RECOMMENDED : A few years ago, Jay Bulger became obsessed with Ginger Baker. Bulger tracked Baker down with a lie — that Bulger was a writer for Rolling Stone looking to do a profile on him — and ended up staying at Baker’s South Africa home and writing “The Devil and Ginger Baker,” which ended up actually being published in Rolling Stone. But Bulger wanted to tell Baker’s story in Baker’s words, so he set out a little while later to film a documentary about the notorious curmudgeon, and that film is Beware of Mr. Baker. The resulting film is both heartbreaking and hilarious, often at the same time.
Baker is, in his own words, the “greatest fucking drummer in the world,” and you won’t find anyone in this film who disagrees with him. What you will find are people who hate his guts (including, but not limited to, his own family) and people who love him because they hate him. The film follows his journey from his days as a young jazz drummer, to Cream and Blind Faith, to Fela Kuti, to his fascination with polo and his near-bankruptcy from spending too much money on horses (owning them, not betting on them). He’s become a tragic figure strictly by his own doing, and he has no qualms about that. He hates his documentarian, the viewer, himself, and everyone else to an equal degree. But in the end, the film paints a fascinating portrait of the man who Eric Clapton called undoubtedly the greatest drummer ever (when compared to John Bonham and Keith Moon, Clapton just laughs). You’ll either want to hang out with him or punch him in the jaw, but you’ll know what Bulger now knows: Ginger Baker strikes first.
NON-FEST FILMS NEW IN THEATERS THIS WEEK: Paranormal Activity 4, in which the franchise follows the Saw path by putting out a film almost every year; and Alex Cross, in which Tyler Perry and Matthew Fox both … we don’t know … act? Become action stars? One of the movie’s seven positive reviews says it’s “so bad it’s good,” which isn’t really a positive. Also, Jean Reno plays a character named Leon, which is totally not cool dude.