Filed Under: Interview
|From Fatih Akin's Soul Kitchen
A decade before you could DJ with computers, the writer/director Fatih Akin
was spinning hip-hop on vinyl. A child of the '80s, he purchased hundreds of LPs back in the day but he recalls, "The first record I bought when I was 12, in 1986was Parade
He boasts, "Now I have more than 100 vinyls of Prince! That was my very first one. I liked him since 1984's Purple Rain.
I would record his songs on the radio with a tape recorder, and then, when the [disc jockey] talked, I'd be like, Oh! I got him on the tape!
Akin's musical memories explain where his interest in American soul music comes from, and, like his other films, the genre is an essential ingredient in his new film, Soul Kitchen
(at the Ritz at the Bourse)
about a put upon restaurateur named Zinos (co-writer Adam Bousdoukos
), who names his titular eatery because of his similar passion for soul.
Zinos has troubles with his back (a slipped disc), his finances, his girlfriend Nadine (Pheline Roggan
), his criminal brother Illias (Moritz Bleibtreu
), a tempestuous alcoholic chef Shayne (Birol Ãnel
), as well as a health inspector, a tax inspector, a freeloading tenant and other assorted individuals.
This is a reunion of sorts, bringing together stars of Akin's previous work: Soul Kitchen
is a farcical comedy, full of slapstick moments, and closer in spirit to Akin's early film In July,
which starred Bleibtreu. However, Akin is best known for his extraordinary dramas, Edge of Heaven
the latter of which starred Ãnel.
steals every scene as the film's hotheaded chef. Akin says he loves working with Ãnel, trying to deflect a question about Ãnel being very much like his wild, alcoholic character on screen in his real life. Eventually, he confesses, "He's difficult to handle. He's like a crazy brother to me. I love him, you know." Akin eventually acknowledges the truth about his actor, saying, "When I was younger, I had a naÃ¯ve idea I could rescue him in a way, but only he can rescue himself. That's the problem with addiction."
He praises his cast playing together "like a good soccer team." And part of this may be Akin's reliance on employing his wife Monique as his casting director and casting his brother Cem in a supporting role.
"It has its advantages," Akin says about working with family and friends. "But it's exciting to work with new people, too. When you meet someone you don't know, you have to find out who this person is. It's like dating. And you have to listen to them, and you want to treat them right. It's work. I'm very lazy practical it makes more sense for me to work with people I already know are good, and what they want."
Akin said he looked at many comedies for inspiration, settling on Chaplin
's Modern Times
over the equally brilliant output of Buster Keaton
. "Chaplin was more hysteric than Keaton," Akin insists. "[Zinos] is a more hysteric character doing gymnastic movements on the dance floor. This is like Chaplin, in a way."
Yet, Akin also culled elements from contemporary comedies, citing the Coen Brothers
' The Big Lebowski
as an influence particularly a scene in the end of that film in which a character is reunited with his prized ferret and looks into the camera. Akin laughs at the memory.
But slapstick hilarity was not the only source Akin drew from: He mentions Martin Scorsese
's Bringing Out the Dead
as a source for another shot in Soul Kitchen
, one where Zinos falls to the floor in agony with back pain, and the camera falls with him.
Despite Akin's love for Americana, working within the Hollywood system is not his goal. "I love American films. I'm a great admirer of them," he says, "but I don't want to come here and make them. They tell you what to do and how to edit them I would struggle with that."