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!

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“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.

Gayby: The Little Movie That Could

gayby-posterI saw a piece on Decider.com this week about Gayby, Jonathan Liseki’s 2012 indie comedy about best friends who decide to have a baby. I bookmarked this piece, Was It Good For the Gays: Gayby, by Tyler Coates because I was assuming that he would have something negative to say and then I would have to refute him.

To my great surprise, we are completely simpatico: he loved it and so did I. And I said so, way back in 2013. Now, I think I may go and watch it again.

Shamelessly Suggesting Visiting Valhalla

Watched a delightful little flick this week. See You In Valhalla is the latest from brothers Jarret and Brent Tarnol. Brent writes. Jarret directs. They both produce. Their star and fellow producer is Modern Family’s Sarah Hyland.

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Sarah Hyland and Steve Howey in See You in Valhalla. |Image: Arc Entertainment

This is a nice turn for Hyland. Johana is a meatier, more fully realized part than the airheaded — but adorable — Hayley Dunphy on Modern Family. Also, for her freshman turn as a producer, Hyland made some smart choices. Her co-stars have some chops, too, especially Bret Harrison, who plays one of her brothers.

Johana’s family is reunited when one of her brothers commits suicide. It’s a comedy. About a funeral.

And this would be a run-of-the-mill slightly macabre comedy if it wasn’t for Steve Howey. Now, I am a straight-up, unabashed fan of Showtime’s Shameless and Howey has been a rockstar as bartender Kev Ball for all five seasons, but I’m telling you, nothing has prepared you for him in this film.

Howey has mastered the art of playing very broad and very specific at the same time. He is completely over-the-top, but at the same time, he’s not showy. Consequently, he steals absolutely every scene he’s in as Johana’s brother’s Hawaiian (or maybe Hawaiian-adjacent?) boyfriend Makewi. Pretty as you please, he effortlessly walks away with this movie and leaves you utterly convulsed. He is brilliantly funny and completely worth the price of admission.

As my viewing companion noted when the credits rolled, “He needs to be in every movie ever made from now on.” I agree.

P.S. to Fellow Shameless Junkies. Magnus, the brother that dies in this movie, is only seen in flashbacks. Alert viewers will recognize him as Jake McDorman, who, as Mike Pratt, the scion of Worldwide Cup in Seasons 3 and 4, tantalized Fiona with the prospect of a “non-Gallagher” life only to be in inadvertent catalyst for her downfall.

The Next Tenant at 221B Baker Street: Sir Ian McKellen

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Sir Ian McKellen at the U.K. premiere of “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.” |Image via aceshowbiz.com.

My old pal, Sir Ian McKellen, also known as Sir Patrick Stewart’s BFF/X Men nemesis/fellow  waiter for Godot — also Gandalf — is slated to be the next actor to carry the mantle of Sherlock Holmes at the movies. Sorry, the cinema.

The 74-year-old McKellen will play a retired Sherlock who decides to have a crack at one last case. Sir Ian, one of the top actors in the world, is also a cracking nice chap. At least that’s my experience.

No word if there’ll be any Cumberbatch cameos!