It is currently Wed Apr 16, 2014 3:13 am

All times are UTC - 5 hours [ DST ]




Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 11 posts ] 
Author Message
PostPosted: Sat Jul 23, 2011 8:08 pm 
User avatar

Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 9:49 pm
Location: Denver, CO
As you can imagine, this has none of the power or historical import of The Thin Blue Line or The Fog of War. It is, however uproariously entertaining. Like Morris' early films, its subject is the extremely odd specimens that can be produced by humanity, and like the aforementioned The Thin Blue Line and The Fog of War it is also about the slippery nature of the truth. The tale is mostly told by Joyce McKinney, who brings new meaning to the term "eccentric." She quickly makes friends with Morris' Interrotron, but would probably be just as loquacious if presented with a brick wall. Her highly animated retelling of her adventures with a Mormon missionary is punctuated by practiced colorful humor, barbs at the Mormon church, references to Franco Zeffirelli films, and goofily contorted faces. She sobs at her own mawkish tale of true love and romance and chuckles at her own jokes, often in the same sentence. Because the target of her affections refused to be interviewed, the story could come off as one-sided. It doesn't though, because McKinney's own assertions are frequently so outlandish that she makes the counterpoint for us by implication. Regardless, of how much of her story is true, I'm half-convinced that she has come to believe most of it herself.

There are other voices in the film, including those of an unwitting accomplice, some tabloid journalists, and a Korean geneticist. They may not shed much light on what really happened, but they do serve to ratchet up the increasing absurdity of the story. Morris gets a lot of mileage out his fondness for large text on the screen, and cleverly weaves in old photos, newspaper headlines, home movies, and news footage in a way that's never distracting. For a talking heads documentary, it's a very visually engaging film -- only Morris would shoot it 2.35.

Ultimately, Tabloid is a tawdry trifle, a lurid tale of lascivious pursuits, that has no more cultural import than an episode of Jerry Springer. It is also, however, a remarkably well-made and extremely engaging piece of documentary filmmaking. It may not linger in the mind like Morris's best films, but it's as genuinely entertaining as any fiction film this year.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Sun Jul 24, 2011 8:35 am 
User avatar

Joined: Thu Nov 04, 2004 5:56 pm
I saw this yesterday, and really think the deeper elements of TABLOID are getting vastly overlooked on account of it being incredibly entertaining.

[Reveal] Spoiler:
The last section of the film raises some very thorny questions about the nature of identity in a blunt way that would be seen as deeply disturbing if the situation in which they were raised is different - say, if she had been a murderer who had invented some life-saving tool. The sentence "I'm not THAT Joyce McKinney" cuts to the heart of it, for me. Is Joyce McKinney, pioneer of dog cloning, the same woman from that 32-year old sex scandal? Did that woman even exist? Does the woman that Joyce thinks she is actually exist anywhere besides in her head? And to quote I HEART HUCKABEES, "How am I not myself?"


Add that to the general complexities of truth and what we can know, and this is for me top-drawer knowledge. If fundamental questions about truth and identity aren't as significant as Vietnam ... well, I guess I have a different barometer for significance.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Sun Jul 24, 2011 11:50 am 
User avatar

Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 9:49 pm
Location: Denver, CO
DDillaman wrote:
I saw this yesterday, and really think the deeper elements of TABLOID are getting vastly overlooked on account of it being incredibly entertaining.
[Reveal] Spoiler:
The last section of the film raises some very thorny questions about the nature of identity in a blunt way that would be seen as deeply disturbing if the situation in which they were raised is different - say, if she had been a murderer who had invented some life-saving tool. The sentence "I'm not THAT Joyce McKinney" cuts to the heart of it, for me. Is Joyce McKinney, pioneer of dog cloning, the same woman from that 32-year old sex scandal? Did that woman even exist? Does the woman that Joyce thinks she is actually exist anywhere besides in her head? And to quote I HEART HUCKABEES, "How am I not myself?"

Add that to the general complexities of truth and what we can know, and this is for me top-drawer knowledge. If fundamental questions about truth and identity aren't as significant as Vietnam ... well, I guess I have a different barometer for significance.

For me, it is indeed about "the general complexities of truth." In particular, the ways in which we shape and create the narratives of our lives and create "the truth" in order to suit our needs. In McKinney's case, I believe it's a narrative she's been developing and refining over the past 30 years, and has come to genuinely believe. You could say that her invented narrative, with whatever degree of artificiality it has, has defined her own current perceived identity, but I don't really see an examination of "fundamental questions about identity" beyond that.

I don't think her "I'm not THAT Joyce McKinney" statement was anything other than a naive attempt to avoid what was, at that time, unwanted publicity. Her "I'm going to sue you for saying that I am who I am" attitude is, for me, only the product of her self-centered world view, and her continued (and certainly not unfounded) notions of being victimized by the media. I didn't think of it as an implication that "the old Joyce doesn't exist anymore" or anything like that. I think that the Joyce of 30 years ago exists in her mind just as much as it does in the public consciousness. She embraces the old Joyce, and clearly relishes retelling her version of that story for Morris and seems genuinely proud of most everything she did. She says that she still loves Kirk and was never able to move on with her life because of that. Her public repression of those aspects of her personality is a survival function, not an extinction of that person. She just can't be that person publicly anymore, lest she risk further arrests for stalking and more judgment by the public and the media that she perceives as unfair.

I find the examination of the nature of truth and the idea that we fashion narratives of our lives to be a very interesting concept worth exploring, but as much as I enjoyed the film, I think Morris has only begun to probe those ideas with this film. I didn't mean to imply with my earlier comment that "significance" was a particularly important tool for measuring the value of a film, but it is something which can strengthen a films initial impact on a viewer and affect its ability to remain powerful over a period of time -- especially with documentary filmmaking. The tale recounted in this story (and Joyce's perception of it in particular) is ultimately so over-the-top silly that I think it undermines a lot of that power.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Wed Jul 27, 2011 8:11 am 
User avatar

Joined: Thu Nov 04, 2004 5:56 pm
I certainly can't argue that the subject matter is keeping people away from exploring those ideas - lots of people I know are dismissing it as light entertainment and nothing more, but I think that Morris is very, very interested in the larger implications of the "I'm not THAT Joyce McKinney statement" - he puts up the text markers on screen for her elaboration on that, has other people discuss it, and basically dedicates a lot of time to what on paper is not an important part of the story. And it's only one instance of him exploring this theme in TABLOID - see, for instance, Joyce's "Kirk 1" and "Kirk 2" formulation.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Wed Jul 27, 2011 11:13 pm 
User avatar

Joined: Sun Nov 07, 2004 7:24 pm
It's a great film. I actually think Morris is much better when he's dealing with subject matter that isn't self-evidently 'important' (bearing in mind that The Thin Blue Line didn't start out as a crusade), as it allows for the kind of broader issues discussed above to seep out.

Tabloid is indeed a rollicking, entertaining film, but I agree that it's also a film about identity, since we're presented with (at least) two, contradictory, versions of Joyce McKinney and also provided with ample access to the ulterior motives that would inevitably have shaped those versions, plus we get multiple versions of many of the other key players (all those ridiculous disguises; Kirk 1 and Kirk 2; the guy who walked the dog; the guard dog that flips out; and, to cap it all, five or six Boogers - can they all be the reincarnation of the original?). Plus, we get multiple versions / interpretations of specific acts. Is the difference between a rescue and an abduction just a matter of perspective? In a possible B/D situation, how do you define consent?

Evidence piles up on every side, but the very nature of interrogation of an event or person - by the media or by the courts - changes what we're looking at, since these processes need to simplify and pin down events which were probably intrinsically messy and ambiguous. It's interesting that the legal system seems to simply throw up its hands and walk away, but the media can't let go, and what happens to a person when the "official version" of them bears no resemblance to their self-image? "I'm not THAT Joyce McKinney" does sound like a throwaway, reflex, rehearsed lie, but it's nevertheless a lie that gets to the heart of the film's deeper concerns.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Thu Jul 28, 2011 12:05 am 
User avatar

Joined: Wed Sep 16, 2009 11:58 am
Location: Chicago, IL
zedz wrote:
Evidence piles up on every side, but the very nature of interrogation of an event or person - by the media or by the courts - changes what we're looking at, since these processes need to simplify and pin down events which were probably intrinsically messy and ambiguous. It's interesting that the legal system seems to simply throw up its hands and walk away, but the media can't let go, and what happens to a person when the "official version" of them bears no resemblance to their self-image? "I'm not THAT Joyce McKinney" does sound like a throwaway, reflex, rehearsed lie, but it's nevertheless a lie that gets to the heart of the film's deeper concerns.

I agree with Jeff, though, that the "I'm not THAT Joyce McKinney" line is so transparently self-serving, and her incentive for using it so obvious, that it's hard to see it in any other light.

I guess I just didn't find McKinney all that compelling of a character or her story all that ambiguous. I've known people like her. You meet them and they seem nice, but it becomes clear before too long that you just can't believe anything they say. If she's telling the truth at times, good for her, but it's pretty obvious that her overarching narrative is a load of crap. I mean, regardless of what she says, or what Kirk might have told her, it's perfectly normal for a nineteen-year-old Mormon to go overseas on a mission.

I don't really see a lot of questions of identity that are brought up here, except in the most abstract way. I just see a delusionally narcissistic, mildly pitiable woman who did something long ago that a lot of people found fascinating, even though it's not all that interesting except as yet another example of the timeless truth that people will reflexively find young blond women captivating when they make the news in a context of sex and/or violence.

In the newest "Film Comment", Morris says something to the effect that McKinney collects men who are obsessed with her, and then says, "and I'm one of them!" And I thought to myself, reading this shortly after seeing the film, that is what the movie's really about!


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Thu Jul 28, 2011 12:33 am 
User avatar

Joined: Sun Nov 07, 2004 7:24 pm
I don't disagree with any of that, but in my opinion the questions the film flirts with are interesting despite their connection with Joyce McKinney and her tawdry past, not because of it. In this regard I see a kinship with Gates of Heaven or Mr Death. I don't have much sympathy with the protagonists of either film, but the stories that swirl around them have fascinating implications regardless of the 'unworthiness' or self-delusion of them.

Getting back to Tabloid, you can see that kind of process (where objective truth is divorced from the ideas at play) in microcosm in relation to
[Reveal] Spoiler:
the dog cloning. The science involved is irrelevant, as is the fact that the multiple Boogers are actually more like twins than duplicates of the original, because it's McKinney's own attitude towards them that raises the interesting questions about identity. The reason she went to the extraordinary expense of this procedure was so that she could duplicate the identity / personality of Booger, not because she wanted an animal with the same physical characteristics. She ends up with five new Boogers, and asserts that they spookily display certain character traits and 'knowledge' that belonged to the original. So, in this case, in her eyes, one of the fundamental characteristics of identity / personality - uniqueness - has been wiped away, and she doesn't even seem to realise how fundamentally she's compromised the very thing - a unique personality - she was seeking to preserve. How easy is it for us to expediently redefine what we understand by the concept of identity? And there's also the question of whether she's just moulding her perceptions of their behaviour to fit her own psychological need. And of course, her rewriting - in more than one sense - of her own history and personality, is another case in point.


As for the Film Comment comment, isn't getting obsessed with his subjects Morris's entire modus operandi? I don't think that remark sheds any special light on Tabloid.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Sun Aug 14, 2011 3:33 pm 
User avatar

Joined: Mon Apr 14, 2008 12:35 pm
Location: Salt Lake City, Utah
Everything I would have hoped out of this, and more. Two quick thoughts I wanted to share:

The horrible (and horribly funny) Super Friends-style animation about Mormon theology that Morris used was not taken an LDS-sponsored film (though there are some equally hilarious era-appropriate productions made by the LDS Church out there), but rather from The God Makers, a virulently anti-LDS film that has been the subject of controversy out here in the Jell-O belt since the early '80s. (The famous animation segment is here.) Really, the film -- and the LDS reaction to it -- is a tabloid version of religion. I don't know if Morris knows the whole history of The God Makers, but it fits perfectly into the themes he works with in Tabloid. Parts of the segment are highly accurate (if not highly sensationalized to the point of being offensive) discussions of some of the goofier parts of LDS theology; parts of the segment are complete and total misrepresentations of LDS theology; still others are entirely confused about what LDS theology actually states ("Coca Cola?").

I love how the final segments of the film tied so perfectly back to the subject matter and themes of Gates of Heaven. If Morris had shot McKinney's story about Booger (I)'s death on grainy old film stock and taken out the epilogue about the cloning, it would have fit perfectly as a missing segment in the earlier film. It was really fascinating and fortuitous that Morris was able to revisit his earlier work so effectively there.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Fri Nov 04, 2011 2:26 pm 
User avatar

Joined: Tue Apr 15, 2008 10:25 am
Location: SLC, UT
McKinney suing Morris over the film


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Fri Nov 04, 2011 5:11 pm 
User avatar

Joined: Mon Apr 14, 2008 12:35 pm
Location: Salt Lake City, Utah
Apparently this came out Tuesday. On DVD only.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Tue Feb 21, 2012 3:35 pm 
User avatar

Joined: Mon Nov 08, 2004 4:30 pm
Location: Chapel-en-le-Frith, Derbyshire, UK
zedz wrote:
...She ends up with five new Boogers, and asserts that they spookily display certain character traits and 'knowledge' that belonged to the original. So, in this case, in her eyes, one of the fundamental characteristics of identity / personality - uniqueness - has been wiped away, and she doesn't even seem to realise how fundamentally she's compromised the very thing - a unique personality - she was seeking to preserve. How easy is it for us to expediently redefine what we understand by the concept of identity? And there's also the question of whether she's just moulding her perceptions of their behaviour to fit her own psychological need. And of course, her rewriting - in more than one sense - of her own history and personality, is another case in point

It is an amazing sequence in a great film and the comparison between "Kirk 1" and "Kirk 2" and "Booger 1" and "Booger 2" left me wondering whether she might end up one day doing a midnight raid on Kirk Anderson in order to obtain a DNA sample to clone a version of him for herself! My impression is that if someone is obsessed enough to do what she did (both the international trip to re-seduce her object of desire and her other international trip to clone another beloved companion), and to work the particular jobs that she did in order to raise the money to do these tasks and hire a group of people to carry her plans out, then they might be way beyond considering the feelings of the other party in that situation one way or another (whether they might want to remain Mormon, or dead), let alone wider issues of ethics or morality of doing what they are doing. It really feels like just another form of attempted self-gratification rather than a grand quest to save, or to resurrect, someone.

Plus in the "Kirk 1" and "Kirk 2" descriptions there is the sense that, while Joyce herself is always consistent, that other people (and animals) develop multiple aberrant personalities (the most heartbreaking is the dog which attacked her apparently because someone at the pharmacy fooled with its medication, which is another tragic parallel to Kirk having been 'brainwashed') and need to be brought back to their original 'correct' state - they are not allowed to change from her (maybe always rose tinted) conception of them, and she does not seem to want to allow her conception of them to change either to accept small matters like rejection, or death!

We also have to throw in the idea of the various tabloid papers deciding what to focus on in their stories playing a significant role in portraying different versions of Joyce. Creating different versions of her, and tackling specific sections of her life, whilst tailoring their stories to what would play best to the different audiences for their papers (and that just as much applies to Morris too). As ever the truth lies somewhere between all these stories rather than in one or the other.

(I must admit that I was amazed that she apparently took her sheepdog to all of her call girl assignments! With a radio transmitter in the collar no less! I was waiting for the inevitable recording of one of her assignments to surface, but it looks as if that at least did not happen!)


Top
 Profile  
 
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 11 posts ] 

All times are UTC - 5 hours [ DST ]


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum

Jump to:  
Powered by phpBB® Forum Software © phpBB Group




This site is not affiliated with The Criterion Collection