“Postmodern pancakes” won’t go out of style anytime soon and neither will this endearingly cockeyed portrait, albeit four years old, of Shopsin’s, the venerable West Village greasy spoon–cum–fusion haven (900 menu items!) that for decades has been owned and operated by head chef/resident philosopher and world-class crank Kenny Shopsin. Shot in the summer after Calvin Trillin’s 4,000-word New Yorker ode brought a new set of customers for Shopsin to bully back to the curb, I Like Killing Flies does as much as any movie could to humanize the R. Crumb of restaurateurs. “They have to prove it to me that they’re OK to feed,” he says of first-time visitors to the joint. The doc follows Shopsin’s begrudging move from Bedford Street to Carmine Street, no more than a storefront or two from the gen- try’s grip, and paints his resistance to every variety of bourgeois etiquette as heroism—even or especially when his food prep and his fly-killing are both done by hand. As directed in aptly unfussy fashion by music- video vet Matt Mahurin, the movie itself is a curiously tasty dish, one that could leave even a vegan with a burning desire to sample Shopsin’s lamb chops.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on July 18, 2006