07 November 2009

This Is It

Last night, Ella and I had an evening on the town. We decided to have supper at Marathon Grill and then take in the Michael Jackson documentary, "This Is It."

I didn't get to catch up on Ella's life as much as I wanted to since I hogged up much of the conversation telling her about the dysfunction at work. And, unfortunately, we spent some amount of time trying to flag down restaurant personnel in an attempt to find out if we would actually get to eat our supper before we had to leave for the theater (it took us about 40 minutes to get our food).

The food was good but not spectacular, but props to the restaurant for hiring some excellent eye candy. Well done, hiring people! I won't speak for Ella, but I felt slightly skeevy upon finding out the server who I'd been eyeing wasn't even old enough to drink. Oops.

We headed over to the theater with ten minutes to spare. After we had put in our order, Ella had run over to get the tickets and there was reserved seating, so there was no particular rush, although I did have to wait in line to get the assistive listening device headset. Then, when we got seated, there was a whole seating debacle. I won't go into the whole thing because it was too stupid to take up my energy here and now, but it was ridiculous. Ella summed it up neatly in three words: sense of entitlement.

The movie. OMGWOW. Since I found out last night when I got home that the domestic run has been extended through the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, I WILL be seeing this again in the theater. If anyone would like to go with me, just say the word. I also called my mom (an MJ fan, although not as big of a fan as I am) and encouraged her to go see it as there are certain parts that just absolutely will NOT translate to the small screen ("Thriller" special effects, I'll talking to you).

There were times in the movie where I giggled, laughed, and (of course) cried. I came prepared with plenty of tissues, and I used them liberally. I sat next to two middle-aged women who were also pretty familiar with MJ's body of work, and they kept a running dialogue throughout. With my headset on, I couldn't make out what they were saying, though.

I was worried that I'd be upset by the treatment of some of the songs or the dances, as if it wasn't MJ doing them, which is ridiculous. But you know how it is sometimes... you go to a concert and the artist decides to "jazz up" your favourite song and completely ruins it. I guess I've become SO jaded and SO cynical and SO defensive on Michael's behalf that ANY time the media does something about him, I get my guard up.

However, I was only disappointed three times, and I think only die-hard MJ fans would have looked for the moments I was looking for. Once was when he did "Billie Jean." When he did "Billie Jean" for the "Motown 25th Anniversary" special on television, he debuted the Moonwalk. But when he rehearsed the number for the concert, he broke out a LOT of moves and he seemed to be working up to the Moonwalk, but, no. Turns out that MJ is just a cocktease.

The second that disappointed me was when he did "Smooth Criminal." The moment in that video that blew most people's minds was The Lean. And while they recreated a lot of the dance for the concert, there was no lean. Boo. ALTHOUGH I love love LOVE what they did do. I think maybe some moviegoers might have had a "WTF?" moment when they started that segment of the movie, but as soon as it came up, I knew without a doubt that it was going to be "Smooth Criminal." MJ is SO predictable sometimes (and I say that with love. L-O-V-E.) No spoilers here, though. Go see it. (or buy it on DVD at a store not named Wal-Mart on 17 December. /Shameless plug.)

The third (and final) disappointment was that his treatment for "The Earth Song" was almost an EXACT replica of the video. While the video WAS good, I daresay that only the most diehard MJ fans could tell you what it was, the premise of it, or how it unfolds. It certainly isn't one he's KNOWN for. And while I know that environmental issues were always near and dear to Michael's heart, I wish he had come up with something different. He certainly never had a dearth of creativity; I'm not sure why he'd choose this video to recycle.

Overall, though, the movie was amazing, spectacular, wonderful, and then amazing some more. It made me remember how gentle and humble Michael is. How much he cared about the other artists and their talent being showcased. How much he just LOVES what he does. How much he loves music and dance and performing. How much he KNOWS music and IS his music. How much of a technician he is. How much he craved perfection, and how much he wanted his fans to see The Best Show EVER.

The atmosphere in the theater was almost like seeing a mini-concert - there was a small-ish crowd of people who clapped after most songs (not after every song because of the nature of how the movie segued); when familiar songs came on (like "I Want You Back" by the Jackson 5"), I wasn't the only one rolling my arms back and forth; it was nice to be a room where I could sit in my chair at the end and sob and feel like everyone understood.

One of the most heartbreaking moments for me was when he performed "Human Nature." He seemed to just completely get lost in the moment and let loose and have fun with the dance moves and the vocals. And that song... what a classic. The other moment when I just about lost was when the first strains of notes of "Man in the Mirror" played. See, when Michael's memorial service ended and they took his casket out of the stadium, that was the song they played. And since then, I can't hear that song without seeing the image of his casket leaving the room.

Missing you, Michael, as always.

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