For months now, The Belcourt has been tantalizing audiences with the hilariously lurid trailer for Tabloid, the latest documentary by Errol Morris (The Fog of War). The movie finally opens tonight, and the trailer doesn't lie — unlike almost all of the film's subjects.
A combination of the crazier-than-fiction slices of life that made Morris' early reputation — think Vernon, Florida or the classic pet-cemetery study Gates of Heaven — and the true-crime legwork of his exculpatory The Thin Blue Line, Tabloid lays out the bizarre yarn of Joyce McKinney, a honey-dripping ex-beauty queen who in 1977 became the obsession of Britain's gutter press.
Why? It's probably better to let the who-could-fake-this twists and turns of McKinney's tale take you by surprise. Let's just say (on the evidence as presented in the movie) it only starts with a mysterious rescue mission to London, a homemade gun, chloroform and one seriously sexually repressed Mormon, then delivers a crash course in the procedures of sleaze — from how to goose a flagging scandal to how to bug a prostitute's service calls without anyone being the wiser.
The center of attention, of course, is McKinney, who sounds as starry-eyed and disarming today as she did when she captivated Fleet Street. As The New York Times reported recently, McKinney has actually turned up unannounced at screenings to protest the way Morris tells her story, and word has it The Belcourt was told by the movie's handlers that anything could happen. But proof of that is already on screen.