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Gut-busting laughs are on the menu in Fatih Akin’s hilarious follow up to his critically acclaimed hits Head-On and The Edge of Heaven. When down-and-out restaurateur Zinos attempts to follow his recently relocated girlfriend to Shanghai, he leaves his troubled blue-collar restaurant, Soul Kitchen, in the hands of his shady ex-con brother—a disastrous decision that puts the restaurant’s future in jeopardy. But if the brothers can stop their bickering and pull it together, Soul Kitchen might have one last shot at survival…
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While nowhere near as good as his great, dark comedy-drama `Head On' or his complex. philosophical `The Edge of Heaven', or even his delightful music documentary 'Crossing the Bridge' - all of which are must-sees - I appreciate that Akin seems more interested in exploring different genres and stories than creating a signature style.
This is the kind of comedy that makes you smile more than laugh, and is stronger on character and acting than on comic set pieces, but even the jokes that don't work aren't annoying. Its too sweet and full of life to get cranky at.
A shaggy, likable young Greek man living in Germany tries to start his own restaurant, juggling his ex-con brother, his out-of town girlfriend, his slightly insane chef, and a rival who wants to take over his space and develop condos. It's not an `important' film, but it captures something wonderful about being young and trying to find your place in the world.
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Here, Akin turns his storyline to another ethnic community deeply embedded into the fabric of German society: the Greeks. Adam Bousdoukos (Akin's co-writer here - he had a bit role in 'Head-On') and Moritz Bleibtreu (Baader Meinhof Complex (2pc) (Ws Sub)) play brothers Zinos and Illias Kazantsakis respectively. Zinos is the entrepreneur in the process of re-inventing his erstwhile greasy spoon restaurant. Illias is his ne'er-do-well brother who needs Zinos' support to make his terms of prison parole stick.
Unlike his two previous films, Akin displays a flair for comedy here, though - Akin being Akin - even the laughs have an edge and manic verve that gives you a product a fair pace from light, breezy Rom-Com or Judd Apatow territory. That fact is underscored when the inimitable Birol Ünel pops on to the screen as tempestuous chef, Shayn Weiss. Ünel's trademark intensity is seared into the eyeballs of anyone who's seen 'Head On.' His portrayal of Cahit Tomruk in that film was nothing short of remarkable. Ünel plays a supporting role here, but you can't take your eyes off of him any time he's on the screen. In 'Soul Kitchen,' Chef Weiss' irascible nature hardly conceals his immense talents in the kitchen.
Also good here are: Pheline Roggan as Zinos' long-time first girlfriend, Nadine; Anna Bederke as bartender/waitress/object of brothers' affection, Lucia; Wotan Wilke Möhring as over-the-top property developer/villain, Thomas Neumann; and - best of all - Catrin Striebeck as an imperious, exacting restaurant inspector. She's a unique beauty who never holds anything back on-screen.
Zinos owns a joint. They serve basic, burger level food, as well as alcohol, to the middle of the middle of society. It's all nondescript. His gal is leaving him for a big promotion in Shanghai. His brother, a daytime parolee from prison wants a job in name only so he can continue his nefarious ways. The guy who rents the back of the industrial building they're in, to finish his boat, never pays his rent. His friend who's in a rock band needs the restaurant as a practice space. The local health department wants to shut him down. The tax collectors are after him for back taxes and a real estate developer wants to buy the building. Oh yeah. He's also thrown his back out.
Things aren't going well for Zinos. He's being pulled in a lot of directions and a lot of bad things are happening to him. But he is what he is, and because of this the stars finally line up and a lot of good things begin to happen. Many disparate circumstances converge and things take a turn for the better. Way better.
This is a good-hearted movie. You love the characters. They're a goofy lot with good souls. And when things turn good you couldn't be happier for them. What really works here is the unexpectedness of it all. Were this made in Hollywood you could write it yourself and set your watch to it. But little that happens here is on any map you've traveled. So many great and wonderful things happen here it becomes a simple pleasure to watch. But, even as the really good things happen here, the really bad things continue to happen, so the viewer is never really certain how all this will turn out.
Zinos is a great character. He's a Greek in Germany and that alone puts a cock-eyed edge on things. His brother, who is a ne're-do-well on the outside, steps up and becomes a more complex character as things move on. Lucia, though not the main focus, still sticks with you as a memorable character. Her developing romance with Zinos' brother is interesting. The production values, though not extravagant, are good enough to make you forget you're watching a movie. One of my only gripes here is that I wish they'd have come up with enough trump to afford some genuine American soul recordings instead of the weak covers.
This is a weird and wonderful movie. It's a joy to watch. Some of the scenes might be a bit too comic but it's a minor quibble compared to the overall greatness of the movie. If you like leaving the beaten path this is a great journey.
This cautionary tale deals with a young Greek-German restaurant owner who serves nasty frozen pizzas and fish sticks - but boy, does he have a dedicated crowd. The arrow in his side is his burglar brother, whom he loves dearly anyway. One day he needs to find an actual chef and ends up with a psychotic-looking loony bird (who yells things such as "CULINARY RACIST!" at people).
I will not spoil this fantastic ride. It is a comic descent into hell for nearly all the characters in it; it makes country music seem positively bubbly in comparison. It is the courage of this one forlorn Greek character that carries the movie, his courage making country music seem puny. You will see for yourself why I think this film ought to be compared to country music. This film made me laugh and cry simultaneously - nothing has done that since an old Kurosawa favorite of mine.
This film can brag some of the best art direction I have ever seen - the end credits are almost a religious experience in themselves - and the cinematography is crisply focused. Also be on the lookout for the eternally delightful Udo Kier cameo. Man, I wish the Germans would get more movies over here for us to see, and to learn from them. Though the comedy will seem U.S.-inspired, we could not have pulled this off the way they did.
Starring Adam Bousdoukos, Moritz Bleibtreu, Wotan Wilke Möhring, Demir Gökgöl and directed by German up-and-coming Fatih Akin.
It tells the story of a Greek/German man trying to juggle a realtionship with a girlfriend who's relocated to China and a restuarant that is barely making a profit. You throw in a caring but irresponsible brother who's has repeated day release permission from prision, an ex classmate who's a real estate dealer that tries everything to get our main charcacter to sell the restaurant in order to sell it to a wealthy investor, an eccentric and volatile chef, an old time sailor that lives on the premises (for free as he can never pay the rent) and some of the brothers' criminal friends, you get a good set of varied enough characters that help create the comedy and drama.
In my opinion it's the least best of the 5 Fatih Akin movies I've seen (having also seen edge of heaven, short sharp shock, head on and in july) but nevertheless it's definitely enjoyable to watch and like all his films (although i can't remember how head on finishes) it ends on a positive note that provides the charcater with renewed hope for the future and puts a smile on the film watchers face. Overall, don't expect the heavy, powerful impact of head on or edge of heaven (which i prefer) as this is obviously a comedy, unlike those two. Just sit back and enjoy the dialogue, comedy and drama that is derived from this fast paced and upbeat movie. Romantics will defintely enjoy it too.
Although the title is "Soul" Kitchen, the music is a mix of funk, r&b, soul, jazz, and rock. I thought it was better that recognizable musical artists and hits were not used. A fair amount of the "action" occurs without dialogue - you watch events unfold as the music continues to play. More recognizable artists might have been distracting in this context.
I think the point of the movie might be summed up by an early conversation between the restaurant owner and his new high-end chef. In that conversation the chef suggests they make "food for the soul", but I think the actual word used might have translated better as "food for the spirit".
I had seen Head On by this director, but that [excellent] film bears little relation to this one, except that they are both very well made [and a few actors are in both films, not that you'd know - the characters in Soul Kitchen are quite unique!].
Watch this film! - you WILL laugh at the twists and turns...