Beware Of Mr. Baker - Blu-ray Review

'Ginger Baker tells non-legendary documentary maker Jay Bulger to 'go on with the interview and stop trying to be an intellectual dick head'. Beware Of Mr. Baker is a much better documentary for Baker's advice.'

At one point during Beware Of Mr. Baker, documentary subject and legendary Cream-and-others drummer Ginger Baker tells non-legendary documentary maker Jay Bulger to 'go on with the interview and stop trying to be an intellectual dick head'. Beware Of Mr. Baker is a much better documentary for Baker's advice.

At times during Beware Of Mr. Baker, and thankfully they are relatively brief, Bulger does wrestle with the problem of many documentary makers before him, when trying to decide how much of himself he wants to insert into the story. The opening, regarding Baker hitting Bulger in the face with a walking stick is passable, though you suspect Bulger is not the first journalist Baker has attacked, nor that Baker would give the incident much more than a fleeting thought. The follow-on from that, where Bulger recounts his own rise, at least partially due to an article he wrote about Baker, is less relevant, provides context we don't need and smacks a little of ego. Beware Of Mr. Baker improves markedly when Bulger just gets on with the interview.

The main reason for this is the presence of Baker, a hell-raiser whom, you suspect, would give even the most ardent friend of Jack Daniels a run for their money. Beyond the booze and the drugs, Baker is also rampant in his compulsiveness, deciding everything from a trip to drive across Africa to joining a band he did not have an invitation to join on a whim and a wish. Like many of the loose crowd lumped into the 'troubled genius' box though, Baker is also shown as a superlative musician, a rock and roll presence who is 'not just a rock drummer', as evidenced by his lengthy jazz history and eventual introduction to African music.

The success of Beware Of Mr. Baker though is where it goes from this point, separating itself from other Rock Docs by leaving you with no doubt just how terrible a person Baker is. You could argue that he's an easy target. There's no PR person behind him now (was there ever?), no team to make sure this is a puff piece. Every other word he utters is 'fuck' and his litany of soured relationships (he sees none of his family) is punctuated only by his litany of failed financial endeavours. The 'positive' interjections of the people who will see him are revealing in their cautiousness; his current wife takes an age to say that he's a good person, Eric Clapton describes him as a friend but appears to be scared of actually seeing him, at any point, ever.

The presentation of the expose of Ginger Baker too has to be applauded, even if it does not always work. The animation of the bits missing from film is really something, thrumming pencil sketches to the beat of Baker's drum. Less successful are odd stylistic ticks that show up only occasionally; a split screen introduction by Johnny Rotten, for example, makes little sense and is rather annoying, and neither he nor the technique show up again. There is lots of good stuff here though, in a sound documentary that feels more honest than many of its contemporaries.





By Sam Turner. Sam is editor of Film Intel, and can usually be found behind a keyboard with a cup of tea. He likes entertaining films and dislikes the other kind. He's on , Twitter and several places even he doesn't yet know about.

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