LFF 2020: ‘Bloody Nose, Empty Pockets’ – Film Review – Filmhounds

A barlfy on the wall documentary, showing as part of the BFI Lonodn Film Festival 2020.

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The dying days of a dive bar on the outskirts of the Las Vegas strip is what is at the focus of Bill Ross IV and Turner Ross’ fly on the wall documentary. Growing up anywhere, you probably become familiar with the look of the pub, bar or community favourite haunt that’s in your hometown. We all know the place back home which has a recurring set of characters propped up against the bar, looking for a chat or simply looking to spend a night drinking alone. It is these kinds of figures that take the focus of Bloody Nose, Empty Pockets, as one bar community is faced with losing the place they view as a sanctuary. And we’re invited for the ride of one last boozy night. 

The bar in question is The Roaring 20’s, a cocktail bar a stone’s throw away from the lights and glamour of Vegas. Due to growing prices of real estate in areas close to the Las Vegas strip, it can no longer keep the lights on and the drinks flowing. During the course of its last night, we sit in with the regular barflies as they raise a glass to their favourite spot. We see individuals from across a number of generations come and go across the night, as old friends reminisce, acquaintances argue and tempers flare as more liquor goes down the hatch. 

Very much working in a style of cinema verite, the Ross’ shoot the proceedings with a sense of timeliness. While contemporary issues are discussed, this could easily have been plucked out of the 70s or 80s, with a textured haze hanging over the whole environment. Their camera is involved in the action in the bar, but only as if we ourselves are simply another person ordering a cocktail to celebrate the last hours of The Roaring 20s. It allows for the multitude of conversations that occur to feel authentic, as it lets all the larger than life characters breathe on screen in a very effortless fashion, as more of their heartaches are laid bare once more and more booze is consumed. 

Full review at Filmhounds Magazine, originally published October 11th 2020.

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