PictureI have just up-graded the DVD software in my HTPC which has got me to re-evaluate what is good and what isn't all over again. I used Rent as a standard bench mark - a random disc and compared this with one of the worst and best in my collection. Frankly Rent's picture quality, dodgy red dress effect aside, is really good. There is some noise smearing the detail, but this is only a slight imperfection in the grand scheme of things. Fact of the matter is, there is precious little to complain about - detail is good, colour is vibrant where needed and subdued when required and there are few if any overt digital imperfections. Yes, you can produce better pictures from DVD, and the overall colour pallet is rather black, but to most, including this reviewer, Rent displays a subtle and detailed picture.
SoundObviously as a musical, one of the key elements is sound quality. Can the DVD recapture that live, edgy feel of a stage production, or will the sound be overly processed? In Rent the sound is pretty much spot on. Granted some of the vocals are a little out of synch with the movie, but overall there is a wonderful, well produced track, here. Bass is present but not overly used, while treble remains sweet and clear. The all important midrange can sometimes be a little congested, especially with the male vocalists, though this is only a slight blur rather than anything earth shattering. I must say that listened to as a whole Rent is a wonderful soundtrack with an accurate, well realised tone that just sounds right.
ExtrasRight at the top of this review, I said that Rent is semi autobiographical. The only extra worth watching, No Day but Today, explains this link with enormous detail. Rent is the story of composer and creator Jonathan Larson. No Day but Today shows us rare footage of the creator himself and the turmoil he subjected himself to in order to fulfil his overriding desire for music. I guess that the poverty that surrounded Larson in his early foray into New York was self perpetuated. He only worked just enough to get by, so that he could return to writing music and not a minute more. However, such determination can only be rewarded, eventually, and No Day but Today charts the rise of Rent within the musical community in New York and also the tragic death of Larson just before the first live, public, performance. It is this death that makes the songs in Rent so poignant as they seem almost portentous in some ways. No Day but Today is unusually subtle in the way it handles Lawson's death with cast and friends clearly moved by Lawson's single minded nature and skill. No Day but Today goes on to chart Rent's move to Broadway and it is only in the last ten minutes or so the Movie itself is touched upon.
No Day but Today is, in most respects, a tip of the hat to Lawson and has much less to do with the movie itself. This is good in that the extra builds on the movies content without overlap, but as the only extra worth mentioning on the second disc, the overall package seems a bit light weight. Saying that, No Day but Today is another stellar Making of... documentary up there with Sith's “Within a Minute” or Devils Rejects ”30 Days of Hell” in terms of quality and interest.
VerdictIf you are the kind of person that likes a rather ostentatious musical like Cats or Jesus Christ Superstar, Rent is an altogether harder aural pill to swallow. Rent's rough, savvy feel and contemporary messaging is perhaps a little too real for those brought up on bathetic fare like Westside Story or Greece too. For all that I can't help but think that Rent is just what a modern audience would want in a musical and for that deserves a place in such a persons collection.
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