Nostalgic for an East Village That Eludes the Big Screen:
There are homeless people, yes, and riots and a tent city - all of which were in the old East Village - but, predictably enough, they are the best-looking riots, homeless people and tent cities you have ever seen. None of which is criminal - "West Side Story" doesn't look exactly like 1950's Hell's Kitchen, after all - and all of which can probably be traced back to the fact that "Rent," a New York story if there ever was one, was largely shot in San Francisco. (The director, Chris Columbus, lives in that foggy burg.) There are, to be sure, a few brief East Village exteriors, and a scene or two set around Tompkins Square, but anyone looking for a glimpse of the old East Village (or even the new East Village) will be sorely disappointed.
As was I. I had kind of hoped, I guess, that when "Rent" came out I would be transported to those fervent years when the musical is set - 1989 and 1990 - when crime was high, morale was low and even getting a quart of milk seemed like an adventure.