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Ann Powers reviews 'Michael Jackson's This Is It'

October 27, 2009 | 10:44 pm

JACKS0N_MOVIE_300 Pop critic Ann Powers attended the premiere of "Michael Jackson's This Is It." Her review will run in Wednesday's Los Angeles Times, and is available online now. An excerpt: 

There's a sweet personal exchange near the end of "Michael Jackson's This Is It," the new concert film assembled from footage of the rehearsals for the London performances nullified by his death in June. Jackson is working out a dance sequence with Kenny Ortega, the director of the ill-fated concerts and of this documentary. Ortega lovingly mimics Jackson, overplaying his signature big hand gestures, and the superstar laughs.

"I love how the stewardesses do it," he says. "I love it!" 

It's a moment that illuminates not just the way Jackson danced or sang, but how he thought -- viewing the world in terms of movement, human semaphore.

"This Is It" offers only a few such insights into Jackson's artistic process, though enough surface to make this a useful document, as well as a beautiful one. Mostly it's a tribute to the power of Jackson's body and voice, which the film presents as surprisingly intact despite his age, 50 at the time of his death, and the various ailments that reportedly had plagued him in the preceding decades. 

Differing greatly from the rough, casual mood of many behind-the-scenes pop docs, this one is instead of a piece with Jackson's body of work: dazzling and strange, blurring the line between fantasy and reality.

As a tragic teaser for the shows that might have been, "This Is It" hurts. If Jackson had been able to perform as he frequently does during these scenes, he would have accomplished the comeback for which he was so hungry.

Read the full review here.

Credit: Sony Pictures