Posted on August 4, 2012 by


Guest blogger Richard Daniel C., a New York based filmaker and cinemaphile, reviews this months ‘food movie’.  Thanks, Richard!

Jiro Dreams of Sushi, Dir. David Gelb, 2011, 81 min, in Japanese with subtitles

“Jiro Dreams of Sushi” is a beautiful film. Shot in warm light with plenty of soft focus and extreme close-ups of the aforementioned sushi, the film is more of an examination of Jiro’s self-built family dynamic than it is a culinary guidebook. Both of Jiro’s sons have apprenticed under him, the younger runs an offshoot of the original restaurant while the eldest waits to inherit Jiro’s flagship eatery “Sukiyabashi Jiro.” However there is never a moment of jealousy or sibling competition, both sons exist in a mutual space of understanding seemingly inherited by the tranquil shokunin or master, Jiro himself.

The main restaurant is small and unassuming in the basement of a subway station (Ginza), there are only five staff members–including Jiro and his son, Yoshikazu–and only a handful of seats, which, according to the food critic Yamamoto is antithetical to the typical conditions that Michelin would accept for its renowned guide. In spite of this, Jiro Ono is the oldest living chef to be awarded three stars–(their highest rating.)

I would argue that the reason for this is not that Jiro insists the octopus is massaged for 40-50 minutes prior to cooking, or that any employee must spend ten years on other tasks before he will be allowed to cook eggs (seriously.)  Jiro’s three stars are a actually a small testament to his lifelong dedication to his craft.

Here is a man who spent seventy-five years in the same profession, and intends to preserve a legacy for his children and patrons all the while conscious of the quickly changing world around him. Yet, profit is a secondary concern, while we see images of the freshly caught tuna spread out on the concrete floor of the fish market we can hear Jiro ask:

“What is sushi? How can we eat it and help the world?”

 Richard Daniel C.


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