JIRO DREAMS OF SUSHI (eOne, 2011) D: David Gelb. Rating: NNN; DVD package: NNN Rating: NNN
David Gelb's gentle, flowing movie is as much a hymn to sushi as a biography of the man widely regarded as the world's greatest sushi chef.
Jiro Ono runs a 10-stool sushi bar in a Tokyo subway stop where 20-piece meals start at about $350. The 85- year-old's been honing his craft since he was nine or 10 and is called a shokunin: someone who does exactly the same thing every day, always seeking to improve it. When he's not working, Jiro is a happy, humorous guy.
There isn't much more to tell about him, but food writer Masuhiro Yamamoto explains what makes a great chef and the best sushi. Jiro's eldest son, Yoshikazu, discusses his initial reluctance to become his father's student and heir. At the fish market there are conversations with the tuna seller and the rice man - like Jiro, knowledgeable and devoted to their work.
Loving montages over Philip Glass's music offer a detailed look at the immense amount of skill that goes into making those little bites of fish and rice. A chef's 10-year apprenticeship includes such onerous tasks as massaging the octopus.
When they're not enthusing on their own work, Gelb and editor Brandon Driscoll-Luttringer expand a little on sushi-making and some of the larger questions raised in the movie about life-choices, work and the declining fish population. The conversations with tuna, shrimp, octopus and rice vendors are also worth a look.
EXTRAS Commentary, interviews, more. Japanese audio. English, French, Spanish subtitles.