Tuesday, Dec. 08, 2009

5. Michael Jackson as Michael Jackson in Michael Jackson's This Is It

Here's the movie wasn't intended to be a movie — the footage was shot so the star could study his work and that of his crew — showing a man nobody expected to die so soon. Four months after Michael Jackson's death at 50, director Kenny Ortega finished his no-warts hagiography of the King of Pop, in rehearsal for his London concert series. This documusical, which has the artlessness of visual stenography, gets the audience closer to the real Michael Jackson — Jackson the performer — than anything in his avidly documented history. We see a perfectionist who pushes himself to prove he's still got it. And have it he does: the smooth moves, the voice that can squeal or whisper, or invest a ballad with choirboy clarity; the effortless, only slightly creepy charisma. After a couple decades in which he was more notorious than famous, This Is It restored the image of Jackson as a prime pop thriller. His last performance was his greatest.