Michael Jackson

The Wiz World Trade Center

35 years ago this week, two very different movies had their theatrical premieres. One is Halloween, a movie you all know and love and which surprisingly has very few clips available to view online. The other is The Wiz, a movie you may have never seen, heard is terrible and which fortunately has a number of scenes uploaded in order that I might illustrate and defend its worth. I might be the only one who likes The Wiz more than Halloween and very likely the only one who finds one particular scene in the all-black version of The Wizard of Oz scarier than anything in John Carpenter’s slasher classic. But I can’t be the only person with an appreciation for The Wiz. One thing about the movie that’s rarely celebrated is the fact it’s directed by Sidney Lumet. NYC’s Film Forum didn’t even include the musical in its otherwise exhaustive retrospective of his work a few years back. It is weird a white filmmaker was at the helm for this, though his relevance as a very New York-centric director makes some sense (who else should have done it? Scorsese? Woody Allen? Hmm, maybe Gordon Parks?). The Wiz is indeed a New York movie, featuring the most fantastical representations of the city’s landmarks since the 1933 King Kong. That’s a big part of why I love it so much. Join me below as I highlight some of the best of these location-transforming scenes.

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Moonwalker

Here at Junkfood Cinema, we don’t often get “heavy,” as the kids say. By the way, the kids who say that are now very old people. It’s not that we shy away from the more serious aspects of life, it’s just that jokes tend to be our bread and butter; cookie bread and handfuls of butter-creme frosting respectively. However, there are moments when filmic oddities, those written off by most, offer startling new context upon revisit that, though categorically unfunny, deserve contemplation. These moments canonize what it is we love about the discarded, the forgotten, and the schlocktastic. In the cast of this week’s entry, we elevate our trivial hobby to an issue of life and death. And moonwalking. In 1988, there arrived on this planet a strange spectacle. It was called Moonwalker, and it was a…film?…starring the most famous person on the planet. The late pop icon Michael Jackson headlined just his second feature-length movie–again using the word lightly– since 1978′s The Wiz. Moonwalker begins with concert footage of Jacko performing “Man in the Mirror.” It’s ironic that a song about redefining one’s identity opens a film with no discernible clue as to what it wants to be. What follows is a montage of clips from his music videos as well as fan-made visual interpretative flourishes. Some of these are impressive, if creepy (the claymation accompaniment to “ABC” reminding us that before The Jackson Five, Michael and his brothers were somehow The California Raisins), while others are awful, if […]

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Boiling Point

This isn’t going to be some touchy-feely deal on how to come to grips with death, because, as you may recall, I think most people overreact to celebrity deaths and for the most part you should just man the hell up and deal with it. Not that you actually have anything to deal with, since you were about as close to any celebrity as you are to the mailman. Less so, even. But if you want touched and felt up, come see me in San Diego later this week. I’ll do you right. But that would be a rehash of my feelings if I just harped on you about growing a decent sack of testicles and not getting all sad faced that someone you never met and someone you never knew (they’re actors, after all, portraying fake characters) has passed on. I mentioned it briefly in this boiling point about things I hate and fellow Reject Kevin Carr dubbed the overflow of emotion the “Heathgasm.” So just what the hell is this about?

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Aural Fixation - Large

Whether or not you are not a fan of gospel music or are even well-versed (har) in the genre, almost everyone has experienced the transcendent nature of music, no matter what style you may have been listening to at the time. For some, that experience comes from listening to a choir of people praise God, for others it can happen in the middle of a Muse concert when Matt Bellamy hits that opening refrain on “Butterflies and Hurricanes” (or maybe that was just me.) While gospel music certainly has its own distinct sound, the feeling it works to evoke in its listeners can be felt through almost any type of music, making gospel an almost fluid genre that many different styles can run through. Even if you prefer rock or rap, it’s more than likely you’ve heard a gospel tune or two over the years, or at least heard the presence of a gospel choir. Popular music has long been a fan of bringing in gospel choirs to accompany performances to help elevate the experience for audiences. And it is hard to deny the impact and effect hearing a group of people singing in harmony can have on one’s ears. One of the more popular songs featured in writer/director Todd Graff‘s Joyful Noise is Michael Jackson’s “Man In The Mirror,” which is fitting seeing as the lyrics have a message of selflessness and bettering yourself as a person. While the beat and instrumentation (and Jackson’s performance of it) made this song […]

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We lost the King of Pop in the summer of 2009, and now Showblitz is reporting that Michael Jackson‘s estate is hitting up the studios to sell them on a biopic, specifically Montecito Picture Company (the production group owned by Ivan Reitman and Tom Pollock). The timing clearly indicates that the estate was held up by Dr. Conrad Murray’s trial. It was somber and celebratory to get This Is It so soon after the singer’s death because it showed a different side of the entertainer during the last major creative endeavor of his life. A biopic, on the other hand, is tough to grasp. Financially, it makes all the sense in the world to capitalize on Jackson’s fame (or to share another story about him with his fans, if you’re not cynical). However, it’ll be a serious challenge to bring Jackson back to life on the big screen, even though the film won’t focus on all the parts of his life. The biggest question is what actor can possibly suit up to play the part. Jason Weaver did a great job playing the singer in his youth for The Jacksons: An American Dream, but he’s not exactly in the public eye anymore. Can Justin Timberlake in blackface, and not in blackface, really do the trick?

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Now that I’m back from Sundance (I know that I keep saying that, but it’s true — and I barely feel back to normal yet), I’ve got a major backlog of giveaways to unleash upon you.

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Fat Guys at the Movies

Kevin and Neil meet up in the Magical Studio in the Sky to have a Fat Guy Smackdown to beat all Fat Guy Smackdowns. While they don’t come to odds so much with A Serious Man, they certainly disagree about Michael Jackson’s This Is It.

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ThisIsIt

This Is It is a stunning look at something that’s both epic and personal. Beautiful. Thrilling. Revealing. This film is a great documentary that delivers a larger-than-life figure in his natural environment as both a mega-celebrity and just a man standing alone on a stage.

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thisisit-clipheader

Apple has released a brand new clip from the upcoming documentary about Michael Jackson, This Is It, in which the late Jackson rehearsed his song “Human Nature” for the tour that never was.

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Michael Jackson

Heartfelt documentary released to show fans the power of a fallen artist or blatant profiteering? You be the judge!

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johnhughesdocumentary

Within 24 hours, a little-known project became a hot commodity. It’s not pretty, but it’s the magic of Hollywood.

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culturewarrior-michaeljackson

While it may seem a little nonsensical at first for a movie site of all places to participate in giving the late King of Pop his due regard, it seems to me that on closer examination, the music and celebrity persona of Michael Jackson has played a significant but largely unexamined role in influencing cinematic expression.

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bruno-header2

The sudden death of pop star Michael Jackson on Thursday has caused some discussion in the halls of Universal Pictures, which resulted in the studio cutting a Jackson-centric bit from the upcoming comedy Brüno mere hours before its Los Angeles premiere.

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published: 04.19.2014
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published: 04.19.2014
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published: 04.18.2014
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published: 04.18.2014
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