Heroes of the East

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    Jiro Dreams of Sushi (2011: David Gelb)

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    Masterofoneinchpunch

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    Join date : 2011-02-16
    Location : Modesto, CA

    Jiro Dreams of Sushi (2011: David Gelb)

    Post  Masterofoneinchpunch on Thu Aug 23, 2012 11:14 am

    This has been one of my favorite documentaries of the past few years. I was looking forward to it before I bought it and was quite happy after viewing it. I have a fascination with monomania in individuals. While often a theme in both literature (Moby Dick) and cinema (almost every revenge film) it is interesting to see it in a real life scenario and put to good use. I read some complaints about Jiro's work ethic and how it affects his family, but I think it is something to be admired. Here is someone whose parents left him at an early age and was forced to find work at the age of 9. He is still bitter about it and this can be seen when he is visiting his parents' grave and he mentions it a few times as well. But the fact that he rose from poverty, eventually became rich (this would happen after the sons were born; they have several stories that go over how poor they were) and taught his sons a craft which they both excel at is something to admire. In fact he states he was extra hard on his sons in teaching them the craft of sushi and this is coming from a man who makes his apprentices spend weeks learning to properly wring a towel (this reminds me of the story of John Wooden who would make all new recruits to UCLA relearn to tie their shoes).

    Jiro Ono is an 85 year-old shokunin and the owner of Sukiyabashi Jiro a ten-seat sushi restaurant located in a Tokyo subway station, where you have to make a reservation a month in advance and was the first sushi restaurant to be given a three-star Michelin Guide rating (though it is not the only one, Mizutani who was an apprentice of Jiro and appears in this documentary also obtained one for his restaurant Sushi Mizutani; Mizutani's personality is quite interesting as well as he is completely frank about everything). His eldest son Yoshikazu is waiting to take establishment of the restaurant while his youngest son Takashi is in charge of a similar restaurant (I am not sure if he owns it or his father Jiro does, the father makes it sound like it is his sons; this restaurant has a two-star Michelin Guide rating). The film poses the question what will happen if Mizutani takes over, but also gives us the information that he was the chef every time Michelin came over to rate the establishment.

    You learn so much about high-end sushi in this documentary with much information coming from food critic and unabashed Jiro fan Masuhiro Yamamoto. I am certainly curious on the restaurants portrayed here, though I do not know if I could spend so much for one meal -- especially Jiro's where you are about done in 15 to 20 minutes making it one of the most expensive meals in the world. I have had decent sushi in my life and the one aspect it changed for me was that I know have trouble eating the majority of mediocre sushi out there. But one very important aspect that is mentioned time and time again in this film is the quality of your vendors. You get to meet a motley crew of very unique individuals who have the same exact standards for their profession as Jiro does.

    Warning, if you like sea creatures you might want to skip this. The suffocating of the octopus is the one I have read the most complaints on. Some of the extras are even more graphic in their slow demise, especially one procedure which make a fish brain dead, but keeps its body alive.

    The commentary by Director David Gelb and Editor Brandon Driscoll-Luttringer is worth listening to though you get the feeling that Gelb is much more knowledgeable about sushi and pretty much everything else in the film in his full feature cinematic debut. If I remember correctly, I don’t think Brandon had even tried sushi by the time of the commentary. Gelb stated that some of the cinematography was directed influenced by The Fog of War. The additional extras (deleted scenes and a Masters section which goes over in more detail each of the vendors shown in the film) certainly help understanding not only Jiro but pretty much everyone else in the documentary as well. Jiro's wife however is not shown, not that the director did not try as mentioned in the commentary, but he did not state the reason(s) why she does not appear. The extras also make Jiro appear more human than the stolid portrait that is shown in the film. Did you know he is considered an excellent bowler?

    The DVD seems a bit high on Amazon. I bought the DVD at Best Buy for 15 dollars. There is also a separate BD release.

    This is a fascinating documentary and if you are a fan of documentaries and/or sushi then I think you will like this. This film has a good chance of being in my top 10 for the year as well as being upgraded to ****. Has anyone else seen this? Is anyone else interested in this? Anyone here like sushi?

      Current date/time is Thu Jul 27, 2017 1:32 am