Having been terribly behind in my Netflix list due to the rest of my life imposing itself on me for the last few months, I was recently made aware that Judas Kiss became available on Netflix. On their DVD list anyway. I can’t tell you whether it’s on instant because Netflix is in the midst of trying to burn their company down to the last shareholder by separating their services and charging separately and issuing retractions and making up stupid names for their services which are already used by some weirdo on the Twitter.
I was impressed. Really impressed. As a watcher of gay cinema for some time now, I’ve come to realize that it’s like a treasure hunt where you do a lot of gambling on whether or not the treasure “map” is real or not. Kinda like The Final Sacrifice. Or that National Treasure movie that I guess a few people in Canada have seen/heard of. Disclaimer: neither of those are gay cinema… overtly.
You see, gay cinema is still more a niche than a genre. Niche, in cinema, means this: independent, low budget. The gamble is in whether independent also means amateur, and whether low budget correlates to low talent. Let me stress that these are NOT synonymous, they do NOT necessarily always go together. It’s just that it does happen, kinda a lot. But that’s what makes it a treasure hunt and why we keep going, looking for those gems.
Well, guess what? I found a gem and it’s called Judas Kiss.
Judas Kiss stars Charlie David (fellow Dreamspinner Press author and hottie) as a down-on-his-luck filmmaker who gets wrangled into going back to his college to judge a student film festival. Thing is, one of the students whose work he’s judging is in fact himself. From years ago. But this isn’t exactly Back to the Future stuff either. Not only is he able to interact with his “past” self, in the present, but they interact quite intimately, if temporarily. It’s a little bit of a mind bend, the idea of sleeping with yourself but not masturbating. The magic in this story, though obvious, is also so subtle that it doesn’t really feel unbelievable or throw you out of the story or characters at all. I love subtle magic that enhances the reality of the story rather than drowning it out.
The reference of the title is interesting. Our present day director is currently in hard times mostly because of his poor decisions since he won the student film festival years back with a film that was technically ineligible. In returning to the scene of the crime, as it were, he finds that with a little of that subtle magic going on, he’s able to make things right. But it can only happen at the expense of his younger self. He’s either going to have to betray this eager and talented young man in order to clear his adult conscience and do things the right way, or he’s going to have to let the kid repeat the mistakes of his past and end up far removed from what’s really important in life.
As far as professional quality, this movie is not far off from the quality of films like Love! Valor! Compassion! or (for a “mainstream” comparison) A Single Man. It is well done, all around – well written, well-acted, well filmed, and well edited. These things don’t actually take budget – budget can only polish the talent that’s already there and Judas Kiss didn’t need big budget for the talent involved to shine.