Wednesday, October 28, 2009

"This Is It" at the Vista Theatre

While the chaos of the Lakers Ring Night and the "This Is It" premiere hit downtown, I jetted out of the area on the Metro Red Line to Sunset to meet up with my friend Cela to see "This Is It" in a less chaotic setting. Her husband had opted out of not attending last minute so I was more than happy to take his spot (sorry Jeff). Despite my penchant for historic theatres (like the movie palaces in the Historic Core) and having been by the Vista a number of times to eat at nearby El Chavo with friends, I had never actually been inside the Vista Theatre - which turned out to be an almost perfect setting to watch "This is It".

The Vista Theatre, located on Sunset in the Los Feliz area, is a historic theatre with Egyptian-style design and bright colors. It almost felt like we were getting a dose of the "Remember the Time" video while we were watching the documentary unfold on the screen.

"This is It" follows the tour that would have been...and what a tour it would have been! The documentary highlights the creation of the tour and its rehearsals. The show would have featured not only Michael Jackson's most famous hits and dance moves, but elaborate stage production of lights and special effects and video recordings for extensive mini-movie-like transitions for songs like "Thriller" and "Smooth Criminal". While there might be some doubt as to the magic of documentary film editing how fit Michael Jackson was for the show, it appeared in all these ways that he was ready to go.

One of my favorite moments occurred in a particular number where he provided vocal stylings (his crew were all fans, especially evident in the dancers who idolized him) for a song that were amazing. He closed with jokingly saying, "I'm just giving you guys a feel for it..." as if there was so much more that was ready to be created by this man who met an untimely end.

The documentary enables the Michael Jackson fan to not only remember the music that they already love from the artist that they love, but to also get a rare surface-level glimpse of the man behind the artist. In this glimpse you see the human side of the pop-icon through his message of love and his interactions with his crew.

In many ways, "This Is It" is a gift and that gift is feeling as if you're right there with the rest of the crew seeing the show unfold. It's unfortunate that the tour wasn't able to take place, that we're not able to know what could have been to Michael Jackson's career and legacy in its light. But in light of the documentary of the tour's making, I hope audiences step away with what so many already know - that this man was an amazing artist - and what I think the documentary aims to show - that despite all of his enormity of talent and the body of work he left behind, he saw himself as a human being in this world, just like you and me.

-Charity Tran

No comments: