Saturday, January 19, 2013

Now on Netflix Instant: Jiro Dreams of Sushi (2012)

Jiro Dreams of Sushi (2012) - Directed by David Gelb.

By Kenny Howell

A movie about making sushi doesn't sound like it would be worth watching. How much can you really get out of making seafood and rice?

Well, as it turns out, quite a bit, as David Gelb tells the story of 85-year old Jiro Ono, probably the most famous sushi chef in the world. His restaurant, which is in the basement of a Tokyo office building, is $300 a plate, and you have to book a month in advance even for lunch. It has a Michelin rating of three stars, the highest possible.

There is a reason Jiro is so well respected, and it is the driving force of the film. Jiro is obsessed with perfecting his craft, even after 75 years in the trade. Gelb examines the every little aspect of Jiro's process, down to properly wringing out a hot towel, something his apprentices take as many as 10 years how to learn to do. Also, I have been cooking rice all wrong apparently.

It's hard to know how to feel about Jiro. He has devoted his entire life, even his dreams, to perfecting how sushi is made, which should demand immense respect. But he has missed out on a lot of life. He talks about how his children, who have also taken on his profession, and his oldest, Yoshikazu, will replace him, would ask who that stranger was sleeping in their home when Jiro just happened to be home when they were small. Is the laser like focus of trying to perfect your craft, achieving worldwide success, worth missing out on the little things like missing out on your children growing up?

The only drawback for the movie for me is the overdramatic, mostly Philip Glass score. It works for movies like The Hours, but not here. You can only show so many pieces of sushi, which all look pretty similar, before it's effect wears off.

You can watch Jiro Dreams of Sushi online on Netflix Instant.

Rating: ***1/2

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