Gugino film clip (collages below)
Hotsprings and Yvette Lera film clip (sample
It is possible to argue
that this is not a very good movie. I can see why some
people would say that if their favorite films are
Prospero's Books or My Dinner With Andre, but I don't
subscribe to that newsletter. I reserve the right to
love Wild Things, Road House or any other crappy
movies if they are fun. This film is fun.
As the film begins, a security guard is supposed to be
paying attention to his video monitors, but is
actually watching a porno video about lesbians from
outer space. We watch along with him, but we don't
just look over his shoulder to get a second hand view
of what he sees on his tiny monitor, nor must we
squint through the double pixilation of a video tape
within a movie. Instead, we watch the porno movie as
if we had rented it ourselves. It occupies our full
screen, in top quality with lush production qualities,
as if the lesbian alien porn were the movie we had
rented. About a minute into the action, there is
clear, well lit, full-frontal female nudity, followed
by an energetic lesbian love scene aboard a cheesy
spaceship that looks like a bad disco from the early
So right away we know we're not going to be watching
"The Sweet Hereafter."
Was there any reason to picture the lesbian porn at
length in high quality? None at all.
- The plot did not require the
guard to be watching a porno film. He could have
been napping, or watching "To Kill a Mockingbird."
- If the fact that he was
watching a porno film was part of his character
development, there was no need to picture it in
- If it was to be pictured in
detail for some reason, it should have been seen
on his monitor in order to avoid breaking the
fourth wall. Why do we need to see the lesbian
porn in high quality at great length?
There was absolutely no reason to show the video
within the film at all, let alone in perfect quality.
Now THAT's gratuitous nudity.
In other words ...
My kind of film.
From those first moments, Judas Kiss wants to tell you
upfront that it is a guilty pleasure movie, pure and
simple. Once you determine that it is not actually a
movie about lesbians from outer space, you will see
that it is one of those detective stories where ...
well, at one point one of the characters turns to
another and says, "There is really only one plot:
'Nothing is as it seems.'"
It's that kind of movie.
What is it really about?
If the security guard had not been totally into space
lesbians, he would have seen and/or reported a
kidnapping. A band of four crazy criminals (who often
spout faux-poetic dialogue) decide to kidnap a Bill
Gates kind of guy, opting to demand a ransom exactly
equal to the amount covered by his company's
insurance. As predicted, the company has no problem
forking over the money, but those darned law
enforcement officials insist on taking the matter
seriously, not in small part because the kidnappers
managed to shoot and kill a witness on their way out,
and that witness happened to be the wife of a U.S.
Senator. Oops! Murder and kidnapping come under
separate jurisdictions, so a cop and an FBI agent must
work together on the case. Alan Rickman is the cop
assigned to the murder investigation, and Emma
Thompson is the federal agent in charge of the
kidnapping. You must be thinking, "Emma Thompson and
Alan Rickman? So this takes place in Manchester, or
London, or someplace like that?"
You're close. New Orleans.
Yup, Em and Rickman spend the entire film trying to
speak in Paul Prudhomme accents, y'betcha. As it turns
out, they did reasonably well. Their speech did slip
out of Louisiana now and then, but they generally
managed to cover up their British roots. When they
messed up, it was usually to draw out an American "r",
which made them sound like cops visiting The Big Easy
from Minneapolis. To tell you the truth, their accents
didn't really matter very much, because they are both
good actors who brought wit and quirky intelligence to
their parts, so the film was much better with them
than it would have been with two ordinary actors with
The film takes a lot of twists and turns, and involves
a lot of secrets. Rickman somehow figures out what is
really going on, which is amazing because even the
criminals are not completely sure, but he can't pursue
the case directly because a lot of people in very
important positions don't actually want him to solve
the crime. Instead they want him to follow some
planted clues and solve the apparent crime, which is
actually only a mammoth distraction from what is
really going on. So Rickman has to skulk around in the
background and solve the crime indirectly.
Don't fret if it sounds too complicated. Judas Kiss is
not one of those way-too-confusing stories. In fact,
the only reason we are ever confused at all is because
we don't know all the details, but the whole scheme
makes some sense once the smoke and mirrors are
removed, so the story plays out as a pleasurable noir.
It is not an ultra-realistic and gritty film, but
rather the stylish type of noir in which the
complicated story is really of secondary importance
when contrasted to the witty and philosophical
exchanges between the characters. Rickman and Em
provide humorous and literary banter throughout their
pursuit, and even the criminals are quirky and
articulate. Carla Gugino is an absolute treasure.
A couple of years ago there was a movie called "Real
Women Have Curves." I haven't see it, but if its title
represents an accurate statement, then a picture of
Gugino should be used as the scientific symbol for
reality. Her lush, curvaceous figure and innate
sexiness combine with a kind of sweet Sally Field
wholesomeness and a deceptive intelligence to make her
kind of like Salma Hayek without the accent. She is
the perfect femme fatale for the film noir genre
except that audiences would normally have a hard time
accepting her as a calculating schemer. In this film,
however, her girl-next-door vulnerability worked to
her advantage because the script actually required her
to teeter on the tightrope between the roles of
criminal and victim. Yes, she was a bad girl - but one
with a conscience and a good heart who eventually ends
up as the hero of the story, even though it was she
who killed the Senator's wife and first turned the
intended comical lark into a bloodbath!
How could that be? Oh, it's complicated and delicious,
but you'll have to watch the movie to find out!
It went straight to video in the USA, and it is
difficult to find, but you should look for it if you
love a sleazy, twisty R-rated noir. From the opening
sex scene between lesbians from outer space, to the
banter between Alan Rickman and Emma Thompson as
cynical Louisiana cops, Judas Kiss is a great guilty