Lights, camera, action!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006


Rent (2005)
Dir: Chris Columbus
Starring: Taye Diggs, Anthony Rapp, Adam Pascal, Rosario Dawson, Idina Menzel, Tracie Thoms, Wilson Jermaine Heredia, Jesse L. Martin

You know what I love about musicals? (And anyone who knows me at least a little well knows that I'm a huge musicals fanatic). How different they can be, but still all so good at the same time. I mean, take Oklahoma, full of cheerful singing cowboys and surreys with fringes and beautiful mornings. Then compare it to Rent, a gritty piece about a group of New Yorkers dealing with AIDs, homosexuality, homelessness and the bohemian way of life. Not a cheerful singing cowboy in sight, more cheerful singing drag queens. And yet both musicals are filled with plenty of good songs and both were stand-out smash hits of their time.

Rent covers a year in the life of seven people living in Manhattan's East Village. They consist of Mark, an inspiring film-maker, his ex-girlfriend Maureen who recently left him for lawyer Joanne. Roger is an ex-drug addict and Mark's roommate, whose girlfriend died of AIDs (I think), who meets Mimi, a junkie and a stripper, and they fall in love. Philosophy professor Collins meets Angel, a flamboyant and eternally optimistic cross-dresser, and they also fall in love. There is also Benny, who used to be a friend of theirs but who married their landlord's daughter and now only shows up to try and get them to pay their.... rent.

Firstly, it is a musical, and there is more singing than speaking, so obviously I liked it. The songs are much more rock than classical which makes it has always made it popular with a young audience. For those of you who don't know, Rent began as a stage show in New York in 1996 and I believe is still going to this day. It was a huge phenomenon and developed a vast fanbase, affectionately known as Rent-heads. The good thing is, almost all the main cast (with the exception of Joanne and Mimi) are the original Broadway cast and have been singing these songs for over a decade as they know their characters, the songs, the story and each other pretty well. The two newbies blend seamlessly with the rest of them and fit well in the group.

All the cast are pretty amazing, which I suppose is to be expected. Idina Menzel (Maureen, and also current star of Wicked) is incredible and has the most amazing voice. Anthony Rapp (Mark) is very sweet, as is Adam Pascal (Roger), and Colin, Angel and Joanne are all excellent. I thought Rosario Dawson as Mimi was fantastic and very realistic. She also has an incredible voice.

Director Chris Columbus does an excellent job with this, especially since I think it was his first musical. I've heard it is a very faithful adaptation which is also good. You have to keep an open mind when watching it - read the plot above and you'll see what kinds of things it is about. It is very much a musical for the younger generation and it is still as fresh, if not quite as shocking, as it was ten years ago. So watch it. It is a great example of how musicals can be gritty and real and not all airy-fairy as some people imagine. We need more of this ind of stuff.


Talliestar xxx

[They all walk into a cafe]
Waiter: No, no, no, not tonight!
Mark: What?
Waiter: You always come here and never order a thing all night!
Mark: Not true, last week I had a tea!
Waiter: You couldn't pay.
Mark: Oh yeah...

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Cheaper By The Dozen 2 and Yours, Mine and Ours

Cheaper By The Dozen 2 (2005)
Dir: Adam Shankman
Starring: Steve Martin, Bonnie Hunt, Eugene Levy

Yours, Mine and Ours (2005)
Dir: Raja Gosnell
Starring: Dennis Quaid, Rene Russo

Yes, I know there are two films listed above, No, I'm not combining two films into one review to save time (although that is part of the reason). I am doing it because those two films happened to arrive at my house from LOVEfilm very soon after one another and they are very similar films, so I thought I'd compare them. It'll make a change, anyway. Let the battle of The Movies With Tons Of Kids In commence!

OK, plots. Cheaper By The Dozen 2 (hereafter known as 'Cheaper'. No, 'Dozen'. No, 'Cheaper'.) is the sequel to the 2003 movie of the same name, only without the '2'. It is about the Baker family, who consist of Tom and Kate (Steve Martin and Bonnie Hunt) and their twelve kids (I'm not going to name them all) and the fun, family-friendly antics they get up to. This movie is about their holiday spent at a cabin by a lake somewhere, where they meet their old rivals, the Murtaughs, headed by Eugene Levy, who have eight kids. Cue lots of chaos, dads getting covered in sticky/wet substances, out-of-control pets and ultimately, lots of heartfelt lessons learned about the importance of family.

Yours, Mine and Ours (hereafter known as YMO) is about two people, Frank Beardsley (Dennis Quaid) and Helen North (Rene Russo) who were high school sweethearts and meet again after many years and after their respective spouses have died. They decide to movie into a big lighthouse together with their two families. That's the problem. He has eight children and she has ten. So, there are EIGHTEEN kids living together in one house. Also, Helen's kids are extremely carefree, artistic and used to being let loose, whereas Frank's kids are strictly disciplined (Frank is some important position in the military) and generally used to a lot of rules and regulations. Cue lots of chaos, dads getting covered in sticky/wet substances, out-of-control pets and ultimately, lots of heartfelt lessons learned about the importance of family.

I have somewhat of a fascination with large families. Maybe because I have a relatively small immediate family. I don't know. But it's the reason I wanted to see these two movies.

Firstly, Cheaper has the advantage of an already-established cast and characters. YMO doesn't have that advantage, but it kind of steals a lot of Cheaper's formula and characters, so I guess it does. The two films are extremely alike and basically, if you like one, you'll like the other.

The trouble with YMO is that there are simply too many kids. Eighteen is a heck of a lot. That means that you can't get to know the characters well, or get to knwo them at all. Towards the end of the movie a child would say something and I'd be like "Where the hell did he/she come from? Have I seen her before?". So perhaps it would have been better to have 5 and 7 kids, instead of 8 and 10. Because there are just too many.

Cheaper doesn't have that problem because we already know who all the kids are from the first movie, which I have seen several times. Yes, there are eight new kids added to the mixture, but we don't see a whole lot of them so we don't really need to get to know them anyway. The Bakers are the important ones.

Another problem with YMO is that it is not quite as family-friendly as Cheaper, despite them having the same certificate. There is more about teenage romance and parties (Cheaper has a thirteen-year-old going on her fist date, but that's just sweet.) and more (and I don't mean a lot, just more) about the parents' sex life. Now there's nothing bad about all that, it just doesn't quite fit in with a film that also featurs a pet pig running amok and little kids stuffing their faces with chocolate. The main thing that annoyed me was that two of the eldest kids, Phoebe and William, from each of the different families, had a lot of on-screen chemistry and you kind of knew they were going to get together. Then the film went on and you were wondering when it was actually going to happen. And then the film ended. They never got together, althugh they seem to hug and look at each other quite a bit. Maybe it was in an early draft but the writers decided it was a bit iffy due to them being stepbrother and stepsisters. Anyway...

I'm kind of rambling now so I'll try to round it up. Basically, I liked Cheaper better because the Bakers make such a nice family unit. Yes, the films has a lot of faults (the casting of Eugene Levy, whom I hate, for a start) but you can't help liking the family. Dennis Quaid and Rene Russo try to be as good as Steve Martin and Bonnie Hunt but they just aren't. I would even not mind seeing a third film (dare I suggest it) becasue I want to see what happens to the kids. After the two films you really get to know them all and I want to see more of them. I barely saw all the eighteen kids in YMO so I don't really care about them.

Overall, YMO tries to do what Cheaper 1&2 did but they just can't outdo the Bakers. Yay!

Yours, Mine and Ours

Cheaper By The Dozen 2

Talliestar xxx

(Charming as the movies are (ahem), I had trouble finding these quotes. These are not the wittiest films in the world.)

Lorraine: You know how I feel about camping.
Tom: But, we're staying in a house.
Lorraine: A house with no air conditioning. That makes it camping.


Frank: Well, Mrs. Munion, what do you think about Connecticut?
Mrs Munion (the housekeeper): I'm delighted to be here in the birthplace of Lyme disease.