they were all just lies: lies to support his addiction to tickling videos

they were all just lies: lies to support his addiction to tickling videos

"Tickled" (2016) is a movie best experienced without reference. The less you know, the better - because the novelty of the movie is its ethereal, corporeal weirdness.

It's a documentary. It's told from the 1st person POV of a New Zealand tabloid-y blogger / journalist. He stumbles on a tickling fetish media company. He tries to get an interview with the owner - but she harasses him unprovoked in exchange. This raises his curiosity on the subject, so he dives deeper. What he uncovers ends up being a brutal, angering, and kaleidoscopic view of 21st Century American life.

"Tickled" also serves as a metaphor for 2017 America. There's the spoiled, degenerate rich kid throwing his money away on pseudo-pornographic revenge fantasies. He has no empathy for those he destroys, and will go to any length to ensnare new victims. Innocent people (in this case, young white guys) are strapped down and tickled until it hurts them. Many laugh in this movie while they say stuff like, "I hate this. This sucks." And when you finally decide to give up, the person funding the whole spiel comes after you. They put the videos online and boost the SEO so it's always associated with you. They call your work and school and try to make you a community pariah. Why? Vengeance. Because their ego was hurt. And in the end, we're not satisfied with any kind of justice catharsis. We don't get vengeance ourselves. The millionaire is established as still doing his horrible tickling media exploiting the poor through fraud & revenge thing, destroying people simply because his dad was rich. Isn't this America 2017?

"But now i think this was not even about tickling. this is about power, control, & harassment. It's about one person's twistedness & how far that can go. One person who's managed to shelter himself with money to keep his obsession going."

The joy in the movie is in its lush cinematography. The shots are crisp, the compositions clean, the feeling is fresh. The occasional flourishes of hidden-cam adds to the tension of the piece, and creates a kind of visual variation (maintaining hypnosis of experience). The sound quality was excellent (they had a sound guy with them, even during the run-and-gun stuff, evident from their BTS videos). Although at times the main guy's iPhone audio was mixed in. He would use it when he was confronting people far away from the camera, pointing the microphone on the iPhone toward the confronted subject. Then this audio would be mixed in with the professional audio, for an immersive voyeuristic effect.

The filmmaker's excelled in the story with their use of dramatic tension. All through the experience the narrator reminds us of the stakes involved: being sued into oblivion, having one's life in danger, or one's life harassed & destroyed. The nemesis is build up to be extremely mysterious & menacing. The lead-up to the climactic confrontation with the tickle media king-pin actually caused in me a kind of hyperventilation. This story was told perfectly. To recreate this effect, simply re-state the stakes over and over again. Remind the viewer constantly what is at stake, and why. And, of course, dramatize the stakes. This dramatization increases overall narrative tension (like when the narrators walk up to the open door studio in Los Angeles, etc). 

To me, that's what made the documentary a fun journey to watch. The parts where the main guy (the lead + journalist + narrator) just went boldly ahead with the film, despite threats, despite harassment. He always felt either emboldened enough, righteous enough, or protected enough (was somebody providing him legal services in the background?) to continue filming the movie. He didn't let the oppressing oppress him. I kept wondering throughout the film if I'd respond in the same way. To see this guy march forward undeterred was an inspiration. And to see him travel across the world to confront somebody on a suburban street... That's investigative documentary filmmaking at its finest. Ala Broomfield. 

Many movies have done this high-tension in-your-face shtick. "Sex: My British Job" (2013) is very similar to this one in structure (in a way). But among all these kinds of movie, "Tickled" is unique because of its tone. The whole movie has a bizarre tone. With every scene I'm thinking, "What the hell is this?" Grown men getting tickled by other grown men. The music, the foreign accents. It was just so weird. And that's really what this movie is about. The combination of beautiful cinematography, extremely high tension, and the psychedelic weirdness of the subject. That is "Tickled" (2016). For those three emotions cocktailed, check this movie out.

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