Monday, 20 March 2017

The Tickle King: Film Review

The Tickle King: Film Review

Funded as a Kickstarter in 2014, and released to equal parts critical acclaim and "WTF??" reactions, David Farrier and Dylan Reeve's Tickled, about the darker side of the internet, has now got a short film follow up.

With the original documentary ending with a few threads dangling and clearly implications of more to come, The Tickle King goes some way to giving both some closure for those with further questions, and Farrier and Reeve whose lives have already been swept up in the fall-out of the film.

With law-suits threatening them and screenings invaded by people trying to sabotage the film (and as a result, inadvertently giving more credence to the doco-makers), it's fair to perhaps suggest that Tickled was a film which would dog both Farrier and Reeve in future.

But the 20 minute short film / companion piece, The Tickle King doesn't seek to kick the hornet's nest any further - merely is a record of what exactly happened next.
And it's equally as fascinating and as bizarre as the original film that took New Zealand shores by storm in 2016, and the rest of the world shortly after.

Premiering after a screening of Tickled on the Rialto Channel on March 29th at about 8.05pm, The Tickle King brings more footage to light of what happened next.
From capturing the initial thrill of being at Sundance and getting the buzz the doco so rightly deserves to showing Farrier genuinely unsettled when it's revealed people in the audience appear to be taking notes or, in a move worthy of the first film itself, taping it from equipment inside a coffee cup, this bite-size extra travels further down the hole of weirdness for our enjoyment.

With the accolades come the legal threats and the shadowy tail-gating of Farrier as he goes about his business of promoting the film and dealing with the fall-out.
All expertly captured on film (and beautifully done so once again), The Tickle King simply shows the maelstrom hitting both Farrier and Reeve as they deal with the implications of coming across David D'Amato.

Essentially, it falls into 2 parts - one taking place in Sundance, and the other taking place at a now infamous screening in Los Angeles.

From the fake sites and attempts to discredit the pair by Kevin Clarke who appeared in the first film, the doco sheds more light on the incident where D'Amato confronted Reeve at the LA Screening of the movie at Nuart Theatre on June 18, 2016.

With extra footage from inside the Q&A where Reeve rationally tries to ask D'Amato to take part in the Q&A and even hushes the audience from booing him, this is once again an implicit representation of the duo's rationality and smarts in the face of what appears to be extremely irrational behaviour. The ability to step away from the situation and let it play out rather than prod at it is a credit to the duo. And there won't be anyone who silently seethes at D'Amato's implicit, yet somehow veiled, threats to Reeve about his being "a family man".

Certainly, these moments with D'Amato were missing from the first film, and not due to anything the duo had done, but simply because of the shadowy and slippery nature of their subject.
There's a truly fascinating and disturbing feeling here as it plays out, yet you can't help but admire Reeve for his calm, sensible composure in the face of it all.

It may look like the publicity's given the film an extra longevity after its initial release, but what the Tickle King shows about everyone's state of mind in the aftermath, is quite revealing.

And that's the thing with The Tickle King - it may give the fans more of D'Amato, but it still worryingly shows the story shows no sign of dying away as the film's released - and the madness and mania of the subjects exposed once again. With a subsequent screening on HBO, it's to be hoped all is quiet on that front, but when the extra ends, there's definitely a chill down your spine, thanks to the revelations of the credits.

Ultimately, if you've followed a lot of the post-Tickled fallout and subsequent media coverage, much of this will not be new to you. (Though it's still truly gob-smacking to see it all unfold on film).

But given there's a new audience who've come to the film, and there was a general desire to hear from the man involved, Farrier and Reeve are once again smart enough to know in the edit to step away from the camera and let the subjects do the talking.

This detachment serves them well, and gives a general feeling they're not pushing an agenda; once again, The Tickle King is simultaneously smart documentary-making and yet somehow, at its most ghoulish.

The Tickle King will premiere on the Rialto Channel on March 29th at 8.05pm after Tickled airs at 6.30pm.

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