Spike Lee brings Motown back to life with his latest documentary
Spectators were full of excitement at the Concordia Hall Theatre on Saturday, as students, families and reporters were graced with the presence of the well-known and occasionally controversial writer and director, Spike Lee.
Presenting his latest documentary Michael Jackson’s Journey from Motown to Off the Wall, Spike Lee was the guest speaker of honour for the second to last day of the 12th annual Montreal International Black Film Festival. Concordia had the honour of hosting both the screening and Spike Lee’s live Q&A with the audience after the show.
Upon his entrance in the theatre, Lee, dressed in his classic baseball hat and hoodie, acknowledged and thanked the audience for their applause. He then, to the spectators’ surprise, walked towards them and took a seat in his “reserved” row with his entourage, and watched his entire documentary film, laughing aloud alongside the audience.
The film itself is a fun, entertaining experience for all Michael Jackson fans. Opening directly with found footage, the audience is able to watch part of the King of Pop’s legacy and contribution to both music and the world. The film begins during Jackson’s childhood with the Jackson 5, and continues throughout the devastation of leaving Motown, to his days on Broadway, and recording Off the Wall. The film is one big party, making it difficult not to dance in your seat as songs like “Shake Your Body” or “Blame it on the Boogie” play.
This is a feel-good movie with many comedic moments. It engages the audience, and has the potential to inspire both long-time fans, and new admirers. Seeing Michael Jackson’s perfectionism and incredible work ethic is what makes this film worth watching.
The film has a large variety of interviews and commentary from people who knew him or who have been influenced by him, such as Stevie Wonder, Valerie Simpson, and The Weeknd. The film is nothing more than an entertaining summary documenting the albums from Motown to Off the Wall, as the title suggests. It rarely delves away from the performances and on-stage content. This performance documentary is not for viewers who wish to learn something new about Michael Jackson, or even the Jackson 5. It’s simply a blast from the past, focusing on the musicianship rather than the personal details of Jackson’s life.
If you’re looking for an informative biographical documentary on the legendary King of Pop, this film is not for you. On the other hand, if you are interested in seeing the transition of Jackson’s performance and music through interview commentaries and found footage, you will definitely enjoy this film.