Curl up with these documentary masterpieces before seeing the director's newest
Legendary filmmaker Errol Morris's ninth feature documentary, Tabloid, begins reeling off its ticker tape of sensational headlines in select theaters today. The subject of the movie, which premiered at last year's Telluride Film Festival, is former Miss Wyoming Joyce McKinney, who in 1977 set in motion what became known as the "Mormon sex in chains case." Decades later, she had her pit bull cloned five times over in a South Korean laboratory.
Morris, an occasional blogger for The New York Times, probed hotter-button topics in his previous two features—2003's The Fog of War, a soapbox of sorts for former U.S. secretary of defense Robert MacNamara, and 2008's Standard Standard Operating Procedure, an examination of the photographs from Abu Ghraib—and fielded some criticism for letting his embattled subjects off too easily. But with Tabloid, Morris seems to be downshifting into less consequential historical matters; McKinney might fit more comfortably alongside the eccentrics who populate some of the director's earlier work. That work is well-represented on home video, but four Morris titles are particularly accessible ("instantly" so) for most Netflix subscribers. Taken together, the films— Gates of Heaven (1978), Vernon, Florida (1981), The Thin Blue Line (1988), and Mr. Death (1999)—offer a good overview of their director's career.