Beware of Mr. Baker               (DVD)    Insurgent Media 

Flamboyant and intense, mercurial and brilliant: all of those adjectives describe drummer Ginger Baker, whose work with the rock trio Cream earned him fortune, fame, groupies galore and a nasty drug habit. This documentary of the scarlet haired madman is alternately illuminating and infuriating. Even as you marvel at the unbridled talent that Baker so boundlessly exudes you’re equally saddened by his ability to so casually toss it all aside, doing him and his loved ones irreparable harm. Director Jay Bulger manages to gain almost unheard of access into Baker’s notoriously private life, visiting him on his South African compound (whose grim warning sign gives the film its title) and interviewing former wives (of which there are four) and aggrieved children (of which there are three). Beware of Mr. Baker is an alternately haunted and hysterical portrait of rock’s first truly great stick man and Bulger wisely lets his subject tell his own story, even when that story results in Baker bloodying Bulger with a sharp right to the snout. Footage of his amazing journey, from bombed out London to continent hopping superstar, adorns the film with an authenticity that makes the viewer almost feel as if they know the man: Except you wouldn’t want to. Interviews with Steve Winwood, Eric Clapton, Johnny Rotten, Charlie Watts, Carlos Santana, and others paint a portrait of a gigantic talent whose personal demons, fueled by four decades of heroin addiction, have made him both revered and reviled.  “I’d love to work with him again” says Jack Bruce, who Baker seems to despise with intensity well into wickedness. “But I wouldn’t want to be in the room with him for more than a few minutes.”  ****