SHORT-CHANGED ON RENT

As I intended, I hit the movie theater this weekend to catch Rent.

I wasn’t particularly impressed. Despite the hype about how infectious the songs were supposed to be, they didn’t stick with me as being very memorable, only two days later. In fact, I found the more pivotal ones, like “Take Me Or Leave Me”, to be pretty weak.

Not only did it fall flat for me as a musical — which isn’t hard to do, as I’m not much for the genre anyway — I don’t think it does well plot-wise, either. I never got much of a feel for the characters, even for Marc, who was supposed to be the emotional center of the story. And as a vehicle for portraying the effects of the AIDS crisis on New Yorkers, it’s trumped by the superior Longtime Companion.

Assuming that the film’s not radically divergent from the play, all this means I’m pretty indifferent to the phenomenon that is Rent. Which, I guess, puts me in the same boat as those who can’t understand how anyone, let alone a generation of twenty-somethings, can identify with it.

TELENOVELAS AROUND THE WORLD

Telenovelas have been a staple of Latin American television for decades. They’re just as popular with Hispanic audiences in the U.S., and so Telemundo is starting up its own telenovelas from its Miami studios, marking the first time the genre has been produced in America.

It’s a shrewd move, as Spanish-language media in the States is a major growth sector. But the popularity of telenovelas is far from limited to Spanish speakers.

Soap operas are soap operas, boundless of language and culture. And there’s not much soapier than these shows.