Mala Noche (The Criterion Collection)
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Top Customer Reviews
Who is a 'bad knight' and who is a knight in shining armor is never really resolved. The clerk tries to teach the Mexican day laborer to drive, but maybe he just wants to get away on the road in the Dodge Dart, icon of all things PNW.
Gus Van Sant produced this in 1985, the same year he produced the music for his William S. Burroughs CD Elvis Of Letters. The 'sensual despair' that haunts nearly every Van Sant film was forged in these Portland days of the Director.
I saw this film just once at a film festival in Seattle when it first came out, and I have ached to see it again, if for no other reason than to reflect on it in light of the subsequent druggie Road pictures [Drugstore Cowboy and My Own Private Idaho] and the more recent 'fictu-mentaries' [Elephant and Last Days].
Hats off to the Criterian volk for releasing this film. Not all may like it; some will find it brief and coarse, and yet those qualities are what so powerfully animates the film.
The film has a gritty look thanks to the murky black and white cinematography of John Campbell (who would work with Van Sant again on My Own Private Idaho and Even Cowgirls Get the Blues) that suggests film noir (with skewed angles and everything filmed in shadows) but because it's a Gus Van Sant film there is a Beat poet vibe as the characters reside in cheap, run-down apartments, seedy liquor stores and the grungy, rainy streets of Portland.
Tim Streeter does an excellent job as Walt, the quintessential Van Sant protagonist cursed with too much self-awareness. He has street smarts and an endearing romantic streak that the actor conveys so well. Streeter has a real presence - you can't take your eyes off him - that makes him interesting to watch. Aside from a guest spot on ...Read more ›
Van Sant's use of black-and-white in this film was largely dictated by budget constraints, but it effectively uses darkness to make the city look dangerous. The use of shadow may have been influenced by underground photography, e.g. Larry Clark's Tulsa; another apparent influence is Coppola's Rumble Fish. The camerawork is dynamic, with frequent cuts that create a fragmented sensation. Much of the score, especially in the first half, contributes to that disconnected feeling with monotone, droning acoustic guitars (this style is straight out of Rumble Fish).Read more ›
It is very rough edged but that is part of its charm.. This is the first example of a truly gifted and unique director... I have recently heard people talking about the racism in this movie... but please don't make the mistake of thinking the film is racist just because a character in it has these particular tendencies... so often artists are criticized for this when in fact they are telling a story... it is clear that the main character in this movie has certain cultural views that i for one would disagree with but the movie does not really show this in a positive light so much as just show it.. and who can say that realism is offensive?
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Raw, gorilla style filming. Not everyone's cup of tea but I enjoyed itPublished 6 months ago by Jacob Carlos Lopez
Visually, "Mala Noche" is a pleasing enough film; however, where it derails is in characterization and scripting. Read morePublished 13 months ago by Clayton
A great film based of the work by Walt Curtis. For new filmmakers, it shows how excellence can be achieved on a shoe-string budget.Published on July 1, 2013 by BOS-DCA
While the themes of this movie may be interesting: unrequited love, etc. I couldn't get past the awful film stock, poor, no make that horrible lighting and crappy sound. Read morePublished on May 31, 2013 by Chet Fakir
MALA NOCHE is a low budget, grainy black and white film from 1986 by the estimable director Gus Van Sant and has been considered important enough to include in The Criterion... Read morePublished on December 4, 2010 by Grady Harp