Bob Ray, Austins newish lowbrow Maysles brother, has taken his two latest features on the road, comprising the pro-am doc equivalent to being piss-drunk and lost in a tattoo alley in Texas. Most beguilingly, Total Badass (2010) chronicles the life of notorious Austin reprobate and chemical hog Chad Holt, who lives in a friends garage, sells weed (on camera), fronts punk bands, puts out a freebie magazine packed with his Hunter Thompsonesque memoirs of sexual sleaze and dope consumption, and generally lives as if hes an artist pursuing a vision when in reality hes the citys most complete fuckup. Holt comes off charmingly as equal parts Texan Keith Moon and crispy Richard Benjamin, talking blue streaks and rolling joints in his probation officers parking lot, but Ray obviously foresaw the mans spiral from gutter to abyss. Rubbernecking fun though it is, Holts trajectory becomesbig surprisecreepy and despairing. Rays second film, Hell on Wheels (2007), is by comparison an almost wholesome chronicle of the origins of the roller-derby renaissance, beginning with a single two-team league of bighearted redneck Austin broads, who quickly take over and must run the business themselves. Management compromises prove more demanding than the races; tough-talking Xenas that they are, the derby chicks still resort to oil-wrestling fundraisers.
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