Friday, November 18, 2005

La vie Boheme: Waiting for RENT and Hoping for the Best

It’s been a long time since I’ve actually looked forward to the release of a major motion picture. In fact the last time was George A Romero’sLand of the Dead”, which in my humble opinion was a masterpiece of Grand Guignol horror and scathing political commentary (from Romero, I’d expect nothing less).

Now comes “RENT” based on the play of the same name. If you’ve been anywhere near a television set for the past few months, you have, no doubt, seen the commercial for the film … frankly It looks like they are selling a feel good opus along the lines of, “Fame”; Christ I hope they have not white-washed “RENT”.

If you saw the play, you know it is based on Puccini’s "La Boheme."; updated to be about a group of artists, hookers, film makers, drag queens and others living in New York City at the dawn of the 90’s – several of the lead characters are HIV positive and the specter of AIDS hangs over the entire piece. Of course, redemption is found in the theme of “RENT” which is essentially about living for the moment, “No day like today”, as they sing in the play.

And then there is the sad story of the play’s writer, Jonathan Larson, who, the night his show premiered to rave reviews, died of an undiagnosed heart ailment. He was 35 years old…

I saw the musical on my 40th birthday a few years back and was astounded, mesmerized, brought to tears, and ultimately up-lifted. That’s the thing with a well executed performance piece, it can transport you … funny thing was, I’d had the soundtrack for a few months and with the exception of a few tunes, thought it was pretty lame. Then, seeing those songs in their proper context made me a believer.

So back to this upcoming movie version: I am just unsure, I mean I want to see it, and six of the eight original cast members are reprising their roles and Robert DeNiro is one of the film’s producer; but the director is, Chris Columbus … the man who brought us “Gremlins” and “Home Alone” and “Jingle All the Way” (ok and he did do those first two movies about the little boy at the wizard’s school – what was the name of that again?) – is this the guy we want fronting what is ultimately a gritty story put to music?

I was kind of hoping for Spike Lee or maybe some young un-known to take a crack at this – then again, who knows I might be pleasantly surprised…

Until November 23rd (that’s when the movie opens) I’ll be listening to the sound track of the play and hoping for the best…

No comments: