Friday, December 28, 2012

You gonna die, I'm gonna die, we all gonna die. Just not today...

Hello I am the movie encyclopedia and if no one else will see it, I will

I often wonder how some movies get green-lit in Hollywood nowadays. I can understand wanting to adapt a novel, a video game or a comic into a film because it comes with an inherent fan base that will want to see their favorite characters put onto the screen. Sometimes it works (The Dark Knight) and sometimes it doesn't (The Spirit), but it will make money no matter what. Then there's Battleship, based on the best-selling board game that has graced our kitchen tables for over 40 years. Who thought this would be a good idea? Board games don't really come jam-packed with stories or characters and have rarely ever seemed like a good idea for films. The 1980s classic Clue worked because it had something to go on, but Battleship is just two people trying to guess where the other person's boats are. But Hasbro, Universal and Peter Berg obviously saw something since here we are with a Battleship movie.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Promise me you'll never go to Silent Hill.

Hello I am the movie encyclopedia and if no one else will see it, I will.

Back in 2006 Christophe Gans and Roger Avary took a risk by releasing a film adaptation of the original Silent Hill video game. It took a lot of liberties with the original source material, the biggest being the gender swap of the main hero, but it was nothing if not ambitious and it certainly had its fans. I was definitely not one of them. The Silent Hill franchise has always had a place in my heart and while it wasn't as terrible as most video game adaptations tend to be, it fell short of any expectations I had and I left feeling disappointed.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Even at my age, in my work... I haven't reached perfection.

Hello I am the movie encyclopedia and if no one else will see it, I will.

Deep in the heart of Tokyo, in a place where you'd never expect it (in a subway station), sits one of the greatest restaurants in the entire world: Sukiyabashi Jiro. To the untrained eye it looks like a simple family-owned sushi shop but to everyone who has ever eaten there, they can tell you it is anything but ordinary. Run by Jiro Ono and his son (with another location also run by one of his sons), documentary filmmaker David Gelb takes a crew inside this 3 star Michelin restaurant so that we can get an idea of who the man behind the counter really is.
 Though regarded by many as the best sushi chef alive, 85 year old Jiro believes that his quest to perfect the art of sushi will never end. He dreams about it, spends almost every waking minute thinking about it and meticulously crafts every piece of fish as though it was Van Gogh painting one of his masterpieces. He loves his work, and deeply cares about it in ways that most people wished they could care about anything. The hard part, and one of his struggles, is dealing with what will happen after he dies. His son works diligently beside him, Jiro taking plenty of time to teach him and help him in whatever way he can, but at the end of the day Jiro will always be the master chef. He's a one of a kind and many believe that his son will never live up to his fathers reputation. Will Jiro's son ever surpass his father? Will Jiro's quest to perfect the art of sushi ever end? What of his other son, who runs a similar restaurant but in a fashion that is exponentially different than his father? These and more are questions we are presented with as the film goes on.

 Jiro Dreams of Sushi is a brief film, clocking in around 80 minutes, but even if it was longer David Gelb's impeccable pacing is some of the best I've seen recently (documentary or otherwise). It never feels rushed, most scenes, with the exception of maybe one or two, run perfectly and you can tell that Gelb was making this film for a broad audience, not just those who are used to documentary films slow, more deliberate pacing. The cinematography is great as well but I will say, see this film on a full stomach because even if you hate sushi, Jiro and Gelb make everything look delicious. It's food porn, but brilliant food porn. 
Jiro himself, as well as his son, are fascinating characters who are extremely passionate about what they do. You can see that they pour their heart and soul into everything they do. Jiro especially is fascinating to listen to because the way he describes everything, from making sushi to the art of sushi is intriguing and heartfelt. You feel his struggles and his hardships because you really care about him as a person. If you can get behind and care about the subject of your documentary then you've done a good job.

Love or hate sushi, Jiro Dreams of Sushi is a brilliant documentary and one that should be enjoyed by everybody.

MY VERDICT: OWN IT (4.5 out of 5)