My dream for this weekend is that I run into some player in a first rate Thriller costume and I, in “Beverly Hills Cop” guise, will give him my best Eddie Murphy chuckle, wherein everyone nearby experiences a brilliant shared cultural moment that kicks off the best time of their lives. Barring that, I may just freakishly go see “Michael Jackson’s This is It,” which has no shortage of good reviews (from the likes of mighty Manohla Dargis to the extremely tired Roger Ebert). I may stop myself if I think too much about director Kenny Ortega (“Highschool Musical” 1, 2 and 3: “Senior Year”) though.
Dargis is particularly convincing, and reveals some Hollywood effects gaiety. “The wittiest — a black-and-white Hollywood homage set to “Smooth Criminal” and probably inspired by the “Girl Hunt” ballet in the 1953 Vincente Minnelli musical “The Band Wagon” — features Mr. Jackson wearing a white pinstripe suit and interacting with Rita Hayworth (she tosses him her black glove from “Gilda”) and Humphrey Bogart (who, looking up from a kiss, throws him a scowl). As amusing as this number is, it pales alongside those moments when Mr. Jackson drops the pyrotechnics and just appears onstage alone.” [NY Times]
“The big fear, though, was that fulsome homages to the man and his talent would smother This Is It in a coating of treacle; thankfully, Ortega limits it to the occasional sobbing outburst from the dancers or choreographers. We are instead offered genuinely interesting tidbits of Jackson’s stagecraft, in the shape of intense discussion of cues, cherry-pickers and trapdoors.” [Guardian]
“What is left is this extraordinary documentary, nothing at all like what I was expecting to see. Here is not a sick and drugged man forcing himself through grueling rehearsals, but a spirit embodied by music.” [Roger Ebert]
While I count at least two of the King of Pop’s songs as all time favorites (“Human Nature” and “Rock with You”) I haven’t been too wild about any of his work since 1987’s Bad – and the real genius is all 1982 and before. But I must say with surprise, his latest track “This is It” is a smooth jam. It’s vintage soft spoken MJ and bodes very well for more post posthumous releases. Dig it here.
And have a macabre Halloween.