Elizabeth Lawrence’s “Roll Out, Cowboy” follows Chris Sand, the “Rappin’ Cowboy” of Dunn Center, North Dakota, Population 120, an itinerant 39-year-old troubadour touring the West with his unlikely specialty. The loneliness and decline of small-town America is the understated undercurrent of “Roll Out,” as memorable as the genial fumbling of the likable, so-sincere Sand. What life is there for him on the road? What life is there for anyone in these towns? Sand makes a fine figurehead for the disappearing working class that’s followed the disappearing “Middle Class.” Fans of docs like “Anvil! The Story of Anvil” may well be tickled. Lawrence, a Chicago native, worked with a largely Chicago-based crew, several of whom are alumni of the Columbia College Film/Video production program. The cinematography, taking in landscape and rustic small-town interiors, as well as the sound design, are top-notch. 75m. (Ray Pride)
“Roll Out, Cowboy” opens Friday at Facets and runs through July 31. Lawrence, cast and crew will appear Friday-Sunday; Lawrence will appear July 27-31.
Ray Pride is Newcity’s film critic and a contributing editor to Filmmaker magazine.
His multimedia history of Chicago “Ghost Signs” will be published soon. Previews of the project are on Twitter and on Instagram as Ghost Signs Chicago. More photography on Instagram.