I have to admit, I am not a die-hard fan. I was never able to understand the music, let alone dance to it. When Thriller became the phenomenal hit that it was, I could not fathom what the fuss was about. By the time Michael Jackson transformed into the ghoulish figure that was as creepy as his voice was thin, I found myself more distant to his music than ever. His death in June, while poignant, was not as sad for me as it was for so many around the world, and This Is It did not move me as it did for so many who saw it at the preview screening last night.
The movie is really a making-of picture, and is clearly for fans, particularly those who had bought tickets to go to the London concerts, but could not any more. It’s the consolation prize at the office D&D’s lucky draw; the one of numerous assembled to ensure that not too many people go home empty-handed. As a documentary, it did not elucidate; as a film, it told no stories.
I shall not be cynical and call this a cash-in. I will not disagree with those who are convinced that from the movie, you can be sure that the concert would be a smash hit and visually stunning. In fact, even before MJ’s demise, we could be certain of that. But as a behind-the-scene reveal, we’re not given a large enough tour into the machinations of staging 50 performances on such a scale. While the music in This Is It will take you down memory lane, MJ rehearsing was not MJ performing.
Unimpressed with the music (obviously pumped up by post-pro) or the musician’s and dancers’ unabated gushing, I started observing the odd clothes the man himself put on for the rehearsals. Some of them looked like they were bought from Platinum Mall. MJ wore his jeans high-waisted, the way he always had. He liked his shirts untucked and adorned (with prints or something glittery or with military stripes on the sleeves), and would wear them over an undershirt or beneath a jacket, never singly. No doubt, his jackets were statement pieces. I can’t be sure, but one looked like a Balmain with its distinctive pointy shoulder that is so much the rage now. And another, with colourful curved panels, seemed somewhat Balenciaga. Both, it should be noted, were from the womenswear.
Many fans consider MJ a style icon. The military jacket and sequinned one-hand glove were his signatures even when it is still debated whether they’re tasteful. In the film, we were not given a look at the costumes that he would have worn in London, but from the clothes he sported to rehearse in, they would likely be attention-grabbing, if not fashionable. Music had been MJ’s strength, allowing him to go mainstream, but in fashion, he was, sadly, from its fringes.