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Early Errol Morris documentary intersplices random chatter he captured on film of the genuinely eccentric residents of Vernon, Florida. A few examples? The preacher giving a sermon on the ... See full summary »
Tabloid stories centered on the activities of Joyce McKinney, a former beauty queen with a self-reported IQ of 168, over her life are presented. Beyond her beauty pageant days, McKinney first hit the tabloid pages in Britain in what was largely coined "The Case of the Manacled Mormon". As reported by McKinney in interviews, she, a southern Christian originally from North Carolina, got involved with a group of Mormons in her pursuit of true love, without knowing they were Mormons or anything about Mormonism. She fell in love with one of those Mormons, Kirk Anderson, the two who were to be married. After he disappeared without saying anything to her, she, with the help of a private investigator and some male friends and new acquaintances, tracked him down in England where he was being brainwashed by Mormon elders, that brainwashing which included the notion of sex with and marriage to her, a non-Mormon, as taboo. He left with her voluntarily, she who took him away to a secluded cottage ... Written by
Greetings again from the darkness. Truth is often stranger than fiction. But what happens when the truth is elusive? Well "Tabloid" proves it doesn't matter ... strange is still strange! Superb documentarian Errol Morris serves up his most 'whacked out' profile yet.
Mr. Morris has described his work in documentary films as falling into one of two categories: 'Completely Whacked Out' and 'Politically Concerned'. The latter category includes his brilliant films "The Fog of War" and "The Thin Blue Line". The 'whacked' category includes "Fast, Cheap & Out of Control" and "Mr. Death: The Rise and Fall of Fred A Leuchter". I highly recommend any and all of these.
This latest subject, Joyce McKinney, may not be immediately familiar to you. In 1977, she became infamous as the key player in the British tabloid storyline named "Case of the Manacled Mormon". She was accused of following a Mormon missionary to the U.K., kidnapping him, handcuffing him to a bed, and using him as her sex slave. To really understand the story, one must realize the lack of knowledge that the British press had towards the Mormon church at the time. They truly viewed it as a cult.
Ms. McKinney has never stopped her accusations that the Mormon leaders created a cult environment, and brain washed men and women alike. Her stance is a huge part of why her story, or stories, are impossible to take seriously. Her story is that she and Kirk Anderson fell in love and the church forced them apart by shipping Anderson off on a missionary trip to England. Mr. Anderson has refused all interview requests since his release, but he claimed he requested the trip to escape the obsessive clutches of Joyce.
The amazing thing that I noticed while watching this film is that I didn't care about the truth. Even the filmmaker, Mr. Morris, doesn't seem to care about the truth. The fascination is with the personality of the enigmatic Joyce McKinney. Her direct interviews are mesmerizing. When she states "a person can tell a lie so many times that they believe it's true", we have to laugh outloud. Her stories are so convoluted, yet told with such conviction.
I certainly don't wish to spoil the entertainment value afforded by her first person story telling, so I will concentrate on the presentation by Mr. Morris. He seems to really enjoy the tabloid approach and uses graphics and imagery to add detail and structure. His use of the score is highly effective and quite unusual for a documentary. He provides the stage for this former Miss Wyoming to perform. And perform she does!
For comparison purposes, I have nothing. My first thought was a train wreck. Then a circus side show. Neither of those do justice to this unique story of a most unusual woman presented by a visionary filmmaker. All I can say is, you must see it to believe it ... or not.
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