Review: Michael Jackson’s This Is It
Happy Monday everyone! I hope you all had a nice weekend. I went to a birthday dinner on Saturday night and ended up playing some basketball the following morning. It was the first time I’ve ran in a long time. Felt good attempting to play, but now I’m sore!
I’m still plotting out this agenda for this month. I honestly have a lot of gaps to fill. So, this is where you all help me. Requests! I’ll watch anything for you all, from the bad to the really good. But I don’t just take review request. I’ll take requests for anything. Is there something movie-related you’d like for me to comment on? Let me know.
I was able to watch a couple of movies last night, including this one:
Michael Jackson’s This Is It (2009)
Starring: Michael Jackson & Friends
Directed By: Kenny Ortega
First of all, you will not find me here judging Michael Jackson on his private life. So, you won’t find anything about his troubled childhood, the skin pigmentation controversy, the court cases, or his antics during the last decade of his life. That’s not what this is about. It’s not that I’m giving in a pass on things he allegedly did. I’m simply separating Michael Jackson the man with Michael Jackson the entertainer.
That said, I’m a big fan of Michael Jackson the entertainer. I always have been. He’s just one of those acts that I don’t recall ever not listening to. However, this movie did pose a bit of a problem for me in regards of reviewing. More specifically how do I review a documentary? In the end, I decided to just treat it like any other film: what was it trying to accomplish. Michael Jackson’s This Is It was attempting to show a legend preparing for what was going to be his last hurrah. In doing so, the movie shows just how much of a genius he was.
And that’s exactly what he was: a genius. He wanted to know and be part of every aspect of what was to be a 50 date London run. It’s not just that he was a control freak, he simply knew what would work, what wouldn’t work, and mostly importantly: why it would/wouldn’t work. Everything he added to the performances: the pauses, the changes of tempo, the dance numbers all make sense. Especially when envisioning these things in front of thousands of screaming people. That’s the key in the end: it’s all about the show. Jackson was adamant about providing escapism and something they haven’t seen before. Even though this documentary could only chronicle the rehearsals (he died days before opening night), one could easily see that it would be a show for the ages.
The most interesting aspect of the film is Jackson himself. We see him candidly. Yes, he’s still child-like (like when he giggles about the phrase “more booty”), but there’s an air of humbleness that is completely unwavering. This is in direct contrast to the horror stories we hear about divas. Not to say he never had meltdowns; he very well may have, but we just never see or hear about them. Even while critiquing someone or when he complains about something not going right, he always says, “that’s why we rehearse,” or “all out of love. L-O-V-E.” What he means by this is that he knows everyone is working hard, doing their best, and they’re all there for the love of music, performance, and for each other.
The music is all top notch as there’s very few acts that can even rival his catalog. From “I Want You Back” from his Jackson Five days to “Smooth Criminal” to “Black or White,” they’re all there being rehearsed live. There’s a live band behind him, backup singers and dancers, and Jackson himself is actually singing (and he sounds incredible). The editing is done very nicely (as that’s what Kenny Ortega was doing with the footage). It focuses on one song at a time. Sometimes we see how it evolves slowly and sometimes the different rehearsals are spliced together so we can see how far along they were.
Any drawbacks? There’s a few. It does seem to drag in some places, especially at the beginning. Jackson’s own shyness can be seen as somewhat problematic; he speaks softly and to the point. But if that’s how he really was, then that’s a good thing. No one involved had anything bad to say about Jackson. I’m not overly sure if that’s pure fiction or if everyone really loved working with him that much. Lastly, while I found this entertaining, I can understand if there are those who didn’t. The rehearsing of a show that would never be might not be considered high quality entertainment (for those who aren’t fans, that is).
Bottom Line: There have been many times that I’ve become disillusioned with modern music. In these times I would wonder when certain acts would come back and save us from the mediocrity. Michael Jackson was one of those acts. This film proves that he still had the spark to reconquer the world, but didn’t have enough gas left in the tank (for whatever reason). This documentary might not be for everyone (and these people would be few and far between), but it’s a must for anyone into music and especially fans of Michael Jackson.
To close out today: a special top ten! My favorite Michael Jackson songs. Click the white links to watch the videos:
10. “Rock With You” Off The Wall (1979)
9. “Earth Song” HIStory: Past, Present, and Future – Book 1 (1995)
8. “Black or White” Dangerous (1991)
7. “The Way You Make Me Feel” Bad (1987)
6. “Beat It” Thriller (1982)
5. “Human Nature” Thriller (1982)
4. “Thriller” Thriller (1982)
3. “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough” Off The Wall (1979)
2. “Billie Jean” Thriller (1982)
1. “Man in the Mirror” Bad (1987)
An extremely hard list to make. You could take most of these off, replace them with other songs and still have room left over. How haunting is that “Man in the Mirror” video? Almost 20 years old and look how little has changed.
I’ll be back on Wednesday. I’ll do something kind of different.