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'This Is It' a Celebration of Jackson's Last Days

Discussion in 'Entertainment' started by ByaseL, Oct 29, 2009.

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    ByaseL JF-Expert Member

    Oct 29, 2009
    Joined: Nov 22, 2007
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    Michael Jackson's This Is It," the concert film (or, rather, concert-rehearsal film) is stitched together from behind-the-scenes footage and sequences intended as part of the backdrop to the concert tour Jackson was preparing to mount when he died on June 25 of this year.

    It's fascinating, and often not in ways the people behind it might have intended. It's shiny and slick and scary and cynical, and it's an epic portrait of all the contradictions in American celebrity culture and one of American culture's biggest celebrities. It comes, to paraphrase Shakespeare's Marc Antony, not to bury Michael Jackson but to praise him, to make sure the good he did lives on after him while the (alleged) evil is interred with his bones. You get all the hits; you get some amazing dancing. And you get footage where Jackson holds back and doesn't sing a line, or a whole verse, and you wonder if he's saving it for the big show or if he simply can't muster the energy to do it. You thrill at a 50-year-old man dancing so energetically and so well and then remember that Jackson died from the abuse and misuse of painkillers. Parts of "This Is It" feel like a death march cut to look like a victory lap.

    And "cut" is the right verb; directed by Kenny Ortega, the director of Jackson's stage show, "This Is It" is not so much directed as it is edited, with a team of four cutters turning footage Jackson wanted shot for his personal use and preshot sequences for the concert tour's video-screen spectacle into something like a film. The preshot sequences, directed by Ortega (while constantly casting an eye to Jackson for approval), aren't just big, blown-up spectacles; they are, for good and for ill, glimpses into Jackson's mind set.

    There's a fairly leaden parable for "Earth Song," where a young girl falls asleep in a verdant glade only to wake up to a bulldozer-ravaged ruin and we see in an animatic how Jackson, in the final stage show, would be next to be threatened by a full-size bulldozer. The montage leading to "Smooth Criminal" (which is also, not coincidentally, the most whole and satisfying performance piece in the film) cuts Jackson into clips from classic Hollywood films like "Gilda" and "The Big Sleep" before it transitions to the superbly performed,

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