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Sunday, December 6, 2009

THIS IS IT

By D.E.Levine

Director: Kenny Ortega
Producers: Paul Gongaware, Kenny Ortega and Randy Phillips
Producer (film and video content): Robin Wagner
Co-producer: Chantal Feghali
Associate Producer: Michael Beaarden
Cast: Michael Jackson, Alex Al, Nick Bass, Michael Bearden, Daniel Celebre, Mekia Cox, Misha Gabriel, Chris Grant, Judith Hill, Dorian Holley, Shannon Holtzapffel, Devin Jamieson, Bashiri Johnson, Charles Klapow, Jonathan Moffett, Tommy Organ, Orianthi, Darryl Phinnessee, Mo Pleasure, Dres Reid, Ken Stacey, Tyne Stecklein, Timor Steffens, Joe Giles and Grady Holder
Original Music: Michael Bearden
Editors: Don Brochu, Brandon Key, Tim Patterson and Kevin Stitt
Running Time: 112 Minutes
Country of Origin: United States
Language: English
Genre: Musical, Autobiographical

One has to wonder if this film, pieced together from rehearsal footage made during preparation for Michael Jackson's last planned tour, is so good, how good would the the actual show have been?

From this film, which follows Jackson and his team from the initial selection of backup dancers through rehearsals, until his death at the age of 50 in June 2009, it's possible to see that his planned London show would have been one of the greatest comebacks in pop music history.voc

There's some very excellent editing as seamlessly, pieces from the same numbers performed on different days and in different attire, are spliced together.

According to Director Kenny Ortega, Jackson wasn't performing at 100% during rehearsals, holding back to save his voice and energy. If that's so, since the rehearsals convey such energy, precision and professionalism, his actual performances would have been superb.

There's little documentation of Jackson's working procedures so this film provides an intense look at the breathtaking perfectionism that he applied to his work. Jackson is seen reviewing video footage, correcting his backup dancers while posing himself, giving his band instructions and working with a vocal coach.

There are fascinating verbal exchanges with musicians, dancers, and stagers which show how deeply aware Jackson was of everything that was happening and impacting his show and performance.

However, because of his obsession with perfection, we have to wonder if Jackson would have wanted his fans and audiences to see a rough, unfinished performance.

Regardless, his talent shines as he sings and dances. The fact that the editing of different days performances could have been combined so flawlessly speaks to this ability to repeat endlessly the same movements, dance steps, poses and vocals, without alteration.

Viewers are also given the treat of seeing the special video and CG effects (i.e. multiplying his 11 backup dancers into thousands performing) that were planned and incorporated into the show and which without the film would never be seen. The film runs almost two hours and still feels short.

Much credit has to be given to the excellent editors whose work made a coherent and entertaining film out of unedited rehearsal footage.