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  • Summary: A key work in American independent moviemaking, Gus Van Sant's first feature tells a story from Portland's grubby skid row, about Walt, a thirty-something convenience-store manager madly in love with an illegal teenage Mexican immigrant named Johnny. (IFC)
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  1. Positive: 3 out of 3
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  3. Negative: 0 out of 3
  1. This 1985 film's absolute freedom from cliches is genuinely refreshing; looking at it again after Van Sant's subsequent "Drugstore Cowboy," I found it every bit as good and in some ways even more impressive than the later film. It shouldn't be missed.
  2. Reviewed by: Nathan Lee
    90
    Based on an autobiographical novella by Portland "street poet" Walt Curtis, Mala Noche (1985) was the 33-year-old Van Sant's debut feature. Shot on 16mm for $25,000, it was the first of his bittersweet odes to tender outcasts and remains the simplest and least burdened.
  3. 75
    This is the first, smallest, and most essential planet in the Van Sant solar system. The seediness of "Drugstore Cowboy " started here. So did the one-way crushes in "My Own Private Idaho " and the gorgeously epic longueurs of "Last Days. "
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