Mala Noche

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Time Out says

Van Sant's winning feature debut (made on 16mm for an incredible $25,000) tells the tale of a shabby store-boy's brief encounter with two desperate wetbacks. Walt (Streeter, excellent) spends most of his time selling liquor to the bums of Portland, Oregon. He becomes obsessed with 16-year-old cock-tease Johnny, who doesn't speak a word of American but knows the difference between 15 and 25 dollars. Walt pursues him in his dreams and through the rainy nights, but only manages to put up (yes, that way too) his gun-toting friend Pepper, who is in his turn pursued by the cops. Walt's pawky commentary brings out the equivocal nature of his fragile relationship with the two boys: he may nurse Pepper when he's ill, let Johnny swipe food when he's hungry, but as a comparatively wealthy gringo Walt is nevertheless exploiting the situation. Even so - as one sweaty scene reveals - a Mexican can still make 'white butt squeal'. Offbeat, offhand, and at times off-the-wall, this sad and funny film recalls Streetwise and Stranger Than Paradise, but in its own unabashed way is better than either.
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Release details

UK release:

1985

Duration:

78 mins

Cast and crew

Director:

Gus Van Sant

Cast:

Sam Downey, Nyla McCarthy, Ray Monge, Doug Cooeyate, Tim Streeter, Bob Pitchlynn

Music:

Creighton Lindsay

Editor:

Gus Van Sant

Cinematography:

John Campbell

Screenwriter:

Gus Van Sant

Producer:

Gus Van Sant

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