There’s a remarkable amount of documentaries about food out there, honestly way more then I could have imagined. Luckily most of these movies are available for instant streaming on Netflix and since I’m a member I figured I should probably watch some in an effort to increase my food knowledge. What’s really interesting is that thee subject matter can really be all over the place. Some are about the politics behind producing food, some are about beer and some just focus on food communities. If you are a food freak like myself you’ll find some of these movies just as fascinating as I do. So lets get this started with the movie I Like Killing Flies.
So when I was looking through the available documentaries on Netflix’s website I saw this movie, read the title and looked at the cover and thought it was some disturbing murder mystery. The cover just freaks me out. The documentary revolves around this restaurant in NYC called Shopsins and the owner/head chef Kenny Shopsins. The restaurant gained a cult following due to their insane menu (over 900 items) and Kenny’s aggressive attitude towards new customers. Here’s some thoughts/opinions about the film…
After watching the first several minutes of this movie, you immediately realized how cheap this movie was to make. The camera’s aren’t that great, the sound is really quiet at certain parts and there’s not a lot of fancy editing. But that’s all OK because anything more would have really clashed with the subject matter. The film revolves around Kenny Shopsins, who is a rude but great chef who loves cooking but generally dislikes the people he’s cooking for. You watch how he manages to use this tiny kitchen and turn out hundreds of different dishes with contraptions that he’s handcrafted himself. The other star of this film is the restaurant itself, it’s tiny but filled with portraits of the Shopsin family drawn by loyal customers and has this amazing overall character. Shopsins was located in NYC’s Greenwich Village for more then 30 years but the film captures a critical moment where they realize they can no longer afford rent and have to move to a new location. A large portion of the movie revolves around customers talking about their favorite memories, Kenny’s kids talking about the family business and Kenny deciding where to move to next.
For Foodies, this movie has a decent amount of food in it but I didn’t find any of it too appealing. I mean I really want to visit Shopsins at their new Essex Street Market location but the film didn’t have any ‘traditional’ food porn. You’ll see his various stews and maybe a dozen other “specialties” but nothing jumped at me and made me say “YUM!”. What really makes this documentary go from an entertaining feature about a crazy old chef in NYC to an emotional and captivating story are the testimonials with Kenny. When its just the camera man and Kenny, he can get really philosophic and you can tell that behind this ‘character’ is a man with a lot of depth and a unique view on life. His thoughts on how a man should live to his thoughts on what relationship and obligation he has to his customers are really fascinating. If you are adverse to foul language then don’t even start this film because Kenny (and later on his kids) do not hold back.
The film ends abruptly which is a slight bummer but I’m not sure how else they could have ended it. I’d recommend anyone who’s working in a restaurant or has appreciation for restaurants or cooking in general to watch this film. It is only 78 minutes long, so you aren’t really devoting that much time into watching it. So if you’re looking for something new to add to your queue, this is a good choice.