BEWARE OF MR. BAKER (Jay Bulger). Continues at the Bloor Hot Docs Cinema. See listings. Rating: NNN
"You can't put music in boxes," says Ginger Baker, the legendary Cream and Blind Faith drummer. "Especially my music." He's talking to director Jay Bulger, whose Beware Of Mr. Baker is a rudimentary doc that nevertheless does a satisfactory job of capturing a restless personality.
In a series of interviews at the retired musician's South African residence, Bulger attempts to put the drummer's beats into categories - jazz? metal? - while earnestly shaping an erratic life story into a neat overarching narrative.
He hits many of the same notes as other recent musical docs, chronicling Baker's history as a fatherless child inspired by jazz who left relationships (professional and intimate) ablaze.
The director throws in the usual parade of praise, interviewing everyone from former Cream bandmate Eric Clapton to the Sex Pistols' Johnny Rotten, who call Baker "an inspiration" and repeat that "there's no one like him."
Bulger jazzes up such routines with nifty animation and some fitting use of split screens. But whenever he probes the drummer for deeper meaning, he gets shot down. Baker was and still is a toxic personality; at one point he actually delivers on his constant threats to assault Bulger.
That's easily the most fascinating aspect of both the film and its subject. Whenever the doc tries to turn Baker's story into something digestible, he tears it apart.
Continues at the Bloor Hot Docs Cinema.