May. 30, 2012 - Issue #867: Nextfest 2012
Jiro Dreams of Sushi
Directed by David Gelb
Metro Cinema at the Garneau
Sukiyabashi Jiro's a subterranean restaurant near Tokyo's Ginza Station; it serves only sushi, has only 10 seats, and the toilet's down the hall. It's also the only restaurant of its kind to snag Michelin's full three stars. (A 20-piece meal starts around $300!) Proprietor Jiro Ono, 85, has been making sushi for 75 years and has no retirement plan—despite the fact that his eldest son, Yoshikazu, has been his faithful apprentice for 30 years.
Jiro Dreams of Sushi is a high-protein foodie doc about rarified dining and an unobtrusive study of Japanese family dynamics. Jiro grew up with nothing, but was preternaturally ambitious; he left home to start his career at the age of nine. Yoshikazu grew up in the shadow of his globally revered father and, as the charismatic food critic who provides the film's best commentary puts it, he'd have to make sushi twice as good as dad's just to convince anyone he was his equal. Both men retain a stoic, dryly humorous air, so whatever unspoken tensions linger can only be inferred.
Director David Gelb offers handsomely diffused images of food, faces and urban spaces, impressively fluid travelling shots, lots of slow-motion and the celestial strains of Phillip Glass—for a film about austerity Jiro Dreams of Sushi is pretty baroque. Yet, it mostly works wonderfully.
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