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Michael Jackson's This Is It (7/10)
by Tony Medley
Runtime 112 minutes.
OK for children.
This film has been put together using over 100
hours of video taken during rehearsals for the show Michael Jackson was
preparing before his demise. It is basically a complete show with the
songs shown in their entirety. Fortunately, this isnít burdened by
MTV-type quick cuts. Instead the camera lingers on Michael from several
angles. But there arenít a lot of cuts, and the music is clearly the
I wasnít a devotee of his music. Except for
ďThrillerĒ and ďBillie Jean,Ē the music here didnít inspire me to any
paroxysm of ecstasy. In fact, the audio for ďBillie JeanĒ sounded so
much like the sound track that Iím not entirely convinced that what is
in the film isnít dubbed from the audio of the recording.
Whatís interesting is to see
in action. Clearly he was full of energy. His dancing certainly displays
his fast feet. Heís skinny, but not really emaciated. He doesnít look
like heís on deathís doorstep. Even more interesting is that he appears
in total control. He knows exactly what he wants and how he wants it and
he conveys that in a way that exhibits the power he knew he had.
Everybody involved hangs on his every word. This is clearly a guy who is
not just admired, but idolized by those in his world, which include
mostly gypsies (dancers) and singers.
The amount of work he put into this show couldnít
fail to be impressive. He wrote all the music, and there is a lot of new
music. This isnít just Michael singing and dancing to all his old hits.
Another thing I liked about it is that Michael has
a real understanding of the importance of the rainforest, and his music
is aimed at bringing attention to the rainforest and its destruction.
This is something that has been ignored by ignoramuses like Al Gore, who
apparently doesnít have a clue that if man has anything to do with
whatever climate change might be taking place, it is only in manís
destruction of the rainforest and the criminal neglect of this by
politicians like Gore and his boss, Bill Clinton (for more on the
rainforest, see The Rainforest).
Al should see this film and pay attention to the rainforest.
One problem I had with the film was that the film
doesnít tell whether or not we are seeing what was planned to be the
entire concert, or the format, the lineup in which the numbers were
going to be presented. It also bounces back and forth because in the
same song sometimes Michael is dressed in different clothes. It would
have been much easier to watch if the chronology of when what is shown
was shot and if there was a more detailed explanation of what we are
seeing and how it was put together. As it is, the hundreds of hours have
been shuffled together and put into what seems to be a show. The way it
is presented is discombobulating.
One of the best parts of this was that the
screening was at Graumanís Chinese, a legendary Hollywood theater that
not many people attend any more. I used to go to it all the time when I
was growing up, but, even though films are still shown there, itís been
eclipsed by the multiplex upstairs at the adjoining Kodak Theater
complex (where the Academy Awards now take place).
The Chinese is a large theater. I estimated around
1200 seats. I thought it would be packed, SRO. I remember going to the
Spiderman II screening several years ago at a huge theater in Westwood.
It held 2,000 people and there was not an empty seat to be had. Unlike
that screening, there were several hundred empty seats at our screening.
Finally, I think itís relevant for the context of
this review to state my opinion of Michael Jackson, since his history,
especially his criminal trial, has made him controversial. I never
bought the allegation that he abused young children. My opinion is that
he was asexual and that what he did with young children was out of
sexless affection. I think his acquittal was appropriate and donít think
that he should be adorned with a scarlet letter for the rest of
eternity. One virulently leftwing friend of my guest at the screening
castigated her for attending anything that had anything to do with
Michael Jackson. I think that kind of attitude uncharitable and unfair.
This isnít the greatest documentary ever made, nor
is it full of terrific music, unless you just live or die with Michael
Jackson, although it is full of music. But it is extremely well done, a
fascinating, high energy snapshot of a music idol shortly before an
untimely death. Whether or not you are a fan of his music, the music is