Kam On Film: ‘Tabloid,’ ‘Life, Above All’ and What’s New In Theaters


Sundance Selects

Rated R for nudity and sexuality.


Kinky Former Miss Wyoming Serves As Subject Of Latest Errol Morris Documentary

Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, and apparently that even goes for a beauty queen with an IQ of 168. That would be Joyce McKinney who enjoyed a whirlwind romance in Salt Lake City with a guy named Kirk Anderson following her reign as Miss Wyoming of 1973.

The blubbery 300-pounder was so flattered that Joyce found him attractive that he told her “I love you!” the night they met, and then proposed to her the very next day. The trouble was that he was also a Mormon and his devout parents disapproved of the hasty liaison. Plus, he was scheduled to depart to England soon to do the missionary work expected of all members of the Church of Latter Day Saints.

But Joyce just couldn’t get over being jilted, so she placed a classified ad for a pilot and a bodyguard for help in locating and liberating her runaway fiancé. They eventually found him on the steps of a church in London and abducted him at gunpoint, and then drove him not back to the airport but rather to a cottage in Devon 250 miles away.

Joyce had her henchman tie Kirk spread-eagle to the bed, and she proceeded to rape the fat man repeatedly for the next several days. Her rationale was that this was the best method of deprogramming him from what she felt was a cult.

However, instead of seeing the light, the object of her affection escaped and had Joyce and her accomplice arrested for kidnapping and sexual assault. The sensational story served as fodder for lots of lurid newspaper headlines in Great Britain for much of 1977, until the accused jumped bail and escaped back to the States, never to be extradited or to face justice again.

Tabloid, a bizarre biopic about a good girl gone bad, is the latest offering from Oscar-winning documentarian Errol Morris (Fog Of War). The film proves as fascinating as the rest of Morris’ intriguing body of work, given how it delicately unravels the mystery of exactly how and why Joyce planned and executed such a kinky conspiracy.

What might be most remarkable is the fact that the now wheelchair-bound mastermind cooperated with the project and remains in denial to this day, asserting, “I still don’t think I ever did anything wrong.” A thought-provoking picture raising the question: Can a woman rape a man, or is it merely assault with intent to please?

You be the judge.

Excellent (4 stars).

Running time: 88 Minutes.


Life, Above All

Sony Pictures Classics

Rated PG-13 for sexuality and mature themes.

Stoic 12-Year-Old Overcomes Ostracism in Bittersweet South African Saga

It’s bad enough that her newborn sister has just died of an unspecified illness, now Chanda (Khomotso Manyaka) finds herself having to fend-off all the ugly rumors about her family circulating around their tight-knit community located in the slums just outside Johannesburg. At a time when most 12-year-olds are simply focusing on schoolwork, she’s shouldering the responsibility of caring for her younger siblings, Soly (Thato Kgaladi) and Iris (Mapaseka Mathebe). Plus, she’s worried about whether her best friend Esther (Keaobaka Makanyane) will even play with her anymore.

That unfortunate predicament has been Chanda’s lot in life since her selfish stepfather Jonah (Aubrey Poolo) accused her mother (Lerato Myelase) of having poisoned their baby by breastfeeding. For sickly Lillian has been suffering from an ailment that her alarmed neighbors suspect to be HIV.

In fact, she’s already so weakened by her deteriorating condition that she’s become dependent on the charity of the church. And when her trifling hubby skips town, she has to ask Mrs. Tafa (Harriet Manamela) next-door to serve as a surrogate parent to her three daughters. Meanwhile, Lillian’s desperate enough to seek out healing from a wily witch doctor (Mary Twala) who resorts to unorthodox healing regimens like snakes to cast out her fading patient’s demons.

This is the harrowing state of affairs established in Life, Above All, a bittersweet drama directed by Oliver Schmitz. Based on the award-winning novel Chanda’s Secrets by Allan Stratton, the movie marks the screen debut of Khomotso Manyaka, a talented actress with no formal training. Ms. Manyaka turns in a moving performance in an emotionally demanding lead role as the picture’s courageous heroine. Her supporting cast proves equally effective in service of the heartrending tale.

A convincing portrayal of the tragic plight of the HIV-infected and the poor in South Africa.

Excellent (4 stars).

In Sotho with subtitles.

Running time: 100 Minutes.




Kam’s Kapsules:

Weekly Previews That Make Choosing a Film Fun


For movies opening July 22, 2011


Captain America: The First Avenger (PG-13 for intense sci-fi violence). Marvel Comics adaptation revolving around the patriotic exploits of a soldier-turned-superhero (Chris Evans) who, with the help of his trusty sidekick (Sebastian Stan), comes to the aid of the Allies during World War II when a Hitler henchman (Hugo Weaving) bent on world domination develops a top secret weapon. With Derek Luke, Tommy Lee Jones, Stanley Tucci, Natalie Dormer and Toby Jones.


Friends With Benefits (R for violence and brief sexuality). Mila Kunis and Justin Timberlake co-star in this romantic comedy about a couple whose agreement to share intimacy with no expectations does nevertheless lead to relationship complications. Cast includes Woody Harrelson, Emma Stone, Richard Jenkins, Patricia Clarkson, Jenna Elfman and Andy Samberg with cameos by Jason Segel, Rashida Jones and Shaun White.


Another Earth (Unrated). Redemption drama about an MIT student (Brit Marling) and an accomplished composer (William Mapother) whose paths cross in tragic fashion on the very same night of the discovery of a mirror planet populated by duplicates of every human on Earth. With Jordan Baker, Flint Beverage and Robin Taylor.


Fire In Babylon (Unrated). Politically-tinged, sports documentary featuring file footage from the ‘70s and ‘80s as well as recent interviews with members of the post-colonial, West Indian cricket team which was forced to endure racist taunts while playing on tour around the world, including in South Africa during the reign of the Apartheid regime.


A Little Help (R for sexuality, profanity and drug use). Bittersweet dramedy about a dental hygienist (Jenna Fischer) who suddenly finds herself resorting to lies to provide for herself and her 12-year-old son (Daniel Yelsky) in the wake of her philandering husband’s (Chris O’Donnell) untimely death. With Kim Coates, Ron Leibman, Lesley Ann Warren and Rob Benedict.


The Myth Of The American Sleepover (Unrated). Coming-of-age drama focusing on the fates of four teens (Claire Sloma, Marlon Morton, Amanda Bauer and Brett Jacobsen) looking for love and romance around suburban Detroit on the last weekend of summer before going back to school. With Amy Seimetz, Narisa Suzuki and Jade and Nikita Ramsey.


Sarah’s Key (PG-13 for mature themes and disturbing images). Holocaust drama set in present-day Paris about an investigative journalist’s (Kristin Scott Thomas) research into the story of how the family of a 10-year-old girl (Melusine Mayance) was torn asunder by the roundup of Jews in occupied France during World War II. With Karina Hin, Sarah Ber and Kate Moran. (In French and English with subtitles)


Singham (Unrated). Bollywood crime caper about the showdown between the sheriff of Shivgad (Ajay Devgan) and the powerful mobster (Prakash Raj) who has recently arrived in the tiny, quiet town. With Kajal Aggarwal, Sonali Kulkarni and Sachin Khedekar. (In Hindi with subtitles.)