Gas Food Lodging

Studio: Arrow Video

Jan 08, 2019 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

Nora (Days of Heaven’s Brooke Adams) raises her two teenage daughters on her own, waiting tables at a greasy diner to keep her family in a mobile home in the fictional border town of Laramie, New Mexico. Their father walked out on her when they were little more than infants and Nora has done her best to erase his memory from their lives. She’s had no luck finding a man worth her time in the years since, having short love affairs with various losers, such as the charming-but-married Raymond (Twin Peaks’ Chris Mullkey), a dalliance she’s so ashamed of she keeps it secret from her daughters.

Her children fare no better in matters of the heart. The elder Trudi (Ione Skye) is a high school dropout with a heartbreaking past that’s left her unable to say no to men, allowing herself to be used by any boy who crosses her path. The younger Shade (Fairuza Balk) still views life romantically, whiling away her weekends in matinees of classic Spanish films and pining for her closeted best friend. Gas Food Lodging chronicles an especially eventful period of these three women’s lives, spanning roughly a year’s time.  

The film is a touching portrait of a family finding each their own way through moments of seemingly insurmountable desperation. Though their dire situations Gas Food Lodging never loses its glimmers of hope; the film retains a sense of tempered optimism that never feels dishonest. The effect ultimately makes their story quite moving. In the newly-recorded Making Of interview including on Arrow’s new Blu-ray edition, filmmaker Allison Anders mentions being influenced by New German Cinema and namely the work of Wim Wenders, and it shows here. She provides a strong vision for the feature while allowing room for exploration from her collaborators, be they the cast (including James Brolin, in a brief but pivotal role) or composers J Mascis and sometimes-Bad Seed Barry Adamson.

Gas Food Lodging was a critical darling out of the 1992 Sundance Film Festival, helping to usher in an American independent film movement that had begun to germinate in the late 1980s and would flourish in earnest over the following half-decade. (It was the same Sundance that yielded Reservoir Dogs.) That same wave produced many of today’s brand name auteurs, including Tarantino, Wes Anderson, Kevin Smith, and David O. Russell. These films put American independent cinema on the map, but it was mostly the male auteurs who got the attention. Cinefile: Reel Women, a vintage mid-90s documentary that’s the disc’s second major bonus feature, is an unflinching reminder of how hard it was for women to break into the industry, even as distributors were rushing to gobble up every indie darling they could get their mitts around. With interviews from filmmakers such as Anders, Jane Campion, Rose Troche, Kathryn Bigelow, and the late Penny Marshall, and heavy-hitter producers such as Gale Anne Hurd and Paula Weinstein, it’s a really good inclusion by Arrow.


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