This film is as oddly direct and quirky as its title. Ken Shopsin is the head chef and owner (along with his family) of a frequented and much loved diner/restaurant in New York. After thirty years at the same corner building, his new landlord raises the rent to a level that will shut him down.
Patron and artist Matt Mahurin takes a camera into the kitchen and captures the spontaneous, nearly unfiltered philosophical thoughts of an eccentric, hard-working Joe on the brink of a major life change. On that level alone, the documentary would be interesting. But Ken Shopsin has such an alluring personality -- charming, yet dangerously cranky. He's so unabashedly ready with colorful swear words and obscenities to tell you what he's really thinking about you.
Customers are interviewed as well; most have a story on how they at one time or other were kicked out of the place -- most likely due to the fact that they were not yet regulars.
"I gotta decide if the customer is someone worthy enough to feed" (I'm paraphrasing a comment by Chef Ken.)
And don't even think about bringing five people to the restaurant. Parties of five are strictly forbidden; even if you split into two and three -- you are still a party of five.
With the audio feel of "This American Life," "I Like Killing Flies" has a point blank video to it, which except for the shots of food, wouldn't be all that necessary. In fact, I'd enjoy listening to this program on the radio -- they should release it on CD as well as the DVD. I love the shots that include the photographer holding the little lapel Mic up to the interviewee as he shoots.
The entire video is locked into a stutter strobe effect -- I've used it myself. Usually, it's used to smooth over shaky video or to give video a more grandiose film effect. At first it bugged me, but only at first.
In sum, I was fascinated, fascinated at Ken's thoughts, fascinated at the reactions of those around him. Unfortunately, with just 5 minutes left, the film fades to black with a "One Year Later" caption which one would expect to signal a great deal of new information. While an important life change is revealed, a great deal of Ken's new business experience is simply not there. I felt quite let down. How's the new business going? What are the new customers thinking? Etc.
For menu options check out: Shopsins.com.
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