When his mother, who has sheltered him his entire 40 years, dies, Elling, a sensitive, would-be poet, is sent to live in a state institution. There he meets Kjell Bjarne, a gentle giant and... See full summary »
Per Christian Ellefsen,
Marit Pia Jacobsen
A film poem inspired by the Peruvian poet César Vallejo. A story about our need for love, our confusion, greatness and smallness and, most of all, our vulnerability. It is a story with many... See full summary »
Bengt C.W. Carlsson
Elisabeth leaves her abusive and drunken husband Rolf, she packs her bags, takes the kids and goes to her brother Göran. The year is 1975 and Göran lives in a commune called Together. ... See full summary »
Svend and Bjarne work for a butcher in a small Danish town. Fed up with their boss' arrogance, they decide to start their own butcher shop. After dismal beginnings, an unfortunate accident ... See full summary »
Anders Thomas Jensen
Nikolaj Lie Kaas,
Two brothers in their seventies, Pa and Moe, have lived together all their lives in a little house in the country, the only interruption being when Pa made a weekend trip to Småland on his ... See full summary »
In post war Sweden it was discovered that every year, an average housewife walks the equivalent number of miles as the distance between Stockholm and Congo, while preparing her family meals. So the Home Research Institute sent out eighteen observers to a rural district of Norway to map out the kitchen routines of single men. The researchers were on twenty-four-hour call, and sat in special strategically placed chairs in each kitchen. Furthermore, under no circumstances were the researchers to be spoken to, or included in the kitchen activities. Written by
Sujit R. Varma
The credibility of documentaries and scientists is on the table here.
Having just seen Kaurismaki's dryly-witty `Man Without a Past,' I couldn't believe that director Bent Hamer's `Kitchen Stories' is actually drier and funnier. The Norse/Swedish co-production depicts 1950's Swedes studying bachelors in their kitchens to improve their lives. Swedish scientist Folke, in a high chair like some infantile god, observes Norwegian Isak under the restriction that he must not interact with Isak.
The humor comes from the stereotypical Swede as uptight and organized and the Norwegian as slow but solid. The silliness of the experiment itself is obvious and the restriction ludicrous because of course they will interact, in fact bond, given the loneliness of Norway's winter and the need for humans to be sociable. That the story turns on male bonding is a bonus, especially because neither country is considered a bastion of sociability. When Isak lets Folke listen to the radio on his teeth fillings, I figure the guys are in for some warm nights.
In another way, this film could be as good as it gets for analyzing the effect observers have on their subjects, be it laboratory or media. A question probably unanswerable even today is how much anyone changes under observation. In the case of the central characters in `Kitchen Stories,' the change is considerable, but more so just because of another human being's presence in an otherwise lonely world. The credibility of documentaries and scientists is on the table here.
The minimal dialogue and occasional joke, spiced with subtle racial stereotyping, makes me think of not only Kaurismaki but also Beckett, whose waiting characters sometime talk nonsense, but most of the time profundity under the guise of simplicity. `Kitchen' is a slow but rewarding film that strips life of its pretensions to study more closely the tissue that binds humanity with communication.
Diplomat Dag Hammarskjold in his Markings caught the minimalism of this film: `Friendship needs no words-it is solitude delivered from the anguish of loneliness.'
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