Wednesday, July 27, 2011

TABLOID (2011)

Directed By Errol Morris

Where & When: Laemmle's Sunset 5, West Hollywood, CA. July 16, 2011  3:10PM

Errol Morris, the critically acclaimed documentary film maker who is best known for making films about rich and compelling subjects such as a man wrongly convicted of murder ("The Thin Blue Line"), a prison executioner ("Mr. Death: The Rise and Fall of Fred A. Leuchter, Jr.") physicist, Stephen Hawking ("A Brief History In Time"), the torture and abuse of the prisoners of Abu Ghrab ("Standard Operating Procedure") and the career of former US Secretary of State, Robert S. McNamara (the Oscar-winning, "The Fog Of War") so it seems a little surprising that Mr. Morris would direct his camera towards such a sensationalistic story of Joyce McKinney, a former Miss Wyoming World who goes to very extreme measures in the name of love. Ms McKinney, a charming but eccentric beauty, is interviewed and proceeds to tell her version of events as follows:

In 1977, she met Kirk Anderson, a Mormon missionary and they fell madly in love despite his mother's very vocal disapproval. The two were planning to be married but one day, Anderson disappeared without a trace. McKinney hires a private investigator to find the love of her life and discovers that he is in England with the Church of Later-Day Saints.

Fearing that her man had been brain-washed, she brings along friend, Keith May with the intent of saving Anderson from the sinister clutches of the church. They abduct Anderson, take him to a cottage in Devon where Ms McKinney chains her lover to the bed and makes passionate love to him in order to help him come to his senses.

Soon, Anderson realises his mistake and wants to go back to the church to explain it to them, so he is released with the intention of him returning to Ms McKinney, however, she is later arrested and charged with kidnapping and rape. After she is released on bail, McKinney becomes a British media sensation, giving several interviews, made plans to write a book to give her side of the story and appearing at several glamorous social events. A newspaper, The Daily Mirror digs in to Ms McKinney's past and discovered that she was not as innocent or squeaky clean as she claimed to be.

Disgusted by the lies that the paper apparently had spread, McKinney and her alleged co-conspirator, May jumped bail, got fake passports and returned to the US but are later arrested in 1979 by the FBI for making false statements to obtain  passports which their sentences are later suspended.

You would think that would be the end of McKinney's story but she turns up in the news years later in 2008 (although she would attempt to deny that she was the same woman involved in the sex scandal) with her involvement of cloning her dead pet which renewed interest in her past.

I can understand why the director might be interested in this salacious tale as there is plenty of intrigue and scandal but to devote an entire documentary to the delightfully, loopy Ms McKinney as the main subject feels like the equivalent of watching a beautifully shot car crash in slow motion and I think that it's kinda beneath Mr. Morris. I do admit I found "Tabloid" absolutely entertaining and Mr. Morris cleverly adds creative visuals to photos and television footage to enhance the film but there still is nothing particularly necessary in bringing this true story to the screen as it doesn't offer much more that can be found regularly on any tabloid news program.

Ms McKinney seems convincing (and convinced) of everything she claims in "Tabloid" to be true but anyone with even a little knowledge of reality programing knows that it may be wise to question how accurate many of these statements that she has made in the film.

It's too bad that this incident didn't happen to Ms McKinney today, because like Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian, she could have turned her sex scandal in to a very lucrative business. I'm very sure Joyce McKinney would have made a dance record or been a contestant on "Dancing With The Stars" or at the very least, been on Dr. Drew's rehab program.