Former Cream drummer still deranged, and so is this doc.
DIRECTED BY JAY BULGER (USA, Next)
Friday, April 27, 6:15 p.m.
Bloor Hot Docs Cinema (506 Bloor Street West)
Saturday, April 28, 1:45 p.m.
Isabel Bader Theatre (93 Charles Street West)
Saturday, May 5, 1 p.m.
TIFF Bell Lightbox 2 (350 King Street West)
Ginger Baker is a legend, but you’d never know it to see him now. Director Jay Bulger tracked down the former Cream drummer to find him living in a gated compound in South Africa with a sullen internet bride and a host of dogs and polo ponies exported from the U.K. His drum kit sat untouched in the corner; only his legendary temper remained intact.
Like Ginger, the film is an unholy mess. Beware of Mr. Baker jumps from split screens to interviews to animation to archival footage to God knows what else. There’s even a recurring slave-ship motif. (It’s supposed to reference Ginger’s love of African drumming, but it comes off as plain offensive.) If Ginger wasn’t a teeming psychological mess with an astounding aptitude for music and a talent for cutting remarks, it might have served the film well to spread things around. Obviously, there’s no need.
Still, it would take the thunder of the gods to silence this man’s bombastic life. The archival footage of Ginger himself is brilliant–again and again, over the decades, whether playing stadiums with Cream or jamming with bands at small-time polo clubs, the brutal talent of Ginger makes itself known. The footage of his wild days in ’70s Nigeria playing with Fela Kuti is especially awe-inspiring (forget 1960s Britain, now that was a time and place to experience!). If you can roll with this documentary’s imperfections, there’s still a wild ride to be had.