Aug 29, 2013

Mala Noche

Throughout his career, especially after his big mainstream success with Good Will Hunting (1997), American queer auteur Gus Van Sant (My Own Private Idaho, To Die For) has switched around from making uncompromising quasi-arthouse works like Elephant (2003) and Last Days (2005) to for-hire commercial swill like his senseless shot-for-shot remake of Hitchcock’s Psycho (1998) to celebrated LGBT propaganda flicks like Milk (2008), as if the filmmaker cannot decide whether he wants to be a serious cinematic artistic, wealthy household (homo) name, and/or foremost filmic propagandist of the mainstream gay community, which leads me to believe he lacks a certain testicular fortitude and sense of stern and serious Weltanschauung, thus I have never been able to truly respect him as a director, even if he has assembled a celluloid masterpiece or two. Undoubtedly, Van Sant’s first feature-length work Mala Noche (1986) aka Bad Night—a phantasmagorical poof piece shot on bold black-and-white celluloid—is far from a masterpiece, but it does give ample evidence that there was a time when the filmmaker was not cuckolded by Hollywood producers and had no problem offending the authoritarian abberosexuals of the mainstream gay left. Based on a semi-autobiographical 1977 novella of the same named written by Oregon-based pseudo-Beat writer Walt Curtis—a politically incorrect poof poet whose work has been compared to Allen Ginsberg and William S. Burroughs—Mala Noche is the sub-sleazy celluloid story of a debauched convenience store clerk who has a rather peculiar weakness for brown illegal alien boys, most specifically two teenage Mexican fellows who are rather wary of gringo fags, but ultimately find the beatnik bitch boy to be an easy target for cash and shelter. Unquestionably racially and culturally ‘insensitive’ in tone when giving one of his many voice-over narrations, the would-be-poetic protagonist of Mala Noche has no problem admitting his sense of intellectual superiority over the boys, matter-of-factly stating such sordid things as, “Every street Mexican on Sixth will think he can stick it in me. Well, they’re wrong. But they never were too smart to begin with, or they wouldn’t be here.” The story of an unmanly masochist who derives decidedly dubious pleasure from having beaners stick their refried wieners in his man-taco, Mala Noche undoubtedly exposes the sort of warped xenophilia that inspires certain debauched individuals to become leftists and proponents of multiculturalism because, after all, it is much easier to fuck and/or get fucked by a dirty untermensch if you can pick one up off the street in your hometown. A queer film in the European sense in that it is not about some poor fellow ‘coming out’ nor some perverse pansy facing a good ol' fag-bashing, but instead, a work about a flagrantly faggy fellow who has nothing on his mind except criminally-inclined brown boys, Mala Noche is indubitably Van Sant’s celluloid equivalent to Kenneth Anger’s Fireworks (1947), Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s Love is Colder than Death (1969), Rosa von Praunheim’s It Is Not the Homosexual Who Is Perverse, But the Society in Which He Lives (1971), and John Greyson’s Urinal (1988) aka Pissoir in that it is the director’s first big statement as an unabashedly gay filmmaker. 

 Walt (Tim Streeter) is a wanton gay store clerk that lives in a Portland, Oregon ghetto who intentionally seeks to lead a wild life, especially of the pseudo-sexual outlaw sort and lately he has a foul fetish for seemingly underage illegal immigrant Mexican boys of the ostensibly heterosexual variety. While Walt probably only makes minimum wage at his less than prestigious dead-end job, he certainly makes enough money to sweet talk a young and desperate anti-gay Mexican boy into sleeping with him. After running into two young and fresh immigrants from Mexico named Johnny Alonzo (Doug Cooeyate, who is actually an American Indian in real-life) and Roberto Pepper (Ray Monge), he becomes instantly infatuated with the former but will settle for the latter boy because at least he is willing to fuck (but not suck) for cash.  After Walt and his female friend Betty (Nyla McCarthy) convince the two cholos-in-training to eat dinner with them, things take a sexual route when the poof Portlander offers Johnny $15 to have sex with him, but the macho Mexican rightfully declines. Looking to satisfy his undying desire for the seemingly unobtainable exotic primitive, Walt settles for less than homely homeboy Roberto, who ultimately reams him in the rectum in a manner the gringo finds uniquely uncomfortable and steals $10 from him. Throughout Mala Noche, Walt narrates his dubious feelings, stating regarding his short experience with spic sodomy and the theft of his money, “They need money…Johnny and him. I hope they got it. Though I was upset that I’d been fucked, violated and lost the money too…for a few moments, thinking about it, in the morning of the Mexicans gloating over having fucked the gringo puto and got his money too…talking about it and laughing, my ass was sore. And the more I think about it, the more I know I asked for a reckless evening.” And, indeed, Walt undoubtedly got everything that was cumming to him and he was lucky he did not get his throat slit, so naturally he does not let up in his dangerous desire for obtaining Johnny and whilst pitying himself, confesses like a true cock-sucking cuckold, “Maybe when they're making love they can think about Roberto having fucked me. Roberto's cock fucks Johnny, fucked me. That's about as close to Johnny as I'll ever get.” Despite worshiping their bodies, Walt has no problem belittling the boys in his own mind, stating of his lustful attraction to them, “The look on his face is pure ecstasy…incredible, beautiful, turned off face of an ignorant Mexican teenager.” Since they seem obsessed with cars, Walt humors the Mex-boys by teaching them to drive in a feeble attempt to get in their pants. To his decided heart-stricken dismay, Walt can never get Johnny alone without one of his friends being around as the uneducated Mexican is at least wise enough to know that the sodomite store clerk is a weirdo white boy with only one thing on his mind. Eventually wonder-boy Johnny disappears, which severely saddens lovelorn Walt, but he develops a pseudo-romantic and ultimately sexually unfulfilling relationship with Roberto, who apparently has a tendency to “use his cock as a weapon” and act like a “macho fucking prick.” One day while giving Roberto’s driving lesson, Walt tells the Latino lad “you drive like you fuck” after the automobile-challenged boy crashes his car. Not unsurprisingly, Mexican boys like playing around with deadly weapons as proud proponents of machismo and on one rather unfortunate night after a cop shows up to Walt’s apartment after one of the female apartment tenants absurdly complains “a guy who makes Son of Sam look like Tweety Bird” was stalking her, Roberto is killed by the policeman by ‘accident’ after seeing the illegal alien brandishing a pistol. While slightly saddened by Roberto’s death, he still has his mind on Johnny and when the boy finally turns up, he learns that teen had departed, but managed to make his way back to Portland in no more than two weeks. In the end, Walt never gets any closer to Johnny. When seeing Johnny standing on a city sidewalk by chance one day, the store clerk yells “come down to the store and talk to me some time, alright?”, but the boy does not even acknowledge him, thus ushering in a rather anticlimactic end to a mostly aimless movie. 

 A lavishly directed low-budget flick with a lackluster story featuring totally unsympathetic characters of the crooked would-be-cool sort, especially in regard to the miscegenation-celebrating poofer protagonist, Mala Noche ultimately makes for a marginally redeeming work in that it makes no preposterous attempts to glorify nor propagandize a certain real-life gay man’s lifestyle, but instead portrays him as a pathetic and pretentious beatnik prick who goes to absurd lengths to obtain an underage Mexican boy’s prick. Considering the total browning of America since Mala Noche was released over a ¼ of a century ago, it is doubtful a film so brazen and ridiculously racially-charged would be made today, so it should be no surprise that some people (most specifically, some of the ‘enlightened’ reviewers at have described the work as racist. Indeed, in its depiction of a homo horndog who longs for immature Mestizo dongs and its oftentimes unflattering depiction of said Mestizos acting like nitwitted petty criminals who have nil respect for American laws and customs, Mala Noche is certainly a softcore artsploitation flick and a rare queer cult flick, which is indubitably one of the cinematic work's greatest appeals, which also can be certainly said of director Gus Van Sant’s later works My Own Private Idaho (1991) and Elephant (2003) as well. Undoubtedly, what ruins Mala Noche in part is stupid and vapid ‘exploitation apologist’ remarks from the lead character like, “I don't want to interfere with their lives. A gringo like me has an easy life. A privileged life. And just because I see someone attractive like Johnny it doesn't mean I should be able to have him, to buy him or whatever, just because he's hungry and on the street. Desperate, good-looking. That wasn't my intention exactly, but it could be misunderstood that way,” when, in reality, the protagonist’s sole desire is defiling and being defiled by Mestizo meat and using every dubious and groveling tactic to do so. In fact, slavish protagonist Walt even goes so far as confessing, “The plan is simple. I go to his room at midnight. He opens the door, sees that I want him that badly. I lay down at his feet like a dog. Or rather at the feet of Roberto and him. And after an hour or so when none of us know what to do anymore, I get up and I leave. My point is being made, that I want to see him badly, right? And that must mean something. How many gringos have acted that dramatically toward him ever? And whether or not he can respond in any meaningful way doesn't matter. He would think of it as a dramatic, macho act,” thus admitting to his innate masochism and desire to be degraded by someone he openly sees as his intellectual inferior.  A laughably failed attempt at fetishizing Mestizo machismo and romanticizing the magical ‘noble savage’ who illegally crawled and climbed his way to the USA from south of the border, Mala Noche ultimately makes for a sometimes unintentionally engrossing account of a discernibly degenerate dude that digs socially and sexually degrading himself and teaching two border-jumpers how proletarian poet poofs get down in the land of the homos and depraved.

-Ty E

1 comment:

jervaise brooke hamster said...

Gus van Sant is a faggot, the bloody disgusting fairy.