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If ever you had the idea there was something bohemian or glamorous or Bukowskian about drinking in a Las Vegas bar … then this movie will wise you right up. It’s a docu-realist fiction about a seedy place called The Roaring 20s, in Las Vegas, which is about to close for good. (The films was actually shot at a place called The Roaring 20s in New Orleans, which is still open for business, but maybe there’s something about the desolation and melancholy in a bar that makes every closing time feel like the last closing time ever.) The film-makers got the barflies present, with one professional actor in the mix, to improvise over a long day’s journey into night and the following day, while doing real drinking and apparently dropping real acid. This isn’t actually as spectacular as they have might have expected; it leads only to a belligerent near-fight.
The result is sometimes heart-rending and sometimes hilarious. One desolate guy announces: “I pride myself on only having become an alcoholic after I became a failure.” He also explains something of his backstory: “I overslept one morning and the bottom fell out of manufacturing.” Meanwhile, the boozing and the boasting and meaningless slurred arguments continue, to the soundtrack of Michael Jackson, Patsy Cline and Kenny Rogers’ The Gambler (twice). A beyond-drunk woman called Pam seated at the bar terrifyingly hoists up her top and announces proudly: “Look! Sixty-year-old titties!” The man next to her gallantly remarks that they are “higher than some men’s nutsack” – to which she responds: “I once divorced a man because his nutsack hung down lower than his dick.” If only TS Eliot could have got his pub-going “sweet ladies” in The Waste Land to say anything half as resonant as that.
This is a fascinating slice of Americana which reminded me of 70s movie-making, like John Huston’s Fat City. I half-expected young Stacy Keach and Jeff Bridges to roll in for a few whiskies.
• Bloody Nose, Empty Pockets is released on Curzon Home Cinema on 24 December, then in cinemas on 1 January.
Source: The Guardian
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