Joyce McKinney resurfaces in Errol Morris' 'Tabloid'

Published: Friday, July 15 2011 1:00 p.m. MDT

Writing for the Film Journal Review, critic Dorothy Toumarkine said "viewers will be forgiven for feeling a little dirty after watching 'Tabloid.'"

She concludes: "So many documentaries admirably serve up protagonists and missions that signal hope for our messy world. With 'Tabloid,' Morris will have none of that, preferring to give viewers something else they need — a world much crazier than their own."

Jennifer Merin of About.com wrote that "it's easy to see why Morris, who is known for his intimate and revealing profiles of famously controversial figures, would find McKinney an intriguing subject. Her take on life is odd in the extreme, but she's smart and also articulate, and she has no compunctions about speaking out — or ranting.

"However, in interviewing McKinney for 'Tabloid' and presenting her peculiar story, Morris seems to merely dismiss points McKinney underscores and, even worse, never acknowledges that he knows . . . that McKinney is a deeply disturbed — no, delusional — human being, a woman who's out of control. Yet, she's mercilessly encouraged to spin on, making statements that don't make sense.

"Documentary filmmakers aren't responsible for saving their subjects from themselves, but the best profiles show some compassion and an attitude of considerate restraint. That those qualities are lacking in 'Tabloid' renders the documentary an arrogant, obscene, inexcusable example of tabloid exploitation."

An alternative point of view was expressed by A.O. Scott in the New York Times: "Although Mr. Morris caters to our never-sated appetite for titillating tidbits — and lets us take a few nips at the ink-stained hands that feed us those shocking, nasty morsels — in 'Tabloid' he also offers a bit of escapism. We can turn away from the ugly spectacle of cellphone hacking and political bullying currently roiling Rupert Murdoch's empire and revisit the once-notorious case of the 'Manacled Mormon,' which long ago offered the British reading public a bit of good, clean, dirty fun."

EMAIL: jwalker@desnews.com

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