Directed by Errol Morris
Starring Kent Gavin
IFC/MPI Home Video
Release Date: November 1, 2011
With the current state of popular culture looking more and more like the pages of the tabloid rags any person is able to find at the local grocery store, it’s important to see where that storied tradition of possibly slanderous, yet shockingly gripping faux-journalism has come from. You know, it’s always important to know history.
And who better to take something like this on than Errol Morris?
Decades prior to when names like Brett Ratner or Charlie Sheen ever graced a single magazine, a woman by the name of Joyce McKinney came onto the scene, and took the world by storm with her larger than life persona, and even weirder (albeit alleged) actions. A story full of sexually assaulted Mormons, kidnapping, and the occasional whip and chain, McKinney’s story is almost too crazy to be true. But you know what? Not only is it true, but McKinney is more than willing to tell the world all about it.
Tabloid is the latest film from Morris, and looks to not only discuss one of the biggest tabloid stories of that tradition’s golden age, but hopes to dig to the bottom of what truly occurred over that period of time. McKinney, a former beauty queen, fell in love with a Mormon man, and subsequently was accused of kidnapping him, holding him hostage, tying him up, and raping him repeatedly. However, that may not have truly been the case. Never convicted, Tabloid is McKinney’s chance to tell her side of the story, in what is not only one of the best documentaries of 2011, but also one of the most entertaining and enjoyable pieces of cinema that this year has to offer.
The star of this film is easily the woman at its front. McKinney is a woman both off her rocker, and yet intensely watchable and charismatic. You are never quite sure what really happened, but McKinney is so entertaining to watch talk, and yet, also shockingly disturbed and off kilter. Her story is so outlandish and unbelievable, that her entire conversation is beyond engaging and absolutely enthralling.
However, if it were any other filmmaker than Morris, things may not have been as engaging. Morris, a director with so much style, is on the top of his game here, opting for a far more kinetic and less polarizing style than seen in something like Standard Operating Procedure. He seems to be absolutely enthralled by this woman, and simply puts the camera on his subject, and allows her to spew her side of the story. He also chats with various tabloid journalists involved with the case, and pairs both this cartoon-neo-noir and tabloid scandal perfectly. There is a really great tabloid battle below the surface here, itself the subject of what would be a hellaciously uproarious documentary. The combination of the two makes for a documentary that is both insightful, and also simply a blast to watch.
As far as supplements go, this one is about as bare bones as a release can really get. No commentary, no deleted scenes, nothing of the sort can be seen here, making the film itself the only reason to subsequently rewatch the film. Now, while the film may not really need a commentary or any supplemental material, this writer would kill to see what was left on the cutting room floor, simply because everyone involved is such a character, it would make for an entertaining watch.
Overall, Tabloid is an absolute winner. An entertaining blend of comedy, brains, and so much charm, the film is both one of the most entertaining documentaries of the year, and also one of the most singular. Nothing out there is quite like Tabloid, and there may not be anything quite like it after. A real winner.