended).

In the Giuliani era of NYC, Times Square and 42nd Street was cleaned of its charm. The hookers, the homeless (Squeegee Men), and drug addicts had been bulldozed out of sight by the corporate sponsors and family entertainment. Even the gays and lesbians seemed less threatening as they became more and more a marketing niche as opposed to a hated and disenfranchised population. And ironically enough, Rent came to Broadway stage at a time when Broadway was starting to sell out its soul to Disney, Hollywood actors (no offense Hugh Jackman), and musical tracks instead of real life musicians.

Rent was dated when it became a hit, but somehow it works. It works on stage and works on the screen. As a native New Yorker who remembers dirty streets, crack heads, graffiti-ed subways, and the squatters and tent cities in Tompkins Square Park, Rent is a beautiful reminder that New York is good even when it is really bad. It's full of youthful ambition and a will to succeed even when the odds are stacked against you. Death, sickness, poverty, and hunger are the prices one must pay to live out their dreams. Rent is about fulfilling dreams when everything works against you. It's also, as the Seasons of Life eludes, about love and living for only today.

Except for the lesbian lawyer Joanne, played by Tracie Thomas, and erotic dancer Mimi, played by a feline sexy Rosario Dawson, everyone in the movie are holdovers from the original stage production. Some critics say that they are too old to be playing characters that are at least 10 years younger. I don't hold their age against them--is there a time limit on optimism, ambition, dreams? You'll recognize Jesse L. Martin from his stint on Law and Order; Taye Diggs from How Stella Got Her Groove Back; and Diggs' wife, Idina Menzel from her Tony-award winning stint in Broadway's Wicked.

I was wholly moved by the plot, the acting, the singing, and of the NYC of long ago. I sat until the end of the credits singing along until finally the lights came up. I knew in my heart that I would be buying the original Broadway soundtrack and movie soundtrack and the DVD when it came out. I hope the movie gets an Oscar nod for best picture, best movie score, and that Rosario Dawson gets an Oscar nomination for best supporting actress.

Rent! You gotta see it!

Posted by Kiki Shoes at 9:19 PM EST | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: December 1, 2005 5:57 PM EST

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