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Jiro Dreams of Sushi ***

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What is perfection? A horizon that beckons and never arrives. Artists, not wishing their search to end, are grateful. After 75 years in the trade, Tokyo sushi-genius Jiro Ono, 85, remains gloriously unsatisfied. In Jiro Dreams of Sushi, he still faces the customers (no more than ten, at up to $300 each). He slices and folds and pats and arranges the morsels of paradise, with rice like a heavenly cloud. Folks, these are not fish sticks.

David Gelb’s documentary watches the ritual process, from the market selection of the finest tuna, shrimp, etc., to the Zen-fine cutting, cooking, and saucing. Apprenticeship can take a decade (one precious task is to massage the octopi for half an hour). As a side dish, we learn that Jiro was a tough kid whose alcoholic dad left early, that he kicked smoking, and that son Takashi waits patiently to take over the little basement temple of tasties.

Gelb, like entranced food-critic Masuhiro Yamamoto, is addicted. His approach imitates the clean, spare, artful, slightly erotic precision of the food. If you don’t start mentally consuming sushi while watching, well, good luck with popcorn.


Reviewed in the movie capsules: Casa de Mi Padre; Footnote; Jeff, Who Lives at Home; October Baby.

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Javajoe25 March 24, 2012 @ 12:25 p.m.

David,

Went to see Flynn. Good Lord, I think DeNiro is done. A vulgar and grizzled Jack Byrnes is exactly what I saw. He cannot put a character over the top like he used to. I truly think DeNiro never could act; he just occupied characters, and those that were close to who he was in real life, came off as stunning and unforgettable. But as soon as a director other than Scorsese asked him to perform--to actually act, it immediately went downhill. He is stiff and moves like a cardboard man. What a shame; what a loss. Seems he is not willing to take chances anymore. Maybe he feels he doesn't have to. Probably because he knows he's Deniro.

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Javajoe25 March 24, 2012 @ 12:26 p.m.

One other thing, David; took a look at the photo from Salmon Fishing...How do you suppose they catch salmon without reels on their fishing poles?

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David Elliott March 28, 2012 @ 11:17 p.m.

Javajoe25. I don't think De Niro is an extroverted man, so almost all the roles where he has to break the shell wide open have a kind of strain (which can work, but sometimes doesn't). His over-the-top stuff in Cape Fear was fairly ludicrous, and his attempts at playing an amateur showman in The King of Comedy are only amusing (and creepy) because of all the nervous insecurity he is venting. His Jake La Motta in Raging Bull has a fist for a head (and a knuckle for a brain). But in his best work he has had moments of greatness. His use of Brando-Corleone touches in Godfather II is probably the best thing he ever did. I was surprised to discover that you can fly-cast for fish without a rod or reel. Look it up online. I would not suggest going for marlin that way.

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