I’ve just returned from a 6:15 pm show of This Is It, and I need to split in 20 minutes for a Werner Herzog interview at the Soho Grand. But I can at least say how startled I was by how enjoyable the Jackson doc was. I just love listening to those familiar catchy tunes all amped up with great bass tones, and watching Jackson and the team perform some pretty sharp dance moves — it’s almost pure pleasure. Almost, I say.

Because if you do any thinking at all about the back-story — why the “This Is It” tour was launched, why Jackson didn’t tour for years, why he looks like Skeletor — it all starts to feel a little strained. A diversion. A piece of a story without the full story. A sell job that doesn’t fully work. But if you can turn your brain off, it really isn’t that bad. You could do a lot worse for your $12.50. (Yes, that’s what I paid at the Chelsea Clearview.) And I came away with renewed respect for Jackson’s perfectionism and obvious determination to deliver like never before. He looks like hell here and there, but then he looked awful for years. The last time he looked semi-human was in the early ’90s.

I love this paragraph from David Edelstein‘s New York review: “Perhaps if he had pulled this concert series off, he might have been able to leave that young Michael behind and move in a new direction…reinvent himself…maybe alongside John Lennon if Mark David Chapman had misfired…and Buddy Holly on back-up guitar if his plane hadn’t crashed, and…oh, what’s the use? He was a mess and destined to self-destruct.

“When he held forth onscreen in a prologue to that song about the danger to the Earth (‘I love the planet … I love trees … What have we done to the world?’), all I could think was, ‘What have you done to your own natural state?’ In the name of evolution, this beautiful African-American boy turned himself into a whey-faced ghoul with a nose whittled down to cartilage. Maybe in the end he displaced his horror at his own self-mutilation onto Mother Nature.”