Soul Kitchen (Directors Suite) (2009)

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Released 10-Nov-2010

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy Featurette-Making Of-(35.24)
Theatrical Trailer-(1.59)
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2009
Running Time 95:45 (Case: 99)
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Fatih Akin
Studio
Distributor

Madman Entertainment
Starring Adam Bousdoukos
Moritz Bleibtreu
Birol Ünel
Anna Bederke
Pheline Roggan
Lukas Gregorowicz
Dorka Gryllus
Wotan Wilke Möhring
Demir Gökgöl
Monica Bleibtreu
Marc Hosemann
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $34.95 Music None Given


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None German Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
English Alternate Subtitles
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

     Music runs like lifeblood through the works of Turkish-German director Fatih Akin. In Head On it was punk that set his characters on fire, Crossing the Bridge was a tribute to traditional Turkish music and, not surprisingly, soul music energises Soul Kitchen. It is perhaps fitting that the upbeat spirit of soul matches Akin's lightest film to date coming after the drama of The Edge of Heaven

     Soul Kitchen is a restaurant in a old warehouse rundown section of Hamburg owned and run by the Greek/German Zinos (Adam Bousdoukos). Zinos is on a bit of a downer. His restaurant doesn't make much money and the loyal clients only want the regular greasy, slop-house specials. He has an old boat builder tenant in part of the warehouse who never seems to be able to pay any rent. His loyal waitress Lucia (Anna Bederke) is put out when Zinos’ brother Illias (Moritz Bleibtreu) comes looking for a job at the restaurant. She starts to like him a lot, not realizing that he is a thief on limited release from prison. The fact that he hangs around the place doing no work and gambling with his mates is no ease to Zinos' burdens. Zinos' girlfriend Nadine (Pheline Roggan) has decided to further her journalism career in China and Zinos is about to lose half of his reason for living.

     A night out with Nadine's family at a posh restaurant brings two chance meetings - with Neumann (Wotan Wilke Mohring ), a former school friend now sleazy property developer, and Shayn (Birol Unel), a fiery chef who just might be the solution to fixing Soul Kitchen’s dire cuisine.

     Soul Kitchen is a comedy of events rather than a strongly plotted film. The poor Zinos has to contend with his wavering girlfriend on Skype, a rebellion of his clients to the new Chef's nouvelle cuisine, the actions of his unreliable brother and the close attention of the health department and the tax office. All the while Neumann lurks in the distance waiting for the restaurant to fail so he can snap it up for a song and sell it to a developer in the guise of classic actor Udo Kier. Lastly, but certainly not least, Zinos suffers a debilitating back injury bringing him into contact with the lovely physio Anna (Dorka Gryllus).

     In the Making of featurette Akin and star Bousdoukos talk at length about the development of the script and, more importantly, that it was pretty much based on real episodes when Boudsoukas was running a restaurant. Akin's films are never very tightly plotted but this is as loose as it gets with the pace of the film constantly speeding up then slowing down. For Akin fans, who admire the off kilter way he approaches his subjects, this is a major selling point rather than a distraction. The humour is a major part of the film veering from witty dialogue to outright slapstick.

     In Soul Kitchen Akin has fashioned a comedy that remains an endearing square peg. Throughout the film music plays almost as if the radio has been left on. It flavours and influences the film. One for those who like their comedies a little off-centre.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     Soul Kitchen was shot on Super 35mm film which Akin said he used to give a wider cinematic palette to his film. The original aspect ratio was 1.85:1. This aspect ratio has been preserved for the DVD release. It is 16x9 enhanced.

     Akin's films are never glamorous. The Hamburg on display here is a mostly grey city and the Kitchen is about as close to a derelict warehouse as you can get when you choose to create a restaurant film-set out of an actual derelict warehouse. The colours are rarely bright and clear however this is consistent with the director’s vision. The image itself is fairly sharp and the flesh tones are accurate.

     There are subtitles in your choice of yellow or white which give a clear account of the spoken German.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     Soul Kitchen carries a German Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack running at 224Kb/s. This may seem a bit underpowered for a film that relies so much on music but the soundtrack is pretty good. Also it suits the raw sounding blast of soul music that the sound is coming front and centre. The dialogue seems clear and there are no technical problems with the soundtrack.

     The music comes from a variety of sources. Of course, most of it is soul based but there is also some club music with a pounding bass line. The bass is well handled by the sound mix. The spread of soul music is impressive, from the classics Kool & the Gang and Ruth Brown to a number of German soul bands and the films' "house band" Bad Boy Boogiez. The film is almost a musical in the way that songs fill in every gap in the dialogue.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

     There is only really one extra with this DVD.

Making of Soul Kitchen

     This is a fairly lengthy Making of featurette. It largely consists of a long interview with the director and lead actor about the origin of the script. Apparently it was forged over many long nights over a restaurant table! Each of the actors and key crew is given a chance to talk about their involvement in the film and the highs and lows of the filmmaking process. Head On star Unel is the obvious stand-out. Whilst others are talking about the camaraderie of the set, Unel makes it perfectly clear that he thrives on tension and is proud to be the only cast member allowed to drink on set. We are allowed into filming of a couple of scenes including the party/orgy etc. This presented a challenge for Akin who found it easier if less exhilarating to direct smaller ensembles.

Theatrical Trailer

     A short trailer for the film.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    This film is only available on DVD in France and Germany at the moment. It is on Blu-ray in Germany. There are a couple of short extras on the Blu-ray but otherwise (leaving aside High Definition) the product is identical.

Summary

     Anyone who enjoyed Akin’s earlier works will enjoy the ramshackle punk spirit lying beneath the surface of Soul Kitchen. It is consistently enjoyable and has some great moments. Action boring you? Just sit back and enjoy the soul music.

     The DVD is a pretty good representation of the film - a little rough round the edges, a little gritty but with a good heart. The sole major extra is an useful addition to the package.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Trevor Darge (read my bio)
Thursday, December 16, 2010
Review Equipment
DVDCambridge 650BD (All Regions), using HDMI output
DisplaySony VPL-VW80 Projector on 110" Screen. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationPioneer SC-LX 81 7.1
SpeakersAaron ATS-5 7.1

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