Bloody Nose, Empty Pockets, online, 1 January–31 March 2021, from £9.99 - Book now
It’s the final night for Las Vegas dive bar The Roaring 20s, in Bill and Turner Ross’ extraordinary hybrid docu-fiction film Bloody Nose, Empty Pockets. With the bar about to close for the last time, the regulars gather round and do just about everything you do in a bar: drink, sing, joke, flirt, argue, shout at the television and put the world to rights, all while getting increasingly drunk. It might be Vegas, but this is a scene that will be recognisable to anybody who has ever frequented their local.
Only this isn’t Vegas. While the film plays like a documentary, it was actually filmed in New Orleans with a cast of non-professionals — and one local theatre veteran — plucked from informal casting sessions in nearby watering holes. The booze and the drugs are real though, and under the Ross brothers guidance, over two 18-hour filming days, the cast sketch out an impressively believable web of relationships. The film depicts day turning into night via a series of increasingly bleary eyed conversations.
Soundtracked by jukebox tunes against a backdrop of bar paraphernalia and fairy lights, Bloody Nose, Empty Pockets works through an arc that sees the early promise of a party fade into sadness as the patrons wait in vain until the early hours for some impossible catharsis. The film is about the obliteration of an ecosystem, and while contact details are exchanged, The Roaring 20s is a community — from Michael the out of work actor (“You had a nice place here”) to sixty-year-old flirt Pam — sustained by a building, and when it’s gone, it’s gone.
Bloody Nose, Empty Pockets, online