I Like Killing Flies

I’m going to try to post more often about food related movies. I still hold Mostly Martha as my all time favourite, however, and for very different reasons I Like Killing Flies is vying for the same honour.

My local library had a copy of this now 10 year old documentary about a NYC village eatery run by quite the idiosyncratic cook. I could not help but think that Gordon Ramsey would either be appalled or enthralled by this man’s skills and this diner which not only sourced local foods but also catered quite specifically to locals.

If there had not been the real life soup nazi (see below for one of the clips) the Seinfeld character could have been loosely based on Shopsin. There is an amusing scene where a party of 5 talks about being refused service. Shopsin’s does not allow parties of more than 4, and if you arrive as 5 you cannot split into 2 and 3, you are forever a party of 5. And if you show up next week split up, you will still be refused service.

Shopsin veers from affable to obnoxious but what is most captivating is how he offers a menu of hundreds of dishes all cooked fresh in a jerry rigged galley kitchen.

His customers are fiercely loyal and some as odd as he is.

What I love about this film is that it feels so much more organic than any other food film I have seen. The characters are all over the map and one is left with a sense of real and messy life. It is, as my brother who recommended this to me said, a film that while not short you kind of wish it would never end. As well as the intriguing food scene, the off the cuff philosophizing of Shopsin is highly entertaining and not self aggrandizing in the least (he knows he is a mixed bag of a man).

At the end we are left with the restaurant having just moved into a new location. I would love to know if this place still exists. (You can find some clips on youtube but they do not represent the film well at all…it does not render well into short bites.)


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