Bloody Nose, Empty Pockets | Chicago Reader
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Bloody Nose, Empty Pockets

To be a regular somewhere, to go where everybody knows your name, and they're always glad you came—might that be the real American dream? Shot in late 2016 on what appears to be the last day of business at a small but beloved Las Vegas dive bar called the Roaring 20s, this quasi-documentary by filmmaking brothers Bill and Turner Ross (Tchoupitoulas, Western) hones in on the dynamics among the wearied staff and steadfast barflies as they say goodbye to their home away from home. There are scenes that can be found at any well-trod watering hole: drunken philosophers doling out wisdom (intelligible and not), tentative lovers flirting, and short-lived enemies fighting. This might sound like a tragicomic portrait of life on the skids, a nonfiction variation on Eugene O’Neill’s The Iceman Cometh, but here’s the kicker: the Roaring 20s is actually on the outskirts of New Orleans (where the filmmakers are from), and it’s doing just fine; the brothers staged the action and recruited the ‘cast’ from among regulars at various local bars. It’s unclear, however, what they’re attempting to say or what questions their approach raises about the documentary form—this is engaging but nevertheless fails to accomplish anything of note.

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