Mala Noche – Review

by theappliedprocess

Last night, after having a nice home cooked spinach fettuccine with faux meat sauce and a bottle of wine, I headed to bed in a serene buzzed bliss. As usual, I woke up about 5 hours later when the effects of my self induced coma wore off. I laid in bed restless, tossing and turning, wrestling the sheets, and constantly repositioning Nigel. After about 40 minutes of unsuccessfully trying to doze back off, I got up and went on facebook. Nothing exciting happens at 6:30 a.m.

I listened to music on youtube. Heaven’s “Another Night”. Amazing song. Amazing song writer. I googled Matt Skiba (of Alkaline Trio fame), and came across a really good interview in which he was talking about watching Lars Von Trier’s “Antichrist”.

Side note – This is how my brain works: another night – matt skiba – antichrist – netflix – gus van sant’s 1985 directorial debut “mala noche”. Why? makes as much sense to me, as being awake at 6:30 in the morning.

As usual, I went on rotten tomatoes and looked at the reviews for the movie: 94%. Not bad. I streamed it, laid the laptop next to me, and laid in bed watching. I have to admit, it was a strange choice. It is black and white, the shots are hard to follow, and if it wasn’t because I spoke Spanish, there would also be the language factor/subtitles. However, it kept me engaged for a good 45 minutes. Then I passed out. *Disclaimer: it wasn’t Mr. Van Sant’s fault, it was my own body refusing to stay up as the sun comes out*

I woke up at noon and finished watching the film.

I quite liked it. Shot entirely in Portland, where Van Sant lives, it is based on the autobiographical novel of the same name by Oregon based poet Walt Curtis. It tells the story of Walt (Tim Streeter), a gay store attendant, who befriends two illegal Mexican teenageres, Johnny (Doug Cooeyate) and Pepper (Ray Monge), who end up being the object of his lust. Him and his friend Betty (Nyla McCarthy) decide to invite the boys over for dinner. The boys have to leave early to meet up with a friend. During the car ride back Walt tries to pursue Johnny to sleep with him for $15. Johnny refuses, and runs to out to meet his friend. Pepper and Walt are left locked outside, so Pepper ends up spending the night at Walt’s and having sex with him. The rest of the movie delves into the complications of the relationship between Walt, and the boys. Language barriers, difference in age, social status, and race further fuel the complexity of the bonds formed.

The characters are all together likeable and somewhat relatable, as well as quite complex. From the “Mexican  dealing with machismo/homophobia issues, yet I’m having sex with a man for ‘money’ but at the end of the day I like it”, to the “suburban American male dealing with his own issues towards his sexuality and looking for ‘love’ in the wrong places only to end up getting emotionally and physically abused time and time again”, Van Sant explored the many subtle layers each one of them has.  The movie seems quite “real” and Van Sant’s way of shooting it is successful at setting the very odd/dirty mood that makes you want to stop watching, but keeps you glued to the screen.

Overall, the perfect movie to watch whenever insomnia strikes. And if you’re as lucky as I am, that happens rather often. No complaints. Glad to have subject matter to write about.

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