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    Kitchen Stories

    Cooking reality

    The Scandinavian import "Kitchen Stories" doesn't get enough insight out of its reality-TV-like premise — watching bachelors tool around the kitchen.


    We all know that reality television shows are far from reality. And we've all breathed a collective groan when producers give the old "Real reality is boring" argument. But, it ends up they're right! If so-called "reality" television programs were not edited by master manipulators, we would be left watching something that closely resembles "Kitchen Stories."

    Original title: Salmer fra kj¿kkenet.
    Directed by: Bent Hamer.
    Written by: Jšrgen Bergmark, Bent Hamer.
    Cast: Joachim Calmeyer, Tomas Norstršm, Bj¿rn Floberg, Reine Brynolfsson, Sverre Anker Ousdal, Leif AndrŽe, Gard B. Eidsvold, Lennart JŠhkel, Trond BrŸnne.
    Cinematography: Philip ¯gaard.
    In Swedish, Norwegian with English subtitles.

    Related links: Official site
    The film gives a behind-the-scenes look at the peculiar relationship between those being observed and the people who observe them — except in "Kitchen Stories," there are no high-tech video cameras, production crews, and control rooms because it takes place in post-World War II Scandinavia.

    In reality television-speak, the "ruse" is that Swedish scientists at the Home Research Institute are sent to study the kitchen habits of single men to learn routines that can save the average housewife time and money. For maximum observation, each researcher spends his time sitting atop a large, high chair located in the corner of the kitchen. (Savvy television viewers know that this is exactly where camera #1 would be).

    Kitchen Stories  
    It comes as no great surprise that the observed bachelor feels uncomfortable with this arrangement and initially avoids his kitchen altogether. But then, through a series of clichŽs — a shared cigarette, cup of coffee, and even a blanket — the two men develop a close friendship.

    Now, for what reality television producers call "the reveal." The boss-man researcher discovers this taboo relationship and calamity ensues.

    While watching two men sit in a room staring at each other for an hour and a half is about as interesting as defrosting your regrigerator, "Kitchen Stories" also touches on more complex themes like loneliness, alienation, intimacy, and individuality. But, much like reality television, we never learn enough about the characters outside the confines of the experiment to be able to relate to them. Had these themes been explored a little further, we might have found that between the painfully mundane and the artificially outrageous, reality can actually be entertaining.

    FEBRUARY 20, 2004

    Reader comments on Kitchen Stories:

  • [no subject]   from Margaret Orwig, Apr 27, 2004
  • Absolutely wonderful movie!   from Mat, Aug 7, 2005
  • I don't htink you got it.   from Janie Blackdog, Feb 22, 2006
  • Kitchen Stories   from Robyn, Apr 29, 2006
  • loved this film   from Beverly in Atlanta, Feb 24, 2008

  • Post a comment on "Kitchen Stories"