Wednesday, October 28, 2009
I went to one of the "This Is It" World Premieres
The movie is fantastic. I highly recommend you take some time to see it in the next two weeks.
I still have no idea what that strange sweeping motion at 0:11 is. It made no more sense in the film.
I got chills watching this footage in the context of the film as a whole and knowing it was some of the last breaths he would take.
I am a huge Michael Jackson fan, but even I thought Elizabeth Taylor was exaggerating in her praise for this documentary. I was wrong; this is a must-see movie for anyone who has even a passing interest in Michael, music, dance--life itself. I was completely blown away by the vibrancy and energy I witnessed on screen. There were poignant moments and moments of humor. The humor especially surprised me. Michael really has a wry sense of humor and was often funny without meaning to be so. He took great pride in his work and some of the best moments of the film came when he was correcting others to bring them in line with his vision of perfection for his works. The crew and the audience alike shared a snicker when one of the musicians agreed to "put a little more booty in it" to funk up a bass line and no one was taken aback when, at another point, Michael told the musicans to play his songs like he wrote them; he wrote them like that for a reason. I was touched by how many people expressed the sheer honor of having the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to work with him on this concert. More than once someone said it was a "dream come true."
As for Michael, you could tell age was creeping up on him: he held back in both the singing and the dancing to preserve his voice and body through the grueling 14 hour a day rehearsals leading up to the actual concerts. As Michael told his backup singers, "you can sing out; I need to preserve my voice." Still, Michael holding back is better than any person living or dead giving the best performance of their lives. He was always pitch-perfect and completely hands-on from the choreography to the special effects to the harmonies and the music. The scene where he and Judith Hill dueted was classic Michael. All other singers, no matter how accomplished, had to push themselves to keep up with his emotional tenderness, his sweetness of note.
There were many times when I felt like Kenny Ortega was merely a figurehead because Michael seemed to be directing even the most minute details; he wanted the audience to experience the extravaganza as he saw it in his own dreams. The re-imagined Thriller scene was so incredible it would have been worth the international flight to London just to see it in 3-D. He also re-tooled Smooth Criminal to include scenes with Humphrey Bogart and Greta Garbo. He fit in seemlessly with the vintage scenes in his suit, hat, and spats. I would have liked to see more dance choreography to accompany that segment though the Matrix-like special effects and Michael sliding down a staircase and jumping through a plate glass window was awe-inspiring. Still, Smooth Criminal just isn't the same without the famous 45 degree lean.
There are those who say this movie is a sham effort to cover up Michael's frailty in his last days. He looked healthy and happy in the footage which appeared to be taken over the course of at least a week or two prior to his death. Michael did look thinner than usual and he rarely danced full out unless the music really got a hold of him. I think he was saving himself and his energy so he could give a 1000% when he did the actual shows in London. After all, he was a 50 year old man about to perform 50 shows back to back. Michael would never cheat his fans. Indeed, this concert would have spoiled them for any others. Nothing else would have compared. In that sense, he did really mean This is It. In all others, this will never be it for the King of Pop. Long Live Michael Jackson.