Saturday, October 29, 2011
SDAFF 12: ZAI JIAN, SAYONARA, BYE-BYE AND JIRO…JIR-IO :o)
In the paraphrased words of Nat King Cole the merry old sole, “The party’s over, it’s time to call it a day. Now we must wake up, all dreams must end. Take off our makeup, it’s all over, my friend…at least for this year.”
The closing night of the 12th Annual San Diego Asian Film Festival ended on a tasty note with an appetizing documentary that challenged the senses and made everyone in the audience hungrier than a shark that hasn’t had its tuna fix in two weeks. Fortunately with the closing night film, JIRO DREAMS OF SUSHI, we can have our tuna and eat it too…after the film that is.
It’s a great way to end the festival, because as I reflect on the past 9 days, one of the most consistent cravings that I had throughout all of the 16 or so films I watched happens to end on a yearning of a Japanese film about food…a yen for sushi.
Every movie I saw from martial arts, ghost, drama and action to fantasy, horror, love story and romantic comedy, all had a food scene. Whether it was in a restaurant, a street vendor or one’s home, the Asian food in each film drove me nuts as I sat there watching people slurping down noodles, woofing kimchi, engulfing soy sauce eggs, steam shoveling rice, and gorging on vegetable-meat dishes from China, Taiwan, Korea, Thailand, Japan, etc.
85-year old master sushi chef Jiro Ono owns and tire-lessly runs a 3-star Michelin restaurant that burns cuisine rubber in a basement eatery in Ginza Tokyo, where the least expensive meal runs around $300.
Not to ever be confused with conveyer belt sushi restaurants that dots big city America’s landscape, you know the kind, $19.95 for all the sushi you can eat, Jiro runs his 10 stool restaurant with the combined seriousness of a karate 10th degree black belt living by the code of budo and the passionate dedication to his art that borders on the old traditional codes of bushido, a samurai warrior.
But Jiro doesn’t use a sword to disembowel, disarm and de-feet his opponent, but meticulously uses special knives (no…not a ginzu knife) to slice and pare fish, squid, shrimp and octopus.
The film celebrates beyond carte de jour as director David Gelb’s moviemaking finesse investigates how he can use Jiro’s epicurean adventures to tell a story about family, tradition, and the virtues of hard work, dedication and sacrifice and how they have shaped Jiro and his sons, more specifically his eldest Yoshikasu, who must walk in his father’s shadow.
The sad thing is that regardless of how great of a chef Yoshikasu becomes, when his father passes away the Sukiyabashi Jiro family restaurant might also die because he will never be, in the eyes of restaurant critics and sushi connoisseurs, his father.
The irony being that for many of the accolades and more recent epicurean awards the restaurant has received have come at the hands of these food experts eating sushi made by Yoshikasu.
On a personal note, over the three days that my wife Silvia and I had a Qi Healing booth in the theater lobby, we’d like to thank all the SDAFF volunteers, the Ultrastar crew and Asian Film fans that stopped by the booth for a Qi Reading and/or a Pull Out the Pain healing experience. Awesommmme.
Since it is also the final curtain call of the SDAFF at the Ultrastar Cinema in the Hazard Center, instead of closing with the SOUND OF MUSIC’s, “So long, farewell. Auf Weidersehen, goodbye,” I’ll close with the same melody but the lyrics, with a little lilt in the honor of Jiro, “Zai jian, sayonara. Annyong-hi kashipshio, Jir-io.”
Posted by Dr. Craig D. Reid at 9:32 PM