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Arts Recommends 10/14/11

By The Brandeis Hoot

Section: Arts

October 14, 2011

Film: ‘Soul Kitchen’ by Fatih Akin

“Soul Kitchen” is everything you’d want a foreign movie to be: nonsensical, hilarious and full of unwelcome, random nudity. “Soul Kitchen,” a German film released in 2009, centers around Zinos (Adam Bousdoukos), a man who owns a restaurant that’s struggling to stay afloat. This, coupled with the fact his girlfriend is moving away to Shanghai for work, is the sole basis of the film.

Although in summary the movie sounds rather dull, it’s the non-sequiturs that move the plot along and make the movie unforgettable. Whether it is Zinos’ brother getting out of jail, Zinos breaking his back or Zinos’ new chef attempting to murder someone, the film is full of strange, but hilarious, occurrences. The film’s hilarity is amplified by the fact that everyone is yelling in German—foreign languages are just plain funny! In short, “Soul Kitchen” is one of those ineffable films that keeps you giggling for days after.

—Candice Bautista, Editor

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Books: “Chronic City” by Jonathan Lethem

Critics have dubbed Jonathan Lethem a “genre bender,” and with good reason—his works have included dystopian nightmares and superhero fantasies. His most recent novel, 2009’s “Chronic City,” doesn’t deviate from that standard—it’s a paranoid detective novel set in a funhouse mirror version of New York City circa 2004.

Chase Insteadman is a former child star who lives off television residuals and is invited to all the city’s galas, primarily so he can fill a seat and offer his hosts tidbits about his astronaut girlfriend, permanently stuck on a space station. His life changes when he encounters Perkus Tooth, a former rock critic who notices strange patterns in the world around him—and what a strange world it is. Manhattan’s being terrorized by an invisible tiger, while the financial district has been consumed by a strange fog …

This is a novel concerned with corruption, both of the public and private varieties—city hall plays a big role. Lethem also peppers the novel with pop culture references, with copious allusions to Marlon Brando and Werner Herzog. It’s very much interested in the relationship between high and low culture; at one point, Perkus reveals that each week he types up articles from The New Yorker on his computer, as he believes its cultural prowess lies in its iconic font.

At times, “Chronic City” reads like something by Thomas Pynchon—specifically “The Crying of Lot 49”—but with a bit more heart. It never veers into excessive sentiment, however, you do root for Chase and Perkus as their respective worlds unravel.

Sean Fabery, Editor

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