Page 22 THE VILLADOM TIMES II, III & IV • November 11, 2009 A final curtain call comes to the silver screen by Dennis Seuling Michael Jackson’s death on June 25 shocked the world and became the most covered story for days and even weeks afterward. The circumstances of his death were cloudy, and speculation ran rampant. However, no one disputed that Jackson was one of the most charismatic entertainers of the last 50 years. “Michael Jackson’s This Is It,” directed by Kenny Ortega, is a documentary dedicated to Jackson’s fans that consists primarily of rehearsal footage for the series of 50 concerts that were to take place in London over the summer. The Jackson seen in the footage, taken from a few cameras for his personal use and possibly as bonus material on an eventual DVD, is trim, energetic, and a showman extraordinaire. He is shown rehearsing several of the songs on the program for the concert -- “Billie Jean,” “Beat It,” “Human Nature,” “Man in the Mirror,” “Thriller,” and many more. Since the rehearsals took place over several days, Jackson’s clothes change from one section of a song another. This is initially distracting, but Jackson quickly draws in viewers with his magnetic personality and talent. The film reveals a great deal about Jackson’s work ethic and the massive effort involved in assembling a talented State Line 375 State Highway 17 North, Mahwah Open 24 Hours, 7 Days Join Us For Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner The Best Got Better! Diner - Restaurant 201-529-3353 ‘Michael Jackson’s This Is It’ shows the entertainer in rehearsals for the London concerts scheduled for the summer of 2009. cast and crew from the worlds of music, dance, lighting, sound design, computer imaging, stagecraft, and promotion. This concert series would have been huge. Filmed sequences, trap doors in the stage, a ramp, huge props, dancers, aerialists, a graveyard of zombies, a chorus of backup singers, and even a cherry picker that lifts Jackson up and out over the heads of the audience were on the agenda. Specialists managed these elements, but Jackson was always there approving decisions or adding his input. He was a perfectionist, and engendered in his staff of experts the same high standard. Jackson knew audiences have high expectations, which he wanted to surpass. Ortega was the director of the stage show, and was asked to make a film of the rehearsal footage. He has done an admirable job. What has turned out to be the last performance film of Jackson shows the singer/dancer in the throes of the creative process, apparently supercharged by working with accomplished musicians and singers and younger, technically more proficient dancers. The dancers, in particular, are in awe of having been chosen to work with Michael Jackson. Many say that watching his videos on TV when they were kids inspired them to become dancers. Working with him is the apex of their careers. Even in rehearsal, in their baggy sweats, the dancers are dynamic, and eager to be at their peak. Fortunately, “Michael Jackson’s This Is It” avoids tabloid sensationalism. The movie is all about Jackson’s striving to put together a truly magnificent comeback show. Ortega never shows the reactions of the cast and crew to Michael’s death, which would bring down what is intended to be an exhilarating portrait of an artist at work. I had the pleasure of seeing Michael Jackson during his Victory Tour concert at the Meadowlands in 1984, and was captivated by his commanding stage presence and tireless energy. He was dynamic that night. The Jackson of “This Is It” is the behind-the-scenes version of the same person. Rated PG, “This Is It” is a fascinating chronicle of the creative process. 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