Saturday, December 03, 2005

525,600 Minutes

(HAD to, Chr.)

Okay, so I finally saw "Rent" yesterday, on yet another Fag Field Trip with Chr. I fully realize that this was an entire week after every single other Homo in America saw it, which is especially sad since I basically starred in the damned movie. Well, more on that later. :-(

I have to say, I was disappointed. I acknowledge that it is extremely hard to film a musical, but I felt that "Rent" was often disjointed, very often cheesy, and not nearly often enough magical-- which all movie musicals need to be somehow. It had its moments, and there were some good performances and good songs, but IMHO, not nearly enough to fill up its VERY long running-length.

A friend of mine who is a long-term survivor of HIV had weighed in with me a while back on the stage version: he said that the AIDS/HIV themes in the musical were handled very superficially, and that this was an affront to him and to all those who went through that horrible period in the Eighties and Nineties. I have to agree with him-- I HATE seeing very healthy-looking actors pretending to be dying of AIDS, and this certain overwrought, overly-sentimental way of handling the complexities of this tragic period in recent gay history. A show-tune taking place at an AIDS support group meeting? Utterly cringe-worthy to me!

(As an aside, an AIDS film that I thought worked is "Longtime Companion," a heartbreaking tearjerker that I felt captured the spirit of that time and place pretty accurately, and a fabulous movie musical that I thought worked is "Hedwig and the Angry Inch"-- rent them both on Netflix and tell them Madame Glinka sent you!!!)

Another thing: for supposed dirt-poor bohemians who couldn't afford to buy a cup of tea at their La Vie Boheme cafe, the characters sure had lots of Pottery Barn candles and could dress in numerous cute, hip ensembles... worth many smirks and catty asides to Chr. during the film. Oh, and didn't you all think that at least some of the actors were just a TAD too old in 2005 to be reprising their old B'way roles???

Now, onto MY scenes at the Cat Scratch Club. First, I have to give it to Rosario Dawson-- she was impressive, just as impressive as she was when we were filming those scenes. She really held the film together and seemed the right age. Very sexy. (I didn't know HIV+ heroin addicts could be that sexy.)

The horde of extras playing strip-club patrons, of which I was one, were basically just a blurry crowd of bodies-- even the guys positioned right next to the stage were barely seen-- the focus was on Mimi, which was appropriate. There's actually one shot where I believe I am a blurry body (once again) crossing in front of the camera-- I remember doing that shot. Will need major Slo-motion to check it out when the DVD comes out.

This other scene towards the end of the film, where Mimi is really strung out and writhing around more desparately for greenbacks, I am out of camera-range, as I guessed I would be. Bummer.

One last criticism: most of the street scenes were filmed in 'Frisco, not New York. Seeemed pretty obvious to Chr. and me. It was a great coup for the local film and acting community that director Chris Columbus wanted to film here, but not too good for realism. The fake snow looked pretty real at least!

So that's the "Rent" wrap-up... I would be interested to see the stage version now, just to compare. It's a terrible shame that the composer Jonathan Larson died-- he was obviously very gifted, and I'm sure his talent would have grown with more projects.

Stay tuned tomorrow for some exciting news about an Albert Holiday Performing Gig!


Blogger Phinney said...

I am going to rent this anyway in however-many-months and (oh - hehe 'rent' this, ain't i funny. ) and I will look for you too. hey, i'm thinkin' lately - which movie was it you were in with Ms. Jennifer Aniston, the one where she passed by you and you noticed her 'super-shiny hair' ??? is that movie out yet? that was quite some time ago you worked on that, wasn't it.
oh, and guess what?
Glitter of the Day: Rum Rainbow!!! xoxo Phin

8:14 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

it did look like the City to me.
I love your behind the scenes info and insight....I will have to look for you in the dvd too.
Also, thank you for movie recommendations. My 13 y/o was genuinely intrigued about the period it depicts and what the view on Aids was at that time. She asked for more, more, more. I forgot about Longtime Companion and will ceck it out for the two of us to watch and discuss next weekend. I'm proud that she wants to go beyond the entertainment and understand the superficial themes even more.

8:35 PM  
Blogger sfmike said...

I saw the touring version of the stage show last time it was in San Francisco only because we were able to get the $20 front row seats one evening. Expecting to hate the musical, partly because I'm not a big fan of the original opera ("La Boheme"), I was pleasantly surprised. The pop-rock score was wonderful and it got one over the more embarassing humps in the libretto.

Still, I'm not going anywhere near the movie, even with your fabulous blurriness in the background. San Francisco is not the Lower East Side and Chris Columbus is not my favorite filmmaker in the world. In fact, I'd have to say he's one of my least favorite.

As for your holiday gig, does it have anything to do with Confucius?

11:50 PM  
Blogger Gabreael said...


I wanted to let you know I have added you to my links section.


8:44 AM  
Blogger Miss Vincci said...

Hey Albert,

I saw the stage version last year and I thought it was from what you say...I probably won't like the film one then...that's'll save me some $$$!

11:41 AM  
Blogger Bon & Mal Mott said...

Oh, gosh, we still haven't decided whether to 'Rent:The Movie'. But since you're not front and center, maybe we'll save the cash.
Bon & Mal

7:22 PM  
Blogger Mrs. L said...

Cosmic -- I just saw Rent last night. I never shaw the stage show, but I had no problem with the length, the singing, the cast. I was just disappointed that the music wasn't as good throughout as I had hoped it would be. And Mimi's resureection at the end was not my cup of tea. Shut up and die already. Jesse Martin is so Law and Order now that I did have problems with him as a character, even though he was in the original cast. And it wasn't until Mimi was dying at the end that I realized this was an updated version of La Boheme. Duh. Mrs. L

10:47 AM  

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