Tuesday, November 3, 2009

MICHAEL JACKSON'S THIS IS IT (2009)


Directed by Kenny Ortega


Where & When: Vista Theater, Los Angeles, CA. November 1, 2009, 7:00PM


I remember my father taking me and my sister, Cheryl to see the Jackson 5 in concert sometime in the early 70's. This was during the height of their fame as a group. Cheryl was a hardcore fan and I thought they were okay but I was willing to go because I love going to concerts.

All I remember from the show was that from the beginning to the very end were continuous high pitch screams. I could not hear a single song. To make matters worse, The concert was held in a large coliseum and we were sitting way back in the nose bleed section, so all I could see were fast moving flashes of light. This was long before the days of video screens at concerts. Cheryl said she really enjoyed it. I looked at my father and I could tell that he had as much fun as I did.

Years later, I have a much greater appreciation for the talents of the entire Jackson family, particularly Michael. I have to admit I found the idea of "This Is It", a documentary on the making of an upcoming series of concerts that would have been held at London's O2 Arena, a little morbid so soon after Mr. Jackson's death. But I also have to admit I was very interested in seeing this film.

This documentary uses a collection of edited footage of the rehearsals for the comeback concerts and were actually made for Mr. Jackson's personal use which I guess he could use to help evaluate how the show was developing. After seeing this footage, I can say the show looked great and I really would have wanted to see it. The concert, entitled "This Is It", was conceived by Mr. Jackson and Mr. Ortega, who directed this film as well as the concert.

The entire process of creating this concert is revealed from the design of the staging, the choreography and the auditions of the dancers and the final selections. Mr. Jackson, the ultimate perfectionist, would go over and over each number until it meets his high standards; We see how the elaborate video productions were created and how they would have looked during the concerts. Several of the singer's key band members offer nothing but glowing praise of Mr. Jackson and how he inspired them.

The film reveals how much work and man power is involved in creating such a massive stage show but we don't really find out much about who really is Michael Jackson? We see glimpses of a shy, passive-aggressive professional performer who seems like a sweet person but we don't get deep inside of the man.

I found "This Is It" to be sad for two different reasons: One is the most obvious in that we see what we lost in a extremely talented and unique entertainer and the other is more disturbing to me. I really saw how much he had mutilated his face and the extent of the lightening of his skin tone. This wasn't new information to me but I guess watching him on the big screen for almost two hours just emphasized this and this was most notable during a part of the concert rehearsals when he does a medley of his songs with the Jackson 5 . Behind him is a video of him performing as a child with his brothers looking -- well, more human.

I realize that Mr. Jackson had a few of demons and psychological issues that played a big part of his feeling the need to alter himself in such a dramatic way but it still bothered me more than I thought it would. It really was difficult to watch him at times and that really saddens me. You don't necessarily have to be any type of fan of Mr. Jackson's to enjoy "This Is It" but it will certainly have much more meaning to you if you are.