Thursday, February 19, 2009

Pacific Northwest Films 2

I'm going to keep this post brief because I'm sure everyone frequenting this here internet site is more than familiar with the hometown hero, Gus Van Sant.  Regardless, I can't help but harp a little bit on how swell I think his movies are.  I'll only touch on some of his older Portlandcentric films, but for the record I think that 90% of his output is solid gold.  He is among the best film makers currently working and surely the best in the Pacific Northwest.  Lets work backwards.

Mala Noche is a tale of gutter love on Portland's Skid row.  Taking place primarily in Chinatown and inner east Burnside to story is one of asymetrical gay love.  Based on a Book by Portland poet laureate, Walt Curtis, the story is one of asymetrical gay love.  The story is based on Walt's time as a clerk at a greek corner store in in Chinatown.  He become infatuated with one of the migrant, itinerant Mexican laborers that famously traveled through P town in the 70's.  Even though the object of Walt's affection does very little to encourage his advances, Walt remains steadfast in his pursuit of the young lover.  It is a bizarre interplay of the two characters continually trying to take advantage of one another,or simply trying to achieve the upper hand in the strange relationship.  It is a simple, poignant tale of love in the slums of the PNW.  I could say a million and one wonderful things about this film, but I'll resist.  If you haven't managed to catch this one, do so immediately.


Movie Walt

Walt Curtis

It doesn't get much better for me than this one.  Drugs, Crime, 70's fashion,William S. Burroughs, road stories, and Portland.  This one has it all.  Based on the book by James Fogle, this one tells the story of a band of criminal dope fiends who traverse the Pacific Northwest constantly on the lookout for drugstores and hospitals to rip off and any other easy score along the way.  This movie is a wonderfully faithful adaptation of the novel, I mean almost shot for shot, word for word.  The film has some of the best montages ever comitted to celuloid (most memorable perhaps is the drug paraphenalia montage shot by the second unit in the first half of the film).  The dialogue is quick witted, informed, and extremely funny.  If you live in Portland, you'll immediately pick up on local landmarks like the old nob hill drug store on the corner of 21st and glisan that got closed down a few years back.  I've seen this one a hundred times and I never get tired of it.

Hippest crew of dope fiends this side of everywhere.

Loosely based on Shakespeare's King Henry the IV plays, this film is perhaps more accurately described as the tale of two street hustlers making their way through the sordid world of the Pacific Northwest's male prostitution scene.  Whether or not the film is finely acted is up for debate (I think it may be Keanu Reeves best role, but still, it's Keanu and you either like him or you don't), but what is not however, is the superb cimetography and excellent direction.  This film is chalked full of winning moments.  Great montages (the sex montage with Udo Kier is maybe my favorite montage in all of film), strange creative choices (the gay porn cover scene), wonderful fetish shots (The Dutch boy) and the fucked up face.  This movie will make you fall in love with River Phoenix, Portland, and male prostitutes.  Love it.


Lily said...

My Own Private Idaho was a MAJOR part of my high-school-aged adolescent experience. I seriously watched that movie a million times.
How cute is that actor who plays Walt in Mala Noche? Whatever happened to that guy?

surlysully said...

Holy crap. Walt Curtis comes into Powell's Books all the time to sell books. He seems pleasant enough. He'll occasionally gripe about how our book buyers stiff him. This is Lisa of Video Verite fame by the way. Hi Danny! I miss you! I really effin' enjoy your blog. Who knew Walt was a poet laureate? Certainly not I.