For the Las Vegas dive bar The Roaring’20s, which will close forever after the evening festivities, it’s the “last day in paradise” Several inarticulate flirtations and a brawl occur during the next 18 hours, as the alcohol continues to flow.
The film was directed and filmed in the fly-on-the-wall style by Bill and Turner Ross (known for their 45365 and Tchoupitoulas documentaries).
Yet components are staged in this riotous hybrid documentary. The Roaring’ 20s is originally set in New Orleans, not Las Vegas, with fictionalized versions of themselves being played by characters seen on the street. But the idea that the bar is a sanctuary for lost souls – not to mention the inevitable gentrification of public space – could not be more authentic: red light glows from the inside of the bar. In a scene where revelers rush into the parking lot to set off fireworks caught by a grainy surveillance camera, the mood of the film is bittersweet.
The 1992 track Damn, I Wish I Was Your Lover by Sophie B Hawkins (a pop song about enduring an abusive relationship) softly plays from the jukebox.
A regular, Martin, lounges at the bar watching The Misfits, the Hollywood western.
Like Guido’s Eli Wallach, whose voice can be heard on TV, he is “just looking for a place to hide and watch it all go by.”