Thanks in part to the psychological insights provided by talking head Troy Williams, the Mormon apostate and radio host dubbed the “gay mayor of Salt Lake City,” Tabloid takes on additional topicality—the movie has points of contact with Broadway’s mega-smash The Book of Mormon and the current multi-Mormon Republican presidential race. The real subject, however, is Joyce’s imaginative self-dramatizing—her capacity to act upon and sustain a fantasy scenario, complete with fantasy memories. (“If you tell a lie long enough, you learn to believe it,” she says of the media without apparent irony.) Thus Tabloid’s local premiere at the IFC-NYU documentary festival last fall was punctuated with cries of “Lies!” and “Not her!” reportedly delivered from the audience by Joyce herself. After the movie, she joined Morris onstage, resplendent in a pink pantsuit, a cloned pit bull in tow, to deliver one more self-justifying monologue.

There's no such thing as bad publicity: Joyce McKinney
Sundance Selects
There's no such thing as bad publicity: Joyce McKinney
Joyce McKinney with Keith May
Sundance Selects
Joyce McKinney with Keith May


Directed by Errol Morris
Sundance Selects
Opens July 15
Lincoln Plaza and IFC Center

In comparing Tabloid to Kurosawa’s Rashomon, the classic example of subjective narrative and a code for unknowable truth, Morris seems to suggest that it is impossible to establish the particulars of the McKinney-Anderson affair, among other aspects of the Joyce McKinney story—and he’s got a movie without needing to investigate. As the filmmaker surely knows, such presumed unfathomability is ultimately less compelling, though, than the enigma of Joyce’s self-created personality. She doesn’t seem delusional, but does she really, truly believe her own explanations? This is the source of the movie’s fascination. Absurd as it sounds, Joyce’s conviction is not only convincing but contagious. So, too, is her elastic sense of reality—a 90-minute immersion in her world is enough to make you question your own.

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I couldn't agree less on you view that Joyce's conviction is contagious and convincing. It becomes increasingly clear that Mr. Morris wants to give you all the reason in the world to doubt just that. His use of the footage from old movies, for example, showing Celia Johnson seeing Trevor Howard off from a train platform in Brief Encounter to parallel McKinney’s story of seeing Anderson off, expecting to meet him in London to be married. Devices seem to be used for comic effect and to try to make a parallel between staged drama and McKinney’s real-life and largely self-created drama. We she refers to Anderson’s impotence (typed out in bold letters across the screen as she talks) at first, she says it’s like trying to “insert a marshmallow into a parking meter.” Her manic energy starts off charming and ends up making one want to bash one’s head against a wall; I imagine this is how the pretty, young Joyce had so many men running at her heels. The combination of pretty, sexy, and crazy is a potent aphrodisiac. It’s also extremely unpleasant to experience for any length of time, and despite Joyce’s apparent willingness to have anyone pay attention to her, consummate narcissist that she appears to be, the film borders on exploitation. I would say that this is beneath Mr. Morris except that after 'Fog of War' and 'Abu Ghraib ' I see this as part and parcel with his apparent direction in film making. I don't care much for it either.


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