Movie Review: Jiro Dreams of Sushi (2011) — Japanese Documentary

Jiro Dreams of Sushi

What is perfection? I don’t know. But the road to perfection is a delicate combination of passion and dedication that can only be carved with a sashimi knife. If anyone knows about the road to perfection its Jiro Ono the legendary sushi master and owner of Sukiyabashi Jiro. You don’t have to be a chef or even a sushi lover to appreciate this documentary. ‘Jiro Dreams of Sushi‘ will definitely have any movie goer dreaming of sushi.

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The film goes deep into Jiro’s world; his world of sushi. Its really a lifestyle bio as it draws on a man’s past upbringing and looks towards his future ambitions. As an 85-year old with one son managing a sister restaurant and another son under his watch preparing to take the reigns, Jiro is still perfecting his craft. With a compelling score and crisp cinematography, the documentary highlights various aspects in the art of sushi from vendors to apprentices.

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About the Film

JIRO DREAMS OF SUSHI is the story of 85-year-old Jiro Ono, considered by many to be the world’s greatest sushi chef. He is the proprietor of Sukiyabashi Jiro, a 10-seat, sushi-only restaurant inauspiciously located in a Tokyo subway station. Despite its humble appearances, it is the first restaurant of its kind to be awarded a prestigious three-star Michelin Guide rating, and sushi lovers from around the globe make repeated pilgrimage, calling months in advance and shelling out top dollar for a coveted seat at Jiro’s sushi bar.

JIRO DREAMS OF SUSHI is a thoughtful and elegant meditation on work, family, and the art of perfection, chronicling Jiro’s life as both an unparalleled success in the culinary world and as a loving yet complicated father. (Magnolia Pictures)

Jiro Dreams of Sushi is a whole-picture type of documentary. Another good watch featuring Jiro is from the TV show Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations (Travel Channel). This clip focuses on the ‘perfectly timed, 15 courses in 20 minutes’ which is infamously known as the best sushi meal in the world:

Directed by: David Gelb

Reviews: Rotten Tomatoes // The Globe & Mail // The New Yorker

Official Facebook page

aparoo says 5/5, watching this documentary the first time was depressing for me because I wish I was aware of Jiro and his sushi back in 2007 when I visited Japan.

Stream: YouTube

Image source: asianwiki.com // Magnolia Pictures

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Movie Review: An Assassin [Asashin] (2011) – Japanese Movie

Asashin,  An Assassin

An Assassin‘ (Asashin) is director Go Ohara‘s latest action film that can also be tagged as a Japanese film noir. With an underworld backdrop and a typical assassin plot (mistake, girl, destiny, survive) there is not much to be offered by the story. — Especially with what seems to be either an underdeveloped script or an attempt to show silence and brute force. The silence is mostly from weak dialogue with long pauses and long close-ups with extended facial expressions. This causes any emitted emotion from the scenes to simply wither away and make you wait, what seems like forever, til the next cut scene.

“Human drama that arises between a ‘Pitiless assassin’ and ‘One high school girl’. A fierce friendship with the one who risked his life.” (IMDb)

Japanese trailer (Twitch)

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But with all that, there are still some redeeming qualities to the film. For example, I only realised when “France” was mentioned the second time why the score was French strings. There are other symbolic gestures throughout the film which give it a raw-noir feel instead of simply a low budget and small production feel. More so, the low budget and small production is a notable element of the film adding to the raw-noir feel (as I call it) because it was filmed entirely at night in Sendai Miyagia, a famous shrine grove. Even the overzealous gun play and frequent cigarette smoking grows on the viewer as the film progresses. I know we all want guns that don’t have to be reloaded..

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Starring: Ryoma Baba //Sayuri Iwata // Yuki Kubota // Hassei Takano
Written by: Kubota Hiroyasu // Go Ohara

aparoo’s words: action, film noir, underworld, assassin, righteousness, romance, brotherhood, loyalty, fight, survive

aparoo says 3/5

Stream: Dramacrazy
Download: Asia Torrents

Movie Review: The Children of Huang Shi (2008)

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The Children of Huang Shi is a biopic or based on fact film about a British journalist, George Hogg, who battled his own wars in an effort to save a group of Chinese orphans during the Japanese invasion of China. Saying it was just an “effort” must be an understatement, as he endeavoured to take them across China towards the Gobi dessert (some 700 miles away) as the war-stricken zones expanded. Protecting the innocent turns into desperation to save them — as they would be subject to conscription by Chinese Nationalists to fight the Japanese. The film proves well in depicting an emotional journey, a humanitarian story and unique perspective of war.

Synopsis

childrenofhuangshi

“The Children of Huang Shi” a story of eastern “Schindler’s List” (problogs)

“About young British journalist, George Hogg, who with the assistance of a courageous Australian nurse, saves a group of orphaned children during the Japanese occupation of China in 1937. ” (IMDb)

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Mixed reviews come largely from two views: first being that the film is beautiful yet boring (lacking dramatic tension) — which to me just says a political & war drama with a humanitarian story at the core is not always “for” everyone. Secondly, some misrepresentations of facts by way of leaving out a character — which I say is a justified argument. All in all, the film aims to tug on your heart strings by showing just how much a person can really do — to make a difference. The star-studded cast, and their performances, hold up against the magnitude of the true-story and historical importance and are the cherry-on-top element to this epic film and story of war-ravaged China.

Directed by: Roger Spottiswoode

Cast: Jonathan Rhys-Meyers // Radha Mitchell // Chow Yun-fat // Michelle Yeoh // Guang Li

Reviews: Political Film Society // Metacritic // Rotten Tomatoes // NY Times

aparoo’s words: drama, war, human, China, Japan, Sino-Japanese War, WW2, orphans, innocent, rebellion, Nationalists, invasion, survival

aparoo facts: the film is largely in English with some Chinese & Japanese language

aparoo facts: the film is a production between USA, China, Germany & Australia

aparoo says 4/5

Official Website

Official stills

Alternative posters

photo credit: movieinsider.com // slantmagazine.com