Philly QFest 2011: The One

It’s time for another film review! Yesterday I got the chance to view another film from the festival, The One.

“This romantic comedy takes the convention of the genre and gives it a stylishly queer twist – think Philadelphia Story meets Latter Days, or better yet, a comedic updating of the 1992 groundbreaking Making Love. Hunky Daniel couldn’t have it better – great parents, a successful career as an investment banker and the beautiful Jen as his fiancée. A seemingly perfect life…but there is one temptation that may derail his best-laid plans for a straight-and-narrow life: he has a thing for Tommy, the charming former college classmate who is now openly gay. After a few drinks, Daniel succumbs to his repressed desires and makes a one-time “mistake.” Soon after their initial tryst, the normally jaded Tommy falls head over heels in love, but Daniel wants nothing more of him or his dazzlingly seductive smile – he’s back with Jen, determined to marry her. With Tommy’s friends warning him against his involvement with a straight man and Daniel’s pledge of heterosexually, it would seem that nothing will come of them…but love and lust have a way of messing up even the best laid plans of man. A refreshingly funny story of coming out as well as a belated coming-of-age tale that sparkles with witty dialogue and believable characters.           –           Raymond Murray

I’m not sure if Mr. Murray and I watched the same movie. Ok, maybe that’s a little too harsh. There were definitely some high points: the chemistry between Daniel (Jon Prescott) and Tommy (Ian Novick) was very believable, and I could feel the angst and anguish that Daniel was going through, wanting his normal life while being drawn back to Tommy over and over again. . That being said, the movie did drag in a couple of places, and I felt there were some parts that could have been cut to help smooth out the transitions.

There were only really a few things I had problems with. Tommy meets up with Daniel at a bar, they have a few drinks, Daniel winds up in bed with Tommy and immediately Tommy is head over heels in love. I realize that this was intentional because Tommy mentions love at first sight several times, but it still felt a bit rushed, especially considering Tommy’s mention of his jaded self. I also found myself spending most of the movie waiting for the other shoe to drop. I was always hoping that there were a few surprises left, but the movie played out exactly how I expected it to and I was left thinking, “Was that it?”

Some of my problem might have been that this was a very familiar story. The “straight” guy has the perfect life and perfect woman and then he meets a guy that makes him realize that he wants something different. My favorite character in this movie was, oddly enough, Jen, Daniel’s “perfect woman.” She was a very likeable character and I actually found myself dreading her getting hurt. I was also very impressed with her reaction when she found out about the affair. There was just the right amount of horror, understated but obviously painful. It was very well played. Toby (David Albiero) who plays Tommy’s best friend was also very well played as the comic relief. The supporting cast alone definitely made this movie worth sitting through. I’m not sure yet if I’ll be adding this film to my collection, but I’m definitely glad I got the opportunity to view it here.

Philly QFest 2011: Judas Kiss

It’s that time of year again; the gay and lesbian film festival circuit is in full swing. I’ve been a big fan of the independent gay film genre for years now, but never before have I actually had the opportunity to experience any of the festivals. So this year I decided to make a point of going to Philly QFest’s 17th festival, and I’m really glad I did.

Today I went to the 2nd screening of Judas Kiss. I had wanted to see this film since I first saw the teaser trailers, and it was well worth the wait.

Judas Kiss stars Charlie David as Zachary Wells who was a boy wonder filmmaker in his college days, but now approaching thirty, his best days are long behind him. So, when his agent encourages him to travel to his alma mater to judge a student film festival, he reluctantly goes:  after all, he has nothing else to do. Returning to his old campus, he tosses professionalism aside when he has a one-night stand with Danny (Richard Harmon), the talented student filmmaker who’s much talked about movie proves to be the one to beat at the festival. Sexual shenanigans are the least of Zachary’s problems when he realizes that there has been some sort of time shift and that Danny is really his 20-year-old younger self! He’s looking directly at his past. But Danny’s none the wiser: he considers it just a fling with an old dude as he goes about his tumultuous personal life, juggling relationships with the cocky Shane (Timo Descamps) and with Chris (Sean Paul Lockhart), a fellow student with a crush on him. As Danny plots his way to an award-winning filmmaking future, Zachary works to change his past…and hopefully his future. Director J.T. Tepnapa (2002 short Masturbation: Putting the Fun Into Self-Loving) directs a very talented cast including David (Mulligans, Kiss the Bride, “Dante’s Cove”), Lockhart (Another Gay Sequel, Milk, I Was a Teenage Werebear) and Harmon (“The Killing”).     – Raymond Murray

Although I am a fan of the genre, independent gay films often suffer from notoriously tight budgets. With low production values, they can frequently appear to be little better than student films. That was definitely not the case here. As writer/producer Carlos Pedraza stated in the Q & A, they “wanted to make sure that every dollar raised for this project went into the production”. It definitely shows. The movie is beautifully lit, and the cinematography is interesting and draws you into the story. There were a lot of good people involved in the making of this film, a few of whom donated some of their time to get it made. They had an unbelievably large cast for such a low budget, with 32 speaking roles and a slew of extras. This film was set on a college campus, and they wanted realism.

The story was one we have all heard before; a misfit, failed soul gets a chance at redemption and an opportunity to change his life for the better.  So, I was curious as to what the filmmakers’ take on it would be. They took the familiar story and made it their own. I was drawn into the drama from the first scene. Now, I have to admit that I’m a sucker for a sweet, gay love story, but I was immediately taken with David’s Zach and found myself more interested in his character’s development than anything else.

I was also really impressed with the acting of the main cast. I’ve see Charlie David in a few films and can say without a doubt, I felt this was one of his best. Sean Paul Lockhart (better known as Brent Corrigan to adult film audiences) has only been in a few films at this point, but I see a bright future for him. He was actually honored with the rising star award at QFest on opening night. Finally, we have Timo Descamps, the new gay indie breakout star. He’s a Belgian pop star who’s done mostly musical theater and tv roles and lends one of his singles to the film. I was not aware before the Q & A that this was not only his first feature film, but also his first English speaking project. He played the bad boy very well.

Overall, I have to say I enjoyed every aspect of this film: the actors, the location, the direction. All of it was top notch. I would definitely rate this as a must see movie for gay cinema fans, and see this film earning a spot on the top ten list for 2011.

For those interested, a sneak peak at the many talents of Timo Descamps: