Turner Ross and Bill Ross IV (Western, NZIFF15) turn their instinctive, unblinking documentary lens on the patrons of a grimy Las Vegas bar enjoying one last round – a glorious snapshot of Americana that’s at once dark, moving and flat-out funny.
“When you get lonely, you have no friends, you can come to this bar and fit in here.” It’s a sentiment that could be spoken by any of the bar-room poets, veterans, drag queens, miscreants, hipsters and forces of nature that comprise the clientele of the Roaring 20s, a Vegas dive bar that time forgot. But what happens when the only place you belong is going away for good? The obvious answer: one final all-day, all-night party.
The Ross Brothers continue their winning streak of intimately observed, artfully shot documents of humanity with this portrait of one booze and smoke-filled day, as lost souls gather for wildly inappropriate bonhomie and conversations ranging from profound to incomprehensible. At the centre of all stands – well, slumps – Michael, a “58-year-old that looks 70” regular who reads at the bar, shaves in the sink and is there from opening to last call. As the evening progresses and the full spectrum of alcoholic emotion displays itself, the film masterfully careens from riotously funny to tender to ominous, as only a dive bar can. All the while, one question remains unspoken: what happens to people with nowhere else to go when they lose the place they feel at home? — Doug Dillaman
About the Filmmaker
Turner Ross and Bill Ross IV form the Ross Brothers filmmaking duo. Together they’ve directed documentaries on their hometown of Sidney, Ohio (45365, 2009), New Orleans (Tchoupitoulas, 2012), the US–Mexico border (Western, 2015) and David Byrne and his collaborators for the concert Contemporary Color (2016).