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Toronto 2009: “Soul Kitchen”‘s Chaotic Warmth

Toronto 2009: “Soul Kitchen”‘s Chaotic Warmth (photo)

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German helmer Fatih Akin’s latest, “Soul Kitchen,” is a lark, but an enjoyable one. The film sees the director of “Head On” and “The Edge of Heaven” doing schtick for the first time — not as odd a transition as one might think from his previous dramas, which have in common a deeply felt human touch and sense of interconnection. In fact, Zinos (Adam Bousdoukos) wishes he were a little less connected at the start of “Soul Kitchen” — his brother Illyas (Moritz Bleibtreu) is out on conditional probation and needs a job at his restaurant, a high school acquaintance is going after the land that restaurant sits on, the Hamburg Tax Office is looking to collect back taxes and the one person he wishes were around, his girlfriend, is headed to Shanghai for six months for work. He also has chronic back pains, which don’t do him any favors as he tries to save his flagging business and hires a wild card chef (Birol Ünel) that he must keep his eye on.

Things only get wilder from there, unspooling to a soundtrack stuffed with the Isley Brothers, Kool and the Gang and Ruth Brown. Heeding the advice of Zinos’ chiropractor, Akin’s film keeps moving constantly, displaying a keen wit to accompany the director’s already established visual flair. “Soul Kitchen” only hits speed bumps when Akin occasionally goes for the easy joke instead of the many long cons that he sets up throughout the film that ultimately pay off in spades. Zinos’ slipped disk in his back, Udo Kier as a breath mint-popping businessman and anything involving Zinos’ easily irritable chef — who responds to a customer’s request for hot gazpacho by offering to “piss in it to make it hot” — are among the many pleasures derived from Akin’s clever running gags.

Fresh from winning a Special Jury Prize at Venice, Akin was in a good mood during the film’s Q&A, teasing the audience when asked whether the English-speaking crowd got all the Hamburg-centric humor with a sly “Almost.” The good news is that Akin came to Toronto at all — he’d finished a cut in time for Cannes, but the film’s composer denied him, saying “Can’t send it to Cannes. It’s not groovy enough.” There were no complaints from the Toronto crowd at the Ryerson, though Akin said he’ll be returning to drama for his next film since “it’s easier.” He made “Soul Kitchen” at the urging of his late producing partner Andreas Thiel, who died during the last week of shooting on “Head On” and never got to experience the film’s international success. Akin said Thiel always liked the script for “Kitchen,” which had been kicking around for five years before he went ahead and made what he called “a family film. I put all my friends together and said, ‘let’s make this.'”

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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at

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Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

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