08/23/2014  
Welcome Back, Kotter: The Complete Series on DVD Aug 26The Twilight Zone: The Complete '80s Series on DVD Aug 26Trust Me on DVD Aug 26The Midnight Special Collector's Edition on DVD Sep 9Revelation Trail on DVD Aug 26Portlandia: Season 4 on DVD Aug 26Varsity Blood on DVD Aug 19

follow us on twitter

dOc on facebook

NE News Editor

Miley Cyrus is banned from performing in the Dominican ...
Mo'ne Davis strikes out six, allows three runs against ...
Billy Crystal will honor Robin Williams at the Emmy Awa...
Murder, revenge, lust and rampage take over 'Sin City' ...
Nicki Minaj’s “Anaconda” Video: Review Revue ...

JB Joseph Burke

The Answer to American Idol's Problems Is......
CONCRETE BLONDES...
CREAM FAREWELL CONCERT...
JACK REACHER...
MANBORG...

CA Chuck Aliaga

CORRUPTION (BLU-RAY)...
THE ATTACK (BLU-RAY)...
TANK GIRL (BLU-RAY)...
HORROR STORIES...
THE UNINVITED (BLU-RAY)...

RR Rich Rosell

THE GIRL...
THE HORDE...
LIFE IS SWEET (BLU-RAY)...
SHOUT AT THE DEVIL (BLU-RAY/DVD COMBO)...
THE BLUE ANGEL (BLU-RAY)...

MZ Mark Zimmer

BABY PEGGY: THE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM...
STORAGE WARS: VOLUME THREE...
Take Part in a Film Restoration...
THE 39 STEPS (BLU-RAY)...
DARK SHADOWS: THE BEST OF BARNABAS...

JS Jesse Shanks

2 BROKE GIRLS...
DOWNTON ABBEY SEASONS ONE & TWO LIMITED EDITION...
FLORENCE AND THE SPIRIT OF THE RENAISSANCE...
NAZI COLLABORATORS...
KATT WILLIAMS: KATTPACALYPSE...

RJ Ross Johnson

THE LIFE AND DEATH OF COLONEL BLIMP (BLU-RAY)...
PURPLE NOON (BLU-RAY)...
WEEKEND (BLU-RAY)...
JUAN OF THE DEAD...
THE DEVIL'S NEEDLE AND OTHER TALES OF VICE AND REDEMPTI...

JD Jon Danziger

SUNSET BOULEVARD...
SALO, OR THE 120 DAYS OF SODOM...
TABLOID...
CUL-DE-SAC...
3 WOMEN...

JC Joel Cunningham

YOJIMBO/SANJURO...
SUMMER HOURS (L'heure d'ÈtÈ)...
WIZARD OF OZ...
WINGS OF DESIRE...
HORTON HEARS A WHO!...

DH Dan Heaton

REVANCHE...
LAST DAYS OF DISCO...
NIGHTS AND WEEKENDS...
STARGATE SG-1: CHILDREN OF THE GODS...
STARGATE ATLANTIS: THE COMPLETE FIFTH SEASON...

MS Matt Serafini

THE STEPFATHER...
THE HILLS RUN RED...
MANAGEMENT...
NIGHT OF DEATH...
GNAW...

KC Kevin Clemons

Freddy Got Fingered...

JU Jeff Ulmer

Secure The Second Season of The Border on DVD August 25...
THE WALTONS: THE COMPLETE 9TH SEASON...
Dance Me Outside kicks onto DVD May 6, 2008...

DD Dale Dobson

Film-Fest 4: Sundance 2000 & Hawaii...

RM Robert Mandel

Saving Private Ryan...

Share: email   Print      Technorati.gif   StumbleUpon.gif   MySpace   digg.gif delicious.gif   google.gif   magnolia.gif   facebook.gif
Permalink: Permalink.gif



Buy from Amazon

Buy from Amazon.com

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment presents
Rent (2005)

"We raise our glass—you bet your ass—to La Vie Boheme."
- Mark (Anthony Rapp)

Review By: David Krauss   
Published: February 22, 2006

Stars: Rosario Dawson, Taye Diggs, Wilson Jermaine Heredia, Jesse L. Martin, Idina Menzel, Adam Pascal, Anthony Rapp, Tracie Thomas
Director: Chris Columbus

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for mature thematic material involving drugs and sexuality, and for some strong language
Run Time: 02h:14m:53s
Release Date: February 21, 2006
UPC: 043396111554
Genre: musical


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
B AA-A+ A-

DVD Review

Rent was an instant sensation when it premiered on Broadway a decade ago—not only because a high-energy ensemble performed its exhilarating, emotional score to perfection, but because of the gritty themes the show squarely tackles. Though inspired by Puccini's century-old opera, La Bohème, Jonathan Larson's rock musical embeds itself in the here and now, immersing audiences in the contemporary culture of drugs, AIDS, poverty, and unbridled sexuality. Not since Hair a generation before had Broadway been jolted by such a modern, up-to-the-minute production, and though time has slightly softened its radical feel, Rent remains a relevant, affecting work.

The film version of Rent honors its stage roots, but under the aegis of Chris Columbus, it loses the stark, edgy quality that first put it on the map. The director of Home Alone, Mrs. Doubtfire, and the first two Harry Potter movies seems loath to fully embrace the darkness pervading Larson's work, preferring to accentuate the positive instead. To be sure, the subject matter goes against Columbus' family-friendly grain, and the glossy, artificial air that often hovers over the film seems a direct result of his influence. Rent should be a cathartic, in-your-face experience, ripping us up before raising us up, but Columbus plays it safe, and the musical feels detached and distant as a result. The inherent power of the piece still prevails, but the bland vanilla coating dilutes its acidity, and leaves us to wonder how a more serious-minded, realistic director like Martin Scorsese (whom producer Robert De Niro actively courted), Spike Lee (who once was attached to the project), or Sam Mendes (also rumored to be considered) would interpret and visualize the material.

Rent follows a tight-knit group of artistic friends eking out a hand-to-mouth existence on New York's Lower East Side in the late 1980s while confronting a multitude of personal and social problems. Mark (Anthony Rapp), a struggling documentary filmmaker, and his HIV-positive roommate, Roger (Adam Pascal), a struggling musician and recovering junkie, live in a dank, dingy loft, where they entertain, counsel, console, bolster, and bond with an assortment of troubled yet sensitive pals. There's Mimi (Rosario Dawson), an HIV-positive, drug-addicted dancer in an S&M club, who becomes Roger's girlfriend; Tom Collins (Jesse L. Martin), an HIV-positive techno whiz; Tom's lover Angel (Wilson Jermaine Heredia), an HIV-positive street musician and drag queen; Maureen (Idina Menzel), a free-spirit performance artist and Mark's former girlfriend; and Joanne (Tracie Thoms), a feisty lawyer and Maureen's new lesbian lover.

Also dropping in now and then is Benny (Taye Diggs), who left the group to marry a wealthy suburbanite, and is now the mouthpiece for the loft's stringent landlord, who demands the destitute tenants pay their rent or face eviction. Life as a starving artist no longer appeals to Benny, and his newfound financial security affords him a more realistic view of the Lower East Side. Yet he still feels a connection to his friends, and implores them to wake up and reexamine their lives. "This is Calcutta," he says. "Bohemia is dead." Mark and his gang, however, disagree, and fight to keep both their space and their lives intact.

La Bohème is without question a supreme romantic tragedy, but Rent—though far from cheerful—somehow puts a life-affirming spin on more depressing topics, and proves the power of love can often transcend the pain and suffering of disease, prejudice, and misfortune. Making the most of each day may seem like a trite message for an important theatrical work, but in the face of dire, terminal forces like AIDS, such an idea becomes inspiring—especially when it's swathed in a series of potent, eloquent songs penned by a man whose own story eerily follows the theme. (More on that below.)

Larson's score gives Rent its pulse, and few pop musicals can match the driving rhythms, diverse styles, and expressive lyrics that distinguish it. Songs such as I'll Cover You, Will I, Without You, What You Own, Light My Candle, and the hard-rocking title tune crawl under our skin and resonate even more than the dramatic events. For sheer electricity and visceral impact, it's tough to beat Larson's stirring music.

Chemistry, of course, is crucial for an ensemble piece, and by importing all but two members of the original Broadway cast, Rent has it in spades. Dawson and Thoms are the newcomers, but they meld remarkably well with the show's seasoned pros. Both women possess powerhouse voices and strike just the right emotional note. As the central female lead, Dawson has the tougher job, but makes Mimi her own with a sensual and luminous portrayal. The rest of the cast masterfully recreates their roles, fueling them with a palpable, infectious energy that never wanes. Whether dancing on tables during the joyous La Vie Bohème or pondering how to "measure a year in the life" in the beautiful anthem Seasons of Love, Rapp, Pascal, Menzel, and company put their heart and soul into their performances.

Yet despite so many positive elements, the movie version of Rent just doesn't work for me. I love the score and the actors, but the film never gives me that swift kick in the gut I expect and crave. Larson's work brims with passion, but Columbus, intentionally or not, tempers it. By courting teenage girls and grandmothers, he turns a pot of boiling water down to a simmer, and as a result, his film warms instead of scalds us. Rent could have been the West Side Story of the new millennium—raw, real, raging—but instead it's just a typical Hollywood musical that happens to be set in the slums. And that's a shame.

Rating for Style: B
Rating for Substance: A

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio2.40:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicyes


Image Transfer Review: Unlike the Alphabet City lofts that house the characters, the widescreen anamorphic transfer looks fresh and crisp. And why shouldn't it? Rent debuted in theaters a mere three months ago, so hasn't yet had time to deteriorate. Vibrant color, wonderful clarity, and good contrast distinguish this high-quality treatment from Sony, which also features strong black levels, true and natural fleshtones, and not a bit of grain. More than half of Rent transpires at night, and though a few scenes come across as overly dark, the majority possess solid shadow detail and a lush richness.

Image Transfer Grade: A-

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
Dolby Digital
5.1
English, Frenchyes


Audio Transfer Review: Here's where Rent needs to shine, and the DD 5.1 track does so brilliantly. With exceptional purity of sound, superior fidelity, and a blissful absence of distortion, Jonathan Larson's infectious, high-octane score bursts forth, surrounding us with pulsating energy, nuance, and tonal depth. The vocals sound robust and distinct, even during the most complex arrangements, and the orchestra—despite the driving rock tempos—never drowns them out. The judicious use of bass also keeps the mix nicely balanced and easy on the ears, while dialogue—whether spoken or sung—is always clear and comprehendible. This is definitely a track that begs to be cranked up, and few audiophiles or musical enthusiasts will be able to resist the temptation.

Audio Transfer Grade: A+

 

Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 29 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French with remote access
7 Other Trailer(s) featuring Benchwarmers, Marie Antoinette, The Da Vinci Code, The Legend of Zorro, Freedomland, Fun With Dick and Jane, Memoirs of a Geisha
4 Deleted Scenes
1 Alternate Endings
1 Documentaries
1 Feature/Episode commentary by director Chris Columbus and actors Anthony Rapp and Adam Pascal
Packaging: generic plastic keepcase
Picture Disc
2 Discs
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extra Extras:
  1. Public service announcements for the Jonathan Larson Performing Arts Foundation and the National Marfan Foundation
Extras Review: This two-disc special edition kicks off with a genial and occasionally amusing commentary by director Chris Columbus and actors Anthony Rapp and Adam Pascal. Unfortunately, all three men sound relatively alike, so it's difficult at times to determine who's talking, but all make perceptive and interesting points. Columbus discusses how he fought to get Rent a PG-13 rating (a big blunder, in my view), and why he wanted the actors to speak instead of sing most of their dialogue (another mistake). He also attacks Roger Ebert's controversial flip-flop review of the film, and addresses the positive and negative opinions of other critics. Rapp and Pascal chime in to talk about how the film differs from the stage play, point out various goofs, and relay anecdotes from the set. We also learn—for better or worse—about all the digital effects employed (such as inserting the Manhattan skyline into various shots), as well as the different locations that subbed for New York City (including the back lot at Warner Bros.). Columbus blames the gentrification of the Lower East Side for limiting his ability to shoot in that area, but taking Rent away from its roots most definitely dulls its impact.

In many ways, the tragic story of Jonathan Larson is more dramatic and inspiring than Rent itself, and the feature-length documentary, No Day But Today—the centerpiece of Disc 2—presents an in-depth portrait of this musical genius. Interviews with family, friends, colleagues, and Rent cast members illuminate Larson's endearingly quirky personality, and the visionary talent that would spawn his masterwork. We hear about his Leave It to Beaver childhood, his Bohemian existence in a dumpy fifth-floor walkup, his first-hand experience with the AIDS epidemic, and how he wanted to "change the face" of musical theater by uniting MTV and Broadway. The most absorbing portion of the film details Rent's theatrical development, culminating with Larson's unexpected death at age 35 from an aortic aneurysm (due to Marfan's Syndrome) the night before the show's off-Broadway premiere. The documentary also looks at the Rent phenomenon, and the multi-year struggle to bring the musical to the screen. Divided into six parts, which can be viewed individually or as a whole, the 109-minute film runs a little long and relies too heavily on gushy testimonials, but nevertheless maintains interest, and includes several moving moments.

Next up are four deleted scenes (with optional commentary), which fans of the Broadway show will especially appreciate...even as they provoke rage. The cut dialogue scenes are negligible, but excising two important and emotional musical numbers, Halloween and Goodbye Love, is tantamount to treason. Both songs lend Mark's character a vital depth it otherwise lacks, and make him at last seem like a participant in the proceedings instead of a bystander. Goodbye Love especially serves a vital purpose, beautifully setting up the dramatic final act, while adding essential texture to Mark and Roger's relationship. Both men exquisitely perform the song, which also includes a dynamite coda by Dawson. Columbus justifies the cut by saying Goodbye Love infuses the film with "too much emotion," but that's exactly what everyone who goes to see Rent desires! He also notes how it seemed awkward for Roger and Mark to sing to each other at such a late stage in the film, when they hadn't done so before—another ludicrous excuse. By second-guessing audience reaction and dictating how we should feel, Columbus robs Rent of the subtleties and nuances that could have made it a great film.

An alternate ending is also included, and I'm happy to report Columbus made the correct decision in abandoning it. The concept returns the characters to the theatrical stage where they open the movie, and distances us from the world and events in which we've been immersed for more than two hours. We don't want to leave that world or forget those events so quickly, and thankfully screenwriter Stephen Chbosky convinced Columbus to revamp the ending.

Two public service announcements for the Jonathan Larson Performing Arts Foundation and the National Marfan Foundation, along with a bunch of trailers, complete the extras package.

Extras Grade: A-

 

Final Comments

With its soaring score and fine performances, the movie version of Rent is slick and entertaining, but never delivers the profound, emotionally affecting experience we crave. Director Chris Columbus gives us a tantalizing taste of what the show is about, but if you want the whole meal, you'll have to go to Broadway. High quality transfers (especially the audio) and a thoughtful salute to composer Jonathan Larson help make this two-disc special edition a handsome keepsake for "Rentheads," but all others heed this advice: Buy the soundtrack, rent the film.

 


Back to top

Search 10,000+ titles:

or Advanced Search

DVD REVIEW ARCHIVE


Get FREE Shipping on all orders at TimeLife.com! - 120x90

 



Microsoft Store

Keywords

celebrity, miley cyrus, dominican republic, banned, moral grounds, wrecking ball, television, sports, little league baseball, mo'ne davis, taney dragons, las vegas team, 2014 emmy awards, billy crystal, father's day, don mischer, movie, sin city: a dame to kill for, mickey rourke, josh brolin, jessica alba, music, nicki minaj, anaconda video, drake, twerking, lapdance, comedy, box office, movies, teenage mutant ninja turtles, guardians of the galaxy, megan fox, will arnett, whoopi goldberg, beyonce knowles, jay-z, hbo, on the run tour, clip, bang bang (my baby shot me down), sonny bono, 1966, horror, tiburon ca, mara buxbaum, susan schneider, robin williams, hazelden addiction treatment center, aladdin, happy feet, robots, fern gully., 2014 teen choice awards, sarah hyland, tyler posey, ansel elgort, jennifer lopez, selena gomez, kylie jenner, drama, basketball, san antonio spurs, kari gallegos-doering, colorado state, greg popovich, the big bang theory, kaley cuoco, haircut, johnny galecki, jim parsons, ruam sweeting, documentary, victoria beckham, south africa, mothers2mothers, 600 items, auction

On Kindle!
On Facbook!
digitallyOBSESSED!
digitallyOBSESSED!
Promote Your Page Too

Visit:

Zarabesque.com

earth mosaics

Original Magic Dress.com

Susti Heaven

Become a Reviewer | Search | Review Vault | Reviewers
Readers | Webmasters | Privacy | Contact