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Mala Noche (Unrated)





Release Date: June 1st, 2007 (IFC Center) by Janus Films.
The Cast: Tim Streeter, Doug Cooeyate, Sam Downey, Nyla McCarthy, Ray Monge, Robert Lee Pitchlynn.
Directed by Gus Van Sant.

BASIC PREMISE: Walt (Streeter) lusts after Johnny, a 16-year old Mexican illegal alien in Portland, Oregon. Based on the novel by Walt Curtis.

ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: Never receiving a proper theatrical release until now, Mala Noche, which translates as "Bad Night", marks Gus Van Santís official directorial feature film debut. Its unimaginative, meandering plot and bland characters donít leave much of an impression. Tim Streeter gives a decent performance as Walt, a young man who works as a clerk at a convenience store who develops a lust for Johnny, a 16-year-old boy from Mexico whoís also an illegal alien. For most of the tedious second act, Walt just tries to spend more time with Johnny and hopes to have sex with him by seducing him. Unfortunately, not enough dramatic tension arises from any of these events. Johnny doesnít feel the same way toward Walt, but writer/director Gus Van Sant fails to take that conflict far enough. Many scenes seem rather pointless and drag. It would have been much more imaginative if there were some much-needed character development so that Walt and Johnny donít come across as so one-dimensional, bland and forgettable. On a positive note, this brand new and improved print allows the visuals to look sleek and crisp rather than shoddy and very grainy like during its brief release in 1985. Van Sant certainly shows some skill behind the camera with exquisite cinematography and interesting close-ups, but if only he had used more imagination on the screenplay to make it more compelling, this would have been a much more powerful debut.

SPIRITUAL VALUE: Unfortunately, none.

INSULT TO YOUR INTELLIGENCE: An unimaginative, meandering plot with bland characters.

NUMBER OF TIMES I CHECKED MY WATCH: 6

IN A NUTSHELL: Crisp visuals and exquisite, impressive cinematography barely make up for an unimaginative, meandering plot and bland, poorly-developed characters.

RECOMMENDED WAY TO WATCH: DVD


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