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The Cinematic Katzenjammer: Sept 17: Jiro Dreams of Sushi


Sept 17: Jiro Dreams of Sushi

"A documentary on 85-year-old sushi master Jiro Ono, his business in the basement of a Tokyo office building, and his relationship with his son and eventual heir, Yoshikazu."
Directed by: David Gelb, Rated: PG, 81 minutes

Call it a coincidence or a possible theme week starting but here's my second documentary review in two days. Jiro Dreams of Sushi is a little, very simple doc that takes a look at the world of sushi, specifically focusing on Jiro Ono, a man many consider to be the greatest sushi chef alive. While I am not a fan of the dish, I respect it's popularity as well as the fact it is quite the craft, with Jiro being a masterful artist. The film doesn't have a lot of depth to it as it merely just focuses on Jiro and his sons, but it's done so beautifully that it turns into a wonderful portrait of a man who's been dishing out sushi for over seventy years. 

He looks intimidating but you really just want to give him a big hug. 

Jiro Ono is 85 years old. He keeps going to work, every day (except national holidays) and even leaves his little restaurant open on days he has to attend a funeral. His restaurant is small, taking up just the bottom level of a business building tucked away in a little area of Tokyo. It's not fancy, and consists of a kitchen, a sushi desk (where he prepares the food) and about ten seats for his guests. In order to eat at his place, you need to have reservations set up at least a month in advance, and once you do dine with him, the meal usually only lasts about 15 minutes. His food's not elaborate or really that fancy, but the man has been able to discover how to pull out the deepest of flavors from fish, octopi, and other food items. He's also taught his sons the craft, having his eldest, who's nearly fifty years old himself, work for him at the restaurant. The film touches upon the relationship he has with both of his kids as well as highlighting the traditional makeup of a Japanese family. 

His staff includes his son and apprentices that don't even touch fish until after ten years of 'training'. 

Jiro Dreams of Sushi is a very effective documentary. While it never goes out of its way to teach you something or leave you with any profound message or belief, it still manages to leave you relaxed and thinking about your own work ethic and life in general. As I mentioned that I'm not a fan of sushi, the movie manages to make me salivate and actually crave the food Jiro makes. By all means, if I even think about what's in the dish I feel turned off, but seeing the simplicity in the dish, with beautiful portraits of each one on display, actually made me hungry for the fish. Jiro Dreams of Sushi is filmed beautifully and much can be attributed to the director, David Gelb, a westerner from New York City. His technique behind the camera, mixed with a somber yet inspiring soundtrack makes Jiro Dreams of Sushi more than just a regular documentary.

I would highly recommend this little gem. It's only 81 minutes long, so it doesn't take up an entire afternoon or evening and is such a nice way to spend a rainy day. Jiro Ono is a one of a kind man and seeing his dedication to his work is incredibly admirable. He's a man who's considered a master by practically everyone in his field, yet he continues to strive to do even better, always changing his methods and honing his technique. His message to the audience is to not necessarily find what you love, but turn what you do into that very thing. Work hard and perfect your craft and any love you will have for the job will blossom into a lifelong calling. While it's not what most people want to hear (or even want to do), the heart of his message is pure and has plenty that can be learned from it. 

The Good:
beautiful cinematography that paints a gorgeous portrait of not only sushi, but Tokyo and Japan as well
The Better:
seeing one man's dedication to something that's lasted over 70 years and appreciating the talent he not only has, but shares
The Best:
making me reconsider sushi and genuinely wanting to seek it out again (something I thought I'd never do)

Overall: 8.6/10


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At September 18, 2012 at 7:23 AM , Blogger Benend said...

Sounds right up my street. I find it incredibly easy to watch documentaries at the moment, so I will bump this up to the top of my 'to watch' list.

At September 18, 2012 at 8:21 AM , Blogger Nick said...

It's certainly worth a watch. It's on Netflix too.

At September 18, 2012 at 12:52 PM , Blogger Mavi said...

Loved this film, seeing someone at that aged still being obsessed with his craft....

At September 18, 2012 at 7:25 PM , Blogger Nick said...

Will definitely check out your review. The film is very impressive though.. makes you feel like your work ethic blows.

At September 19, 2012 at 2:50 PM , Blogger Mavi@filmscope said...

I will I could have that kind of drive and passion for something.

At September 19, 2012 at 2:51 PM , Blogger Mavi@filmscope said...

I wish****

At September 19, 2012 at 6:20 PM , Blogger Nick said...

Me too... can't find it in anything lol


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