Bloody Nose, Empty Pockets

Written by Michael Clawson

75/100

In a wide shot, a guy with long grey hair wearing a yellow shirt, denim overalls, a beige blazer and a beret shuffles across a large gravel lot. The camera pulls back as he walks towards it. The lot is empty, and all there is around are cheap storefronts. 

He’s walking towards the Roaring ‘20s, a Las Vegas dive bar that’s about to close down for reasons that are only briefly alluded to – it sounds like gentrification is the culprit – and he’s one of the bar’s colorful regulars that the Ross brothers spend their film observing in vérité fashion on the bar’s last day. From opening through last call and closing time, the doc is a loose, casually ruminative hang-out with friendly drinkers as they lament the closure of their neighborhood watering hole, appreciate how they’ve become like family to each other, and muse generally about the state of the world (the setting is pre-election 2016).

…except that it’s not exactly a documentary, at least in a conventional sense. It resembles one in its fly-on the-wall mode of observation, but the bar we see isn’t even in Las Vegas, and the people we watch are mostly non-professional actors. Does that matter? The Ross brothers don’t think so – the film never openly confesses to its deception. I don’t think it matters much to me either. What we see is partially contrived, but the sentiments, about the community and togetherness to be found in hole-in-the-wall establishments and the sadness in a good thing coming to an end, ring true. And actors or not, these folks are hilarious.

Bloody Nose, Empty Pockets Trailer

Bloody Nose, Empty Pockets is currently streaming on Kanopy and can be rented or purchased digitally.

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