A film by and with nobody in particular -- except Lisa Loeb

My Rating:

You gotta give them credit for making a film on a shoestring.

Bitable Bytes:
"Stories are made out of thin air!"
"Longer, slower car-chases than anywhere else in the history of film!"

What to eat while watching: Tofutti Cuties
What to do while watching: Watch in fast forward while brushing your teeth. Watch in mute while writing, say, a review.

Tabloid is a reenactment of the journalistic offices of a tabloid paper. A young college boy has come on board and is up against deadlines. He says it's impossible to write three 1,500-word stories in three hours. The crotchety owner of the paper comes out. This is a woman who was there when it started and who wrote, printed, and distributed the paper single-handedly for decades. She explains that impossible is not a word in her dictionary, she describes (or enacts rather) how stories are made out of thin air-and quickly.

Were this a documentary that actually investigated-or accurately portrayed-the people and process behind the tabloids, it might have been interesting. I'm curious, in a way, about the deconstruction of this kind of journalism. The video box's promises are vague, but I was lead to believe this would be at least faintly factual. And it was in the documentary section. I must lodge a complaint with Reel Video, otherwise my top choice in entertainment brokers.

What this film is, instead of a documentary, and instead of an expose of sensationalistic journalism, is intertwining enactment. The common thread is the distribution of the paper, from person to person, mainly by accident, being left here, found there--and people's reading it with a certain sense of guilt.

Then there are the dramatizations of stories from the paper. But these are really slow! Slow! One story: a white-trash drug dealer gets into a gun fight with some guys he's ripped off. His mother in law and pregnant wife hole up with him in their trailer for a shoot out. After winning, his wife gives birth, and the baby has a beard. This story takes 20 minutes to dramatize. It includes longer, slower car-chases than anywhere else in the history of film. And in the end, it creates a tabloid headline: "Baby Born with Full Beard." Nothing about the gun fight or the drugs, just the punch line. This film is one big "huh?"

As a curio, an adolescent Lisa Loeb turns up in vignette number three. If insatiable Lisa Loeb fanatics exist, and read my column, they will need to get a copy of this film somehow: Loeb has ample screen time and sports the same glasses and cute cheeks that characterized her look during her brief pop-music demi-stardom sometime in the late nineties with her song "Stay."

You won't find this video without a lot of searching in cult bins and on out-of-the-way Web sites. So why try?

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For Your Collection:

This video was the only thing that came up at Amazon about Tabloids. It sounds like a real documentary, like with facts, about the New York Post.

Better yet, try something independent that's more interesting and worth your time: Conceiving Ada by Lynne Hershman with the astonishing Tilda Swinton (Orlando).

Or try something done inexpensively that's better made and better written: Sex Lies and Videotape directed by Stephen Soderbergh

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