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Kum & Go: A Midwestern Road Romance

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A stunted road movie bearing the fingerprints of homegrown auteurs
like Lynch and Jarmusch, Michael Gilio’s allusive yet original 2001
feature starts off as an archetypal tale of lovers heading west. On his
way to Hollywood, aspiring actor Mike (Gilio) reluctantly picks up the
flirtatious Didi (Lara Phillips) at a convenience store in the outer
Chicago suburbs. The chance encounter triggers a blissfully hermetic
opening act, highlighted by an oldies-scored set piece in a
mirror-balled motel room, where the couple is suspended in a sea of
tiny moons and stars, that eventually dissipates into interlocking
stories of frustrated expectations, encompassing an emotionally spent
young waitress (Karin Anglin) and a lonely middle-aged alcoholic (Rich
Komenich). Unabashedly movie-conscious and quietly formalist—settings,
objects, and patterns of light recur in altered forms—Kwik Stop
nails the details: A small-town Midwestern bar’s spot-on interior and
the interplay between a pair of cops are but two of many offhand
delights that more than compensate for the script’s occasional bum
note. First-timer Gilio skillfully distills missing backstory into
precise images—Didi’s quick trip home to pack her things is rendered as
a single brief shot, dominated by the oppressive noise of a nearby
factory. The disc includes an interview with Gilio and a pair of
apparently unrelated shorts: the tryst-with-a-twist Two Minute
Holiday
and the poignant One.

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