Jiro Dreams of Sushi (2011) Poster

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8/10
509th Review: Oscar Contending Film
intelearts14 July 2012
Jiro is not an easy celebration of sushi - it is certainly not simply stunning shots of food on plates - it is rather a more difficult and even challenging film about the complex nature of obsession, perfection, and the discipline and almost OCD behavior that it takes to become the world's best.

Jiro is acknowledged as the world's best - his restaurant in a pass in an underground station in Tokyo sits 9 people at a time, has to be booked at least a month in advance, and costs the best part of a week's wages. Yet no-one would hesitate - this is, as Michelin recognizes, worth a trip to Japan just to go and eat there.

The film succeeds as it is itself a near perfect reflection of the same ethos - it becomes apparent very quickly that this is not sentimental romantic filming - it chooses to avoid rich color, and in the editing and, in particular, the composition of the shots is singularly well-thought through. Many shots are based on the golden mean, and placed exactly two-thirds to the right of frame - and there is throughout a sense of real thought and balance. The Peter Greenaway-like score add to the general sense of rhythm and balance here.

The documentary itself is particular and peculiar - it is not in itself a documentary that embellishes - it focuses on Jiro, his sons, their suppliers, the apprentices, the produce, and the product - but we always feel that there are more stories untold than told here - Jiro is not, in the main, likable - but he is totally and utterly committed and passionate to the point of coldness about his process - in a way that few are anymore - and in this sense the film is also more an elegy than a eulogy - Jiro's work ethic is gone forever even now - who wants to work 16 hours a day for 75 years anymore?

We are watching the recording of extinction, and it is still beautiful. So we end up with a stark yet beautiful film that both records the passing of greatness and questions it. It is certainly one of the best documentaries of 2012.
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9/10
Both fascinating and inspirational, this portrait of a man in pursuit of perfection is a humbling and life-changing experience
moviexclusive25 July 2012
It is a sad but true fact that modern-day society has tended to place too much emphasis on the pursuit of success defined in tangible and even grandiose forms but not so much on the far more meaningful pursuit of perfection. No wonder then that 'Jiro Dreams of Sushi', a thoughtful and absolutely inspiring portrait of the 85-year-old sushi chef Jiro Ono, comes like a breath of fresh air, demonstrating the superior fulfilment one gets by putting perfection ahead of success- since it is with the former that the latter will inevitably follow.

As is with most of our readers, we had not heard of Jiro Ono before this documentary, but here's just a few facts about him to tantalise you. Jiro is the owner of a 10-seater basement-level restaurant Sukiyabashi Jiro accessible via underpass en route to the Ginza subway station. Yet despite the fact that the restaurant has a fixed-menu, serves only sushi, and will set you back a whopping ¥30,000 (or $$480), you have to make reservations at least one month in advance in order to secure a seat.

And here's the most amazing thing- that humble restaurant has been awarded three Michelin stars, with both celebrity chefs Anthony Bourdain and Joel Robuchon proclaiming that their best sushi experience was at that very establishment. It's a fascinating subject for a documentary, and debut feature helmer David Gelb more than does his subject justice with a thoroughly intriguing look at Jiro's recipe for perfection as well as the dynamic between Jiro and his eldest son cum future heir to the business Yoshikazu.

It's no secret to reveal that dedication, hard work and perseverance are the ingredients to Jiro's success today- and Gelb demonstrates this through interviews with a prominent Japanese food critic Yamamoto Masuhiro, current and former apprentices, and of course Jiro himself. Each of these are informative and insightful, yielding different perspectives on the master – or as the Japanese would call him, 'shokunin', which means artisan – and among the ones you won't forget are his exacting ten-year training regime for staff and his constant and consistent pursuit for betterment.

Yet any portrayal of Jiro cannot be complete without his two sons - the elder Yoshikazu mentioned earlier and his younger son Takashi, who runs the restaurant's only other branch in the upscale Roppongi Hills neighbourhood in Tokyo. Instead of a college education, both sons were trained by their father from young as sushi chefs, and as Jiro himself admits, their tutelage could not have been any much easier than the other kitchen workers who spend hours fanning sheets of nori seaweed over a coal fire or practise making sweet omelette 200 times.

Throughout the movie, Gelb deliberately teases the question of whether the younger Ono, Yoshikazu, is indeed worthy enough to take over the reins from Jiro. It's not easy trying to live up to the expectations of a perfectionist father ("Jiro's ghost will always be there watching," he says with resignation at one point) but the answer as to whether Yoshikazu is good enough, is absolutely gratifying when it comes. Compared to Yoshikazu, less emphasis is paid on Takashi, except to imply that Takashi's methods will never be the same as that of Jiro's.

Interesting to note too that Jiro isn't the only one so passionate about his work- in fact, as Yoshikazu brings us on a tour of the teeming Tsujiki market where the restaurant, like most if not all other sushi joints in Tokyo, gets its catch, it becomes clear that Jiro has been able to keep up such high standards in his food precisely because his suppliers share the same demanding standards over the catch they sell. It's almost a code of practice between the two parties, and even Jiro's rice supplier refuses to sell the same rice he does to Jiro to the folks at the Grand Hyatt because he thinks he might as well not let them have it if they don't know how to cook it.

The attitude displayed by these individuals, including of course Jiro, is truly admirable – and like the people in the film, Gelb's documentary while multi-faceted in its subjects, remains as its titular character singular of purpose in reminding its audiences the reason for Jiro's extraordinary success thus far. Of course, there are the requisite mouth-watering shots of freshly made sushi to tantalise your tastebuds, but what ultimately rings loud and true is the very qualities that has gotten Jiro recognised by the Japanese government as a 'national treasure'.

And as far-fetched as the title may sound, it is actually meant to be taken literally – "in dreams I have grand visions of sushi," says Jiro, the pursuit of which forms the very essence of his being. We dare go as far as to say that watching 'Jiro Dreams of Sushi' is a life-changing experience, one that forces you to reflect and re-evaluate your priorities, to place perfection over success, and to recognise that the pursuit of one's dreams can truly be fulfilling.

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10/10
A Nutshell Review: Jiro Dreams of Sushi
DICK STEEL26 July 2012
I never am quite the foodie, and never cared too much about Michelin Guide rated restaurants around the world. But Jiro Dreams of Sushi has made me think twice, that in my lifetime I just might afford that 30000 Yen meal prepared by one of the best, if not THE best sushi master around, and his team comprising of his eldest son and apprentices who relentlessly work at perfecting and continuously improving upon their skills and gastronomical offering in the humble looking food blessed with delicious flavours. And there's not much of a secret to their success, other than using nothing but the finest and freshest of ingredients, backed by an uncompromising philosophy of hard work and consistency.

Jiro Dreams of Sushi is like a biographical film, and more. It chronicles the humble beginnings of chef Jiro Ono, recognized as a national treasure in Japan for his bringing of honor to Japanese cuisine, and peers into his professional work ethics that defines a perfectionist. And these lessons learnt apply to more than just sushi preparation and presentation, but are sound lessons not only about wanting to do well, but to excel in what one does. It boils down to pride in one's work, and reminds of how one should be chasing excellence and not success, since the latter is something that will automatically follow once the former is achieved.

And success is something that Jiro's Sukiyabashi Jiro restaurant in Ginza, Tokyo has garnered with its Michelin Guide Three Stars rating, but the chef is hardly stopping at being satisfied with that. There are plenty of interview segments that has the master providing anecdotes that nullifies the usually stern looking demeanour he has when wanting to do the best for his diners. With only ten seats in his shop, it's little wonder about the attention that's being paid to the idiosyncrasies of each diner, with little unsaid touches that make the experience unique and unforgettable, though some may say it's kinda stressful to be eating there.

But make no mistake, the experience is something one should be looking at, and David Gelb's film is like a walking menu of some of the best on offer at the restaurant. The cinematography here is simply astounding and beautiful, adding a dimension to the individual, intricately prepared sushi pieces up close, that you can almost smell and taste what it may have smelled and tasted like. And that's not all, with Gelb being very conscious at painting a very romantic, rhythmic pace for the restaurant interior, and the chefs and apprentices in slow motion was pure poetry, akin to the need to slow down when dining at Sukiyabashi Jiro in order to savour the food, and to take in the experience completely. Watching the film on an empty stomach, is like playing with fire and seeking to be gastronomically tempted.

To balance what would be talking heads, Gelb's documentary ventures out to catch glimpses of Jiro Ono outside of the restaurant in his rare days off, with celebration and recognition of those who had made him successful. The almost still shot of his entire team flanking him, brought nothing less than the majestic, clockwork effort everyone chips in, with screen time also devoted to key suppliers (and reason enough to venture into the auctions at the famed Tsukiji Fish Market), whom Jiro has to trust to make decisions on purchasing, pricing, stocking and delivering nothing but the best, from the fish, right down to the rice. Experts in their own field, you cannot help but to feel a sense of professional politeness amongst their interaction, and think it's a Japanese thing, but it's true that one should not forget those who had helped in any way in one's ascension to success. Yet another lesson learnt with some subtlety.

The best though, came out of the blue. Jiro Dreams of Sushi is really an exercise into continuity, and the leaving behind of a legacy with the hopes in an Asian context that one's descendants continue with the good work and goodwill already established, to see something so painstakingly created, and sustained, having a life of its own. Gelb's film dedicates a good portion of the film to Jiro Ono's two sons, one who's running the branch at Roppongi Hills (and a Michelin Guide Two Stars, no less), and the elder one at the Ginza outlet, according to tradition, who will inherit the main venue when the inevitable happens. Talk about pressure, and the long shadow that would be cast for one to try and get out of. And there's a surprise installed that provided something of a sucker punch, that affirms Sukiyabashi Jiro, is under fine hands indeed.

It takes more than a decade to learn the ropes, and many more years of hard work and dedication, which to Jiro Ono is a never ending journey of improvement, to become a sushi master, and Gelb's film masterfully captures key aspects of this profession of dedication, with lessons in life never sounding preachy at any point. With good food and well placed humour, Jiro Dreams of Sushi more than deserves a five star film rating, and is definitely one of the best I've seen this year. Now to put some money aside so that the next trip to Tokyo can bring me either to the Roppongi or Ginza outlets.
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You'll dream of Jiro.
jdesando7 April 2012
Sushi lovers will be hypnotized by the 85 year old subject of the documentary Jiro Dreams of Sushi. Jiro has spent his life seeking perfection in sushi preparation, and Michelin agrees that he has come close by awarding him three stars, unprecedented for an octogenarian.

Jiro's restaurant Sukiyabashi Jiro in a Tokyo office building basement has reservations available a month away. He and his heir, Yoshikazu labor all day to buy the best raw fish at the market and sell the best sushi. Nothing less.

The film does a good job tracking the preparation, from picking one out of ten fish at any time to delicately shaping tuna around rice or massaging octopi for 20 minutes before preparation. Buying the best rice is another ritual that has its own rules, and Jiro rules.

Although the documentary can be repetitious, moments of beauty accompany the process such as likening serving sushi to a concert with different moods and tempos.

It might be best to see this film on a full stomach. Otherwise you'll be racing to the nearest Asian bistro. Not a bad thing.
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9/10
Alternatingly Indulgent, Bittersweet, Creative and Poignant
drqshadow-reviews21 June 2012
A lingering, sentimental look at the mentality and habits of Jiro Ono, legendary sushi chef and Japanese national treasure. The long, personal chats with Jiro and sons, plus an exhaustive investigation into every aspect of his business, are balanced by an overly generous dose of shallow focal-range, slow-motion food porn. Like many stereotypical wise men of his age and nationality, the old master also has plenty of sharp, stirring wisdom to impart. Though he doesn't come right out and say it, it's easy to see the parallels he hopes you'll draw between his dedication to the kitchen and the nuances of a rewarding life, and my breath caught in my throat on more than one occasion. A great vehicle for deep immersion into a very traditional Japanese culture, this is far deeper and more rewarding than it initially lets on.
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7/10
Respectful Tribute to a Sushi Master's Unwavering Quest for Perfection
EUyeshima2 April 2012
Located in a downtown Tokyo subway station, Sukiyabashi Jiro is an inconspicuous subterranean restaurant with just ten counter seats, yet it has the distinction of being the only sushi restaurant with a three-star Michelin rating. David Gelb's meticulously produced 2012 documentary tells the story of Jiro Ono, an octogenarian perfectionist whose constant striving for culinary transcendence has made him legendary among epicureans in the know. He loves his job, as he readily admits upfront, and while a model of stoic diligence and invariable routine, Ono does show his adoration in unexpected ways that manifest themselves through the unassuming pride he takes in his work. He even imagines new sushi creations in his sleep, thus the title. Such an unwavering quest does take its toll on his two sons who must find their way out of his shadow.

His younger son Takashi managed to escape the constant glare of his father by running his own premium sushi restaurant in the Roppongi Hills area of Tokyo, one that doesn't bother to compete with his father's. His older son Yoshikazu, however, bears the burden of the family legacy as the one to carry on his father's standards after he retires. Over fifty and still an apprentice, Yoshikazu patiently waits for his turn at running the flagship restaurant foregoing earlier dreams of becoming a race car driver. Since his father suffered a heart attack at seventy, he has taken over the critical task of getting the best fish possible at the world-renowned Tsukiji fish market. Gelb does a particularly nice job of showing the hurly-burly atmosphere of the pre-dawn tuna auctions and the lives of the men running the tiny stalls selling fresh seafood of all kinds. Perhaps by design, the film is comparatively more opaque in having us understand the genesis of the elder Ono's drive toward perfection.

While one contributing factor was the absence of Ono's father's absence, it is unclear who actually did influence him to become a sushi chef. There is also hardly a mention of the chef's wife, even though there is an extended passage of a reunion with his childhood pals who characterize him as something of a bully. Interviews with former co-workers shed some light onto the chef's stoicism. In fact, one of Japan's better known food critics admits to being intimidated by patronizing Ono's sushi bar due to the master's overwhelming artistry and attention to detail. Toward that end, I would have liked to have seen more scenes focused on the actual preparation of the sushi rather than simply admiring them on the counter once they are finished. Still, this is a unique look into a man who has not gone gentle into the good night in his quest for the perfect piece of sushi.
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10/10
Extraordinary
Mamgoforit12 March 2012
I was thoroughly charmed by the film. When I read the synopsis, I thought I would be bored to tears. But it's a lovely, poignant, challenging documentary about excellence, discipline, vocational call, tenacity. The film challenged me to think about my own persistence, an ongoing striving to improve and grow, doing work for the love of it and much less so for the financial gain. the documentary highlights the ability to succeed after incredible hardship, and some would say, cruelty. The cinematography was elegant, the music varied and interesting, the precision of the art of making sushi, the rigor and discipline to do it well, the requirement to be surrounded by others who always want to excel. A wonderful film and I'll see it again...and again. It even made me want to eat sushi...which I never do.
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8/10
Lessons for life
anonfish22 March 2012
When I got the invitation to go to this film, I was extremely hesitant and worried as to what I was going to be viewing. Even to go so far as to accept the impending nap I was about to have.

I was sorely mistaken about getting a nap. From the very beginning the story and life lessons presented were gripping. True respect for the dedication, hard work and absolute presence of mind to clear away all the minutiae that many of us get caught up in to focus on the details that are so very important.

I have actually seen action films with more lulls and uninteresting parts then what I watched in this film. It's a great story.
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8/10
a very simple film about a very simple man
bburns31 March 2012
There are no spoilers in this review simply because there is nothing in "Jiro Dreams of Sushi" to spoil. There is no plot as such. It is strictly a portrait of Jiro Ono, the world's greatest sushi-maker. He has no hobbies or interests other than sushi. The only major change in his life in the last 40 years is that he quit smoking. He groomed both his now middle-aged sons (somewhat against their will) to be sushi chefs.

The point of the film seems to be two-fold. The main purpose seems to be to assure Jiro's legions of fans that his elder son Yoshikazu will follow his father's recipes exactingly and will make no changes to the restaurant once Jiro dies. And the secondary purpose is to show the importance of sustainable fishing.

If you're looking for a narrative plot-driven film, you'll be disappointed. But if you are a foodie who likes seeing behind the scenes at a fine restaurant, this is the movie for you. Be warned though: You have to see this in a theater near a sushi restaurant or you'll be disappointed in whatever meal you eat following the film.
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I'm Not a Sushi Fan but This Won Me
Michael_Elliott23 August 2012
Jiro Dreams of Sushi (2011)

*** (out of 4)

Informative documentary taking a look at Jiro, a sushi maker who owns a small restaurant in a subway that seats ten people with each plate going for $300. That might seem like a lot of money but Jiro has reservations that need to be put in a month ahead and his work is considered the greatest sushi on the planet. JIRO DREAMS OF SUSHI is a pretty impressive documentary for a number of reasons but the biggest is the fact that it tells Jiro's interesting life story and it also makes you feel as if you're an expert on sushi. I will admit that I've never tasted sushi and I never will. There's not a single part of me that wishes to eat it and I must admit that the thought of doing so makes my stomach rumble. With that said, even though I'm not interested in the food, I couldn't help but be drawn into Jiro's world and I found it to be incredible interesting for several reasons. Jiro's work ethic is something that anyone could admire. The way he expects perfection in his food is something else admirable and not to mention that he's never happy and constantly wants to do better each time he prepares a meal. The documentary also goes into detail about him passing his business down to his son and the pressure that is on him to live up to his father's standards. Another fun aspect of the film deals with how Jiro selects his rice and various fish sources. We see them travel to various fish markets and they explain what they look for and there's even some talk about the lowering quality of fish. JIRO DREAMS OF SUSHI is a pretty fun film and at just 82-minutes it never wears out its welcome. I'm sure fans of sushi will enjoy it even more.
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7/10
Way more than just a documentary about sushi and sushi-making.
Boba_Fett113820 August 2012
Watching documentaries isn't really being my thing but that doesn't mean I can't appreciate watching a good one, from time to time. I can still easily get grabbed by certain subject matters and the subject for this documentary was being quite intriguing as well, though I have never eaten sushi in my life.

I didn't necessarily saw this documentary as one about sushi but more one about striving for perfection, day in day out and devote yourself entirely to just one thing in life. Striving for perfection is the best motivation and something that can keep you going. Thing about it is that you just never can be sure when you have reached your top, so every day is a new challenge to surpass the previous one.

It perhaps sounds like a very serious documentary but in fact it's being a perfectly light and pleasant one to watch. This also has a downside though, since this actually means that the movie never really goes deep enough into certain aspects. I for instance still don't know what Jiro Ono's initial motivation was to become a sushi chef and how he ended up being so big and respected in his line of business eventually. After finishing watching this documentary I also had the feeling I still knew very little about his personality and personal life. But this probably also has some to do with the Japanese culture, in which people just aren't all that open and hardly ever show their true thoughts and emotions, at least not on camera. There isn't being any 'conflict' in this documentary. Everybody is saying nothing but good and positive things, while you feel that there are much more underlying going on between Jiro and his sons but the documentary really doesn't elaborate or go deeper into any of this.

It didn't prevented this documentary from being a good and interesting one though. It was still fascinating to see all the work and preparations that goes into making sushi and how Ono and his apprentices, including his oldest son, constantly keep maintaining the same high standards of quality and constantly are eager looking for ways to improve their products and their own skills.

Thing that also definitely make this a good watch is its visual style. It's an extremely well shot documentary, with some great camera-work as well as editing in it. It makes this perhaps feel more like a movie, rather than a documentary but in this case I say that as a good thing.

I definitely had a good time watching this documentary but at the same time by the end of it, I didn't really feel that I got enough out of it.

7/10

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The beauty is in the craftsmanship but the characters are interesting too
bob the moo13 May 2013
This film has had plenty of positive praise and it is part of the reason that it came to a wider audience however this also poses the problem that perhaps the casual viewer expects more of it than the film ever proposes to deliver. For me I wasn't sure what to expect but being a fan of sushi (although I do not think I have ever eaten "amazing", but at least good and very good) and also having recently visited Japan, I figured that it would interest me on at least some level. Many people have said what they took from the film – whether it is the story of the pursuit of perfection or the loving shots which they call "food porn" but for me the main thing was the work.

The film is about the beauty of craftsmanship. The sushi is prepared with pride, with a technique and with an expertise that is great to watch. It isn't that you are watching cooking as you would see on a Sunday morning with a celebrity chef, but rather you are watching a craft – not unlike someone doing painstaking mechanical work on a priceless watch or something like this. It helps of course to like sushi and seafood but even without this I imagine many will find this side fascinating. The film covers this element into the selection process in the markets as well and I found it very interesting even if by itself it doesn't quite fill 90 minutes.

The film makes up the difference thanks to the characters involved in the film. Jiro is driven but warm and indeed his sons are too. I liked that, although the work culture and mindset of Japanese people was not expressly laid out, there was certainly a lot here which captured it and was of interest. It doesn't ever go deep enough to become a character piece, which in some ways is a limiting factor in the film but mostly is for the best as this isn't what it is trying to do, but mostly it stays at a level which engages and compliments the focus on the craft.

It isn't an amazing film but it does have a certain beauty to it and I think for many people the core will be this sense of perfection and of creating something very precise with a skill that is honed. The camera captures that very well and, while many of the images look delicious, it was the precision of them that really appealed to me. Don't expect to be blown away by it, but there is a certain amount of beauty to this film.
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9/10
A movie about food, with a story that would inspire all.
cshsia15 March 2012
This is a movie about food, but it's much deeper in its story and content. I was truly inspired by a man's pursuit of perfection, the dedications of the understudies, the family dynamic between father and son, and the cultural beauty of Japanese crafts. Yes there are shots of "food porn" woven in, but the movie is charming and much deeper than slow-motion food shots (not that I'm complaining, some shots are stunning).

The young director has good command of the camera, and drives the movie through interviews. People in the theater were applauding at the end. I can't wait to get the DVD.
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9/10
I Would've Never Thought
anthonydapiii8 May 2020
This was such a simple, yet complex and intriguing documentary.

The entire storyline was so well put together - form beginning to end. I loved how they started with the sushi and the craft behind it. Then, the film progressed into Jiro's background and how he got into the profession of sushi making. Lastly, ending with how the operation of serving sushi works from the market to the serving of sushi to customers.

I was amazed that one man could delve so deep into his craft for 80 + years. And yes, I looked up if he was still alive and he is. He is still operating his restaurant with his sons and making sushi at the age of 94 years old.
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8/10
Surprisingly good.
planktonrules7 July 2013
A few months ago, I saw a French film with a very similar plot to "Jiro Dreams of Sushi"....and it was amazingly dull. So, I was hesitant to watch this Japanese film. Thankfully, I gave it a chance and enjoyed this documentary very much.

The film is about an amazingly talented and VERY compulsive sushi master, Jiro Ono. Now in his mid-80s, he is so in love with his work that he STILL works full-time at his small sushi restaurant. Not surprisingly, since his life is his work, his place has managed to receive three Michelin stars--the stop award for dining excellence. The film consists mostly of Jiro and his two sons discussing their work and lives and also includes several others discussing them. The narrator is only heard once--briefly. While all of this sounds pretty dull, it isn't. The filmmakers deserve kudos here--managing to infuse a lot of interest in the subject, using great camera-work (making the food look amazing) as well as terrific classical music to create a wonderful portrait of Jiro--one you can't help but enjoy.

By the way, although Jiro has two sons, the film oddly never once mentions their mother (or mothers).
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10/10
one must know good food to prepare good food
lee_eisenberg21 December 2013
Even if you really like sushi - like I do - David Gelb's "Jiro Dreams of Sushi" will still give you a real appreciation of the various dishes. Elderly chef Jiro Ono has spent his life trying to prepare the perfect sushi in his Tokyo restaurant, and he shows how it's done. The viewer comes to realize that each piece of sushi is a real work of art, and the main character is very particular about everything (even where people sit). Another thing that Jiro Ono reminds us is that irresponsible fishing methods could wipe out the fish stocks.

The documentary is a fine look at the work that goes into these masterful dishes. You just gotta respect the people who put the effort into this, especially considering that Jiro Ono has kept at it for so long. There can be no doubt that these great-tasting (not to mention very healthy) foods are part of the reason why the Japanese tend to live so long. But more than anything, this is a documentary that you're sure to love. I recommend it.

I gotta go to Japan one of these days.
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7/10
surprisingly engrossing
cherold22 April 2020
Not being that interested in sushi or food porn, this movie wasn't a natural fit for me. It's just about a really good sushi chef and it seems like half the movie is close-ups of sushi.

And yet, it's really quite interesting. It's less about cooking than about the search for perfection and the way perfectionists affect those around them. It also manages to shape a narrative out of something that has no natural narrative.

If you like documentaries, this is a good one.
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1/10
Undercooked
kz917-122 May 2017
I really thought I would like this film. I am learning to enjoy sushi more and more and have seen other films on this topic. But no, that was not to be. I finally gave up after about thirty minutes into the film. Jiro may very well be a sushi master but this film did not do him or sushi any favors.
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5/10
If you love sushi you MIGHT like this documentary
KineticSeoul20 December 2012
A magazine I was reading recommended this movie out of couple of other movies. Which peaked my interest to see this movie. I thought it was going to be a deep and invigorating movie about a guy obsessed with sushi perfection. But there really isn't anything deep when it comes to the story and doesn't add anything new to the documentary style movies. In fact this movie doesn't really have a story. It seemed more like a advertisement movie and a flick to show out great Jiro is at making sushi. Like it's a movie to boost Jiro's status cause all he does is brag about himself and others around him praise his methods constantly throughout this movie. If it was something groundbreaking or life changing I would probably go with it. But it's about sushi...Don't get me wrong I like sushi. It's one of my favorite food. It's well documented but it didn't stick with me or think differently about sushi when it was over. It also shows how they get top notch ingredients from experts of those ingredients to make the best sushi possible. Which was cool since it gives credit where credit is due. Or maybe it's too lengthen the running time. Most of the run time is taken up showing how a lot of effort is put into making the sushi. But you never know for sure since things might be different when the camera is on. The main aspect that drives this documentary is the music, it just makes everything seem epic and mysterious. Despite some slow motion scenes that try to add to the epicness of it all. Most of the people in this movie that show there occupation constantly mention they are not in it for the money but there passion. Which might be partly true, but I have this feeling that money takes up most of the percentage of it all by the direction it goes. The main part about this documentary that stood out for me is the part where it shows how too much fishing can lead to extinction of certain fishes. And how fishing should be done moderately without killing off the younger ones to make profit. But most of the way through it just seemed like a giant advertisement and I am pretty sure this movie will increase their sales and reputation.

5/10
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9/10
Amazing
doomedmac25 August 2020
This is a fantasy documentary. It says a ton about life and Japanese culture, all while having breathtaking cinematography and music. Just amazing.
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9/10
One man's delectable dreams and visions
StevePulaski24 July 2012
I have never eaten sushi in my life, but would throw all pending assumptions and thoughts out the window if I was offered sushi made by the great Jiro Ono, the main subject of the documentary, Jiro Dreams of Sushi. He tells us early on in the film that the key to success is immersing yourself in your work and what you do, and being a dedicated and sophisticated employee, never complaining or expressing disdain for your job.

Ono has been running a three-star (the highest rating) sushi shop in Tokyo for decades and never misses a beat. His shop is the go-to place for unmatchable sushi, luxurious decor, and elegant atmosphere, yet the month-in-advance reservations (probably have gone up to six month reservations after the release of this documentary) and the expensive dining may turn off customers in the area. This isn't some place you could just decide to eat at one night for dinner on impulse for reasons other than the long wait. You must prepare yourself in stomach and spirit to eat here.

The film shows the man himself at eighty-six years old, still rising at dawn everyday to go and work for his sushi establishment in a tireless fashion. He hates holidays the most, because that means he has to stay home and be bored. He left home at seven, has never reconnected with his parents, but has kept his sons close by for his entire life. His eldest, Yoshikazu, fifty, has been working beside him since he was nineteen years old. He hated it back then, but now sees the job as meaningful and honorary. One day, Jiro emphasizes, Yoshikazu will have to man the shop by himself, and that is a day he fears will come too soon.

While Yoshikazu is obviously skilled, it is noted that he is not the painstaking perfectionist that his father his. When Jiro rises at dawn, he goes into the shop and eyes every little detail, such as the arrangement of the plates, silverware, and even what hand the customers eat with so he knows where to place the sushi on their marble pallets. It is difficult to find a man so dedicated and intricate about his seemingly simple line of work, and one man in the documentary claims that even if Yoshikazu's sushi doesn't measure up to his fathers' when he dies by the slightest thing, people will likely not return to the restaurant. And even if his sushi is twice as good, it will only be viewed as "just as good." Jiro's younger son, Takashi, runs a two-star restaurant in Tokyo for many years, but he boasts a more casual atmosphere for his customers, rather than the mature and stern one his father has created. Both Jiro and Takashi have one thing in common and that is they boast a rather minimalist slice of fish as their course, yet they meticulously pack so much flavor and craft into that little piece that the taste and impact is never forgotten. There is even a full segment in the film where Jiro explains the difference between fatty, medium, and lean tuna, explaining that while fatty tuna has a predictable taste to it, lean tuna boasts a more subtle concoction of elegance.

One questionable omission from the documentary is why we never hear or see Jiro's wife. Assuming she's even still alive, she must've had a grand opinion on her husband line of work and her sons who relentlessly try and model off of him. Unfortunately, her absence leaves somewhat of hole in an otherwise perfect film.

A food critic who makes many appearances at Jiro's restaurant is quoted in saying there are five attributes that should make up every chef. They are consistency, the hunger for improvement, cleanliness, impatience, and are all tied together by unbreakable passion for their work. The critic explains how he believes that Jiro soars in all of these characteristics, stating that he has never seen a restaurant leader employ so much seriousness in his work, nor has he ever seen one so harsh and critical of it even after countless years of success.

Walking into Jiro Dreams of Sushi blind, much like seeing Bill Cunningham: New York, a documentary on The New York Times fashion photographer, I went in interested but questioning the purpose for profiling a character who does something so simple that there must be more to his personality, creativity, motivation, and charm, and sure enough, I was on the right track. Much like the people I found in Mark Wexler's extraordinary documentary, How To Live Forever on centenarians, we see an aging man who is quicker and smarter than most of the people found on reality Television and is doing something of sheer simplicity and meaning, yet he can not get broader, more mainstream recognition. Jiro Dreams of Sushi is the reason why documentaries are and should be made, and that reason is to showcase talents, uniqueness, and memorable quirks that would otherwise go tragically unnoticed in a society dominated by "the next big laugh." Starring: Jiro Ono, Yoshikazi Ono, and Takashi Ono. Directed by: David Gelb.
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8/10
so filling
SnoopyStyle31 December 2015
In Tokyo, 85 year old sushi master Jiro Ono runs his famous restaurant in the basement of an office complex. His obsession leads him to dream of sushi. He doesn't stop working except for national holidays and funerals. He refuses to retire even after being hospitalized. His 50 year old elder son Yoshikazu has been working for him since 19. The younger son Takashi opened his own restaurant.

There are surprisingly many aspects to this documentary. Obviously, there is the man and his obsession. There is also the son forever in his shadow and their relationship. There is also the lesser son getting out from under his shadow. There are the apprentices working away. There are the vendors, the fish traders and a side trip down conservation road. There is also the food porn aspect. It looks hypnotic and delicious.
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9/10
Simply, an inspiring story
daryopeek5 April 2020
We all know Japanese is famous for their preserverance of their life. Many person doing the same thing repeatedly, yet they love it and die if they let themselves spacing from their job. Though it's probably always lean in the right side of the bell curve, Jiro Dreams of Sushi brings an extreme case of that, and what makes me feel inspired, also feel little bit of shame of myself.

The documentary is actually light in premise, but they manage to give us a storyline that covers both the technicals in the restaurants' principles and operations, yet still leaves some space an exposure to the human relations between a son and his father, an apprentince and the master, the life principles and current situations. While they describe their thing, the documentary is accompanied by classical music which gives us more depth to the art of sushi as a delicate way, that actually resembles like another jobs or things that we like.

A story to not become vulnerable, and know what you want to do, is really inspires me. Despite of many things happened, let it good or bad in our life, we just need to work it out until the end. Jiro embodies the principle perfectly and while we probably know that we can't do as extreme as that, but we should know that we can't make our success in a night. There is a way of preserverance and faith to keep trusting what we choose. Jiro Dreams of Sushi seems to rely more to the story of Jiro and his principle, but in the end the movie narrow it down to talk about the future of the restaturant. We can learn the movie as a behind-the-scene of a high profile restaurant, but more than that it's a way of life that so simple yet fascinating. A way to repeat the process with eagerness to keep improving itself, seems a way that sometimes forgotten in the vast and instant developed world.

P.S. I thought Jiro-san makes sushi because of he needs to survive? But I never quite get the idea about the journey that making him choose to be the sushi chef. Kinda lost but it's still very inspiring.
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7/10
Jiro Dreams of Sushi finely cuts through meaty themes of perfection and legacy.
TheMovieDiorama10 February 2019
A documentary that, whilst does not chronicle an important or tragic event, remains gleefully optimistic with its masterful chef. Jiro is the oldest three-star Michelin chef to still be working in Japan. For the past forty years he has lived the way of a Shokunin, a craftsman who dedicates his life to work. He undergoes the same routine everyday. Works both day and night. Trains his sons and young apprentices to follow in his footsteps. Simply put, a perfectionist. His attention to detail, even when it comes to seating customers and recognising which hand they use to consume sushi, has yet to be surpassed. And it is because of his simplistic yet palatable menu, that his sushi restaurant remains the best in the world. Gelb's focus on Jiro's eldest son Yoshikazu, and his eternal struggle to live up to expectations, is something that remains prominent in most cultures. Jiro has built a legacy for his sons to continue, and it is with this expectation that it has forced them into adopting a relentless work ethic. It personifies the artisan culture of Japan, and why the older generation continue to work without hesitation. I found myself mystified by Jiro. The way he produces various types of sushi effortlessly, accompanied with gorgeous cinematography and classic compositions. It was almost hypnotic. Gelb explores the sushi industry with much detail, from the acquisition of produce to cooking the final product. Unfortunately, even at 81 minutes long, I found there was not enough meat to this fishy documentary. Jiro visiting his hometown felt more like steamed rice (filler) than lean tuna (meat), which totalled to roughly ten minutes. The subtitles were also all over the place. Appearing too early or too late, disappearing too rapidly. It was difficult to comprehend the fast conversations that were occurring. Still, it's an unusually delightful documentary that tastes just as good as it looks. Jiro remains an inspiration and a pillar of excellence for many. If only I was rich enough to eat at his restaurant...
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3/10
Hiro dreams of SASHIMI
danielkeough23 December 2012
a more accurate title, it seems.

I made it through the first 48:00 minutes and though it is a nice story of dedication to be the best at something, about Japanese culture, the length of the movie exceeded the point of it still being interesting for more than perhaps 30 minutes. A great story that could have been told in thirty minutes or so, was drawn out and made into a movie. There were certainly many interesting parts of the film, such as the focus on the succession of the eldest son, the restaurant winning awards like the Michelin award for excellence despite the restaurant only having ten seating units and no bathroom--no other restaurant has won this award with those conditions. I hope this review isn't drawn out too far, I was mandated to have ten lines despite only needing 6. Awesome work Jiro and staff!
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