Sunday, October 17, 2010

London Film Fest 2010 Day 5 - TABLOID

After the sombre political critiques of STANDARD OPERATING PROCEDURE and THE FOG OF WAR, Errol Morris lightens up with his hilarious documentary about "Joyce McKinney and The Manacled Mormon". This was apparently a fantastically famous tabloid story in the late 1970s, and Errol Morris brings it back to life with interviews with McKinney and the key tabloid journo who blew it up.

As she tells it, Joyce McKinney was a pretty young blonde girl and former beauty queen who fell in love with a young clean-cut Mormon kid called Kirk Anderson. His parents weren't too keen on him marrying some floozy from outside of the faith, but Joyce was smitten. So, when Kirk was sent to the UK on a preaching mission, Joyce did what seemed rational in her narcissistic head - hire a pilot and a former body-builder slash body-guard - fly to England and kidnap her beloved! Now, all of these seems completely half-baked, but bear in mind that McKinney has an IQ of 168! That puts you in the top 0.001% of people in the world! Anyways, back to the story. McKinney takes Kirk to a cute little countryside B&B and basically tries to fuck him out of his religious hang-ups. As she tells it it's a romantic little quasi-honeymoon. As the press tell it, it's a female rape of an innocent man. But the truth is probably as follows: Kirk did like Joyce and did have sex with her - willingly - but when he left her to go to London felt so guilty about it, given his religious beliefs, that is was easier to consciously or sub-consciously go along with the narrative that he was forced into it. Joyce comes across as well-meaning, but deeply unboundaried, and basically in love with the Idea of being in an Against All Odds Romeo and Juliet style love affair. The story then moves to the aftermath of the tryst in the cottage. Joyce is hunted down by the police, banged up, put on trial and convicted, but skips town in a ludicrously Scooby Doo disguise with 13 suitcases of press clippings. And then, proving F Scott Fitzgerald wrong, her life has a second act almost as absurd as the first, and certainly one you'll enjoy finding out about as you watch the film.

TABLOID fizzes off the screen - it's fun, loud, colourful, and great entertainment. Morris uses animation, sound effects, and press clips to great effect.  He is laughing with and at McKinney's delusions. I'm not sure I got any deep insight into how the press puffs up a story, or about the Mormon church, but Joyce McKinney - clever, delusional, ruthlessly good at PR - is fascinating enough, and prefigures the celebrity culture we live with today. And Errol Morris' technique, which is not to appear on screen asking questions, or to use voice-over, but simply to let the camera roll and the "victim" expose themselves, has never found a more willing or entertaining subject. Ultimately, though, this documentary is as bubble-gum-tastic as Joyce herself - fun while you watch it, but disposable.

TABLOID played Toronto and Telluride 2010. It will be released in the USA on July 15th.

1 comment:

  1. Remove your libelous and defamatory comments on Joyce McKinney or her internet lawyers will trace you and file a slander and libel action against you. First of all, she was never "Convicted"--or even charged with raping a 300 pound 6'5" Mormon! That was a well orchestrated press hoax the Mormon PR teams spread using their media connections. Secondly, her TRUE story is a CULT RESCUE, you idiot. Thirdly, we have known Joyce personally for over fifty years. She is a decent moral woman from a Christian family, not a "Floozy" as you slander her in saying. In fact, she was a VIRGIN when she met the Mormon, and about as sexually inexperienced as anyone could be. You got your opinion of her because of the libelous film by MORRIS who hired a dishonest "researcher" to ransack her luggage to steal photos of her. She is suing them for million of dollars and the police are looking into criminal charges on the man who ransacked her luggage and stole photos. Trying to force her to sign a paper absolving him of the theft of her materials, which she had turned down several million dollars for from Penthouse because she wanted to write a book, this "researcher" also trespassed at her home and physically assaulted her and was responsible for the death of her beloved service dog. You are unbelieveably IGNORANT of her TRUE story and what it is all about, because you JUDGE her on the libelous film Morris made. You should be ashamed of yourselves for writing garbage like this about a sweet lady who has done nothing to you, and especially who fought the world's most powerful cult to rescue the man she loved. Also, you have committed CRIMINAL LIBEL here, so she will also sue you in ENGLAND where libel laws are even stricter than in the US. So, remove this filth or get sued, and also we will subpoena you for our lawsuit against Morris to show how he held her up to public ridicule (by people like you, who spread the LIE further) with his trashy film slandering her and hiding the TRUE JOYCE McKINNEY STORY.