407 Mala Noche

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LightBulbFilm
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407 Mala Noche

#1 Post by LightBulbFilm » Sat Jun 09, 2007 7:54 am

Mala Noche

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With its low budget and lush black-and-white imagery, Gus Van Sant's debut feature Mala Noche heralded an idiosyncratic, provocative new voice in American independent film. Set in Van Sant's hometown of Portland, Oregon, the film evokes a world of transient workers, dead-end day-shifters, and bars and seedy apartments bathed in a profound nighttime, as it follows a romantic deadbeat with a wayward crush on a handsome Mexican immigrant. Mala Noche was an important prelude to the New Queer Cinema of the nineties and is a fascinating time capsule from a time and place that continues to haunt its director's work.

DIRECTOR-APPROVED SPECIAL EDITION FEATURES

• New, restored high-definition digital transfer, supervised and approved by director Gus Van Sant
• New interview with Van Sant
• Walt Curtis, the Peckerneck Poet: a documentary about the author of the book Mala Noche, directed by animator and friend Bill Plympton
• Storyboard gallery
• Original trailer edited by Van Sant
• PLUS: A new essay by film critic Dennis Lim

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....
Maybe I missed the post, but did anyone else see the notice in the Criterion Newsletter about the re-release of this film into theatres. It can only spell future Criterion release. Discuss!

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justeleblanc
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#2 Post by justeleblanc » Sat Jun 09, 2007 9:59 am

LightBulbFilm wrote:Maybe I missed the post, but did nayone else see the notice in the Criterion Newsletter about the re-release of this film into theatres. It can only spell future Criterion release. Discuss!
Yes, you missed it. Janus has been promoting this on their website as well.

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Tribe
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#3 Post by Tribe » Sat Jun 09, 2007 7:31 pm

I've never seen it...I assume this is considerably "edgier" (both in tone, material, and production) than Private Idaho?

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manicsounds
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#4 Post by manicsounds » Mon Jun 11, 2007 8:57 pm

Did PlexiFilm lose the rights? They were supposed to release it.

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Nuno
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#5 Post by Nuno » Mon Jun 11, 2007 9:59 pm

Haven't seen it yet, but MK2 seems to have a pretty good edition of Mala Noche.

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#6 Post by david hare » Mon Jun 11, 2007 10:28 pm

Already reported on elsewhere (*under MK2 in International DVD), and screencaps here.

Guys always consider doing a search.

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Matt
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#7 Post by Matt » Mon Jul 16, 2007 5:04 pm

Confirmed as October release.

(Remember, cover art discussion goes here.)

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#8 Post by Lino » Mon Jul 16, 2007 5:27 pm

Gigi M. wrote:-Walt Curtis, the Peckerneck Poet: a documentary about the author of the book Mala Noche, directed by animator and friend Bill Plympton
What?! Effing great news! I've seen all of Plympton's work and it's really out of this place (even met him at a film festival and he's a nice guy all around), so I'm really, really looking forward to see him handling a documentary form of filmmaking.

Another classic release from Criterion.

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#9 Post by The Elegant Dandy Fop » Mon Jul 16, 2007 7:29 pm

Lino wrote:
Gigi M. wrote:-Walt Curtis, the Peckerneck Poet: a documentary about the author of the book Mala Noche, directed by animator and friend Bill Plympton
What?! Effing great news! I've seen all of Plympton's work and it's really out of this place (even met him at a film festival and he's a nice guy all around), so I'm really, really looking forward to see him handling a documentary form of filmmaking.
I'm actually more interested in the Plympton than the movie itself.

How does it compare to Gus Van Sant's other films?

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#10 Post by Jeff » Mon Jul 16, 2007 8:21 pm

I'm pleasantly surprised that this one managed to sneak in at the lower price point. The Plympton doc is 64 minutes long. I think it screened at a few festivals. Here is a (rather negative) review from The Austin Chronicle.

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#11 Post by Gigi M. » Mon Jul 16, 2007 8:25 pm

Jeff wrote:I'm pleasantly surprised that this one managed to sneak in at the lower price point. The Plympton doc is 64 minutes long. I think it screened at a few festivals. Here is a (rather negative) review from The Austin Chronicle.
Not to mentioned, a release just after it was announced on Criterion site last month. Maybe Pierrot will sneak in next month.

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#12 Post by Don Lope de Aguirre » Tue Jul 17, 2007 4:37 am

I'm pleasantly surprised that this one managed to sneak in at the lower price point. The Plympton doc is 64 minutes long.
To be honest, I think they had little choice! It is a very minor work admittedly from a very talented film maker. There are some wonderful moments (as davidhare will no doubt tell you) but it is very uneven and -I would say- only intermittently interesting. Of course he was working with immense financial constraints which explains a lot!

The interview (I am sure the same as the MK2) is very good, by the way....

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#13 Post by david hare » Tue Jul 17, 2007 5:49 am

Don Lope, I completely disagree.

Mala Noche is one of Gus' most personal works. You only have to look at Idaho to see how much a great director with - perhaps - a singular vision recapitulates his obsessions.

In any case Mala is highly personal to me. I cannot recall any movie about simple sexual passion which is both so direct and so lyrical/musical. The sheer directness of presentation of both the hero and the two boys, and then the relative languishment of the narrative fuckups. If the dynamics of the movie don't allow hets to share all the minutely discursive details of failed and then successful seduction and then loss, but no despair, I simply can't imagine what other movie ever does. This is a gay movie which invites you into our world. And shares our joy.

Sternberg comes close. (Well, VERY close.)

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#14 Post by s.j. bagley » Wed Jul 18, 2007 11:30 am

davidhare, I agree completely.

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#15 Post by jesus the mexican boi » Fri Aug 31, 2007 8:06 pm

Notice of this totally went under my gaydar. I saw this two or three times in the theater in college and was just floored by it. I think I saw it post-DRUGSTORE COWBOY, which I had seen at a sneak preview, but I definitely looked at the two of them as a pair of sad, wet, Oregon/Washington walking dreams (I suppose you could add MY OWN PRIVATE IDAHO and make a loose trilogy, particularly River Phoenix's narcoleptic street hustler, unrequited love and falling houses on the highway). Like many, I suppose, I'm looking forward to seeing it again, to see if it holds up to that pre-grunge, Kurt-Kobain-is-just-the-kid-getting-picked-on-in-school aura I associate it with.

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#16 Post by Svevan » Tue Sep 11, 2007 4:51 pm

This film is playing (appropriately) in Portland at the Clinton Street Theater. Should be a good experience watching a film in the city it was made (though perhaps that's not a new experience for residents of NYC or LA).

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#17 Post by skuhn8 » Tue Oct 02, 2007 8:41 am

Just watched the CC last night. Had never seen this film before and was very impressed. Hard to believe that it was essentially his first film. Tight pacing, not a superflous shot. Learning that the source 'novel' was a chapbook I'm surprised that the CC didn't include that. Would have been interesting to see how the writer portrayed himself as opposed to the film.

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#18 Post by Tribe » Tue Oct 02, 2007 8:17 pm

skuhn8 wrote:Just watched the CC last night. Had never seen this film before and was very impressed.
Yeah, this was a very, very pleasant surprise. I think David Hare accurately described this as being accessible to gay and straight viewers because of its intense personal vision of desire and loss (or something to that effect). This is a beautiful, beautiful movie...I'd dare say this is as good as, if not better than, anything Van Sant has done since. What a fantastic first film this is.

I also liked the documentary on Walt Curtis, although Curtis comes off as quite the asshole in this.

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#19 Post by Don Lope de Aguirre » Thu Oct 04, 2007 8:04 am

Learning that the source 'novel' was a chapbook I'm surprised that the CC didn't include that.
It seems mine is the minority opinion here but I have no problem with that! Yes, I too am surprised that they didn't include the (very) short story. It's really rather good and I very much recommend it. Maybe it was this that made me see the film in a less rapturous light than you guys...but I doubt that.

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#20 Post by colinr0380 » Fri Oct 05, 2007 1:08 pm


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#21 Post by Michael » Wed Oct 10, 2007 10:24 pm

Oh. My. Fucking. God!

Just finished watching it for the first time a few minutes ago. It's going to take me a lot, a lot of time to get back to reality.

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#22 Post by zedz » Wed Oct 10, 2007 10:50 pm

I've been looking forward to your response this wonderful film, Michael. I take it things went well?

Mine arrived yesterday and I'm itching to rediscover it.

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#23 Post by Michael » Wed Oct 10, 2007 11:05 pm

Absolutely well, zedz. :D I just can't get over how personal it felt. It was like discovering a long-lost poem, a page torn from a diary, my days and nights 20 years ago blooming back to life. I couldn't help falling in love with that liquor store guy Walt just for being himself. He's comfortable in his skin - unfortunately an extremely rare quality to find in gay characters in American cinema) and he's also so very romantic!

Mala Noche is so refreshing that it ignores the politics or psycho/social/sexual hangups, etc. like you see in almost every American movie with gay characters (Cruising, Chuck and Larry, Brokeback Mountains and Wedding Crashers to name a few examples of too many). Mala Noche was made more than two decades ago and it still feels amazingly new. Gorgeous, expressive b/w cinematography full of textures and feelings. Despite the tragedies involving the immigrants, the movie itself is a complete celebration. And a revelation.

I've seen every Gus Van Sant film and Mala Noche is easily his best, his most moving, his most lyrical, his most beautiful. Thinking about the film, I'm getting the sense I've found the holy grail.

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#24 Post by zedz » Thu Oct 11, 2007 5:29 pm

Michael wrote:I've seen every Gus Van Sant film and Mala Noche is easily his best, his most moving, his most lyrical, his most beautiful. Thinking about the film, I'm getting the sense I've found the holy grail.
Wow. I still haven't rewatched the feature, but Van Sant's sweet intro brought back happy memories. Even though I liked all of his first three features, back in the mid-nineties the sequence Mala Noche - Drugstore Cowboy - My Own Private Idaho - Even Cowgirls Get the Blues seemed to me like an alarming accelerating decline.

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#25 Post by HerrSchreck » Thu Oct 11, 2007 6:12 pm

Could you eleborate on that a bit z? I see his first 3 films equal masterpieces, with the decline (which I went on quite a bit about that in the thread for, I believe, on the loose Cobainpic DAYS) coming at COWGIRL. Then you get stuff like TO DIE FOR and he comes frighteningly close to becoming just another Quirky Hollywood Director. I consider his opening first 3 feature films to be one of the boldest throwing down of the chips on the table in American Mainstream Cinema...period. I recall the incredible excitement in the 1980's. I just couldn't believe how good what I was seeing was, how loyal this man was--how personal the films-- to his interior life, which he demanded be in harmony with his exterior life. Because after all, these films made it into the mainstrean, with fullblown national exhibition reaching beyond obscure arthouse... not much, but they were beyond 1 week showings at some FF or arthouse in biggest cities only.

The interior life thing is key. Many people (recall we're simulataneously discussing Rock H) maintain a private fidelity to their interior life, while going about the business of their daily bread in a completely different public fashion. Mostly because they are afraid of the repercussions. Obviously this was not possible for Gus owing to the size and intensity of his loyalty to his inner life so inextricably bound up with his art. Van Sant so fluidly combined art and entertainment with innovation and utter fidelity to his interior world upon his initial breakthru, and I didn't see him veering away from that until COWGIRL. And I think since his aesthetic soul was so bound up with his lifestyle, which he always pictorialized as being on the fringe-- hustlers, addicts, itinerants, odd characters in decaying SRO's, lonely queers with absolutely nothing wandering empty streets at twilight-- once he took up subject matter that was merely "colorful" or "quirky", it just doesn't correspond with the "reason" the man is creative in the first place. To me those first three are just sublime.

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