TickledĀ 


Many people hear the word “documentary” and begin to snore. I say this because I used to be one of those people. Why do I want to be bored with facts and real life when I can watch a fantastical fictional piece that defies all physics? 

Wrong, my friend. You definitely want to see Tickled.

When my boyfriend sent me a text asking if I wanted to see the documentary, I laughed and thought he was joking. No, he was deadly serious. I agreed to accompany him but I wasn’t overly excited. I thought I knew what it was about. A competitive tickling competition? It sounded like a comedy. While journeying to the Glasgow Film Theatre, I learned that it might have a darker side but I scoffed at the idea. I mean, it’s tickling, right?

Oh, I was so naive.

Five minutes in and I was hooked. My gummy bears lay on the floor of the cinema, forgotten, and I stared at the screen with an open mouth. It has been so long since a film has hooked me in the way this one did. It felt like a drug I needed more and more of. 


We’re first introduced to the New Zealand journalist David Farrier. He’s apparently known for looking at “the weird and wonderful” side of life. My first thought was he’s the New Zealand equivalent of a UK One Show reporter – those people that cover the strange stories that no one really needs to hear, but you enjoy hearing anyway. I instantly fell in love with the nerdy man and I settle in for, what I had assumed, a comedy experience.
I instantly knew that’s not the case when Farrier gets targeted and harassed for being gay.

The organiser for these tickling competitions sent the journalist email after email of hurtful homophobic hate. I was blown away and knew that this ride was definitely not going down the comedy route anymore. I was sat in my chair with my jaw on the floor.

I instantly had respect and admiration for Fassier and partner Dylan Reeve. They chose not to focus on the homophobic ramblings which I found very powerful. Many other people may have inserted an interview with Fassier making a speech about how this language was hurtful, how gay people have a hard time dealing with hate, how it is something he has struggled with his whole life and hearing it as an adult has shaken him. I have no doubt this is how he felt. But he never addressed this. The only thing he said was, “I found it amusing because the tickling competitions were so… Gay.” By not making a big song and dance about these horrible actions, both men easily showed how insufficient it is. Yeah they got hate, but who cares? We don’t, cause we know it’s rubbish. I was blown away by this take in the situation and, just 10 minutes in, was glued to my seat.

Although I said this documentary definitely isn’t a comedy, I did laugh during it. The cinema was utterly packed and all of us found ourselves laughing at one point or another. Whether this was because of humour or sheer awkwardness – I will never know. Farrier and Reeve definitely tried their hardest to interject some humour into the piece (which worked perfectly) but the humour couldn’t mask the true hideous truth underneath. 


This documentary focuses on the feitish world of tickling. It touches on topics of internet harassment, fraud, manipulation, and hate. Although it seems to cover only one area of the internet, it actually implies a much broader message. The boys shown to be tickled were all used and abused in one way or another. This behaviour isn’t just found in this one area; it is also found all over in the porn industry and other dodgey websites. It may only show the damage done to young boys but it’s easy to tell that it can happen to any trusting, desperate person. This realisation physically shook me to my core.

The real world is a scary place, isn’t it?


From a cinematic point of view, this film doesn’t disappoint either. The symbolism used throughout was beautifully poetic. A voiceover of Farrier talking about the state of production after lawyers threatening to sue followed by a shot of a nasty car crash was a nice touch. Another shot of a bird of prey flying away with its dead catch made me chuckle. Simply touches such as these truly add to the experience and show although Farrier and Reeve are new to the scene – they still know exactly what they’re doing.


It also must be said that at no point does this film shame anyone who has a tickling fetish. It is obvious that Farrier does not fully understand the appeal (his facial expressions don’t hide anything) but he tries to be as understanding and polite as possible throughout. His focus is purely on helping the victims of the tickling videos and finding out who is behind all the grief.

Overall this documentary is a definite must-see. It feels like forever since I’ve been to the cinema and left feeling utterly elated. Finding Dory appealed to my childhood and left me giddy, but Tickled touched me much more.

(No pun intended). 

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My Top 5 Favourite Musicals

I’ve seen a good few musicals in my time. I love them all but do I have a top 5? Can I pick just 5?!

Let’s see what made the cut…

5. Singing in the Rain

To start off this list we have an old classic. I mean who didn’t fall in love with Gene Kelly singin’ and dancin’ in the rain? MGM was definitely the golden era of film/musicals and I can’t help but long to be back in that age from time to time.

Musicals were different back then, though. There were no orginal scores – the music was taken from elsewhere and a story was created around it. And what a story! Such a simple yet beautifully told tale. An actress who looks good but cannot sing – forced to mouth to another woman’s voice – what could go wrong?

I’ve even had the pleasure of witnesses Singing in the Rain live on stage. I know what you’re thinking; “Surely they can’t have rain on stage!”

You would be wrong, my friend.

I’m incredibly glad I wasn’t sitting in the front row. People were actually sitting with umbrellas as the show went on! And the actors don’t hold back, oh no! It must be a game to see how many people they can soak after each kick – and how far they can reach with their soggy kicks. The theatre was rolling with laughter and screams during the musical number and it’s an experience I will never, ever forget.

4. Chicago 

He had it coming!

This musical particularly appealed to me while in high school. It was the time of dramas with fellow male peers so Cell Block Tango spoke to me on a hormonal, angsty level.

What a show to witness though.

I first watched the DVD with my mother as she wanted to make sure I was ready for the theatre experience. I was won over after the infamous line:

“He ran into my knife. He ran into my knife ten times!”

Sold! Where can I see it live?

When I first saw the stage show I was ready to be disappointed because there was only one set up. The orchestra were on stage and the actors would sing and dance around the stand. When I realised this, I was ready to be bored. But it never happened. It was every bit as powerful and sexy as the DVD I watched at home.

But just because these women are bombshells, doesn’t mean you mess with them. I mean emphasis on BOMB.
3. Top Hat

I’m one of Strictly Come Dancing’s biggest fans. Anton Du Beke is my favourite professional dancer and it feels weird to admit I have a bit of a crush on someone who is older than my parents… But he’s just so lovely

Anyway, moving on…

Du Beke is the reason I fell in love with ballroom dancing and he encouraged my love for top hats and tail coats. For one Christmas my mother bought me Swing CD along with Swing Time and Top Hat. Top Hat was instantly my new obsession. The music, the costumes, the story, it was all so perfect! As soon as it came to the theatre I begged to see it live. 

AND THERE’S EVEN MORE SONGS IN THE LIVE SHOW.

I was in heaven.

The love story is what makes my heart flutter. The misunderstandings between characters, the drama, the cockiness of Fred Astaire’s character (Jerry) compared to Ginger Rogers’ Dale is everything I want from a love story and musical combined. The singing and dancing is flawlessly performed and there’s the right amount of humour to keep me content for a night of entertainment. 

I’m putting all my eggs in one basket and saying this is one of the best musicals ever made.

2. Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat has a very special place in my heart. I first saw this musical when I was very young – I’m not sure what age I was – and it was at my Grandmother’s house along with my cousin Rebecca. (Who has her own blog by the way; check it out here: https://rebeccaallan.wordpress.com). We found the video cassette of Donny Osmond performing in a school and we were instantly hooked. We would watch it all. The. Time. We would watch and sing along, watch and dance along, watch and act along. We even wore out my own copy of the video my mother bought me from a car boot sale. I now have the DVD though which runs much smoother.

So it’s easy to see how much this musical means to me. Going outside to play in the sun like a normal child? No! We stayed in and studied the bible, darling. Considering my cousin is the biggest atheist I know, I find this aspect incredibly amusing.

For Rebecca’s Christmas I took her to see Joseph at the King’s Theatre. It was by far the best performance I’ve seen! I never thought anyone could top my childhood bestie Donny Os but Joe McElderry was utterly incredible. The song Close Every Door To Me is one of Rebecca’s favourites but it was never one I got excited hearing. 

Until Joe McElderry let loose!

I don’t watch the X Factor, so I had no idea who he was, but my goodness the boy can sing! Close Every Door To Me is a completely different song to me now simply due to the way he preformed. It was utterly flawless and I got chills from my toes all the way to my scalp. If he is to ever be Joseph again, I’ll be there in a heartbeat.

Usually I don’t like musicals that are all singing all the time. I’m definitely not a Les Miz fan much to many people’s disgust. But Joesph is such a fun filled musical that I find it very easy to follow and it still holds my attention from beginning to end. It’s such a bright production- obviously it has to be – but as a child it’s pretty clear why I fell in love with it. The stage show tends to stick to one set up for the stage (much like Chicago) but it never gets boring since there’s always so much popping up, popping on and going on. It’s just a spectacle to behold.

Joseph has to be the only Andrew Lloyd Webber musical I have seen and liked. I can’t say I’m much of a fan of Cats – or even Jesus Christ Superstar for that matter – but Joesph is one that will always be in my heart. 

And my brain; those lyrics will never leave me.

Go, go Joe!

1. Wicked


I struggled picking my number one. It was a split between Joesph and Wicked. In the end Wicked took the cake.

I first saw Wicked when I was 14. I was on a school trip to London and part of our getaway included tickets to see the stunning musical. I wasn’t overly excited. I had always liked The Wizard of Oz but I was never obsessed. I remember it frightening me more than inspiring me when I was younger. So, when everyone told me, “Oh, it’s absolutely amazing!” I wasn’t convinced.

But then I witnessed magic for the first time.

Wicked the musical is based on a novel by Gregory Maguire. I tried reading the book but I think I was too young; I’ll have to try reading it again. It’s quite a… Sexy book, if I may. It deals with different concepts and has a much darker side than the musical. Many people hate the musical because it makes light of such a hard hitting book, and many people hate the book because it’s not the light and romantic musical.

Winnie Holzman and Stephen Schwartz are responsible for this production. Schwartz composed the music and lyrics and I will call you a liar if you say you’re unimpressed. The music is utterly incredible. Every sound, every lyric, every crash of the drums and thud of the piano is arranged so beautifully – it instantly takes you away to Oz. I mean, all I really need to say is Devying Gravity. What a way to end the first half! Every person in the audience is shaken with chills when Elphaba’s voice changes pitch. 

However, my favourite song is No Good Deed. The second “FIYERO!” was screamed I fell in love. It’s such a powerful song – so full of feeling – and the lyrics are too good to be true.

“One question haunts and hurts – too much, too much to mention. Was I really seeking good? Or just seeking attention?”

Seriously thought provoking stuff. This line has inspired me over and over again.

The first time watching the spectacle that is Wicked, I failed to trust Glinda. I’m not sure if it was just my interpretation of the story or maybe it was something the actress was giving me – but I didn’t believe Elphaba and Glinda’s relationship. I felt on edge until the very last scene; as if Glinda was planning something. However, after seeing it for a second time, I knew the story and knew that the duo are actually meant to be best friends.

I think the reason I love this tale so much is because it shows a different side to the story. Back stories are my favourite kinds of stories. Why is someone evil? Why is someone so bad? Why does someone do the things they do, act the way they act, think the way they think? I would love to believe there’s no true evil in the world; we are all just shaped the way we are through our experiences. Wicked explores this idea and proves even the “baddie” has a reason to be the way they are. I think this is why I loved Malificent as well because it shows the other side of the coin and proves villains are much more 3 dimensional – rather than cackling idiots.

So there you have it! My top 5 favourite musicals. Do you agree with my list? Leave your top five in the comments or tweet them to me at @freetheleaves. 

Suicide Squad

Meh.

I didn’t want to write this review because…

Meh.


I didn’t hate Suicide Squad. I didn’t love Suicide Squad. It’s in a weird limbo of films for me. Did it make me laugh? Yes, multiple times. Did it make me cringe? Yes, multiple times. Did I come out with that feeling of being invincible, that feeling when the music is booming through your veins, when you feel you’re actually in the movie as you exit the cinema, that feeling of utter awesomeness as you strut your way to the car? 

Nope.

But to be fair, no movie this year has made me feel that way. It is the year of remakes and samey superhero films, and none have made me feel that incredible feeling only the cinema can do. 

But maybe I’m just getting harder to please in my old age.

I love the Batman universe. I first got into comics due to a group of boys at my high school who encouraged me into the world of geekery. I first agreed out of politeness but soon realised that Batman was my favourite go-to comic. I loved the setting of Gotham, I loved the darkness it involved, and I absolutely adored the villains. One of my favourite Batman comics is Hush simply because so many great baddies are present. The Penguin, the Riddler, and my favourite; The Joker.

I was a massive fan of Heath Ledger’s Joker. He brought the right balance of chillingly evil and crazy for me. He was a modern time Joker, a villain I could believe, and I fell in love with his portrayal from the second he smashed a pencil into a man’s head and called it “magic.”

So obviously hearing that Jared Leto was filling his shoes was a painful experience. But I refused to let my love for Ledger to cloud my judgment of Leto. I didn’t want him to copy Ledger, I didn’t want him to copy anyone, I expected Leto to bring something new. 

If only we saw more, right?


I didn’t hate what I saw! I simply wanted more. How can I judge the poor guy without having sufficient screen time? The only thing that bothered me was his weird raspy breathing. Once or twice is quite menacing but every line and it’s followed by a shaky deep breath is just annoying in my opinion.

However, Margot Robbie took my breath away. Harley Quinn has always had a special place in my heart as we both had something in common – the love for the Joker. I personally think Margot Robbie did an absolutely amazing job of bringing Harley to life. She was the perfect mix of sexy, bad ass and just plain crazy. The perfect Harley Quinn. The creator of this character, Paul Dini, even said she, “nailed it.”

“That’s it, that’s my girl.”


What a compliment, eh? I can’t wait for a stand alone Harley Quinn film – or even a Joker film – just to see Robbie again. Absolutely faultless. (Apart from maybe a few times her accent was shaky but I can forgive her).

Putting the two characters aside that I was looking forward to seeing the most – I didn’t actually know who anyone else was. Apart from Killer Croc, of course. I liked Will Smith’s character (Deadshot) as he was funny and menacing, almost the leader of he group, the one you can relate to the most with his daughter and whatnot. I thought Diablo’s (Jay Hernandez) fire effects were stupid and made his character seem laughable. The moment he waved his hand and wrote the word “BYE” in the air with CGI was the moment I snorted out loud and sighed. He was such an intense and beautifully morally diverse character – and in one tiny moment I felt nothing for him; just cringe.

The rest of the cast really could’ve been anyone because I felt no connection to them. The brief intro to each character was rushed, and along with the tacky fonts describing each talent each possesses, I didn’t feel anything towards them. Katana (Karen Fukuhara) seemed like a cool lady but I have no idea what her character is. The second she was shown crying over her dead husband whose soul is trapped in her sword (like wha) was over as quickly as it began and I was left, like I said, saying, “Wha..?”


However, the only reason I feel the characters suffered was because of the plot. Being honest, I don’t like supernatural plots. Yeah, I know it’s a stupid thing to say when seeing a SUPERHERO movie with a half-man, half-crocodile mutant and a man who can shoot fire out of his hands, but I guess I just wanted something more realistic. An ancient God who can make things float and control lightening and turn soldiers into strange slaves by kissing them wasn’t a good enough story for me. I feel we could’ve gotten to know the characters much better if their first mission was just fighting a terrorist attack. My boyfriend suggested that it could’ve worked if it was the Joker who was the problem. Harley Quinn would’ve taken part in the hopes to see him again, everyone else would enjoy the ride, that way we could get to know everyone and see more of the Joker as well. I liked this idea much better than an ancient witch with her heart in a box who wanted to kill all of humankind simply for revenge. I mean, it’s a bit cliche, ain’t it?

I also feel bad for Cara Delevingne who played the role of the baddie; Enchantress. I read a review that slated her as an actress but I don’t feel it was her fault. She can only act what she is given and she wasn’t given the best character. Her job was to be creepy and evil and I think she did that fine – she even looked good in her wee bikini while doing so.

I read somewhere that a lot of Suicide Squad had to be re-filmed, re-shot, re-written and so on. After Batman vs Superman, the studio realised they needed more humour and had to create more of this to suit its audience. I personally think this was a good move but this also might explain why the movie seems so strange and disjointed at times. 

After this review it definitely sounds like I didn’t like the film. But I did, I promise. It’s a good Friday night, popcorn munching film, that doesn’t require a lot of thought process to understand. I was amused during it and I enjoyed the flip of morals as the audience is forced to side with the criminals of society rather than the government who are meant to be the “good guys.”

However, I don’t appreciate fans throwing stones at critics who just tell it like it is. These people who review films for newspapers, websites, or magazines, usually have studied film and everything to do with it. They have experience and know what is good and what is bad. Don’t take it personally if you don’t agree with a critic. There are plenty of films that aren’t cinematically fantastic, that have errors,that my uni lecturers would smack me over the head for loving but I love them anyway. Just because it doesn’t suit what the industry is looking for doesn’t mean you’re wrong for liking it. But you have to accept these people know what they’re talking about, because they are the pros.

So overall, it was… Fine, and that’s all I can really say.

Apart from the credits, I HATE THE CREDITS. 

Like, seriously, who thought that was a good idea?


Ew.

Finding Dory

FINALLY!

Finally Finding Dory has made its way to the UK. America had it for over a month all to itself – finally I can put away my petted lip and see the masterpiece for myself! Time to get swimming!


Finding Dory is the movie I’ve been looking forward to the most this year. I invited all my gal pals round to prepare with a night of Finding Nemo and I had completely forgotten how amazing it was. The characters, the music, the animation, the colours of the reef, all of it filled me with excitement. 

Pixar are geniuses when it comes to sequels. Toy Story (my personal all-time-Disney-and-Pixar favourite) just got better and better – in my opinion. I knew Finding Dory would be an epic tale that matched its predecessor and it didn’t disappoint.

The first possible showing of the film was at 10.30am at my local cinema. After buying my tickets in advance, myself and my boyfriend basically flew to the screen. I was surprised by how many children were already there – I assumed that many parents would wait until after lunch but I was proven wrong. We all had the right idea though – the cinema was busy but not uncomfortably so. 

However, I’ve waited until my second viewing to review this film. Today I scooted off to see this tale again with my uni classmates – the same classmates I did a PowerPoint presentation with; a lecture all about, “why Wreck it Ralph is a quality film.” We received an A for our efforts. Not bragging, though. Not at all.

So off I popped with my Pixar crazy chums. Most of us had seen it before but it didn’t stop the magic from making us smile and laugh out loud all over again.

Many people question sequels – especially from the kinds of stories Disney offers; a simple yet well rounded tale that always ends on a high. Mostly, there never really seems the need to make a sequel as there’s no cliff hanger or unresolved issue (apart from The Incredibles but don’t get me started on that.)

One of my more skeptical friends asked me, “I know the script will be amazing – I mean, it’s Pixar. But what about the story? Is the story any good?”

To which I have to say – yes. From the second the movie opens with a cute baby Dory to the last after credits scene (yes there is an after credits scene and it’s worth the wait!) I was hooked. The plot contains so many moments you think Dory has reached her goal – the goal of finding her parents – only to whip that hope away from you. That roller coaster keeps you wanting more so, when the end result finally happens, the audience are left very satisfied.

And the new characters are just perfect.


Hank the anti-social septipus is someone any grumpy person can relate to. Bailey and Destiny the whales are wonderfully funny – I giggle just thinking of them, I think I laughed more than any child at their lines – and Dory’s parents are heart-warmingly human. 

However that doesn’t mean the old characters are forgotten about. There is definitely less screen time with Nemo and Marlin but not so little I’m disappointed. (More screen time than the Joker anyway… Yes I went there…) But this movie is about Dory, so limited Nemo time is expected in my opinion, and the new characters make up for it. 


However, Nemo’s character was allowed to really develop in this film. In the first movie he was a scared, worried young fish who wanted to get back home. In Finding Dory he was allowed to be more of himself, sticking up for Dory and proving his dad wrong, I felt a deeper connection to Nemo this time around. Maybe because I’m older and it feels like he’s aged with me – but none the less, Disney made sure his character is just as big and as interesting as his over protective father and cookie Dory.

However I was disappointed with blatant product placement. It’s a known fact Pixar love their Easter eggs – there’s even a Pixar theory due to these pockets of sightings – but Coca Cola? Really? I was very shocked when I saw the red cans dart away into the blue and wasn’t very impressed. Surely a company like Disney can do without the sponsorship of a fizzy drink?

But, hey, I’m nit picking here.

Of course a Disney film has to have a message. I believe there are three messages in Finding Dory and all are lessons I think are perfect for kids. The first, I believe, is that although your biological family is important, that isn’t your only family. Your family can be those who are just as close to you as your blood relatives. Furthermore, I think this film proves the importance of teamwork as Dory needs a lot of help to get on her way. Everyone has their own talents – for example, Bailey’s most powerful pair of glasses and Hank’s ability to walk on land – and together we can work to reach a goal. It may sound cheesy but it’s Disney, I mean come on.

The last is one I think Disney struggled with itself. Originally Dory was meant to be born in a aquatic park like Seaworld but after the Pixar crew watched the documentary Blackfish, they realised that this would be too controversial. Therefore they changed the story so that it was a marine biology institution that helps sick animals and fish. I personally think this was the right move and the movie has benefitted greatly from this change. The fish don’t want to go to a fish tank in Cleveland – they want to be free. Furthermore, Destiny, the bad sighted whale, does better without walls around her. I personally think one of the most powerful lines in the film is when Bailey tells her, “There are no walls in the ocean!” This take on such a controversial subject is handled so carefully but well that I can’t help but applaud Pixar for getting it right.

Overall, I adore this film and I adore Pixar. That will never change. A Disney film doesn’t mean it’s just for kids and it definitely doesn’t mean that aspects of film studies go amiss. The same creative process and structure is present all across filmmaking and story writing. The reason Pixar is so successful is because they stick to the professional way of doing things. 

And it works.