Lovely Signs of Life

I’ve just had the chance to view a screener of Andrew Keenan-Bolger and Adam Wachter’s short film Sign and if I had to sum it up in one word, that word would be “beautiful.”

Sign is the story of a relationship told entirely through sign language. It’s a bold choice, using a language that the vast majority of your audience is likely not to know and to eschew title cards or captions. It is, however, the correct choice.

John McGinty and Preston Sadleir are the couple at the center of the piece and there is never a moment when they are not sublime. McGinty has one of the most expressive faces and, for a young actor, he shows such a masterly of subtleness that I found it difficult to pull my focus away from him. That, of course, would be my loss, as Sadleir matches him note for note.

As a deaf actor, McGinty is, perhaps expectedly, a master signer and his signing is effortless. Sadleir, the hearing actor, who, in the story, learns ASL to better communicate with his new boyfriend, has a nice arc as you watch the clumsy early signing become more and more deft as the story progresses.


Preston Sadleir (l) is Ben and John McGinty is Aaron in the terrific short film, Sign.

Keenan-Bolger is, of course, one of Broadway’s Keenan-Bolger siblings whose individual and collective talents seem utterly boundless. He has, in addition to acting and singing and dancing, made quite the second career as a content creator, director, YA author, and filmmaker. He’s a dab hand behind the camera as well as in front. A gifted comedic actor (do yourself a favor and watch him in the web series Submissions Only, which he co-created with Kate Wetherhead), he shows a more sensitive and mature side here. His direction is smart and his cinematography shows he’s ready for a full-length project next.

Don’t think he’s given up the cheeky wit, though. Here, Sadleir’s Ben is seen teaching himself ASL with a Signing for Dummies book; our main couple watch a program on television that’s actually another Keenan-Bolger short, The Ceiling Fan; and he even puts his real-life boyfriend in as a Grindr trick!

Sign is billed as a “silent film,” but that’s giving short shrift to Wachter, whose score is note perfect throughout. It is the foundation upon which these vignettes rest and it seems to me that it functions more than mere underscoring and, instead, buttresses the scenes as a recitative for sign language. His variations on the same musical theme work to ensure that this series of short, disjointed scenes mesh together in a cohesive whole. It might help that Wachter wrote the story as well.

The “truth in journalism” part of this is that I had access to the screener because I gave to the crowd funding initiative for this film. It was worth every penny. Find out if its playing at a local film festival by visiting their website or following the film on Facebook and if you find that it’s playing nearby, then go! You’ll not regret it.

Kiss Me, Kill Me, Watch Me

I was one of the lucky ones — I got to attend the “virtual premiere” of the new Casper Andreas film Kiss Me, Kill Me last weekend. Instead of heading the the Windy City to watch the real deal at the Reeling Film Festival — which certainly would have been fun — I got to watch it from the confines of my own living room. Ain’t technology grand!


“Coming soon … with a bang” — my vote for best copywriting this year.

It was just a fun movie. A very gay take on the old fashioned film noir pot boiler, it was more of an homage than it was a send-up. It didn’t take itself too seriously, then again, it didn’t camp it up too much either. That’s Andreas’ seasoned hand at the tiller.

David Michael Barrett’s sneaky story — one switchback turn after another, twisting and turning until the bitter end — and no, I’m not handing out spoilers — was full of surprises and puns and quips; the kind you could imagine Nick and Nora Charles coming up with. I love those old film noir detective movies and pulp paperback stories; smirky gumshoes throwing shade before anyone knew what shade was, thumping the bill of their rakish fedora as they threw the cherry end of a Lucky under their heel and crushed it out, walking out of the frame into the fog.

This was like that, only gayer. Much gayer.

After their premiere earlier in the week in EastSiders, it was fun to see Van Hansis and Kit Williamson playing opposite each other in wildly different roles. It was also great to see Hansis play off of the always-terrific Gale Harold. Craig Robert Young and Brianna Brown were lovely, too, as were Yolanda Ross and Jai Rodriguez as the detectives assigned to the case. And Jonathan Lisecki should be the store clerk — or snarky best friend — in every film ever.

Kiss Me, Kill Me proves, yet again, that indie talent is flourishing out there and it’s just as good as — often better than — the corporate pablum we’re so often spoon-fed. In fact, just today I read Richard Lawson’s scathing review of Stonewall in Vanity Fair. He writes:

[Stonewall] was directed by a gay man, written by a gay man, with an obvious intent to educate, uplift, and inspire, in this particular political climate, and is still so maddeningly, stultifyingly bungled serves only to show us how ridiculous the concept of a monolithic “gay community” really is. Stonewall at least does that bit of good: it illustrates how systems of privilege and prejudice within a minority can be just as pervasive and ugly as anything imposed from the outside. And that’s an outrage. So how long until someone throws a brick through the screen?

Well, sorry, Richard. You chose the wrong gay movie to see. My choice was well-acted, well-directed, easy on the eyes and interesting. See it next time you’re looking for a good time at the cinema.

Underground Friend’s Movies or Underground Movies of a Friend or Something

Alert readers into indie movies not in the mainstream may already be familiar with the Arizona Underground Film Festival. It is being held for the eighth year in beautiful Tucson, Ariz., Sept. 18-26, 2015. Among the films being shown is Shepherd, a new short by filmmaker C.W. Prather.

shepherd copy

Prather, in addition to being the brains behind several terrific documentaries and the Spooky Movie International Horror Film Festival held each year in Washington, D.C., has been one of my closest friends for more years than I care to cop to in print. Still, he’s talented and has a wittily subversive streak as long as your arm, so, of course, I highly recommend him.

Fans of Prather’s early work — around the time he was jockeying for film stock with D.W. Griffith — may recognize Yours Truly as one of a small stable of repertory players who took on a number of roles in a number of productions simply for the glory of recording for posterity something that could come to haunt one later in life. Don’t believe me?


Yours Truly, who was obviously going through a phase of saying “Yes” to everything no matter how ridiculous, opposite the deliciously talented John Dimes in C.W. Prather’s early local television work, “The Spooky Movie,” the show that launched his successful sideline as Film Festival Impresario.

Still, I have to admit: it was a helluva lot of fun. And really, what matters more than that?

Retake Kickstarter: Fund This

Hey, folks! I’ve been absent of late, because, well, life. But, I have backed the Kickstarter for the new feature film RETAKE and I think you should too. This is another in a string of important independent LGBT voices that need to be heard. Please join me and help them raise about $45,000 to bring this project to fruition.

Nick Corporon is the writer/director/jack-of-all-trades, Sean Mandell produces, Luke Pasqualino and Kit Williamson star. Make sure that these talented folks get a chance to make this film.

Fund Them.

We now return you to radio silence, already in progress.

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