Browse all reviews by letter     A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z 0 - 9

USA 1985
Directed by
Gus Van Sant
78 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3.5 stars

Mala Noche

Gus Van Sant could be deservedly described as a “Beat” filmmaker. Whilst Jim Jarmusch built on the Warhol/Morrissey tradition of Pop Art hipness, Van Sant took up the mantle of Ginsberg, Corso, Ferlinghetti, Burroughs and Bukowski with their peregrinations amongst society's offcasts.

Mala Noche, the director’s first feature, is set on the skid rows of mid-80s Portland, Oregon and is like a visual poem celebrating the authenticity of life lived amidst the garbage and the flowers  Appropriately it is shot in grainy black-and-white by John Campbell, also making his debut as feature film cinematographer.

Based on Walt Curtis' autobiographical novel it tells the story of Walt (Tim Streeter in his only ever film), who works in a local convenience store frequented by a handsome young Mexican illegal immigrant named Johnny (Doug Cooeyate). The film immediately states its case with Walt’s voice-over explaining his desires for the young man, unrequited desires which form the substance of the film. A familiarity with the literary tradition to which Curtis is indebted would probably help but Van Sant transposes his subject matter to the screen with vitality and it is little wonder that he has gone on to become one of America’s leading independent film makers.

DVD Extras: No Cutting, No Stars, No Script, an interview with Gus Van Sant; Audio commentary by Claire Perkins, Asst. Lecturer in Film and Television, Monash University; New trailer directed by Van Sant

Available from: Madman




Want something different?

random vintage best worst