Apollo’s Girl

Tabloid: How Sweet it Is…

When you haven’t seen an Errol Morris film for a while, you may forget just how good he is, or worse – just how entirely original and unique his visions are. In the case of Tabloid, the opening titles alone offer clues you simply can’t ignore. And five minutes into the film, you know it’s going to be the ride of a lifetime. So settle in and enjoy it.

The subject—Joyce McKinney, a former beauty queen with an IQ of 168 (she says) and an insatiable appetite for exhibitionism—is made for Errol Morris’ deadpan interview technique. As the story unspools and her friends and associates are added to the mix, the limelight is not so much shared as refocused with each clip. Part of Morris’ genius is getting the cast to add new spices to the dough each time they’re up, like a cake with ingredients you’d never combine in real life. But what a cake it is! And yes, there’s frosting on it, too. Morris chooses to mix elements of both archival and production footage within a frame of animated collages, and to structure his doc like a choice narrative film, full of surprises at exactly the right moment. Much as I’d like to share them, I am loathe to give them away; getting them is half the fun.

But even without the surprises, this giddy tale is alternately so hair-raising, so sorrowful, and so side-splittingly funny that your attention simply cannot flag. Imagine McKinney’s side of the story: deeply in love (and possibly still a virgin), she kidnaps the object of her affections; a Morman with serious coital issues, and subjects him to a long weekend of delirious sex in rural Britain.That, however, is merely a jumping-off point for what follows: a narrative that repeatedly defines the paradigm of You Can’t Make Stuff Like That Up, no matter who’s doing the talking. So, whatever else the summer movie slate has in store, watch your local news like a hawk for Tabloid and do not – repeat, do not – miss this one!

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