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 3 star Michelin review, 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.
For most of his life, Jiro has been mastering the art of making sushi, but even at his age he sees himself still striving for perfection, working from sunrise to well beyond sunset to taste every piece of fish; meticulously train his employees; and carefully mold and finesse the impeccable presentation of each sushi creation. At the heart of this story is Jiro’s relationship with his eldest son Yoshikazu, the worthy heir to Jiro’s legacy, who is unable to live up to his full potential in his father’s shadow.
A really wonderful and visceral pseudo-documentary with a distinctly Japanese twist. The film follows a boyfriend/girlfriend duo
through a tumultuous period in their lives: the boy is an underachieving actor who wants to sleep all day, the girl is a depressed
shop assistant. The film does a wonderful job of painting deep and complex characters without making anything too overstated. The
characters barely talk to each other about their deteriorating mental states, instead talking to an unseen narrator about what they
hint at with their actions. The whole fly-on-the-wall approach gives the movie an underlying tone of profound alienation and shows
rather than tells the audience the negative consequences of the emotionally repression that’s unfortunately so common in Japan.
Viewers without firsthand experience of Japan might find something lacking, but everyone I know who’s lived in Japan has thought
the characterizations were eeriely accurate. Definitely worth the effort to track down. Continue reading
Satoshi Miki’s Adrift in Tokyo is a difficult film to categorize. Is it a road movie? A city film? A buddy movie? A comedy? A drama? The short answer is: yes. It’s each of these things, and when put together, it becomes something substantially greater than the sum of its parts. Miki has managed to craft something touching, hilarious, informative, and brimming with a subdued sense of adventure that one can only get from exploring a seemingly familiar city with a fresh perspective.
The film (more or less) follows the perpetually blank-faced Fumiya (Joe Odagiri), an eighth year law student who has managed to rack up over 800,000 yen in debt and naturally has no way of paying it back. While sitting in his apartment contemplating the finer points of three-color toothpaste, Fumiya is assaulted by ruthless-looking debt collector Fukuhara (a mullet-wielding Tomokazu Miura), who gives him three days to pay back the cash. The days pass and Fumiya makes a series of characteristically half-assed attempts to raise the money, but gets nowhere. Ready to give up, he’s approached once more by Fukuhara, who surprisingly says he will pay a total of one million yen if Fumiya accompanies him on a walk around Tokyo. It might take days, weeks, or months, he says, but after they’re finished his debt will disappear. Having no choice, Fumiya accepts the offer and the film kicks into gear. – Keith Fancher, Midnight Eye Continue reading
A private detective is hired to find a missing man by his wife. While his search is unsuccessful, the detective’s own life begins to resemble the man for whom he is searching. (imdb.com) Continue reading
Mysterious goings-on twist and turn this effective but slightly uneven drama of murder and intrigue into a Gordian knot, skillfully woven by director Hiroshi Teshigahara. One day an impoverished miner is taken aback when he notes that he is being followed around by some stranger dressed in white. He and his son run away from the haunting vision, and the miner eventually gets sent on a job to a specific village. When he arrives with his son, he discovers that there is only one woman living in the village and suddenly the man in white shows up and murders the miner. His son witnesses the act but is not seen himself. Then the killer pays off the woman to identify the murderer as a union leader, while the victim himself is passed off as a rival union leader — whom he uncannily resembles. From that point onward, the plot thickens considerably as the two real union leaders start to investigate the tragedy.
~ Eleanor Mannikka, All Movie Guide Continue reading
The Naked Island
Filmed on the virtually deserted Setonaikai archipelago in south-west Japan, The Naked Island was made — in the words of its director — “as a ‘cinematic poem’ to try and capture the life of human beings struggling like ants against the forces of nature”. Kaneto Shindô (Onibaba, Kuroneko) made the film with his own production company, Kindai Eiga Kyôkai, who were facing financial ruin at the time. Using a tenth of the average budget, Shindô took one last impassioned risk to make this film. With his small crew, they relocated to an inn on the island of Mihari where, for two months in early 1960, they would make what they considered to be their last film. Continue reading
Midnight Eye wrote:
A horrifying series of murders, committed by a teenaged killer in 1968, prompted a group of filmmakers to chart his path, capturing the things he might have seen before committing his crimes. Their result is this provocative, rarely-screened meditation on geography and society. Continue reading