Sunday, November 27, 2005

Mamo #23: Burst into song

Musicals used to dot Hollywood's landscape like so much green clover. Since Chicago, they've been making a wee bit of a comeback, but is it for real? Rent's weekend nosedive might say no, but there's no accounting for taste... or is there? Let's carve up a musical turkey for American Thanksgiving and see if it dances.


Anonymous Leo Stableford said...

You made me blush. In my living room. While packing stuff for my impending house move. :P

I think that a lot of musicals fail because there's no real way to promote them. In what ways are Rent and Phantom like Moulin Rouge? Well I can't answer that because I've only seen Moulin Rouge and that was ages ago. But to my marketing target mind's eye they couldn't be more dissimilar.

Moulin Rouge was young and hip and tried to make you feel comfortable with it. It had a top ten single. Women in corsets. Ewan McGregor nearly singing. Adaptations of stage musicals are a lot more difficult to sell. Chicago did okay because it had three stellar stars in it. But nobody gave as much of a rat's ass about it (or indeed any of the rat's other beasts of burden) because it didn't have the top ten MTV hit and it *was* still freighted down with the whole being a stage musical thing.

Anyway that's all I can say without wandering into unknown territory. And I think your own lack of knowledge on the subject just reflects how ghettoised the musical is these days. The information just isn't there. I think what really kills it is how fiddly it is to make a musical. If you have one of the worst action scripts and no talent then you still have a straight-to-DVD Mark Dascascos vehicle. A stinky musical, on the other hand, is not going to fly no matter what.

One day I think you might have a forum on here. But I think you need to have a regular and vocal listener base of 75+ to achieve this.

If you would like I can help you out with this as I have PHP enabled web space and am a web developer with 3 years experience. I would love to run a forum but have never had the reason to. Drop me a line through my site if you're interested or would be interested. :)

Oh, and while we're on the topic how about a cafepress shop?

8:00 AM  
Blogger Urban Faery said...

Okay, flame on. Well maybe not flame on. My house and I are the market that Rent was made for so I have some thoughts. I saw the stage production as a thirteen year old girl in 1997 and it had a huge impact on my development into a bohemian twenty-something. This re-release was made for all the tween-teens who saw the production and idealized the anti-establishment hippy-queer culture and have now reached the age of the characters they obsessed over. My entire house could sing you the entire score of RENT and every one of us waxed nostalgic on the drive to the theatre (we had to go to a different damn city, but we were determined!)

The marketing for RENT was smart because I do feel like they were playing to my crowd. The songs and images were strategically chosen to pump up the excitement about having most of the original cast back and pull in the RENTheads. One of the reasons that I think it's failing so badly is because it doesn't deliver what it promises.

I'm assuming that neither of you have seen the film because the trouble is that RENT WASN'T shot like a music video. They tried to put the rock-opera format into what Matti Price calls "the true musical"style. They screwed around with the plot and turned former songs into cheesy dialogue in an attempt to make it more like films such as Moulin Rouge where the songs seem to just naturally flow with the dialogue. The prolem with taking the songs out of RENT is that that's the damn meat of it.

The appeal of RENT is that it IS a rock opera about not selling out to the man, and that didn't come across. This movie tried to follow the format of other high grossing musicals and thus ended up looking like a cheesy pile of sell-out garbage. I'm still shocked that so many original cast members agreed to sign on to do this film when it's so obviously counter to the entire philosophy of the musical. I guess as thirty-somethings they've become disillusioned and the man seems much more warm and friendly.

This film would have been far more successful if it had been shot like a long music video because that's the format where it would have worked. The "bursting into song" seemed disjointed and awkward because the story is meant to be constantly in song. The best scene in the entire move is "La Vie Boheme" which was very music video-y and it gave me goose bumps.

I think that they made a big mistake in not playing to the fan base of RENTheads who consider this musical a huge part of their lives and development at human beings (oh we're out there). The word of mouth among fans is what's hurting this film. I've told at least five people (fans and newbies) not to waste their time seeing this film and it's sad because I think the message of RENT is an important one and had it stuck to a more rock opera type format it could have been retold to a whole new batch of young folk who need to learn that love and art can keep your pulse beating whether there is money in your pocket or not. VIVA LA VIE BOHEME!

4:39 PM  
Blogger Tederick said...

Yeah, I didn't know how long we'd get away with slagging Rent before you showed up to kick our ass. :)od

8:00 PM  
Blogger Tederick said...

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8:01 PM  

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