Review: Beware of Mr. Baker
Ginger Baker, an influential rock god drummer is the focus of this hysterical and tragic documentary, as colleagues, contemporaries, and journalists sound off on the legend. But not friends, because he doesn’t really have any.
Who’s in It?
Jay Bulger, who basically lied to Baker to get a interview with him, travels to his house, or compound if you will, to create this documentary and get him on film. We also hear from Johnny Rotten, Eric Clapton, Steve Winwood, and Carlos Santana, to name a few notables.
The appearance of Mr. Baker in the opening scenes, swearing at and attacking the camera, sets a pretty perfect tone for fascinating film about a man regarded as one of the greatest drummers, and one of the craziest, most awful human beings.
We hear from his ex-wives, children, and fellow musicians, and Baker himself as he sits inside his strangely secluded South African fortress with no shortage of ponies or drugs. It’s almost a living obituary, a living funeral of a cocky, selfish, crass, and insanely talented man (a few people interviewed are surprised he is even still alive), at times funny, but also depressing.
Baker erupts during interview, condemning Bulger and others, playing to perfection the cranky old man short of yelling, ‘get off my lawn!’. The close-ups on his shaking hands, the somber way in which he talks about giving up on life, offer some humanity to a man that is rock and roll caricature. Fast-paced, erratic, and strange, the film is illuminating for all but the hardcore music enthusiasts. And throughout you can’t help but watch as Mr. Baker, instead of going out in an explosive orgy of drugs, partying, and violence, bides his time, chain smoking, staring out the window, and rocking not on the drums, but in his chair.
Should You See It?
He is a memorable and crazy character, and there is plenty of good music and laugh-out-loud moments, so yes.
Some of the quick introductory statements from a select few on Baker: “He’s certifiably nuts.” “He’s a rogue”. “He’s a mother****er.”
Beware of Mr. Baker will be playing at the Bloor Hot Docs Cinema this Friday, January 18th. Click here for a complete schedule.