You May Not Be “Tickled” By This Movie, But You’ll Definitely Be Intrigued

Trash Film Guru


Once in awhile a documentary comes along with such a bizarre, out-of-left-field premise that it proves the old adage that reality is, indeed, stranger than fiction, and Tickled, a new one in theaters now that comes our way courtesy of the New Zealand directing tandem of David Farrier (a pop-culture correspondent for an Auckland television station) and Dylan Reeve (a techie-turned- research-guru-and-camera-operator), certainly fits that bill — but it also raises some reasonably thought-provoking questions in the minds of viewers, chief among them being “what, exactly, constitutes something as being pornographic?,” and “how far are some people willing to go in order to fuel their obsessions — and are those with greater financial means in a position to become completely swallowed up by them?”

I freely confess that I’d never heard of the so-called “sport” of — get this — “competitive endurance tickling” before seeing this flick the other…

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Artist Profile: Dorothea Lange (1895 — 1965)

Dorothea Lange was a photographer who is best remembered for the pictures she took, for the Farm Security Administration, of American farm life during the Great Depression.  Her photography humanized the suffering that was occurring the dust bowl and she remains influential until this day.  Lange contracted polio when she was 12, leaving her with both a permanent limp and a sympathy for society’s outcasts.  In every picture that she took, that sympathy was present.

Below is just a small sampling of her powerful work.


6 Patriotic Trailers


Hi everyone!

Happy Independence Day and welcome to a special edition of Lisa Marie’s Favorite Grindhouse and Exploitation Film Trailers!  

In honor of this day, here are 6 trailers that are so patriotic, they’ll make our American readers reconsider their earlier decision to move to Canada!

1) Red Dawn (1984)

2) Invasion USA (1952)

3) Invasion USA (1985)

4) The Delta Force (1986)

5) American Anthem (1986)

6) The Green Berets (1968)

So, what does everyone think after watching these six trailers…


Oh, stop it.

(Just kidding — love you, Canada!  Love you too, America!)


Jimi Hendrix Plays The Star-Spangled Banner!

On August 18, 1969, Jimi Hendrix performed the greatest version of The Star Spangled Banner on record.  Jimi, who has been awake for three days when he performed his version of the National Anthem, later said, “We’re all Americans … it was like ‘Go America!’… We play it the way the air is in America today. The air is slightly static, see”

Flags on Film

Just in case you need some help getting into the 4th of July mood.

911 American Flag by Alaz Mal

911 American Flag by Alaz Mal

 All The Colors of the Day by Erin Nicole

All The Colors of the Day by Erin Nicole

By Andrea Ward

By Andrea Ward

By David Sanger

By David Sanger

by Frank Conlon

by Frank Conlon

By Randy Olson

By Randy Olson

By Stephen Sheffield

By Stephen Sheffield

Flag by Erin Nicole

Flag by Erin Nicole

Things Are Looking Up by Jackson Carson

Things Are Looking Up by Jackson Carson

Cleaning Out The DVR, Again #15: Stranger In The House (dir by Allan Harmon)


The 15th film on my DVR was Stranger In The House, which premiered on the Lifetime Movie Network on April 10th.

Stranger In The House opens with a stab at relevance by including news reports of Wall Street bailouts and footage of Occupy protesters running around in their Guy Fawkes masks.  (Though I’m sure they would probably call them V For Vendetta masks.)  I have to admit that, when I first saw that footage, I was worried.  I didn’t know if I could particularly take a Lifetime version of The Big Short.

Fortunately, the rest of the film has nothing to do with any of that.  Instead, it’s a rather enjoyable and somewhat over-the-top Lifetime melodrama, one that makes no pretense of providing anything other than wonderfully sordid entertainment.

Super-rich businessman Wayne (John Novak) has been crippled in a car crash and, now confined to a wheelchair, he goes out of his way to make everyone else miserable.  He’s nearly impossible to live with and his daughter and chief caretaker, Jade (Emmanuelle Vaugier), desperately needs a vacation from him.  On top of that, she’s just married the handsome but somewhat mysterious Marco (Matthew McCaull) and they want to take their honeymoon.  So, jade hires a caretaker to look after Wayne while they’re gone.

At first, Wayne doesn’t much like his caretaker.  Sure, Samantha (Jordana Largy) may be attractive and enthusiastic but she’s into stuff like yoga and Wayne’s too cantankerous for all that.  However, we then get a five-minute montage in which we see Wayne slowly start to lower his defenses.  Soon, he and Samantha are smiling and laughing and kissing.  When Jade and Marco return, they are shocked by just how close Wayne and Samantha have become…

Then Wayne mentions that he and Samantha have gotten married and all Hell breaks loose.

Jade is convinced that Samantha only married Wayne for his money and she grows even more frustrated when Marco suggests that maybe she should give Samantha a chance.  Wayne certainly appears to be happy and he’s even washing his hair again!  But then one day, Wayne is found dead at the bottom of a cliff and it turns out that he’s left all of his money to Samantha!

Jade believes that Samantha murdered Wayne.  It doesn’t help that Samantha isn’t acting like a grieving widow.  Instead, she’s laughing and drinking and constantly complaining about having to wear black all the time.  If that’s not strange enough, Samantha and Marco seem to have suddenly grown very close.

How close?

Close enough that they’re ducking into a bedrooms and broom closets so that they can make out…

And that all happens in the first forty minutes!  Now, I’m not going to spoil the rest of the movie but I will say that this is one of those Lifetime movies where things just keep getting stranger and stranger.  In fact, it’s almost ludicrous how melodramatic things get but that’s why it’s fun!  This is one of those films that is so over-the-top and fun that you would have to be a real killjoy to complain about whether or not it actually makes any sense.

After all, logic really isn’t the point here.  Stranger In The House is all about style and that’s something that it definitely has.  This is a sleek, fun melodrama and one for which I would suggest keeping an eye out.

Cleaning Out The DVR, Again #14: Decision Before Dawn (dir by Anatole Litvak)


So, I’m currently in the process of cleaning out my DVR by watching the 40 films that I recorded from March to June of this year.  Yesterday, I watched the 14th film on my DVR, the 1951 film Decision Before Dawn.  

Decision Before Dawn aired on April 9th on FXM and I specifically recorded it because it was nominated for best picture.  It only received one other nomination (for editing) and it’s one of those nominees that often seems to be dismissed by Oscar historians.  Whenever Decision Before Dawn is mentioned, it’s usually because it’s being unfavorably compared to the other nominees: A Place In The Sun, A Streetcar Named Desire, and An American In Paris.  I went into Decision Before Dawn with very low expectations but you know what?

Decision Before Dawn is not a bad film.  In fact, I would even go as far as to say that it’s actually a damn good film.  If you’re into war films — and, admittedly, I am not — you will love Decision Before Dawn.  If, like me, you’re a history nerd, you’ll be fascinated by the fact that, since this film was shot on location, Decision Before Dawn offers a chance to see what Europe looked like in the years immediately following the destruction of World War II.

As I mentioned, I’m not really into war movies but fortunately, Decision Before Dawn takes place during World War II.  World War II is one of the few wars where there’s no real ambiguity about whether or not the war needed to be fought.  When it comes to picking a villain that everyone can hate, Adolf Hitler and his followers are petty much the perfect villains to go with.

In Decision Before Dawn, Oskar Werner plays Karl Maurer, a German soldier who deserts after his best friend is executed for insubordination.  Though Karl loves his home country, he hates the Nazis who have taken it over.  Karl surrenders to the Americans and volunteers to return to Germany to act as a spy.  Karl finds himself in a strange situation.  Though he’s fighting against the Nazis, he is also mistrusted by the Allies.  He is literally a man without a country.

When word comes down that a German general is willing to surrender, Karl and another German soldier-turned-spy, the greedy and cowardly Sgt. Barth (Hans Christian Bleth), are sent into Germany to both find out if the information is true and to find out where another division of German soldiers is located.  Accompanying the two Germans is a bitter American, Lt. Dick Rennick (Richard Basehart).  Rennick doesn’t trust either of the Germans.

While Rennick and Barth track down the surrendering General, Karl is sent to track down the other division.  Along the way, Karl visits many bombed out German towns and meets Germans of every political persuasion.  Some of them still vainly cling to hope for victory over the Allies but the majority of them are like Hilde (Hildegard Knef), a young war widow who just desperately wants the fighting to end.  Thanks to the deeply empathetic performances of Werner and Knef, the scenes between Hilde and Karl elevate the entire film.  In those scenes, Decision Before Dawn becomes more than just a war film.  It becomes a portrait of men and women trapped by circumstances that they cannot control.

Decision Before Dawn is an exciting and well-acted thriller, one that starts slow but then builds up to a truly thrilling conclusion.  Anatole Litvak directs the film almost as if it were a film noir, filling the entire screen with menacing shadows and moody set pieces.  Decision Before Dawn is a war film that does not celebrate war but instead mourns the evil that men do and argues that sometimes the most patriotic thing that one can do is defy his or her government.  It may be one of the more obscure best picture nominees but it’s still one that deserves to be rediscovered.

By the way, if you do watch Decision Before Dawn, be sure to keep an eye out for Klaus Kinski.  He only appears for a minute or two and he’s not even credited but you’ll recognize him as soon as you see him.  The eyes give him away as soon as he shows up.


A Quickie With Lisa Marie: Independence Day: Resurgence (dir by Roland Emmerich)


Oh, who cares?

Sorry, I know that’s like an ultra unprofessional way to open a review but Independence Day: Resurgence is one of the least inspiring films that I’ve ever seen.  Jeff and I saw it the day that it opened and, at the time, I was planning on reviewing it the next day.  But when I sat down to actually write about the movie … well, I discovered that I could hardly care less.  This is one of those films that I could have easily waited until December to review.  However, seeing as today is Independence Day, this seemed to be the right time to say something about it.

Memorable movies inspire.  Good movies inspire love.  Bad movies inspire hate.  A movie like Independence Day: Resurgence inspires apathy.

Actually, what’s really frustrating about Independence Day: Resurgence is that it starts out with such promise.  The first few scenes suggest that maybe the film is trying to be something more than just another “let’s blow shit up while stars get quippy” action film.  Independence Day: Resurgence imagines an alternative history for post-alien invasion Earth and it’s actually pretty clever.  Earthlings have taken advantage of the alien technology but society has also become heavily militaristic.  The main characters of the first film are all revered as heroes but, when we first meet former President Whitmore (Bill Pullman, with a wise old man beard), he’s having nightmares about the invasion.

And seriously, for the first 30 minutes or so, I really thought that Independence Day: Resurgence might turn out to be surprisingly clever, that maybe it would satirize the excesses of the original while subtly critiquing everything that’s fucked up about our real world.

Well, that was a mistake on my part.  There is no satire.  There is no critique.  Instead, it’s just another alien invasion film and it’s all terribly predictable.  It may be a sequel to the first Independence Day but it feels more like a rip-off of Battle: Los Angeles.  Considering what the film could have been, it’s impossible not to be disappointed by how familiar and uninspired it all is.

What I failed to take into account is that this film was directed by Roland Emmerich.  Emmerich is a director who is best distinguished by his total lack of self-awareness.  After all, this is the director who, in Anonymous, seriously suggested that William Shakespeare personally murdered Christopher Marlowe.  Watching Independence Day: Resurgence and listening to the generic dialogue and witnessing the generic mayhem, I started to get the sinking feeling that the film was a joke and that  Emmerich was the only person on the planet who was not in on it.  He doesn’t realize how predictable his movies are or that his characters are cardboard cut-outs or that the film’s inspiring moments are so overdone that they instead become groan-inducing.  One of the stars of the first film sacrifices himself in Resurgence and you know who it’s going to be from the minute he shows up onscreen.  Emmerich is not a good enough director to make his sacrifice touching.  The fact that the film ends with the promise of a sequel is not surprising and yet, it still somehow manages to be annoyingly presumptive.  The film’s ending seems to be taunting us.  “Of course, you’re going to want to sit through this shit for a third time…what other choice do you have?”

In the film’s defense, the cast is big and it includes a lot of good actors.  Unfortunately, the characters are so undeveloped that you again find yourself regretting what a waste it all is.  Jeff Goldblum and Judd Hirsch are both likable but Bill Pullman seems to be incredibly bored with the whole thing.  Liam Hemsworth, Jessie Usher, and Maika Monroe are all stuck playing typical Emmerich ciphers.

I should mention that, despite how negative this review may sound, I did not hate Independence Day: Resurgence, at least not in the way that I’ve hated other films, like Anonymous or the remake of Straw Dogs.  My problem with Resurgence isn’t that I hated it or even that I disliked it.  It’s that I didn’t feel much about it, one way or the other.  It’s one of those film that is best described as “just kinda being there.”  Apathy is the worst thing that a film can inspire.

Perhaps the best thing about Independence Day: Resurgence is that Roland Emmerich has protected the holiday from being co-opted by Garry Marshall.

What Lisa Watched Last Night #154: Where’s My Baby? (dir by David Winning)

On Sunday night, I turned over to the Lifetime Movie Network and I watched Where’s My Baby?

Lochlyn Munro, the patron saint of Canadian-produced Lifetime melodrama and co-star of Where's My Baby?

Lochlyn Munro, the patron saint of Canadian-produced Lifetime melodrama and co-star of Where’s My Baby?

Why Was I Watching It?

Oh, why not?

Sorry, I’m trying to come a funny and/or interesting reason why I decided to watch Where’s My Baby? but the main answer is that it was on the Lifetime Movie Network and there was nothing else on.  Game of Thrones is on break.  Veep is on break.  There’s no killer zombies on AMC and I can’t watch Preacher because I resent its inaccurate portrayal of my home state.

So, with all that in mind, I figured why not see what was premiering on LMN!

What Was It About?

Marissa Davis (Nicole de Boer) wakes up after having spent the past five years in a coma.  She has no memory of how she came to be in that coma but she’s still happy to be awake.  She’s especially happy to discover that her best friend, Heather (Gina Holden), is married to Congressman Cal Ward (Lochlyn Munro).  Cal seems like a nice guy but he’s running for the Senate and talking about how much he believes in traditional values and we all know that, in a Lifetime movie, anyone who talks about values is eventually going to turn out to be a huge hypocrite.

Marissa is disturbed to discover that 1) she was the victim of a mysterious hit and run and that 2) she has a C-section scar.  Her mother (Iris Quinn) finally tells her that she was pregnant when she was hit by the car.  Her mother also assures her that the baby was delivered stillborn.

Meanwhile, Heather and Cal have a 5 year-old daughter!  What a coincidence!  And the baby appears to have the same hereditary kidney disorder that runs in Marissa’s family.  What could that possibly mean?  And, for that matter, why is a mysterious doctor suddenly so obsessed with removing Marissa’s kidney?

What Worked?

Oh my God, I so love these insane Lifetime movies.  Where’s My Baby is shameless fun, the type of movie that you simply cannot stop watching once it has begun.  The movie starts out crazy and it just keeps going from there!

Add to that, there’s a general rule when it comes to Lifetime films.  If Lochlyn Munro is in it, the film cannot be bad.  Lochlyn Munro has appeared in so many Lifetime films that, to some of us, he’s become the patron saint of the network.

What Did Not Work?

It all worked.  When a film is that insanely over the top, there’s no way that it can’t work.

“Oh my God!  Just like me!” Moments

To be honest, there really weren’t any “Oh my God!  Just like me!” moments.  I’ve never suffered from amnesia.  As anyone who has ever gotten on my bad side can tell you, I never forget.


Lessons Learned

If you wake up with amnesia, don’t take anyone’s word for what happened while you were asleep.  Investigate for yourself.  Seriously, that’s a lesson to live by.