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This is barking mad, indeed … raped Mormons, marshmallows stuffed in parking meters, Korean dog cloning doctors, people dying to become Gods with their own planets, spread-eagled handcuffing, power insemination weekend, kinky ads, manipulated nude pictures, vicious killer dogs… and in the center of all this: a woman who feels that she was subjected to all this craziness, while being the queen and source of crazy herself.

I never heard of Joyce McKinnon before, it seems almost every British person over the age of 35 knows the story in great detail, as it mostly was the wet dream of British tabloid newspaper wars. Who gets the more juicy details and shots and interviews and inside scoop about the former beauty queen with the hilarious Southern US drawl? And listening to the newspaper staff today, you can see how this works, how detached they are from their objects, how they do not believe this is all serious, and it cannot be possibly serious for either the people they are writing about or for their readers. That is maybe the important bit about  Erroll Morris’ new documentary: media cynicism. The story itself is the way tabloid stories are: completely irrelevant from the outside, the world’s greatest drama for those claiming to play a part in it. And of course always two sides to the story: her version and his version, the big-boobed alleged rapist vs. the guilt-ridden Mormon missionary. Cheekily commented on by former Mormons and journalists, this feels almost like the interview section of a Daily Show episode.

Errol Morris himself is clearly is having a blast, he encourages details, and he lets her talk talk talk and  perform, being the camp self-proclaimed celebrity that she is, in something like a pre-Norma Desmond stage. “Dogs and kids love me, because they sense in me the innocence” may be one of her most hilarious sentences, but all through the interview you can hardly believe what form of self-delusional construct led her to believe it would be a good idea to have this film made about her.

Towards the end, the former journalist summarises her as being not evil, but just barking mad – and Morris is clearly happy that he was delivered with such a nice tag line for her that only the British could have come up with…

The film won’t save the world from the next war or future judicial injustices, as Morris’ earlier works did, but in the typical Morris-style of subjective documentaries, it is another example of how to tell a hilarious story in an entertaining way!

http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/tabloid_2010/

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