Flick of the Week: Jiro Dreams of Sushi

Jiro Dreams of Sushi The real “Hunger Games” this weekend involve watching this appealing documentary and then beating everyone else to get to the nearest sushi bar. The film asks, “What is deliciousness?” as it profiles 85-year old Michelin three star sushi chef, Jiro. His restaurant, by the Ginza subway station, serves only sushi, seats 10–the rest rooms are not in the restaurant–and takes reservations only one month in advance. And for the 15 minutes it can take to eat there, it may be the priciest sushi meal in the world.

But apparently, it is simple, flavorful, and worthwhile as this terrific film undoubtedly shows. The rice, cooked under considerable pressure, may be the best in the world. One chef describes preparing an egg sushi 200 times before he got it “right.” Jiro talks about massaging the octopus and there are wonderful observational scenes of Jiro and his colleagues making fish selections at the famous Tsukiji market. Jiro Dreams of Sushi shows how Jiro, a perfectionist, has loved his labor for decades–and why he still insists on improving his skill every day. It’s an inspiring portrait. The food preparation scenes are fascinating to watch. They will make viewers both hungry for a meal at Jiro’s, and sated with delight.

 

Opening this Week:

The Ballad of Genesis and Lady Jaye A beguiling documentary of musician/performance artist Genesis P-Orridge and his life with his love, the late Lady Jaye. Almost like a mix-tape, filmmaker Marie Losier has selected highlights from Genesis’ childhood, to concerts by his band Psychic TV, and his everyday life with Lady Jaye to create an extremely intimate portrait. Much of Ballad is focused on Genesis and Lady Jaye’s Pandrogyne project, which involved the couple having surgeries to more closely resemble one another. The film deftly uses footage of Genesis and Lady Jaye to illustrate their unconventional lives, and the textures of image and sound are fascinating.

Delicacy A sweet and sour romance, with a slight magicalrealist edge, Delicacy concerns Natalie (Audrey Tautou), a lovely young woman who experiences grief when her husband unexpectedly dies. She copes by throwing herself into her work, and rejects the advances of her boss Charles (Bruno Todeschini), who practically throws himself at her. One day, she absent-mindedly kisses her kind, average-looking colleague, Markus (François Damiens), and they start to fall in love.

Delicacy navigates the couple’s strange affair; their attraction is confusing both to them and to others. Natalie tries to break off the relationship, but she finds she can’t resist the comfort of Markus, who is thrilled that she finds him desirable. As colleagues gossip, Charles wants to know what Natalie sees in this milquetoast guy. Delicacy mines this situation for some comedy, but the film’s point is letting the heart follow its own path. As such, the film is less about the mundane things that the lovers bond over–bad food, the theatres, a Pez dispenser–than what others think about their relationship. This theme is quite interesting, but the film, unfortunately, is not. Too much time is spent on others trying to understand or undermine their love. A bit where Charles calls Markus into his office–initially dismissing him, because he can’t believe she would fall for such a nondescript guy–is as labored as Markus acting clumsy in front of Natalie’s friends. Delicacy does showcase a wonderful performance by Tautou, and she is bewitching here, but this romantic film isn’t quite as spellbinding.

The Hunger Games The eagerly awaited adaptation of Suzanne Collins’ young adult novels about young adults selected to fight to the death on national TV. Jennifer Lawrence and Josh Hutchinson co-star.

October Baby A young woman learns the secret of her birth in this independent drama.

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Gary Kramer

Gary M. Kramer is a Philadelphia-based film critic who thinks Sandra Bullock mambos. He likes eating ethnic food and watching ethnic movies—though not necessarily both at the same time or from the same country.

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