Michael Jackson proves ‘This Is It’

Director Ortega hits right notes with music docu

It’s impossible to watch Kenny Ortega’s brilliant documentary about Michael Jackson’s much-publicized and doomed comeback concert tour without the ghost of Jackson hovering over every frame. Which makes Ortega’s decision to focus the film almost exclusively on the concert rehearsals perhaps the most important and dynamic single directorial choice of any award-season film. There’s no need to be reminded of what happened to Jackson when the audience can’t possibly forget.

The film hits its pinnacle moment as Jackson labors mightily to deliver a vocal performance that conveys his ambition and vision in “I Just Can’t Stop Loving You.” Suddenly, it’s Michael Jackson owning the title “King of Pop.” And just as suddenly we are reminded of his tragic fall as he halts the monumental performance and softly disdains pushing further: “I have to save my voice.” Not even Jean Cocteau could have crafted a more moving image of the artist falling from his creative dreams into the abyss of the “real” world.

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