Wednesday, November 23, 2005


Yesterday after hearing yet another incredibly annoying radio ad to "GO SEE RENT!!!!", I declared to Nurse Sis that if the studio didn't freaking knock it off with their obnoxious hard-sell tactics, they were going to lose a guaranteed customer. Then I read this incredibly funny review of "Rent" in today's LA Times. Bye-bye, movie. Not gonna see it. Everybody has AIDS, AIDS, AIDS!!!!


Gary Freedman said...

I haven't been to the movies since September 1992.

Meg said...

I have to see it. The reviews I've read have been good, and the musical broke my heart - my friends and I camped out overnight in freezing January sleet to get the cheap front-row seats they sell before each show. We bonded with a huddled group of other misfits swaddled in sleeping bags, and the cast emerged at 3am with hot coffee and apples. They stayed after the show, too, so we could take pictures. I know the show's vision of the world is incredibly, naively optimistic, but I believed in it more than I ever have when I sat, enthralled, in the first row. It was the same year I marched against WTO, the same year I realized the world could be a cruel, selfish place. Rent will always evoke a tumble of memories, even now when I'm starting to lose my faith in that all-too-idealistic vision. I wouldn't miss it for the world.

Anonymous said...

The sad thing is, CC went to work today in (a) a RENT mini T-shirt, (b) rolled-up jeans, and (c) pink and black tone canvas sneakers.

I, OTOH, went to work in (a) an olive suit, (b) a silk tie, (c) and wingtips.

She's a teacher of English and American literature and a union member. I'm a lawyer.

I think I passed "sell out" a few exits back.


Kid Sis said...

Okay, I liked Rent. Never loved it. Really, the only musical I ever loved was Cabaret, and that's because what's not to love about a miscreant musical where everyone dies because they don't take a stand for each other? Plus the music and dancing are outrageously great.

But Rent...I came late to, and it never blew me away. I get why people like it so, though. But don't you think some of the points in the article were interesting? I mean, how do you rectify counter-culture being co-opted by corporations. It's a dilemna. And I also agree with the reviewer that it's not the cutting edge it pretends to be. I have friends who are cutting-edge multimedia artists, and, well...there work is a whole lot more profound and political and complicated than Rent's plot, music, or art projects.

I'm not trying to put it down, I think it's great that Meg and Marc and CC are into it. Just mulling the art of it over, thinking it ain't for me, in the way that I didn't like the Phantom of the Opera movie going all Euro-trash with the phantom to sell more tickets abroad. I really hate seeing behind the curtain. I'd rather have a raw expression of emotion than something calculated by focus groups. Angels in America is just sooooo superior on these issues.

Totally just my take on it, and I recognize that art is interpreted by what the viewer brings to it and is experienced differently, which is why we need all sorts of art for all sorts of people.

But those freaking radio ads aren't convincing anyone who wasn't going already to buy a ticket, and I still maintain they lost one customer from it. Please studios, don't ram your desperation down my gourd...there's got to be room for turkey and stuffing tomorrow.

Anonymous said...

Side note: did not know if you knew this, but in LA, the role of Mark the documentary filmmaker was played by... Neil Patrick Harris. CC has a bootleg audio recording of it, and he actually sounds quite cool.


Meg said...

Just for the sake of debate...

I'm a big skeptic of the way that "selling out" is employed by we artists, in all honesty. My favorite indie band in Seattle spent a decade driving their little van back and forth across the country peddling albums. Three years ago, they signed with a major label and have produced their last two albums with it. This has enabled them to a) quit their day jobs; b) continue making music because they don't have to worry about paying the bills; c) actually put something good on the radio that might make people care about music again. A lot of my favorite punk bands have followed suit, and, contrary to what fans like me assumed, their musical "integrity" hasn't been altered. They still write great, controversial, challenging music. The only difference is that they can do it for a living now.

Is that selling out? Is it really so easy to decide?

You can definitely sell out badly, but I also think that we've made defined it so that anyone who finds success in the mainstream is a sellout. I don't think that's always the case, and it seems a little extreme to say so...(this is coming from the girl who used to accuse everyone of selling out, so I don't want you to think I don't include myself in the criticism!)

Anyway, just some thoughts. I read the review and can't say I agree with it, but I think the reviewer and I are approaching the film with different expectations and assumptions. Hey, if it gets people talking, it must have something worth saying...

Off to bed on this side of the world! Later!

Meg said...

Oh lord, sorry about the grammatical errors in the post...that's what I get for editing in the middle of writing it...

Anonymous said...

BTW, on Rotten Tomatoes, they've got a lot of blurbs from bad reviews of Rent.

Some of the "best" ones were:

"No wonder these kids are broke!"

"It's loud and shrill. Bring earplugs."

"Fourteen thousand and some-odd seconds/ How do you measure the time you wasted on Rent?"

Ouuuuuuch, indeed.


Kid Sis said...

Meg, I never said anything about them selling out. I'm not sure where you got that from what I said. If you want to know the cold hard truth, I think the original material was pretentious, poorly written, and shallow about an interesting subject and wouldn't have gotten far if not for the capitalization on the playwright's dramatic death. But that's me.

I think it's great that you like it and are going to have a movie to enjoy this Thanksgiving. I'm not into taking away people's pleasures. It's just not going to give me any. Mark and CC LOVE musicals. I totally get that, and I think it's cool they're excited, just like I think it's cool I'm not. Ain't America grand?

Please don't infer that I call people sell-outs just because I don't like one playwright's material. I thought the play was mediocre, and I was going to go support it at the box office because I like to encourage the casting of minority leads (both color and sexual preferance) and the format of musicals.

But the movie first misstepped for me when they took the most talented, recognizable member of the original cast out to replace her with a fuckable "star" a decade younger than the rest of the cast. I like Rosario Dawson fine, but that's just crap, and really shows you where the filmmakers are coming from.

And then these ads...clearly you're not inundated them where you live, but it's voting season in LA and I'm freaking bleeding Rent songs out of my eyeballs.

For the record, I don't consider making a living selling out. But $300 for one Broadway ticket to the show and one Central Casting hot girl to go on talkshows and center the campaign around? TOTALLY the studio system at work. That ain't counter-culture. It's the same BS manufacturing they did of Seattle grunge. Using an image of fringe people to sell to people who, well, aren't if they can afford the tickets. Guess it's fun for people who aren't poor artists to pretend to understand that world for a night. I don't know, I don't personally get it. It's reducing the profound to a hallmark card. I'll be real curious to see who the audience for the movie is made up of.

Again, I think there are better, authentic portrayals out there of underground NYC artists that aren't calculated and false cliff notes. Basquiat, I Shot Andy Warhol. Even Party Monster has more depth to it. Rent has never worked for me. At the core, I have no idea what it's trying to say.

Regardless, at this point I'm going to do something that actually IS mixing art and activism, and wait to view it until I can borrow an academy screener.

But my opinion shouldn't threaten your viewing experience or your lovely memories of a great time in your life. That's the beauty of living in America.

Fun Joel said...

Damn that's scathing!

I'll repeat here what I commented on someone else's blog. I knew it was going to suck when I saw that the second batch of commercials removed all spoken/sung dialogue (which sounded horrendous in the first round of commercials) with a series of "raves" from reviews.

Love that line in this review -- look for the adjective to appear on movie posters with an exclamation point!

Kid Sis said...

Okay, and for the record I object to the movie Phantom being young, hot and having a bad voice. The whole freaking point is that she falls in love with his voice...a spiritual, soul connection that transcends the physical. Argh! And those cheesy-ass 80s guitar licks they added. Both elements were calculated to sell more tickets overseas. There was an article on it here when the movie came out last year.

And I never liked the play Chicago, but thought the movie was a fantastic reinvisioning of it.

And I love both the play and movie version of Rocky Horror.

Anonymous said...

Leia -- For you and CC and me, to each their own. We're good, and I took no offense.

CC and I also agree that the narrative in Rent is somewhat lacking. Let's see -- Act I, one night. Act II. One year. Huh?

That being said, there are moments in the stage version that I found sublime. Tango Maureen. What You Own has always been one of my favorites.

BTW, we both hated Gerard Butler's singing voice as Phantom. he acted the heck out of it, but shoot, I sing better than he does, and the furthest I ever got was University Chorus at UCLA and cantor at my church. Emmy Rossum was luminous, and Simon Callow, though not a singer, was fun to watch.

Antonio Banderas was a hoot and a half for me to watch in Evita -- probably the ONLY joy for me in the film version of "Evita", but I digress further.

I'm NOT looking forward to hearing Matthew Broderick in Producers, either. IMO, his voice has all the strength of phyllo dough. His Disney/ABC "Music Man" was woefully disappointing, and Kristin Chenowith was somewhat miscast to me.

OK, enough spouting from moi. Again, to each their own.


PS -- Didn't the Times review have a whole thing about "selling out"? Is that how the debate started?

Anonymous said...


I don't own the soundtrack. I haven't listened to the whole soundtrack in about 6 years. I've had the sheet music for 5 years and never learned any of it on piano. I only saw the play once.

The movie, like the original musical, is FLAWED. The second act, while improved from the original, still has narrative leaps and gaps that make you think, "WTF?"


It reminded me of when I was younger.

It took me there, even though I never lived in the Village, I never did smack, I never got infected with HIV, and I never kissed a man on the lips.

The film reminded me of when I was younger, with none of the pain or awkwardness, and with all of the acceptance and joy and dreams and passion and creativity and lust and laughter and rebellion and friendship.

It reminded me of HS trips spent acting like the kids from "Fame" and "rehearsing" production numbers on city streets.

It reminded me of all-night dorm talks, waiting to see the sun come up, just because.

It reminded me of after-show snacks and songs, of holding hands under the moon.

It reminded me of that special time in your life when you begin building the family you choose.

I truly love the life I have with my wife and children -- and I just as truly hope that my children find similar joys as the ones that "RENT" reminded me of.

It reminded me of when I was younger...


Meg said...

Wait! I didn't say I took offense, and I didn't say I got it from your comments - I was referring to some of the reviews that described the whole film as a sellout, and I just wanted to start an interesting discussion about the concept. :(

Sorry if it was misinterpreted, but that really was all I wanted to do.

Kid Sis said...

Wow, who knew...okay, so clearly there' something to the material because we're all totally engaged in talking about it.

Joel, yeah, you're right. That's a bad sign for a musical. It must suck to be a reviewer and watch AMAZING! be plucked out and used against you.

MIm, that's awesome. But for Christ's sake, you're a year younger than me. Please stop reffering to "when you were young." Depressing me on Thanksgiving.

Meg, you're right. God, at the front you even said just for debate. I'm totally sorry.

You know what that triggered in me? I recently read this chick's website who was talking about how my brother was a sellout for taking Mom's Cancer offline and making a ton of money off it by selling it to a publisher (? It's a hardback priced at ten dollars?) and how the art was really bad, but how could he betray the web fans that made him...I don't know, it was all crap. And I'm going to have to get a thicker skin, clearly, because things for my family are about to get a lot more public and weird and I'm sure I'll hear much worse than that.

Okay, phew. So me on side of artist being able to feed his family. Check.

So for the sake of debate, truly, I was wandering around Target last night thinking about Mcluhan's old standyb "the medium is the message" you guys think that as soon as something meant to be counter-culture is sold to an entity with a corporation behind it, the material has already been sold out? I mean, a corporation's very definition is to make money for its shareholders no matter what. So they don't care that the original Mimi in Rent was great, they're going to look at the work like a mathematical selling formula and say "must plug in hot young chick to bring in male quadrant I."

Kind of scary, because by that thoughtline the only way to not sell out your material is to do a Sayles it. Or, make one hit, squirrel money, and build your own studio.