**** Jiro Dreams of Sushi (2011)
What could easily have been a 10 minute segment about one of the world’s great sushi masters is deftly and effortlessly expanded into a fascinating peak into the world of the singularly-focused Jiro Ono, an 85-year-old man who’s devoted his life to sushi perfection. His tiny 10 seat restaurant, Sukiyabashi Jiro, is located in the basement of a Tokyo office tower and has garnered a rare 3-Star Michelin Guide rating, not bad for a place that doesn’t have a washroom. Considered by many to be sushi’s Mecca, director David Gelb’s documentary Jiro Dreams of Sushi explores the complex web of background food selection and preparation, the family dynamics that shape the experience and the food artistry Jiro has meticulously-micromanaged well past the point of obsession for decades. For all of these reasons, Jiro is a worthwhile and engaging documentary, but just underneath its surface lays an even more-compelling series of observations about the world we live in.
Jiro Dreams of Sushi supplies a glimpse at a level of skill, care and dedication that’s largely lost in today’s mechanical world. It’s a simple story that examines the behavior and sacrifice necessary to become an expert at a chosen craft, something utterly lost on most of us as we breeze through our modern A.D.D. existence. The degree of focus Jiro brings to his craft is all at once inspiring in its purity and intimidating for all the same reasons. If you’re not motivated by the closing credits to shoehorn your lazy ass off the couch and finally do something with your life, you weren’t watching closely enough.