BLOODY NOSE, EMPTY POCKETS (2020)

(kanopy/VOD) Today is New Year’s Eve 2020, so I’m recommending a documentary about the last night of a faux bar but with very real people, because of course I am.

Of everything I’ve watched this year, this is the sole film I’ve felt the most conflicted about.

My favorite solo activity is to read in bars. I’m not a gregarious person, but I like to surround myself with camaraderie, to hear people bonding, all while edifying myself because I’m a dumb nerd.

Don’t get me wrong! If someone talks to me, I’ll put my book down and indulge them — I’m not that aloof! (Although, more often than not, that’s presented more problems in the past than it’s worth, but it always bestows a story.)

The last time I indulged in a proper public outing was to drink-and-read at Andersonville fixture -Simon’s- way back in March, the week before Chicago’s lockdown. It was a Monday, I was two-thirds through Sarah Waters’ THE PAYING GUESTS, and TCM was playing on their two screens. The -Simon’s- crew had shaped a contest out of some wind-up toys, while engaging more than a few of the locals during the sleepy night. I hit my reading word count, quaffed a final drink and left, fully knowing this would probably be the last time I’d sit on one of their barstools for some time.

I watched BLOODY NOSE, EMPTY POCKETS midway through July, shortly after it was made available via VOD. By this point in time, I was fully reminiscing daily about my actual local — Jerry’s, where everyone there actually did know my name — which had already closed and re-opened as a tasty Israeli/Middle Eastern restaurant.

I’d love to say that BLOODY NOSE, EMPTY POCKETS made me wax poetic about bar families.

It did not.

This is not a fault of the doc itself, even though the doc is constructed to basically facilitate that sort of faux-bonding through many, many free drinks via centrally located bar-going folks.

It’s simply that I missed weaving my own bar narrative, of being my own editor, ‘documentary writer’. Given everything I’ve lived over the last uh, unsaid number of years, this felt like a pale copy and made me long for the real thing, which will still be a long time coming based on current vaccination numbers.

Again, not a fault of the film, and I realize my opinion is unpopular. I still highly recommend the film, because most folks experiences aren’t my own, and the experiences detailed here -are- authentic. Despite the bar being a construct, the interactions are real — it’s documenting a moment and all of the interactions occurring in that moment. The emotional heartbeats here are true, folks seeking out connections — manufactured or not — which I think is something we’re all can relate to right now.

And with that said: good riddance to 2020.

Apologies if you hoped for a proper NYE recommendation. If you really want one, you can’t go wrong with BILL & TED FACE THE MUSIC which, despite the fact that it doesn’t take place on NYE, has the best feel-good countdown of the year.