Multi-hyphenate talent Daniel Kaluuya’s directorial debut, The Kitchen, co-directed by Kibwe Tavares, which features Top Boy star Kane “Kano” Robinson making his feature-length film debut, has arrived.
The film takes place in a dystopian near future of London and follows Izi (Kane Robinson). Izi can be described as a loner who lives a solitary existence in “The Kitchen,” the last surviving social community in the capital.
The Film Has A Deep Story
Izi dreams of leaving “The Kitchen” for a luxury apartment he has been saving for. His plans to leave hit a snag when he bumps into Benji (Jedaiah Bannerman), the orphaned son of his ex-girlfriend, during her empty funeral service at Life After Life, a funeral service for low-income families who can’t afford to bury their loved ones in a casket.
Benji reveals to Izi that he doesn’t know who his father is, but his mother told him that he used to work at Life After Life and also lives in The Kitchen.
Izi doesn’t respond and leaves Benji, but he feels guilty and returns to offer him a ride home. Benji is alone and can no longer afford the rent for the apartment he shares with his mother, and the electricity is already off.
The only thing the young orphan has to his name is the final birthday gift his mother left for him, a Brompton bicycle. Benji hops on his bike and heads to The Kitchen to find Izi.
What Benji does find is the Staples’ gang, a group of young kids who partake in smash and grabs and rob food delivery trucks to bring food to the less fortunate residents of The Kitchen.
Izi sees young Benji with the gang and slowly steps up to take care of the young man while grappling with choosing himself over the community.
Before the film’s stateside release, CassiusLife’s Men’s Lifestyle and Pop Culture writer Bernard “Beanz” Smalls caught up with Kaluuya and Robinson.
Daniel Kaluuya Is All About Creating New & Original Stories
We asked Kaluuya, now that he’s got his first film under his belt if there were any past projects he was part of or movies he has seen he would have liked to sit in the director’s chair for. Kaluuya quickly shut the idea down and is only looking forward.
“You’re making me look like a hater,” Kaluuya laughed. “No, because you know why? Because then it would’ve been a different film.”
…how do we do what’s not been done? What’s the point? Because art’s about making up and imagination and creativity, let’s create.
Kaluuya continues, “I can’t even be, how can I? I love Creed, but it would’ve been a different thing from Ryan Coogler after Fruitvale. For me, it’s about how you make it; it’s not about replicating or doing what’s already been done; how do we do what’s not been done? What’s the point? Because art’s about making up and imagination and creativity, let’s create. Let’s use what’s happened in the past that has done as a template, as a structure to create something new. And that’s what I aspire for on and off the camera.
On the other hand, Robinson admits he’s down to step into any of Kaluuya’s, particularly the ones where the bread was right, saying, “I would say whatever one he got paid most for,” leading to the two actors sharing a good laugh.
Kaluuya Explains Why Music Is So Important In The Kitchen
The actors in the movie are vital in pushing the story forward, but music is just as important in this film. The residents of The Kitchen are provided a soundtrack for their daily lives by Lord Kitchener, the de facto leader of the community.
Kaluuya explained to CassiusLife why the film’s score is vital to telling The Kitchen’s story.
I think it’s just part of the culture; we come together through music, and this film explores that.
“So I think for me, especially the co-director, Kibwe Tavares, we just felt music is such a thing in London culture, British culture. For me, in London, Notting Hill Carnival’s Christmas essentially,” Kaluuya begins. “And it’s just about the sound system. I think it’s just part of the culture; we come together through music, and this film explores that. But also, if you go to a club in London, I don’t think any other city has this, where every genre has a moment. There’s [a] moment in every genre, and you feel cheated if one is left out. That’s very special and very unique to our city, so we want to show that.”
He continues, “I think a lot of times I’ve seen films about our city, and it ignores that, and it’s as if we’re just listening to one, the hardest music all the time. My mom didn’t listen to Whitney Houston. It don’t even make sense. We’ve been exposed to everything. And Lord Kitchener is of that age range where he’s open to all this music. Obviously, he’s a DJ, so he has been exposed to more. And then I want to show that there’s an appreciation for that more. Yeah, that’s what it was. And it was like you feel the soul of the city and the emotion and where The Kitchen is at through the music.”
What Other Films Served As An Influenced For The Kitchen
While movies like The Kitchen do present viewers with an original story, they are also inspired by previous films. Kaluuya revealed a classic Spike Lee film, one of the “touchstones” for his movie, specifically the character Lord Kitchener, reminiscent of Samuel L. Jackson’s Señor Love Daddy.
To have him as the father of the community is an ode to the fathers and mothers of our culture.
“Yeah, I think it was to be very inspired by Do the Right Thing. That was one of the touchstones, Do the Right Thing, La Haine, Children of Men,” Kaluuya told CassiusLife. “These seminal films in these big cities, we wanted to make one of those. But also it was inspired by the original Lord Kitchener. From the first generation, Calypso singer. And it was a nod of our hat to that generation, which I believe are the fathers and mothers of the London culture that we have right now. To have him as the father of the community is an ode to the fathers and mothers of our culture.”
Kaluuya and Robinson Share What They Hope People Walk Away With After Watching The Film
The Kitchen isn’t just a movie about the dangers of gentrification. There are plenty of gems viewers can walk away with after watching the film, and Kaluuya and Robinson shared what they hope watchers leave with after viewing the film.
“It’s just connection and community and people checking in on each other. And the joy that community brings and through Izi, Kane’s character, want to show how people that act against their interests, how to come out of that,” said Kaluuya. “And there’s no shame in falling in that process. It’s always, it’s just about how you respond to it as opposed to what you do. That’s the kind of stuff that I want people to go away with.”
Robinson adds, “I would just say people watch this film; they can maybe question it. This is set in the near future, but is this something that is realistic? Is it actually maybe even happening now in the cities that we’re all from, and is it right, and can we do something about it?”
The Kitchen is now streaming on Netflix.
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