RENT: Live from Broadway (Film) - Thoughts

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RENT: Live from Broadway (Film) - Thoughts#1
Posted: 9/24/08 at 10:07pm
I am awestruck at its perfection. Utterly and unbelievably incredible. I am seldom a man of inflated language (ha!) but let me be so bold as to say this was equal-to experiencing it in-person. Truth.

RENT: Live from Broadway (film version of the Broadway show, culminated from final performances) is a piece of art. An accomplishment owned both to the extraordinary talents of the cast, musicians and spot-on camera-work and director of photography.

It only took a few minutes into the title song to realize THIS was it. The epitomizing example of what a live-performance captured on-film CAN and SHOULD look like. Never before have I seen anything like this.


To get down to the nitty-gritty, it was all in the timing, exactness of shot, and video quality. This was clearly a high-definition capture both in visuals and audio. Aesthetically sublime. The Director of Photography did his research, because he knew EXACTLY what to have in-focus, in-frame for every beat.

Perfect blend of medium shots, stage-shots, extreme closeups. Extraneous on-stage action, "don't miss" moments, and the indescribable intimacy of LIVE performance. Just spell-binding.

While I did attend the 3rd-to-Last Broadway performance, I still hadn't yet had the opportunity to truly mourn the loss of RENT from New York City. Until tonight. This film is a bitter-sweet gift, in that it reminds us what kind of remarkable production this musical truly was. And a realization that it will be a far far cry to wish for something equal to it today.

Without sounding jaded (well, just read the thought of some of the actors in this week's Time Out New York), the age of raw artistry in Manhattan has died. Bohemia is not dead, but it is far more difficult to find without dollar-signs attached.

RENT brought music and light, life and disease, art and acting into an astounding spotlight. And all that's left now is the echoes in the Nederlander. And this film.


Specifics of note:
- I saw it at UA Astoria Kaufman Theatres 9/24 at 7pm. There were 30 people in the theatre (Rodney Hicks among them)
- Perfect timing and focus during the almagamation of lyrics in Christmas Bells
- Perfect timing of Tom Collins getting beat-up
- Beautiful camera angles when Angel and Collins meet
- Close-up of Will Chase's tattoos and shiny teeth
- Renee Elise Goldsberry's tears in Goodbye Love
- Eden Espinosa flicking tongue on "la-la-la-love me" in Take Me Or Leave Me
- Justin Johnston's near break-down as he stepped out for Finale B (this had to have been footage from the final night)
- Exemplary filming angles during Contact (a few shots from behind the fence)
- Nice ambient audience applause and cheers
- Tracie Thoms' fierce eyes and hair. Tango Maureen and We're Okay are so spot-on
- Adam Kantor sounded very crisp and great focus. Hot young talent, people.
- Again, excellent timing of shots for Light My Candle
- Out Tonight was superb, desperate, shaky cam, quick-cuts
- Followed quickly by a well-edited Another Day
- Unabashed use of Nederlander's lighting design to capture unique silhouette shots
- Unafraid to get in your face for the right emotions
- We (as movie goers) at times got to see things as closely to the actor's perspective as possible... things that even after 100 live viewings, we'd never feel
- Great full-stage shot during Christmas Bells
- Tucking Adam Kantor in bottom-right-hand side of the movie screen a couple of times during spotlight dialogue
- Commitment of film to encapsulating many recognizable stage-pictures, and making new ones too

Updated On: 9/24/08 at 10:07 PM
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Will this be released on DVD?
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Someone said the people interviewing at the final peformance told them that it WILL be released on DVD.
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according to Tracie Thoms some of the voices were tweaked to make them sound better. like riffs were put in and pitches were changed. they are not very happy about that......understandably.
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I should have gone downtown to see this simply because my experience in the Bronx (where I live) was just awful.

First of all, they started the WRONG FILM! Yep, when "Righteous Kill" started playing, I said, "Hmm, I don't remember THIS in 'Rent.'" So, I had to get up (with some others in the theatre) to remind them that they should be playing "Rent."

After they started the correct film, they had problems with the sound the entire time. Sound was only coming out of the right side speakers, nothing from the left and it was awfully quite!!! Twenty bucks per ticket and that's the best they could do with it?

The quality of "Rent," however, was wonderful. Great performances, great camera work, I'm glad they captured it and I hope it's released on DVD.


PS I'm a sucker for Eden Espinosa! re: RENT: Live from Broadway (Film) - Thoughts
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it was so weird. I don't know if i liked it yet. I may see it again though in all honesty its not really worth forking out another $20, so i'll wait for the dvd (which i may be on since i was interviewed)

I guess I felt a bit of an emotional disconnect. One thing that I really did not like was that you HAD to look where the camera went, whereas when you see the show live you can pick where your eyes are in each scene i.e. Christmas Bells or Seasons of Love.

Contact was done REALLY well. I was amazed at the job they did for that scene. They have footage from like... the other side of the fense, it's really cool especially with the lighting and everything.

Over the moon was also great, and finale B was pretty decent as well.

But most importantly, the close ups on will chase's eyes never hurt anybody re: RENT: Live from Broadway (Film) - Thoughts
<-- Gwen Stewart, SOLoist at the last show of RENT
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Yes...It will be released on DVD

I had the extreme luck of seeing the film in the same theater as OBC cast member Rodney Hicks...who is Benny in the film. He said it will be released sometime in the winter after another 6 dates the film will be in theaters (after this initial 4). They are also producing a new documentary.

He said most of the film is what was filmed on August 20th in a marathon 17 hour shoot. 10 hrs without the audience, another 7 with one. The cast is extremely pleased with the finish result which they were shown on Monday.

He was a really great guy to meet...and it made my seeing it all the more special.

My thoughts...

I'll try not to be redundant since Eugloven pretty much covered everything I was feeling. I will elaborate a no particular order.

1. The intimacy of the scenes is amazing. A few in particular...Light My Candle...the flirty looks...we get to see Roger's POV when he's staring at "the best ass below 14th St"
and "Your Eyes"...take note Chris Columbus...THIS is how Mimi's near-death scene SHOULD have looked. It's gut-wrenching and believable. You can see tears in eyes...winks....snickers...sadness....the director knew just what to cover and how to edit.

2 The performances....are POWERHOUSE. I know people all have their favorites...but if I can't have the original cast. I'd want this one. Adam Kantor is a terrific Mark. He is what I actually picture when I think of Mark in my head, a brown haired slightly geeky but lovable Jewish guy. His portrayal is smart and well captured. I know people will hate me...but I prefer him over Anthony. Eden Espinosa nails Maureen...I have NEVER seen Over the Moon done so well. It wasn't rushed, it was hilarious, it was perfect. Tracie Thoms (one of the sole things about the movie I loved) rocks this version of Joanne. It's amazing to see her do the same character 2 totally different ways. I could go on and on...but those stood out in my mind right now.

3. The look of the film is incredible. The colors are so damn vibrant and the image so crisp. I have never seen Angel's Santa costume so red and so white. Maybe it was colortymed or whatever...but it looks amazing.

I could keep gushing. But for about the past 2 years I have been turned off by RENT. The movie kind of turned me off to it I think. But this movie made me love it again. I cannot wait to see it again.

For those people who are gonna wait to see it til it comes to DVD...DON'T! This needs to be experienced in the theater with digital sound and great projection. You will not be disappointed. Well, at least I hope not.

THIS IS WHAT WE WANTED! What we wanted from the movie and didn't get. I was hungry before this version, now I am full.

I may edit and add more...but that's all I can get into words right now.

Updated On: 9/24/08 at 10:31 PM
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Wow, it really sounds like this is what the movie should have (but perhaps just simply never could have) been. I'm really looking forward to seeing it this weekend.
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Can't wait!
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Do we know around when it will be released? Like January or February next year? Maybe before Christmas? (People were saying that would be a good idea... I agree).
"If it walks like a Parks, if it wobbles like a Parks, then it's definitely fat and nobody loves it." --MA
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I absolutely loved it! I think everyone should be really proud of the film because it was done fantastically! Glad I got to see this.
"Everytime you step on that stage it is somebody's first Broadway show and somebody's last Broadway show. Make it count."
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I saw it this evening and I was really impressed. I must say right away that the image and picture of it was just so amazing and stunning. All of the shots were simply wonderful and I picked up so much I missed when I saw it live. I must agree that CONTACT was done so well and was so interesting to watch!

Ordinary, I had some sound problems too. The sound went out during TAKE ME OR LEAVE ME and we missed all of SEASONS OF LOVE B but a girl in the audience actually finished singing TAKE ME OR LEAVE ME... it was kind of cool actually!

A really cool experience and has me pumped for the tour.
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I saw it tonight as well and absolutely loved it! Much better than the film in my opinion. Eden definitely nailed Maureen! Best "Over The Moon" EVER!!! I'll be sure to see it again on Sunday.
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I really enjoyed it. I don't know how they did it, but somehow they really did capture the essence of a live performance. I wouldn't go so far as to say it's exactly the same, but it definitely felt like I had an intimate view of the show - and I saw a lot of details in the staging that you just don't see from the audience. And I definitely agree with the first poster about the high-definition thing. I would have liked maybe a few more zoomed-out shots, though I did enjoy seeing the actors' facial expressions. And there were a lot of really cool camera angles! Oh and I wish more of it had actually been of the final show as opposed to the other days they taped it, but I understand why they put more of the other performances instead. Overall, well done.
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I posted this on the Toronto board thread on Rent:

I thought the performances were uniformly decent, but overall the show lacked... electricity. I think this perfectly demonstrates the difference between live theatre and filmed live theatre. They are two different animals. And nothing compares to a live performance.

The direction was OK, and was sometimes useful in showing views you might not see if you were in the audience. But it was frustrating, too, as you can only see what the director chooses you see. In a show like Rent, when there are things going on all over the stage, you are beholden to the choice of shots by the director and sometimes lose the perspective that there are multiple things going on when the camera focusses on a particular character.

I think they should have emphasized the audience more, too. Only occassionally did you hear the audience applause, but given it was the final performance I would have expected the audience to be more enthusiastic, and that applause puts you more into the atmosphere of a live performance. Unlike a good concert film, one didn't get the feeling of excitement and energy.

Having listened to the original Broadway cast CD for the past 10 years, I was underwhelmed by the vocal perfs. The acting was adequate, but I wasn't blown away by anybody.

I appreciate that the above posted love the film, but it didn't quite do it for me.
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Updated On: 9/24/08 at 11:12 PM
Saw it tonight and loved it. I agree with crushgroove that this wipes the bad taste of Columbus' movie out of my mouth. This is the Rent everyone should see.

The lighting and focus were beautiful. It looks and sounds wonderful and I wonder how well that will transfer to the DVD. I am trying to decide whether to fork over the $20 bucks to see it again in the theater. Sometimes the intimate close ups were too much. They rushed some of the iconic images from the show, like Roger lit on the wall during Glory and Angel first rising from the white table. The tight shots during La vie Boheme made me feel I was missing a lot of goings on. I was surprised to actually catch new things/lyrics I had never before and I've seen the show 7 or 8 times on stage. Things that had blended in before but stood out when shown so up close.

The biggest disappointment is this is not quite the piece of documentation of the "last show ever" that I think they were advertising and I was hoping for. I know it would not have been so clean, immediate, and clear. But I wouldn't have minded the messy to see the actual last show and heard the audience lose their **** and the actors maybe fall a little out of character as they took in the moment. Can we hope for more live stuff on the DVD?
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I saw it tonight also and second what everyone has said. Will Chase was in attendance and as soon as we saw him before it started he said to us "it's amazing", and he said the same thing during intermission.

I was blown away.
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"I'm a butterfly, trivial and small, and in the greater scheme of things, I don't mean much at all." ~The Story of My Life
"Forget Regret, or life is yours to miss." ~Rent
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I'm going to be honest and I didn't enjoy the movie as much the rest of this thread. I thought the cuts were too jumpy, shaky, and quick. I understand why the shots were like this, as it catches the feel and mood of the show, but I still couldn't quite appreciate it as they made me dizzy. I felt they used too many close-up shots; I want to be able to see Mimi's Out Tonight dancing, not just her face, and preferably from head on, as I would see it in the theatre instead of from the side, like many shots were. I'm also baffled as to why they cut Renee and Adam's solos during the extended Seasons of Love at curtain call. I also wished they used more footage from closing night, although I was expecting most of it to be from the August shoot. I had absolutely no problems with the cast itself, and thought they did a great job. I enjoyed Act 2 more than Act 1, and thought they did Contact and What You Own beautifully.

For the record, my last experience with the show was closing night (you can actually see me during intermission, lol.), so perhaps I've just been spoiled or something since it would be very hard to top that night. I'm very happy that everyone else is thoroughly enjoying it.

And since someone mentioned Rodney seeing it, my friends saw Will Chase at the Lowes on 84th Street.
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Reading some of these comments makes me want to see this, but I don't really think I'm ready. I'm glad it's meeting standards, though, since I know they're high. I will see it eventually, it's just a little too soon for me.
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I thought, overall, it was pretty lovely. My parents thought it was wonderful. My dad is pretty vehemently insistent on Will Chase > Adam Pascal, though I explained that basing that off the movie alone isn't entirely fair. re: RENT: Live from Broadway (Film) - Thoughts

For a couple minutes it was like watching a bootleg, because the sound didn't come in til the first voice mail. Annoyed. I was too happy after the whole thing to go with my first instinct of demanding a refund or comps. re: RENT: Live from Broadway (Film) - Thoughts I probably would have if I hadn't heard it was going to be released on DVD, so...that better happen.

I thought the cast was solid. Obviously not perfect, but when you've seen the show a handful of times you're always going to have different preferences for different moments.

Thought the filming was wonderful. There were moments that were closeups that I would have preferred wider shots of (specifically during Out Tonight), but I understand that not everyone's preference is going to be served when editing and cutting a legitimate live performance. Sometimes it's frustrating to not be able to choose where to train your eyes, but I was pleased more often than annoyed. They did a great job of focusing on the small details that inform the plot, that people often miss.

I'd see it again, if I could do it in two weeks or something. Since that's unfortunately not an option, I won't choose to go again in the next few days.
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This film was shot very well. IT was very nice to look at. The cast was great, but the two standouts for me were Adam and Renee. Especially Renee. Her out tonight sounded gorgeous, and her choices throughout the show were very interesting. Adam sounded did the whole cast. I have to say that Eden was also pretty amazing in her over the moon. I just got back from the film, so I'm a bit tired.... This was very well done, and you could tell that they really cared about what they were shooting. The camera angles help tell the story even more.
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Ok, I just posted this on another message board, but I'll just post it here too :)

My thoughts:

"The cinecast is freaking, FREAKING incredible. Like just... gahhhhhh.

Maybe it's just because I've only seen the live show 2 times and I've kind of gotten more used to the movie than the show at this point, so seeing the live show again- even if in movie form- was the most incredible thing. It made me realize that, much as I love and appreciate the movie, this is a story MADE for stage. It is magical in movie form, but in STAGE form? It's.. beyond magical.

A few notes:

The final cast= AMAAAAZING beyond belief. And honestly, I am VERY biased toward the OBC, but... they ROCKED that thing so beyond hardcore. I am not even going to lie: Eden PWNS Idina in this specific role. I swear that you'd think the woman has been doing this role for YEARS, she has the comedic timing down THAT perfectly. Her Over The Moon is... probably the best I have ever seen. She's BRILLIANT, AND so freaking gorgeous it's not even fair. And that VOICE of hers oooomg. And obviously there is no need to explain Tracie's brilliance- she just IS And Will and Adam were sooooo fantastic. Anthony will always be my #1 Mark, but Will actually tops Adam as Roger by quite a bit in my book. Cary Sheilds is stiiil my fav I think, but Will's just below that. He really is SO good. Based on the audio I was not expecting to toootally love Renee as Mimi, but she was actually FANTASTIC. She's stunning (doesn't look 19 but very very few Mimis ever do), and fierce too. Her Out Tonight was DANG fierce, I must say Plus she's like... a reeally crazy good actress. She reminded me lots of Rosario!Mimi in her acting and, so it was wonderful to see a Rosario-esque Mimi who could actually stand up to the vocal demands of doing the role on Broadway!

Basically the ONLY thing I missed while watching the cinecast was Jesse and Wilson. And it's NOT because Justin and Michael weren't awesome, because they were. Justin was my first Angel and I love him dearly, and Michael actually sounds a ton LIKE Jesse. But... there is just SOMETHING about Jesse and Wilson themselves. Especially when they're together, they just like... GLOW. And Justin and Michael had really GOOD chemistry, but Wilson and Jesse just have something really really magical. Nevertheless, Justin and Michael were certainly VERY good, and the Angel/Collins relationship was STILL one of my top fav things in the show

Ummm what else is there? OH! The actual production quality of the cinecast ITSELF is SOOOOOO over the top perfect. It's GORGEOUS, but even more than that, it really contributes to the TELLING of the story. A few things, mostly having to do with Angel, that really stood out to me: during La Vie Boheme, with the "not dying from disease" like, guess who they zoom in for a close up of? OH YES. That's right. Angel. RIGHT there. And it's like... kill me much?? Also, during Angel's eulogies, they actually FOCUS IN on Justin!Angel as he's walking off the stage slowly. So like.. as Adam!Mark talks about him helping the tourists find the circle line, it's a close up of Justin REACTING and making this really heartwrenching little grin. I just absolutely NEVER even would have thought to fucus in on that! And it really got me.And on a not-so-specific, non-spoiler note: they shot it so that it really focuses on peoples' REACTIONS a lot of times, rather than necessarily on the people saying the lines. And they're all REALLY great actors who are wonderful about being in the moment every single second of the show, so... it's pretty special. The acting comes across much stronger than if they just shot it focusing only on the people saying the lines.

I'm completely rambling and writing a novel here, but yeah. Basically it is SOOOOO so brilliant and I cannot even put into words how happy and content I am now, knowing that this will be documented forever, for everyone to see. We needed widely released documentation of the STAGE show, and now we have it in the highest calibre. I cannot wait for you guys who are seeing it over the weekend to see it!!!"

I don't need a life that's normal. That's way too far away. But something next to normal would be okay. Something next to normal is what I'd like to try. Close enough to normal to get by.
Updated On: 9/25/08 at 12:10 AM
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Saw it in Pittsburgh. Only about 10 people in the theatre which was shocking. I'm hoping the weekend shows will be better attended. Will Chase rocked my world. Eden as well. I do agree about the choppiness of some of the cuts. Some of the famous moments were missed because of the close-ups and what not. This did make me appreciate Michael's directing. What a glorious work of art.
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I saw it tonight and enjoyed everything, for the most part. I especially liked the editing for "Christmas Bells," as it was a perfect balance of all the frantic action. The only complaint I have is that so many songs seemed rushed and some cast members were struggling to keep up. Especially whoever it was that played Benny, who did the Idina gasp whenever he took a breath. Everyone else was very impressive. I agree that Adam Kantor was fantastic, and Eden Espinosa had a fierce "Over the Moon." I don't know if it was worth $20, but it was certainly a great way to experience the show on the big screen and partially erase the memory of the horrendous 2005 film.
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I too saw it at the UA Kaufman Astoria and had no idea Rodney Hicks was there. I would have liked to congratulate him. I have to agree with everyone that said this was what the movie should have been. Not that the movie didn't have it's moments and not that I didn't love the original cast and Tracie and Rosario but this really captured the spirit and experience of the show in a way the movie didn't. When you truly connect to the story and characters, it a is a cathartic (sp?) experience, for me at least. When I walked out of the movie theater today I was crying but I was never more inspired and happy to be alive and I can only thank everyone involved for giving me that one more time.
Updated On: 9/25/08 at 01:01 AM