This is It (2009, dir. Kenny Ortega) – This is what it is. A year after Michael’s death, perhaps reality has set in and his status is already sufficiently cemented as “legend” so that the earlier magic of these rehearsals is largely gone. It stands as something interesting, albeit voyeuristic, to gaze upon the withered and weathered vestiges of the guy who used to be so much before sinking so low. He’s clearly trying to save his voice in most of these numbers, so he’s not quite giving it his all. It is a happy last testament to Michael that he treats the cast and crew of his production with such gentleness and patience. “This is why we rehearse,” he says more than once. When he does croon, he sounds good; when he dances, the skinniness of his limbs almost makes his movements look more impressive than before. Okay to watch this, better to go back to earlier times for visual reminiscing.
Sherlock Holmes (2009, dir. Guy Ritchie) – As good as the first viewing, although on a (slightly) smaller screen. Also, interesting how much your fellow audience can affect your viewing. First 30 min. or so drew some anxiety thanks to some uninterested parties, who eventually left out of boredom and allowed the rest of us to enjoy the movie. Kudos to Guy Ritchie for keeping a pretty dark, forlorn look and keeping faithful to some very cold colors indeed. It just feels like London. And, as remarked before, so interesting how Downey the American plays a Brit who’s so similar to the American character “House” played by the Brit Hugh Laurie.
The Big Lebowski (1998, dir. Coen Brothers) – Enjoyed this one at Seattle’s Central Cinema during bro-in-law’s bachelor party. We highly recommend the beer and (I think) the food. (As the designated driver, however, yours truly “enjoyed” a blood orange Italian soda. Hmph.) A delightful experience, although they should’ve served White Russians. With every viewing you feel more and more sorry for The Dude, so thrown into a mess not his own – he only wanted his rug back. Perhaps too, he only wanted to get a word in edgewise, but he’s verbally blockaded from every direction. When he’s finally given a chance, he sort of buckles under the pressure: “Well, that’s just, like, your opinion, man.”
Human Nature (2001, dir. Michel Gondry) – This is a critique of everything: of civilization and Tarzan-like freedom. You can’t have it all either way, apparently. Charlie Kaufman wrote it, although it feels like it might’ve been composed hastily, for him. Gondry gives it his own flourishes, which help. It’s just silly, feeling like it wants to poke fun at anything and everything regardless of how fitting an outlet the film itself is. Human nature is a both-and, it wants to say, rather than an either/or, and it’s probably correct. One recalls that glorious song from The Kinks, “Apeman.”
I wouldn’t call This Is It bad, but it was largely unimpressive for me from a strictly cinematic aspect. However, what made it watchable was seeing the kind of effort and rehearsal that MJ put in despite his advancing age and failing health, as well as the overtly servile and subservient nature of the crew around him. The noirish music video was fun, and that girl’s guitar-do was scintillating.
The Big Lebowski is of course a cult classic. Though often revered as the Coens’ best, I feel it should more appropriately called as their most popular work (their best, for me, is still a toss-up between Fargo & No Country for Old Men). And The Dude certainly remains one of the most hilarious movie characters. An immensely fun film this one.
I haven’t yet watched Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes yet despite ample opportunities, though I’m sure I’ll catch up with it sometime. Though the former Mr. Madonna, as a number of pundits have observed, essentially makes the same movie over and over again, most of them are entertainers nonetheless. Case in point – Rock-n-Rolla.
Yeah, as far as This is It goes, you’re forced to evaluated it based on the content (Jackson’s rehearsals) and the editing, since it wasn’t exactly shot for the purpose it ended up serving. The editing, combined with the retroactive meaning that the content takes on following his death, gives it a certain something that appeals to some more than to others. This is fitting, since it’s the viewers themselves that give something like this “meaning,” anyway.