starring Tim Streeter, Doug Cooeyate, Nyla McCarthy, Ray Monge
written and directed by Gus Van Sant
by Travis Mackenzie Hoover The most amazing thing about Gus Van Sant's debut feature Mala Noche is that it was made in the midst of the '80s. While mainstream cinema was building cruelly childish whirligigs and the arthouses were smugly preoccupied with the pastel nightmare of suburban life, Van Sant was in the skids, training his camera on the outcasts of society and judging no one. His hero, despite engaging in a one-sided amour fou with a Latino migrant worker that would normally raise some cultural hackles, is an understandable creature of misunderstood desire--the film refuses to denounce him even as it avoids backing up his obsession in toto. Like Van Sant's Drugstore Cowboy and My Own Private Idaho, Mala Noche sets up shop in the space between the director's camera and his subjects--a halfway-meeting that would never otherwise have made it in the distanced and vindictive climate of the '80s.