Tuesday, November 24, 2009

This Is It

Yesterday afternoon I took myself to see the movie This Is It about Michael Jackson. I decided I wanted to see it after watching an interview with Kenny Ortega, his friend and director of the movie. Only in theaters until Thanksgiving, eventually it will be available on DVD, but it's definitely one of those movies you need to see on the big screen.

Kenny Ortega put together the two-hour movie from 120 hours of video footage taken during rehearsals at Staples Center in Los Angeles between March and June of this year. This was to be the 50-year-old's comeback tour scheduled to open in London just days after his untimely death on June 25.

Because it was so close to the opening they had film of several of the big numbers with all their pyrotechnics and special effects. The screen is filled with performers, musicians, choreographers, and crew members and gives you a real feel for what happens behind the scenes of such a production. From the casting call on, it was fascinating to watch it all take shape.

The last time I paid much attention to MJ's music was when Thriller came out in 1983. I distinctly remember seeing the video when it debuted, and I thought the dancing and theatrics were fabulous. I had the album and still know most of the cuts. He got a little weird after that which turned me off to his music.

I thought it was very sad when he died so unexpectedly but I can't say I was surprised. So many stories of his eccentricities including his much-denied plastic surgery, reports of sleeping in a hyperbaric chamber, living with Bubbles the monkey, and then the charges of child molestation made me forget about him long ago. All that said, you can't deny his incredible talent, and they did a wonderful job showcasing that talent in This Is It.

In the first part of the film they interviewed several of the dancers who all said how much of a dream it was to be on stage with their idol, Michael Jackson. Whatever was happening in his life, he was obviously in fantastic condition and kept up with dancers decades younger. Split screens convey Jackson, nearly always in sunglasses, performing the same number in different days with different wardrobes and different approaches. There's no question who the director is here. Jackson is in complete control. The few times he was shown correcting a performer, he was especially gentle in the delivery of the criticism, once saying simply 'This is why we rehearse.'

There's also several sequences of numbers done with the Jackson 5 in much younger days obviously not part of the recent filming but certainly included to show where he came from. Many times at the end of a number you expect to hear the reaction of a crowd and the camera pans to the groups of performers and crew watching who are on their feet jumping, clapping and cheering.

All the songs were familiar and for the most part didn't seem to vary much from their original recordings. Several of the musicians had quick interview clips. The one musician I wish they had interviewed was the lead guitarist, Australian born Orianthi Panagaris. Her bio says Orianthi has played with the likes of Eric Clapton and Santana and was named one the 12 Greatest Female Electric Guitarists. Incredible to watch, her style made me think of Stevie Ray Vaughn. Apparently she played and sang at MJ's memorial in Los Angeles in July, and I'm sorry I missed it. I plan to look for it on YouTube.

Despite not having been a recent fan of Michael Jackson, I totally enjoyed This Is It, and I'm really glad I didn't miss it in the theater. I was really ambivalent about seeing it until I saw the interview with Kenny Ortega who seems like a very sincere, thoughtful man. The way he handles MJ in the movie proves it. If you ever enjoyed his music & dancing, go see the movie.

You won’t be disappointed


Cairo Typ0 said...

Great review, Sandy! I'm not sure i want to see this in the threatre pay full price for it but your review as me rethinking that. I too remember when the 30 minute Thriller was released.

Heather of the EO said...

I wasn't sure if I wanted to see this, but not I'm much more interested than I was. I just wasn't sure how it could be all that interesting. But I get it now :)

Stopping by from SITS. So nice to meet you :)

Badass Geek said...

I never really got into his music at all. Not so much my style, really. I can appreciate the talent and effort that went into it, though.

Anita said...

Thanks for the review Sandy. I just feel that MJ's eccentricities ruined his talent for me. I have trouble seeing the raw artist when I see what he did to his life.
I'm not even sure I'll rent this one, I find his life disturbing.

Vodka Logic said...

Glad you liked it but not interested myself. Maybe when "on demand"

BONNIE K said...

I'm glad you wrote this. I told my husband that I was embarrassed to admit it, but I wanted to see this movie. I think MJ is one of the most talented people ever, and I love his music. I'm going to try to see this.

Pam said...

Ugh! I'm reading your review about 10 minutes too late. AS you know I've been trying to find a way to fit this movie in to my insane schedule before Thanksgiving. At dinner I decided to go to the 7:05 showing tonight and then talked myself out of it. (I really just want to relax). Now it's too late to make the show and I wish I had gone. Well, as Scarlet O'Hara said, "Tomorrow is another day". I need to make it happen. Great review!

Tammy Howard said...

I'll probably have to wait for the DVD, but I definitely will see it. Great review!

Oz Girl said...

I had the Thriller album when I was young, along with a few other albums of his. You're right, he did get strange and I also drifted away from his music.

I loved your review, and when this comes out on DVD I might enjoy watching it.

As for Orianthi - I had never heard of her before your review, but you've piqued my interest in her now.

Have a warm and wonderful Thanksgiving! :)

Wolf said...

i've loved thriller since my parents gave it to me for christmas one year.

i too was sad, but not surprised when MJ died. i hope to see this movie at some point, but not sure when i'll be able to. thanks for letting me know i won't be disappointed!

Just Playin' said...

Thanks for the review. I hope to see it too.

Just Breathe said...

Good for you, I know I should have gone but haven't. My daughter (28)
has gone a few times. I actually bought her the movie for Christmas but it won't ship until February, I guess I will see it them. I really love his work. Also got her the 2CD, book and poster set for Christmas. He had a talent like no other.

Terra H. said...

Hello and thanks for stopping by from SITS and commenting on my blog. I'd been on the fence as to whether I wanted to see this movie or not. I still am, but thanks for the review. It was helpful.


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