JUDAS KISS Bandeira Entertainment, 1998. Carla Gugino, Simon Baker-Denny, Emma Thompson, Alan Rickman, Gil Bellows, Til Schweiger, Hal Holbrook, Roscoe Lee Browne. Director: Sebastian Gutierrez.

   Any movie that starts with a blue-skinned alien lesbian getting naked is probably worth a look, and when Emma Thompson and Alan Rickman come on as sho ’nuff Looziana cops, replete with corn pone accents and Wal-Mart wardrobes, you know Judas Kiss is headed into undiscovered territory. But that’s only the beginning, folks, only the beginning…

   This movie offers more genuine flakiness than you’d find in a whole case of Post Toasties, and there’s a surprise inside: a twisty-turny kidnapping plot that develops layer on layer of deception and double-dealing, all very intelligently presented.

   I mentioned Rickman and Thompsoon, and they’re both quite good in off-beat parts, along with Roscoe Lee Browne, and Hal Holbrook as a bereaved and betrayed congressmen, but the real acting honors here go to four unknowns playing a quartet of trailer-trash crooks trying to break out of the small-tie with a high-profile kidnapping.

   And honestly, the names of these actors would mean nothing to you, but the parts are written and performed so skillfully I kept wanting to get back to them, even when the camera was on actors I liked better. Okay, the thespians in question are Carla Gugino, Simon Baker, Gil Bellows and Til Schweiger, and I hope mention in these pages rockets all four of them to stardom.

   Chalk it up to adroit writing and directing by Sebastian Gutierrez, another talent who needs to be much better known.

— Reprinted from The Hound of Dr. Johnson, May 2005.