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Posts Tagged ‘Michael Jackson’

Michael Jackson’s “Black or White”

Monday, August 29th, 2016

tn_borwHappy Michael Jackson’s birthday, everybody! What did you get me? I got you this thorough illustrated analysis of the “Black or White” video from the album Dangerous!

The “Black or White” music video is the sort of weird, messy, well-meaning, overreaching, and fun piece of mainstream art that only the lightning rod known as Michael Jackson could’ve attracted. It was directed by John Landis (who had already done “Thriller,” of course) and shot by Mac Ahlberg (TRANCERS, GHOULIES, RE-ANIMATOR, FROM BEYOND, STRIKING DISTANCE). Like “Thriller” it was a short film (11 minutes in its longest version), and its first broadcast (November 14th, 1991 simultaneously on MTV, VH1, BET and Fox) was a heavily hyped event. It was a Thursday night, playing right after The Simpsons on Fox (specifically, the soapbox derby episode “Saturdays of Thunder”), and receiving that network’s highest ever ratings at that time.

It had celebrity cameos (including The Simpsons), groundbreaking special effects, meta elements, and (still puzzling to this day) controversy that caused (or was the excuse for) the best part to be removed for subsequent broadcasts. While Michael sang and danced and visually symbolized in earnest about the lack of racial barriers in eligibility to be his “baby” or his “brother,” it became common to joke about not being able to tell if he was black or white due to his vitiligo-lightened skin. Most of the world could accept that “it don’t matter if you’re black or white” in theory, but that was not gonna stop them from making judgments about Michael’s racial identity.

Like the feature length MOONWALKER, this mini-movie is a jumbled mix-tape of stylistically clashing segments. For convenience I will break it down into four main sections. (read the rest of this shit…)

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

Captain EO

Tuesday, January 12th, 2016

tn_captaineolucasminusstarwarsI mentioned in my LABYRINTH review that I thought Michael Jackson would’ve been a cool Goblin King. Sorry about that. I take it back. Mr. Bowie was uniquely suited for the character and I’m glad he got to hang out with all those puppets and implant himself in the creepy childhood memories of millions around the world.

And besides, Michael got his chance to get a little muppety, because the next Lucasfilm release was this 17 minute 3D film starring Jackson as “the infamous Captain EO,” leader of “a rag-tag band” of aliens and robots and crap sent on a dangerous space mission to deliver a gift to the Supreme Leader (Angelica Huston). EO gives his crew a speech about how everybody thinks they’re a bunch of fucking losers and if they don’t pull this mission off they’re gonna be “drummed out of the corps.” Which really makes you wonder how they got into the corps in the first place. What kind of boot camp can these weirdos make it through?

They seem to be kind of the Bad News Bears of space troopers. They’re bickering, cartoon-voiced goofballs who screw everything up and get yelled at by the Captain (except when they throw an egg at the hologram of Commander Bog [Dick Shawn, The Year Without a Santa Claus]), which makes him laugh).

The crew consists of a robot named Major Domo (voice of Gary DePew, producer of ANGEL 4: UNDERCOVER), another one named Minor Domo that attaches into the Major’s back, a furry two-headed monster named Idey (Debbie Lee Carrington, RETURN OF THE JEDI, HOWARD THE DUCK) and Odey (Cindy Sorenson, THE DARK BACKWARD), a green elephant-man named Hooter (Tony Cox, RETURN OF THE JEDI, SPACEBALLS, BAD SANTA) and a small furry guy with butterfly wings named Fuzzball (effects by Rick Baker, makeup man for the cantina scene in STAR WARS as well as Jackson’s Thriller video). All are small in stature, most are inept and cowardly. But EO leads them through a space battle, a crash-landing and a dark tunnel to the Supreme Leader, who turns out to be a grey and black Giger-esque biomechanical witch hanging from a web of cables and corrugated tubes. She is not happy to see them. (read the rest of this shit…)

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

Michael Jackson: The Immortal World Tour

Tuesday, November 15th, 2011

tn_immortalWell I’m not gonna start reviewing circus acts in my opinion but last Thursday I did go see the Michael Jackson themed one that’s touring around like a monster truck show so I thought maybe it would be worth writing down a few thoughts about it.

I’ve never seen a Circus of the Soleil before. Of course I’ve heard good things. But it seemed like if I was gonna ever see one in my life the one entirely based around Michael Jackson would be the one for me. ‘Cause I doubt they’ll ever do one on Clint Eastwood. The tickets were way more expensive than I’d usually spend for entertainment, but I figured it was cheaper than if I wait and have to go to Vegas to see it. So I took the plunge and sat in the third from last row in the Key Arena, in the section that’s not even usually open for Storm games except during play offs. (read the rest of this shit…)

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

This Is It

Wednesday, October 28th, 2009

tn_thisisitAs a Michael Jackson fan who stuck with him in the later years, I was always dreaming about the comeback he could have some day. I never really believed in my heart that I’d get a chance to see him live, but maybe on DVD. I was so excited for those 50 shows he was gonna do in London, and nervous about what would happen if he wasn’t feeling up to it. There are still a million lingering frustrations about all the possibilities that were cut off when Michael died four months ago. But one of the more dramatic ones was this series of shows he called This Is It. He was so close. And we’ll never get to see the exclamation point on the end of that sentence.

So as a fan it’s a comfort and a blessing to see this almost-concert movie made up of footage taken during his rehearsals in Los Angeles. I mean, I would’ve loved to have seen this even if he hadn’t died, but as the rough draft to his last ambition it takes on extra importance. (read the rest of this shit…)

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

Bad (a film by Martin Scorsese)

Saturday, August 29th, 2009

tn_badIt’s Michael Jackson’s birthday. Would’ve been his 51st, and if all had gone perfect he would’ve been 17 shows into his run at the 02 in London. Hard to picture. It really feels to me like this country is going through a time of massive change, like the tectonic plates are shifting beneath us. It figures that the same year we have our first black president we also have to lose Michael and the last Kennedy brother. All earlier than I expected, but maybe we’re ahead of schedule. The big live news events of the year: an inauguration and two memorial services. And both Kennedy and MJ instantly reborn as beloved legends.

Now you’re really gonna think I’m a weirdo (though I’ve never owned a chimp) but the truth is I would’ve known it was Michael’s birthday anyway. For some reason it’s a date I always remember, so I usually watch at least a little bit of MOONWALKER. But this year, during all the mourning and memorializing, I picked up the MICHAEL JACKSON VIDEO GREATEST HITS – HISTORY dvd. I had been obsessing over the dancing in his videos. MTV had a marathon, but they kept showing the shorter versions. I was jonesing to see that scene they cut out of “Black Or White” where he smashes the car while grabbing his crotch and yelling. It’s on this DVD (the cover calls it “the controversial ‘Panther’ version”).

But the highlight for me was the “never-before-seen 18-minute long version of ‘Bad’.” (read the rest of this shit…)

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

Michael Jackson

Friday, June 26th, 2009

tn_mjIt’s not like there’s anything new that needs to be pointed out about Michael Jackson, but I can’t think about anything else. Over the years I’ve spun off on many tangents about his talent, his fascinating persona and the tragic circumstances of his life, so it’s nothing really new except for the unhappy ending, the lid put on my dreams of what could happen next. But maybe putting it into words again will help me accept that this has really happened. (read the rest of this shit…)

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

Mister Lonely

Wednesday, May 6th, 2009

tn_misterlonelyHey guys, good news: I got another review of a weird little inaccessible arthouse movie from last year! This time it’s MISTER LONELY, the most recent movie about a Michael Jackson impersonator in Paris who meets a Marilyn Monroe impersonator who convinces him to come live in a commune where other impersonators live inside a Scottish castle, raise sheep and build a stage where they hope to put on a show. And you can imagine where it would go from there.

In my opinion MISTER LONELY writer/director Harmony Korine is a weird dude. He wrote KIDS for Larry Clark when he was 19, became a director with GUMMO and later did JULIEN DONKEY BOY. His movies are freak shows of improvisation, arty photography and the complete rejection of any mainstream idea of what a movie is supposed to be. As much as I have tried to push the idea of him directing a mainstream movie like a MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE it doesn’t seem to be something he’s interested in. Instead he hangs out with Werner Herzog, gets involved in that whole Dogme 95 deal, and makes weird books with titles like A Crack Up At the Race Riots. He’s also known for his bizarre interviews like on Letterman when he was younger or with a fan websight who he instructed to meet him in the projects, then spoke to them by phone for a while, then showed up and made them listen to Beyonce on a laptop while he sat in a lawnchair petting his dog. (read the rest of this shit…)

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.