Published on July 6th, 2021 | by Natalie Salvo
Last Call: The Shutdown of NYC Bars Digital Review
Summary: A moving look at the effects of the lockdown on some bars in New York. This multi-faceted account looks at a world of no cheers.
For many people their local watering hole is a beloved meeting place like the TV show “Cheers.” As the pandemic continues and we stare down the barrel of further lockdowns, these places mean even more to us. “Last Call: The Shutdown of NYC Bars” is an hour-long documentary that focuses on two such bars in Queens, New York. It is a moving look at the various struggles sustained by different individuals during the pandemic.
Director and writer, Johnny Sweet, was born in New York and met his wife at one of the establishments profiled here. Sparrow Tavern is introduced to us through the eyes of bartender Jena Ellenwood. Her story is shared by a few of her contributors, as she remembers moving to the big apple, and her workplace becoming a second home. We are introduced to her bartending contemporaries: Willie McInytre Junior (a rapper) and Braden Williams (a musician).
Sweet chronicles the decimation of the hospitality industry here. He shoots this against the backdrop of the pandemic and its progression in Queens. He interviews frontline physicians, social workers and a journalist named Jon Michaud. The stories will resonate with people around the globe who have struggled with the physical and mental tolls of this virus, and of witnessing loved ones who happen to catch it.
It is clear that we are in dire need of more empathy and sympathy in these times. And the individuals shown here are worthy of our attention as they do not have the luxury of working from home. It is clear that 2020 will go down as quite a traumatic year for all and documentaries like this one serve as an important time capsule of that trying time.
“Last Call” ultimately delivers us some raw and personal stories. It reminds us that we should appreciate our many essential workers because their criticalness can come in many different shapes and forms. I’ll drink to that!