John (Arquette) wakes up homeless, shoeless and consequently resourceless in Hollywood (he'd stashed his savings in his sneakers). It's Christmas Eve, and he's set his heart on one night of luxury at the Plaza. A back-seat encounter with a cruising movie exec soon puts him back on his feet. With his sensitive friend Donner (Haas) to help out, perhaps he can still hustle up $300 in time? Former documentarist Silver's feature debut captures the acrid tang of downtown LA's sun-swept strips and telescopes some half-dozen tricks of the trade into vivid, colourful vignettes. The stories are all true, apparently, right down to the saga of the stolen shoes and an invisible bogeyman figure who haunts the street hustlers' worst nightmares, though the 24-hour time-frame is a substantial dramatic contrivance, and undercuts the on-going despair, boredom and frustration which must be central to these lives. The movie is funnier than you'd expect, and extremely well played, particularly the touching rapport between Arquette, a meridian cowboy working overtime, and Haas, the softer new kid on the block. The excellent score is by the septuagenarian bluesman Charles Brown.
Cast and crew
John C McGinley