Which we do not. Even when he's holding back, the artistry of it all is fairly stunning: "Human Nature" drives my theater nuts, the breathy whispers undercut by brief, playful growls, his body's wiggly little leans and dips omnipresent, the falsetto that punctuates the gloriously evaporating chorus. "Go on, boy!" people behind me start shouting. "Go on, boy! That's Mike."

We are similarly enamored of all the new set pieces: The 3-D graveyard fantasia of "Thriller," the retro-futuristic mashup of The Big Sleep and The Matrix that drives "Smooth Criminal," the giant props (spider, bulldozer) that suddenly materialize onstage. I suspect most people initially regarded these London concerts warily—as an ill-advised potential catastrophe MJ didn't have the power to pull off anymore. But This Is It, if nothing else, makes clear how incredibly hard he was working, how seriously he took himself even when no one else did. It's maudlin and brutal, but he died trying to do this. And though the film mercifully avoids any death-porn melodrama, this will occur to you during the climax of, oddly enough, "Beat It," when he's full-on spazzing out to match the hard-rock frenzy, flat on his back, legs waving in the air, that nefarious earpiece out and dangling like a popped eyeball. He is passionately applauded, both on-screen and off-. But there aren't enough of us. There never were.

Letting it simmer
Kevin Mazur
Letting it simmer

Details

Also in Film:
Michael Jackson Documentary, Redux: This Is It
King of pop, meet the man who made High School Musical
by Zach Baron

rharvilla@villagevoice.com

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