Michael Jackson's Journey from Motown to Off the Wall ★★★★

Spike Lee was not meant to direct documentaries. Still, this one is compelling because the subject matter is so ridiculously captivating. Michael Jackson is just huge, so anything such as this is welcome to me. I'm not even sure that I've seen a documentary that really examines him before. Everything else has been at the moment of the MJ experience or about that moment, not a reflection. The real problems with it, though, at that it relies way too much on talking heads and that Lee cuts them together in rapid fire sequence and sometimes connects things with little or no transition; there isn't any real filmmaking on display here. If MJ wasn't a human sun, shining and exploding in every frame, this film would be stale and lifeless. And when he gets to the song-by-song breakdown in the second half of the film, he completely blows by entire songs with hardly anything said about them and without even playing enough of the track to convey the main escense of them for the viewer to hear or remember. I get that Paul McCartney didn't present himself for an interview, but why isn't somebody on film in his place to discuss the track on the album that he wrote? And it's not like that's the only song. In other instances, Lee completely relies on concert footage of MJ playing the song to "tell the tale" of it rather than presenting any expert analysis of the music. Good because it's MJ, but it could have been so, so much more.