BLOODY NOSE, EMPTY POCKETS, 2020, Utopia, 98 min, USA, Dirs: Bill Ross IV, Turner Ross. In the shadows of the bright lights of Las Vegas, it’s last call for a beloved dive bar known as the Roaring 20s. That’s the premise, at least; the reality is as unreal as the world the regulars are escaping from. BLOODY NOSE, EMPTY POCKETS is a mosaic of disparate lives, teetering between dignity and debauchery, reckoning with the past as they face an uncertain future and singing as their ship goes down. Filmmaking duo Bill and Turner Ross (WESTERN, 2015 Sundance Film Festival) return with an elegiac portrait of a tiny world fading away but still warm and beating with the comfort of community. Their beguiling approach to nonfiction storytelling makes for a foggy memory of experience lost in empty shot glasses and puffs of smoke.
DICK JOHNSON IS DEAD,, 2020, Netflix, 90 min, USA, Dir: Kirsten Johnson. A lifetime of making documentaries has convinced award-winning filmmaker Kirsten Johnson of the power of the real. But now she’s ready to use every escapist movie-making trick in the book – staging inventive and fantastical ways for her 86-year-old psychiatrist father to die while hoping that cinema might help her bend time, laugh at pain and keep her father alive forever. The darkly funny and wildly imaginative DICK JOHNSON IS DEAD is a love letter from a daughter to a father, creatively blending fact and fiction to create a celebratory exploration of how movies give us the tools to grapple with life’s profundity.
HOW TO WITH JOHN WILSON,, 2020, HBO, 30 min, USA, Dir: John Wilson. Documentary filmmaker and self-described “anxious New Yorker” John Wilson serves as writer, director, cameraman, producer, and narrator of this all-new six-episode comedy docuseries. In a uniquely hilarious odyssey of self-discovery and cultural observation, Wilson covertly and obsessively films the lives of his fellow New Yorkers while attempting to give everyday advice on relatable topics. Building upon Wilson’s previously released “how-to” short films, the episodes take wildly unexpected turns but are grounded in Wilson’s refreshing honesty.