By G. Michael Dobbs
A very funny comic and a very intriguing documentary are featured in this week’s DVD review column.
Over the years Errol Morris has become one of the nation’s best documentary filmmakers although he is certainly not as well known as Ken Burns or Michael Moore.
His style and subject matter are distinctly different from his two colleagues in the field. He does not go for the lush historical recreation that is Burns’ hallmark nor does he wear his politics on his sleeve as Moore does.
There is coolness to Morris’ style one that might suggest a certain distance between the subject and the filmmaker but I think it really reflects his willingness to allow his subjects enough time, and rope, to tell their own stories in their own voice.
Morris then uses other sources to question or support his subjects’ versions.
Morris burst onto the documentary scene with “The Thin Blue Line” and received much acclaim for his film “the Fog of War.” His new film, “Tabloid,” is now out on DVD and while its subject is not as serious as a flawed justice system or the Vietnam War, it is just as compelling.
Morris revisits a brief but memorable story from 1977 when a former Miss Wyoming in love or sexually obsessed with a young Mormon missionary tracked the man to England and kidnapped him for the purpose of de-programming him and eventually marrying him.
Her efforts failed and the only result was a fleeting fame.
The event made tabloid headlines on both sides of the Atlantic and the woman in question, Joyce McKinney, faded from view as new scandals arose.
Morris presents this story from both McKinney’s point of the view as those of the reporters and photographers who covered her. The heart of the film is the revelation that years later McKinney persists in her seeing the story from the same perspective of 1977 regardless of the material that Morris uncovered that erodes the credibility of her tale.
While some reviewers have seen Morris’ film as a comedy, I saw it as an amazing example of someone who has tried to will reality to meet her point of view. It’s clear that decades after the events, she is still living in her delusion that this man who refused to be interviewed for this film was the great love of her life and that the Church of Latter Day Saints prevented their happiness.
If she is not mentally ill, than McKinney is one of the great pranksters of this time and has maintained a comically perverse persona worthy of the late Andy Kaufman.
Whether you see it as comedy or an on-going mental train wreck, “Tabloid” is a film do lover of documentaries or dishy tabloid stories should miss.
One has to pause a moment to digest the quote on the box of this new comedy performance to wonder if it could be true. One reviewer called Alonzo Bodden “spawn of [George] Carlin.”
Whoa. There are some names in comedy that are so iconic that they should be used sparingly and realistically in comparisons.
I have to say, though, that the writer was right. Bodden is not only funny, but he is a great commentator on the American experience.
While Carlin focused often on the meaning of words and the American experience, Bodden is a news guy. I’d love to see him with a weekly talk show discussing issues.
Although willing to drop some bad language to make a point, Bodden works mostly “clean,” and his humor comes from his observations.
This Showtime comedy special was broadcast in February, but it is still plenty funny and topical.
Bodden is one comic I hopes gets far greater exposure.
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