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JIRO DREAMS OF SUSHI

SYNOPSIS:
Documentary about 85 year old Jiro Ono, the most famous sushi chef in Tokyo, whose passion for his craft speaks for itself as he aspires to create the perfect sushi.

Review by Louise Keller:
Not only does 85 year old Jiro Ono make sushi in his dreams, but he has been making the real thing in Tokyo for the past 75 years. The secret of success is to dedicate your life to mastering your skill, he says, in this scrumptious documentary about a perfectionist who has mastered his art and thrives on wanting to reach the top without knowing where the top is. If you ever wondered what is the Art of Sushi, David Gelb's intriguing portrait opens up a whole new world, in which we learn about simplicity, balance and what defines 'deliciousness'.

To the majestic sounds of Mozart's Piano Concerto in C, we watch tuna being expertly carved, practiced hands at work and the artful brush stroke of the glaze before the sushi is elegantly placed on a platter. As we watch Jiro at work as he talks about his profession and life, it is easy to become inspired by his work ethic when he says 'You have to be in love with your work.' My stomach started to rumble as delectable bite size pieces are magically created (as if by a close-up magician) and proudly presented for consumption. While sushi might be about balance and the union between rice and fish, Jiro's life is all about sushi. And perfect sushi is about Jiro. I had no idea such a huge range of delectable sushi pearls exist - including three types of tuna, horse mackerel, squid, gizzard shad, clam, striped mackerel, 'car' shrimp, half-beak, octopus, mackerel, sea urchin bay scallop, salmon roe, salt-water ell, dried gourd roll and grill egg.

Many were astonished when Jiro was awarded the coveted three Michelin Stars. For good reason. He was the oldest Chef to receive the honour and even more astonishing was the fact that Sukiyabashi Jiro, his sushi-bar restaurant only accommodates 10 diners and serves nothing but sushi. Considering the length of the dining experience (approximately 15 minutes), this esteemed establishment could well be called the most expensive restaurant in the world.

As with all good cuisine, everything begins with the ingredients and Jiro's relationships with all the specialist vendors at the bustling fish markets are canvassed. A good palate is also required: 'Without good taste you cannot make good food'. Until his recent heart attack, Jiro used to go to the markets himself - each trip, an eye-opening experience filled with theatre. In case you didn't know, it takes great skill to cook the rice (purchased from a specialist rice dealer), steamed under immense pressure. Not surprisingly, the devil is in the detail and Jiro's obsession with meticulous preparation follows. As a former apprentice notes, being such a craftsman requires relentless repetition, a trait that is accentuated by Philip Glass's hypnotic score with its endlessly repetitive musical phrases.

We also meet Jiro's two sons: Takashi, the younger has opened another restaurant while Yoshikazu, who will eventually take over his father's, knows he will need to be twice as good to receive the same acclaim. Interesting to note it was Yoshikazu who was preparing the sushi, when Jiro was awarded his third Michelin Star. Although the running time is only 83 minutes, the film feels a little long and is often repetitive with extensive sequences of bite-sized morsels displayed again and again. But the spirit of the man shines brilliantly throughout and we feel privileged to meet such an artist whose dreams of sushi heaven have left their mark.



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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 1
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

JIRO DREAMS OF SUSHI (PG)
(US, 2011)

CAST: Jiro Ono, Yoshikazu Ono

PRODUCER: Kevin Iwashina, Tom Pelligrini

DIRECTOR: David Gelb

SCRIPT: n/a

CINEMATOGRAPHER: David Gelb

EDITOR: [BREAK]Brandon Driscoll-Luttringer

MUSIC: Philip Glass

PRODUCTION DESIGN: n/a

RUNNING TIME: 83 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Curious Films

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: Sydney, Brisbane, Canberra, Adelaide, Perth: May 10, 2012







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