|A screenshot I took on my laptop while watching "Jiro Dreams of Sushi."|
- What do you feel is the message the director is trying to express in this movie? Support your answer with examples.
This is an inspiring film to watch, especially for a teacher, because it explores the message that one must dedicate their life to becoming better at whatever it is they do. Teaching is a profession in which many educators experience burn out and may even seek a different job after the first year or so. However, Jiro speaks a different message. Jiro says, "Once you decide on your occupation you must immerse yourself in your work. You have to fall in love with your work. Never complain about your job. You must dedicate your life to mastering your skill. That's the secret of success... and is the key to being regarded honorably." Wow! If teachers went into work with the mindset of loving their job instead of complaining about it, think about how much better the whole school system would be.
- If applicable , discuss if you think this movie has
accurate depictions of minorities or if they are situational? Why or why
The biggest flaw of this movie, or rather of Jiro's restaurant, is its rather sexist nature. In an interview that was not included in the documentary, Yoshikazu said women cannot be shrimp chefs: "The reason is because women menstruate. To be a professional means to have a steady taste in your food, but because of the menstrual cycle, women have an imbalance in their taste, and that's why women can't be sushi chefs." This reasoning makes absolutely no sense and is not based on any biological fact or scientific research. Its simply a sexist attitude that Yoshikazu and his father likely share. There are no women chefs in Jiro's kitchen, and Jiro's wife is barely mentioned in the entire film.
- Explain if you think the director’s ethnic/cultural/professional background played a role in directing this film?
The director of this film is David Gelb, a 33-year-old American man. He is quoted as saying, "Originally, I was going to make a film with a lot of different sushi chefs who all had different styles, but when I got to Jiro's restaurant, I was not only amazed by how good the sushi was and how much greater it was than any other sushi restaurant I had ever been to, but I also found Jiro to be such a compelling character and such an interesting person. I was also fascinated by the story of his son, who is fifty years old, but still works for his father at the restaurant. So, I thought, 'Here's a story about a person living in his father's shadow while his father is in a relentless pursuit of perfection.' It was the makings of a good feature film." Therefore, Gelb's ethnic and cultural background do not necessarily contribute to his directing of this film, but his experience at the restaurant does.
- What groups (people of color, nationality, culture, class,gender etc.) may be offended or misinterpret this movie and why?
This movie seems to reinforce the stereotype that anyone is capable of money, success and fame if they work hard enough for it. At the age of 9 in the first grade, Jiro says his parents abandoned him. Jiro said, "I had to work just to survive." Therefore, I could see this movie as being misinterpreted to justify the idea that anyone who grows up in poverty and cannot become successful because of their background is "lazy" or "not working hard enough."
- What the movie added to your visual literacy?
As an English education major, I can honestly say I don't have much interest in cooking or sushi for that matter. Regardless, I found myself totally engrossed in this film. I don't even like seafood, but the food looked so good in the film that I found myself wondering if I could ever go to Japan to try Jiro's restaurant myself. In my personal experience, I have noticed a huge visual component to the taste of food: If food looks good, I am more apt to think it tastes good, whereas if it looks disgusting, I am less apt to think it tastes good.
- What kind of artistic and/or visual means did the director use in the movie to focus our attention?
One part of the film that I very much enjoyed is the soundtrack and comparison of Jiro's kitchen to an orchestra or concerto. Just as the music repeats itself and follows a steady rhythm, so do the motions of the chefs in Jiro's kitchen. I found myself totally relaxed and absorbed in the film as I watched the chef's perform their techniques with the soothing music in the background. It helped me understand why cooking is cathartic for people.
- Additional comments/and or analysis/and or other movies recommendations (optional).
One of my favorite quotes of the film: "I wasn't sure if I should tell the kids that they should study hard or that it is okay to be a rebel. Studying hard doesn't guarantee you will become a respectable person. Even if you're a bad kid, there are people like me who change. Always doing what you are told doesn't mean you'll succeed in life."
I also found it interesting that the first thing the chefs notice when customers arrive is whether they are male or female. Males receive larger portion sizes than females so they can stay on the same pace as they eat through the courses. Chefs also notice if any of the customers are left-handed, and if they are, the food is then served to their left side. There are only 10 seats at the counter, and a person's meal might only last 15 minutes, but people are convinced it's worth it.