Film Scouts Reviews


by Richard Schwartz

The midnight showing of Michael Jackson's "Ghosts" resembled more a rock concert than a festival screening. Cries alternated between "We Love You, Michael!" from sobbing teenage girls as they waved handmade banners echoing said declaration, and "Will you stop pushing!" from sobbing Cannes socialites in evening gowns as they were being smashed up against metal barriers in a near-Altamont-like state. This seemingly Richard Lester-inspired chaos that greeted the King of Pop outside the Palais continued inside the screening as well, with sporadic outbursts of shrieking and a constant rhythm of flash bulbs.

And all this excitement merely for a music video? In fact, that's just what "Ghosts" was -- a long-form music video featuring two Jackson songs, sort of a "Thriller" for the new generation. But few in the near-capacity crowd were disappointed as "Ghosts" delivered what most had expected -- 30 minutes of sharp choreography, slick special effects and, of course, Jackson music.

The story, penned by author Stephen King with Jackson, exists solely as a foundation for the dazzle, which is sufficient in this case. An embittered small town mayor -- actually Jackson wonderfully made up to look like an obese white man thanks to director Stan Winston's costume studio -- leads a group of frightened citizens to a notoriously haunted house in hopes of exorcising its demons and ghosts. They come face-to-face with the "maestro" ghost, again played by Jackson, who confronts the mayor in a lengthy song-and-dance routine with his ghoulish colleagues.

Apparently not too complex, but the film's dialogue does allow Jackson to display some unusual self-depreciating humor in confronting his own personal demons. The mayor gives the Jackson ghost a verbal undressing, telling him "You're weird... you're strange... you're scaring these kids."

Enough about the hidden ghosts, Michael, now how 'bout those closeted skeletons?

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