This Is It (2009)

In the weeks before his death, Michael Jackson (August 29, 1958 - June 25, 2009) was rehearsing a show, This Is It, that was to open in July. This film begins with a few of the auditioning dancers speaking to the camera about why they're trying out and what Jackson means to them. Then we plunge into rehearsals at Staples Center in Los Angeles. The film is arranged by musical number with pre-recorded material and footage from Jackson's various rehearsals edited together to take us through what would have been the concert's set list. - synopsis from IMDB

 Cast  - full listing

 Genres

history, drama, documentary

 Facts & Figures

Directed by Kenny Ortega.

Rated 7.3 on IMDB from 33988 votes.

Runtime: 111 min.

 Review

There are no plot twists. There are no actors. There is not even a storyline. But this is a tremendous documentary, whichever way you swing. This is the report of the preparations toward what surely would have been a magnificent set of concerts.

There is also no critique, no negativity in any way toward the undisputed star of the show, Michael Jackson, or, as we learn, MJ for friends. Which includes pretty much anyone he remotely knows and doesn’t hate, apparently. And I use the word undisputed consciously. Judging by the comments made, everybody working with the man is in awe of his musical talent, his emotional bond to the music and the people around him and his attention to minute detail that goes into any form of preparation. This is an icon, but also an icon that knows exactly what he wants, not because he’s cocky, but because he is a master at what he does and knowing why his fans love his music.

Without the scandals, lawsuits and outrageous fans this feels incomplete as a biography or testimony. But this isn’t meant as such. Despite the lack of any form of balanced reporting, it is a fabulous look inside preparations and the intentions of these concerts.

The picture we see is that of a pop star who many had written off but who manages to sing, dance and enthuse as ever before. Not bad at the age of 50. If I could stand for one of the dance sequences in a track, I’d be surprised.

If you hate Jackson’s music or can’t get past the stench of commercial exploitation, this isn’t for you. Me personally, I was intrigued and mesmerized all the way through. You just can’t help tapping your foot to those songs that breathe rhythm and harmony. I was particularly taken by the responses by people around Jackson. By mere presense the man could move others. An artist of the true kind: hugely perfectionist, emotionally engaged and a maddening creative drive. At the same time a modest and shy person who turns exceptionally expressive once on stage. A born entertainer. And by his musical legacy, a key contributor to our musical history. The King of Pop.

This was a great curtains down. This was one last go at it, one last hurray for the creator of an era of pop music that will outlast the commercial short-term memory by virtue of sheer originality and outstanding quality. The title, however ironic, indicates this perfectly. This wasn’t it. This is it.

Seen: 30 Oct 2009

This Is It

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