This Week in New York Insider's Guide to Arts & Culture in New York City Since 2001

15Jul/11

TABLOID

TABLOID looks into the salacious story of one of the craziest characters ever put on film

TABLOID (Errol Morris, 2011)
IFC Center
323 Sixth Ave. at West Third St.
Opens Friday, July 15
212-924-7771
www.ifccenter.com
www.errolmorris.com

Award-winning documentarian Errol Morris’s ninth feature-length film is a lighthearted look at self-delusion, tabloid journalism, and just how far someone might go for love. In 1977, a story broke in England about Joyce McKinney, a young woman accused of kidnapping a Mormon missionary, chaining him to a bed, and forcing him to have sex with her for three days. But the former beauty queen claimed that it was completely consensual, that she and Kirk Anderson were in love but that he was being brainwashed by his religious leaders. Morris speaks at length with the vivacious and engaging McKinney, who clearly loves talking about herself and her sex life. Morris also interviews two of the British journalists who originally covered the sordid story, the Mirror’s Kent Gavin and the Daily Express’s Peter Tory; while one bought McKinney’s tale hook, line, and sinker, the other discovered that there was a lot more to this crazy character. Much of the charm of Tabloid, which Morris calls a return to the “sick, sad, and funny” genre he explored in such earlier works as 1978’s Gates of Heaven and 1981’s Vernon, Florida, involves the many twists and turns the tale takes; just wait until cloning enters the picture. Along the way, Morris eschews the re-creations he often uses in his films in favor of unrelated clips that heighten the tone and mood but often feel like unnecessary overkill. In the end, it doesn’t really matter who’s telling the truth; as with so much tabloid journalism, it’s all in the salacious details. While the misnamed Tabloid — the film is really about McKinney herself much more than British journalism in general — doesn’t hit the serious notes of such Morris gems as The Thin Blue Line, The Fog of War, and Standard Operating Procedure, it’s still a hell of a lot of fun.

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