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Kitchen StoriesKitchen Stories

Starring: Tomas Norstrom and Joachim Calmeyer
Directed by: Brent Hamer



Bluntly speaking? Kitchen Stories is beautiful to look at, drolly acted, but still ultimately a tad dull.

Kitchen Stories is a nonchalant look at a relationship between a couple of men, who could represent nations, set within a shapely stark climate. The premise revolves around a silly efficiency experiment one could imagine storyteller Tim Burton creating to entertain children by the fire - less all the fantastical art, creepy ghouly bits, and that flare for hidden humor.

Story goes…The government wants to make life efficient for their people. They figure by observing men in their kitchens (they've already done women) they can streamline the appliances, do away with the unnecessary extra movements one incurs when the fridge is two feet askew, and thusly shave hours off in wasted physical exertion a year for the lucky patriots. They have a core group of observers that will spend a few months in a kitchen, perched atop a tall chair. These observers are forbidden from interacting with the subjects on any level for fear it will alter the exact results.

Go with it.

The film's spotlight "observer," Folke (Tomas Norstrom), is given an ornery fellow to watch. His "subject" Isak (Joachim Calmeyer), is only doing the study to get a horse. Isak's none too keen on this stranger watching and scribbling in his book. So Isak goes out of his way to subtly mock the experiment and befuddle its observer.

But loneliness and human nature commingle and the inevitable results. The two quiet men start to break the rules, interact, and enjoy each other's company to the dismay of those around them. They do the forbidden - communicate. The observer Folke is a foreigner to the subject Isak and the two break bread and share traditional interests, which leads to coffee, which leads to laughter. The shock. Their camaraderie is a subtle social commentary on communication sunken beneath the character's seemingly mundane interaction. If we just learn to talk and share we can cohabitate, micro-globally and so forth.

Slow films can be wonderful, stark artful setting a joy. Kitchen Stories, for me, took too long to let us in on its point and the "humor" too dry. Sahara dry. And the film holds some distinct beauty to it; the cinematography and direction are superbly done, the framing always artistical and freeze-frame mini-portraits, its actors comfortable and precise in their roles. In fact the film is so real at times, it's as if you've stepped into the frames and you're squatting to watch the scenes just off camera.

Snack recommendation: Holiday herring mit cafe und brot


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