It’s no secret that I have been showing a lot of support for the independent film “Judas Kiss.” It premiered a few weeks ago in Phoenix, and its next stop is a film festival in Miami Easter weekend, and I couldn’t be more excited about it.
Two people I truly admire — J.T. Tepnapa and Carlos Pedraza — were involved in this film from start to finish. Joining them was a wonderful cast and crew that brought the words I enjoyed in the script to life on the silver screen.
Because I have such a fond personal interest in “Judas Kiss,” it’s kind of hard for me to be entirely objective. But I make every effort to do so.
When Jody Wheeler, a co-producer of the film and the site maestro for the gay-themed science-fiction site DoorQ asked me to take a look at the script more than a year ago, I really hesitated. I was familiar with J.T.’s and Carlos’ work from the past, especially when it came to J.T.’s short films and Carlos’ work on the online Star Trek fan productions. But asking me to take a look at something as an entertainment reporter was much different.
First, whether you’re my friend or not … if I don’t like what you’re doing or think it’s crap, I’m going to tell the world it’s crap. At the same time, even if I don’t know who anyone involved is, if I really love something, I will scream from the rooftops how much I love something.
I didn’t want to be put in a position where I might have to tell J.T. and Carlos that it was cute they made an attempt to do a full-scale movie, but it wasn’t very good.
Instead, I got to do the opposite. After reading the script, I fell in love with the story, and wanted to cover this production from beginning to end. I flew out to the set in Seattle last year, and even earned a small four-second spot in the movie, sitting on a park bench, reading a newspaper.
Next week, before I make the drive down to Miami, I’ll review the movie here on the site. I will try and distance myself as much as I can from the film, but we all know that there will be some definite bias involved, and I will have to point that out.
But I loved the screener that was sent to me by J.T. and Carlos. I thought the pacing was solid, the acting was great, and the cinematography was extraordinary, considering the amount of money that was spent. A “washed up” film producer returns to his alma mater to judge a film competition he had won 15 years before. In the process, he gets caught up in both the past and the future, as they converge on Keystone University (which looks a lot like the University of Washington).
Some reviews are already out, including one from Joseph Airdo of the Phoenix Examiner called “Judas Kiss” an “incredibly original independent feature film,” but one that really grabbed my attention was from my good pal Brent Hartinger over at AfterElton.
Brent’s review of “Judas Kiss” was mostly positive, except he felt there were some script issues. His biggest beef was the fact that the “magic” wasn’t explained, nor were the parameters of that “magic” defined.
Basically, there is some time traveling in “Judas Kiss” that is not necessarily explained, and is not really done along the conventional lines we’re used to seeing in franchises like Star Trek and Stargate. Because no one stops the film to explain what’s going on, there is not a lot of understanding of the “magical” construct of “Judas Kiss,” and that made it hard for Brent to fully enjoy the film.
But seriously, so we really have to have everything explained to us? Do we want to have everything explained to us?
I remember the first time I read the script, I was trying to wrap my head around how the time-traveling worked. But I quickly realized as the story progressed: who cares? The “magic” is meant to solely provide some foundation to the overall story. And it’s the story and characters I cared about, not how they got there.
When we look at Donald Trump, we don’t care how he got rich, only that he is rich. That is what we focus on.
When we eat a hot dog, we don’t take the time to figure out how the hot dog was created and presented to us. We just squirt some ketchup and mustard on it, and that’s that.
The same goes for a good story. I could’ve enjoyed the entire Star Wars franchise without ever fully understanding what made up The Force or anything else about it. The whole “midi-chlorians” discussion in “Phantom Menace” (as well as most of that movie) could’ve been left out, for all I cared.
It’s almost like looking behind the curtain. If we know how the magic is created, is it still magic? I don’t think so.
When you see “Judas Kiss,” and trust me you’ll see “Judas Kiss,” you won’t find the magic explained anywhere in the film. You may even scratch your head trying to figure out where it comes from.
But you’ll also realize that we don’t need our hand held through an entire story. There are some things better left not knowing, and the focus on “Judas Kiss” should be on this original story, fascinating characters, and the fat guy sitting on a bench, reading a newspaper.
If you’re in South Florida Easter weekend, join J.T., Carlos, Jody, special effects guru Joel Bellucci and me for the “Judas Kiss” premiere at the Miami Gay and Lesbian Film Festival April 22. Get more details on tickets by clicking here.