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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Michael Jackson's THIS IS IT!

          Some of us probably remember when the Jackson 5 first came on the scene.  The five young fellows from Gary, Indiana hit the charts with their peppy Motown sound and with bright dress styles and in sync choreography.  From the start the focus was on Michael, the cute lead singer with the captivating smile. We knew he was pretty good.  Then, with talents like Diana Ross and Quincy Jones there to mentor him, we saw his acting, dancing, and solo singing abilities and realized he was a star.  But when Michael slammed the pop music world with the huge selling album Thriller everyone could plainly see the man was a genius.  He had deservedly become the "King of Pop".

         I don't want to argue anything about what happened to Michael Jackson after the 80's or why he became the Wacko Jacko character of tabloid notoriety.  Whatever happened to him is a sad story to be told elsewhere and is certainly part of what caused his demise. Today I want to recognize Michael's last great contribution to his legacy as a great pop performer and the great film that has been left as a testimony to his genius.

       THIS IS IT! is a milestone in concert film making.  Though technically not a concert film, nevertheless it serves as history's record of a concert tour that never happened and a concert that may have been one of the greatest of our time.  In the film we see rehearsal footage of some of Michael Jackson's greatest hits as they are readied for the massive stage production that was to set out on a world tour.  This film is proof that Jackson was in top form at the time of his death and that he had assembled a top notch array of entertainment that would have blown us away.

          In the film, we see many aspects of Michael the entertainer, the craftsman, and the idol who cared about his cast, crew, and fans.   We watch as he works with the dancers, the musicians, the singers, and even the stage crew as they put together what would have been a most amazing show.  This is a fascinating behind the scenes look at what goes into putting a giant production such as this together.  We watch Michael working with his excellent musicians as they hone the arrangements of the songs.  We see Michael following the progress of filmmakers and effects artists who are assembling the stunning visuals that will make the show a dazzling sight to behold.  Michael is documented as he is hands on with every phase of the production.

         But in the end it's all about the man and his music--and what great music it is.  The sound quality on the DVD was excellent as it came through my surround-sound system.  At times you get the rehearsal cuts with stops and starts, but then you get the full songs just like they would have sounded in concert.  The back up band is hot and the dancers tear the stage up. We may not have gotten to see the actual concert, but this DVD gets you pretty close to what it would have been like.

          The world missed out on one great concert tour when we lost Michael Jackson.  If the tour had gone as planned, I'm quite sure there would have been a concert film made of it.  The superb cinematography and sound in the rehearsal film attests to the fact that they were getting it all down for the record.  What we see in THIS IS IT!  may have eventually ended up as a making of documentary film or maybe just extras on the DVD of the concert film, but thank goodness someone had the foresight to film as much as they did.

        THIS IS IT! , in my opinion, ranks as one of the best music films ever.  We are reminded of what it was that made us love Michael Jackson in the first place.  We see the talented human being that he really was and not the bizarre figure of media sensationalism.  This is the Michael Jackson that I want to remember.

20 comments:

  1. I enjoyed Michael Jackson when he was younger, The 2 songs I loved best was "One Day In Your Life" and "Ben". As you so rightly say what happened later in his life don't belong here, I know he was an excellent dancer as Thriller emphasised that, and I know he had a "Presence" about him that made him special. It was indeed a sad day when he passed away, like Elvis they are irreplacaeable.
    I have not seen "This Is It" so cannot comment on that.

    Your post about Michael is excellent and was a pleasure to read.

    Yvonne.

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  2. Michael Jackson was a really incredible entertainer. Sounds like this one's worth a look.

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  3. Just never liked his music. But that's cool you liked it.

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  4. I completely agree with your review of this film. I was mesmerized and blown away by Michael's talent, focus, and ability to get the best and what he wanted out of everyone around him, in a gentle way.
    Karen

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  5. It appears you have an educated palate for music and film making. This is an art in itself: to be able to analyze art.

    Blessings,
    Jen
    Audience of ONE

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  6. I say this with a disclaimer, I never liked pop or most rock music so I have never heard a full song that Jackson did except maybe Beat It and the one he did as a kid, what was that, I'll be There?

    However, in some ways he is no different than my hero - George Jones.

    Both tremendous talents, gifted uniquely by God, world wide fame and notoriety - but my heart aches for both of them, becasue each will answer the question:

    What will a man (a singer, a legend) give in exchange for his soul?

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  7. I just saw this on Saturday. And it was fascinating. I really really enjoyed it. :)

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  8. I'm definitely going to have to check this out. I'm a MJ fan, always have been, but I haven't had a chance to look at this yet. Thanks for posting about it!

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  9. Appreciate the review, thank you. I'll probably go see it - glad it seems to focus on MJ the fabulous entertainer and performer he was, rather than his - erm, shall we say ... quirky off-stage behavior.

    The Old Silly

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  10. Lee,

    I have not seen this film yet, although I want to. I agree with you, he was a genious. He has so much talent...it is a pitty that he was so messed up. I guess the entertainment business can do that to the strongest person out there, especially if you are a child actor/star with odd parents.

    I wish he could have continued. I wish I could have seen him in concert!

    Sig

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  11. Thanks to all for your comments

    Alex & Greg-- If you appreciate music and the effort involved in putting togther a large stage production, you still might what to check this out-- it may give you a whole different view of MJ.

    Sig -- I wish I could have seen this concert -- I'd say it would have surpassed all of his others.

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  12. Hi Lee:)

    Greetings:)

    I saw this movie as soon as it was released.MJ's talent is awesome. He is superb.His singing, dancing,acting and direction capabilities are just fantastic.

    My children and I are great MJ fans. We have seen most of his videos. He is indeed a lengend and his songs will live forever. All generations to come will love his singing and dancing skills.

    Have a nice day Lee:)
    Joseph

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  13. Thanks for this, Lee. I had not heard of this DVD.

    I enjoy such documentaries and as you suggest there is something so painful and sad about what might have been in the form both of the concert itself, but more particularly in terms of Jackson's life cut short, and presumably damaged through all sorts of childhood trauma and all that followed.

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  14. Sorry, I am just not a fan of MJ. I think his focus on life was so messed up that it ruined what could have been a greater influence on his fans and on so many people. I loved seeing his performances when he was a child singer. I think maybe life and circumstances ruined his perspective. What a waste of God-given talent!

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  15. Grammy -- I think a lot of what we saw in the U.S. about Michael was a media smear like we so often see with people in the limelight in this country. I think he is more highly respected internationally because I think his music and talent was always more the focus, than any of the bizarreness of his personal life. I think U.S. created a bizarre image of Michael that may have been blown out of proportion.

    Lee

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  16. I finally watched This is It night before last and was fascinated. It's the first time I thought about the huge number of people (not just fans) who were likely devastated by Michael's death. Everything they had worked for (and their jobs) were gone in a snap of the fingers. So sad.

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  17. Just added it to our Netflix queue! Great post.

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  18. You just asked me to join the A-Z challenge. I looked at all the respondent's comments, then to your sidebar. This post about MJ is beautiful. I did a post about him 2X in 2009. Please go over & take a look. One is an article written to the L.A. newspaper art/music writer, which was brilliant. Michael was the most gentle, talented and generous human who would never hurt anyone. He remained a boy, in a world where he became a man on the forefront of the world's stage. The publicity-seeking DA who prosecuted him relentlessly + the media who will crucify anyone whether true or not brought us Dr. Conrad Murray, the man who killed Michael. I will never forget Michael and his music.

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  19. I agree with you about MJ. The media loves to bring people down especially if they are loved and talented and have some eccentricities. The media magnified the latter and turned MJ into a sideshow circus for the public who become like wolves waiting for the kill.
    I think MJ was appreciated much more in other countries than he was in the US.

    I hope you will join our blog challenge.

    Lee

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Lee