Jiro Dreams of Sushi

I’d been hearing bits and pieces about Jiro Dreams of Sushi for a while and drooled over the trailer a few times, but never really got around to watching it despite its 98% on Rotten Tomatoes.  Last week, however, a foodie friend posted about it on Facebook, and I ended up having some good sashimi on Sunday, so I finally decided I need to watch this!

The first thing I have to mention is that the order of the topics in the movie didn’t completely make sense to me.  I was typing some interesting points on my phone as I was watching, and reading back on them now, they seem kind of random.  They would bring up Jiro’s sons, then talk about daily fish purchases, mention his apprentices, talk about his personal life again, then talk about his daily rice purchases… I’m going to reorder topics in this post in a way that makes more sense to me!

I never realized so much went into sushi – or perhaps this much only goes into really good sushi.  I liked watching his hand movements while sculpting a piece of sushi, as they were very deliberate and consistent, but also very artistic and beautiful.  I’ve commonly seen people in the US mix wasabi into their soy sauce and dip the sushi in, but from what I’ve read and heard, that’s not the “accepted” method in Japan.  In the movie Jiro put wasabi between the fish and the rice, then brushed soy sauce on top, and it was expected that you just eat the entire piece of sushi in one bite as is.  It puts so much trust and pressure on the chef to prepare food perfectly the way everyone enjoys!

It looks like it would be intimidating and maybe a bit awkward to eat there – he places one piece at a time on a plate in front of you, so you have to keep up with his meal pace, and he is always there in front of you.  I don’t know what I would do if I didn’t like one of them – I wouldn’t want to show it to him, and I’d have to eat it since the meal is so expensive (over 300 US dollars)!

I had never thought about where the fish comes from before.  One of my favorite parts of this movie was when they talked to the tuna dealer.  I find it so interesting that he specializes in tuna – all he does all day is select, buy, clean, and sell tuna.  The dealer said he could tell if the tuna will taste good by its texture – I can’t even imagine knowing anything so well.  The tuna auction looked so chaotic but exciting at the same time, and it was neat to see all the huge tuna lined up on the floor.

Shrimp, octopus, rice… everything they select and buy in the morning for that day!  He said that they massage the octopus for 40-50 minutes – it blows my mind that they pay that much attention to everything, just to serve one small piece of each type of sushi to each person.  I wonder if the octopus was alive while massaging though… and if not, if they massage before or after cooking.  They were slicing the eel while it was still alive; they staked it behind its head to the cutting board then sliced the body in half.

The movie mentioned that apprentices are under Jiro for 10 years.  For how much of a perfectionist the movie kept painting him as, he wasn’t as mean or strict to the apprentices as I expected – unless he acted differently for the movie, of course.  I don’t think I would be able to handle doing the same thing every day all day for 10 years.  With my personality, I can’t handle doing the same things every day!  The biggest thing that caught my attention, though, is that the apprentice said that one of the last things they are allowed to do is to make the egg sushi.  The highest honor isn’t even to make sushi involving fish!  I am now certain I don’t understand the art of sushi at all.

The one thing that irritated me about this movie, though, was gender bias, both by Jiro and in the focus of the movie itself.  At one point he tells his customers that he makes smaller pieces of sushi for the females, so that the meal moves at a consistent pace and everyone finishes pieces at the same time.  Such bullshit!  I want just as much sushi as anyone else.  And some women can eat more than some men.  I understand Japanese culture does still put more emphasis on sons and child order (his oldest son is still working under him since he is expected to take over for his father, but his second son got to open his own separate restaurant), but I thought Jiro himself might not be as traditional, since at one point, he says something like, “Why should I respect my parents, they never did anything for me!”.  The movie never mentions his mother or wife, and Jiro himself only mentions his wife once.  In fact, I’m still not sure if she is alive or not.  I googled “Jiro Ono wife” to find out and I just got a bunch of reviews talking about the lack of mention about those two females in his life.

Overall, a very enjoyable mouth-watering movie.  I need to go have some sushi this week now.

Game of Thrones

I finished watching Season 1 of Game of Thrones. And yes, I have never read the books, so my opinions of this are solely based off the TV series.

So it’s not bad. I enjoyed myself while watching it, but I may have enjoyed it solely because it’s a dark fantasy world filled with blood, stabbing, and naked women. I think they did a reasonable job at creating all the characters. You really come to like the Stark family and their struggle for justice, while hating all the ruthless, political schemers. There’s a good amount of development for the main characters, and you get to really see them change as time progresses.

The story lines are solid. They are interesting and filled with twists to keep you guessing. I will say the story of the Black Watch was completely pointless, but my guess is that they will play a bigger role in future seasons. Right now, they just seem like a huge waste of time. But otherwise, everything was definitely entertaining and kept me wanting to watch the next episode.

The one thing I did have a problem with is the sheer number of characters and the difficult of keeping track of their long, difficult to pronounce names. I’m still not sure exactly who everyone is and the relations between them, particularly for the non-major characters. I feel like I need to keep the wiki page open while watching so I don’t miss anything.

Establishing The Boundaries of the World
Spoilers by the way

When you create a fantasy world, you need to quickly establish what is valid and what is impossible. While a fantasy world can contain magic, dragons, and super human abilities, it still needs to follow rules. Otherwise, everything quickly loses meaning and it’s impossible to build tension in a scene. For example, everyone understands physics and what is impossible in the real world. If you have a normal man fighting a dragon, you expect the man to get instantly crushed because a real human could not hope to compete with the sheer size and speed of a dragon. So in bad movies (e.g. Transformers) you would have the man impossibly dodge and evade the dragon’s firebreath, claws, and tail. Then somehow they manage to run up without getting blown to smithereens and slice off it’s head (or put some stupid allspark in their chest). Watching something like that is frustrating, stupid, and constantly has you asking “Did that really just happen?”

However, if in the first 10 minutes you show that the man can dodge, jump, and shoot magic bolts, then you’ve established that in this world, the laws of physics do not apply. This world has magic, dragons, super powerful men and that’s just the way it is. You don’t need to explain how anything works or how it came to be. It’s just accepted.

For most of the series, everyone is pretty normal. People fight like real, clumsy humans in heavy armor. They get easily hurt and die to single sword slashes. There is mention of some zombie like people called “white walkers” in the first episode, but they never really reveal them so we don’t know if they are truly zombies or just a bunch of savage people who pretend to be ghosts to scare you. There is no signs of magic or supernatural beings, outside of some legends and superstitions mentioned in passing. You get the feeling that this world generally follows the laws of physics and is realistic enough.

But towards the end of season 1, things start getting weirder and weirder. The white walkers are revealed as being real zombies who rise from the dead. A woman uses “blood magic” to save someone from death. A woman walks into a fire and is unburned. Even dragons show up in the final scene. You have this radical switch where the world goes from the middle ages to Dragon Age the video game.

The problem I have with this is that for the entire season, people have been established as normal humans, struggling with mortal issues in a real world. As soon as you introduce dragons and magic into the mix, it shatters everything you thought you knew and trivializes everything you’ve already seen. Imagine a movie about World War II, where a platoon of soldiers is fighting on the street. They use teamwork, courage, and ingenuity with the tools at their disposal to slowly work their way towards a goal, maybe killing some machine gun nests or tanks along the way and losing some men. Then all of a sudden a Gundam shows up and blows everything to smithereens. That’s how I felt at the ending of Season 1.

Maybe all of this supernatural stuff won’t matter much and the dragons (which are still babies) are just there for symbolism or something. I hope that the series will continue to focus only on men fighting men, and never bring dragons or magic into the picture again. And despite how well done most of the series is, all I can think about is the ending and how stupid it is.


I cannot fathom why it was I decided to watch this movie. My guess is that I hate baseball so much that watching someone break the system would make me feel better. Or it’s because I secretly have a crush on Brad Pitt and his name is so large on the movie poster that you need to look twice to find the actual title.

Anyway, some guy invents some system on how you should draft players solely based on their statistics, instead of basing it on irrelevant factors like age, appearance, personality, etc. For example, they decide to draft this short guy because his height causes him to get a lot of walks. Brad Pitt decides to follow this strategy and after a rocky start, his team starts winning and makes it to the playoffs. This is despite having around 1/4 the overall budget of bigger teams like the Yankees. Then he gets offered some job by the Red Sox for a shit ton of money because apparently he revolutionized baseball.

This movie isn’t bad, by any stretch of the imagination. There’s nothing wrong with the acting or story. Everything flows reasonably well and there are a few funny moments. However, at the end of the movie, I just thought “OK” and left. I didn’t really think about the movie while driving home and promptly forgot about it as soon as I started doing something else. The movie just barely held my attention for it’s duration and as soon as it finished, there was no reason anymore to give it another thought.

Maybe it’s because I’m not an Oakland A’s fan or a baseball fan. Or maybe it’s because the entire movie was based on the mundane task of using math and spreadsheets to excel at a game. Or maybe it’s because they shot too many closeups of Brad Pitt’s frustrated face when they lost games, which I swear happened at least half a dozen times. Whatever the case is, the movie is OK to watch but in my opinion doesn’t have any lasting impact.

Edit: Now I remember why I wanted to see this movie. It’s because Activision-Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick is in it. I think his appearance is the only reason I even knew the movie existed.


First of all, I didn’t watch this movie yet in it’s entirety. I’m not sure if I ever will, because it looks mind numbingly boring in all the non-fight scenes and I’m sure I’m not missing any Oscar-worthy acting. Anyway…

I saw a preview for Suckerpunch a while back and thought to myself, “I definitely fall into the target audience of this movie.” A movie about a hot chick in a school uniform and thigh highs killing monsters? Talk about a subject packed with great things. There is no way you could make a movie more like an Anime, short of having a Gundam flying around in the background.

I watched the first fight scene where the girl fights three giant samurai monsters. It was here I noticed something terribly wrong. Human beings cannot move in a way that makes fighting giant samurai look cool. The samurai monster is blitzing about the room at breakneck speeds. Meanwhile the girl is somehow able to keep up with his impossible speed by jogging around and daintily swinging her sword.

It just doesn’t work. When you watch fight scenes in Anime, everything flows smoothly and people move FAST. Maybe not DBZ fast where they stop showing the actual moves and just animate flashing lights to save on production costs, but fast enough that a human body could not endure the acceleration without bones splintering. There is literally a part of that fight where the girl dodges a strike with an elaborate flip and then jogs up to make a slash. You can’t have gravity defying acrobatics but still move like a slug.

Honestly, I think the problem is just that they make her walk around on her own. When you watch people fighting in Anime, do they run around on their legs? No, they fucking leap. If you want to get from point A to point B in the fastest possible time, you jump and fly through the air. So sure, you can have dramatic scenes of her walking slowly away from a collapsing building. But the moment the bullets fly, the only reason for your feet to touch the ground at any point is to push off for another jump.

And there are just so many other parts in this fight that just make me cringe. How can you get hit so hard to make a crater in the ground but look like you just landed on a pillow? Watch her walk out of the dojo in a dramatic fashion after killing the 2nd samurai, only to have the scene ruined as she fails to holster her gun smoothly. Was there really a DBZ power up moment followed by the goofiest looking single sword slash I’ve ever seen? This is about as good as watching the live action DBZ movie.

I’ve always wanted to see live action versions of Anime. You see such amazing fight scenes and think that it’s perfect for a big budget movie. Then you see Suckerpunch and realize that the American movie industry is never going to get it. Seriously, some random music video cosplayed the Tifa fight from Advent Children and made it look cooler than your entire movie. How does that make any sense?

Transformers 3

For some unknown reason, Allison’s brother wanted to give Michael Bay $12 and waste 2 hours and 37 minutes of his life. I ended up having to go with them to watch it.

Now, when I went into the first Transformers movies I was thinking to myself “Wow, it’s like live action Gundam except with a HUGE budget!”. I expected awesome mecha battles with cool weapons. Instead what I got was a boring, teen angst story where most of the battle scenes involved humans running around on the floor like ants trying to attack the weak spot for maximum damage. Meanwhile, the shaky, irritating camera made viewing a headache. The only way it could have been better is if it pulled a Gundam Seed Destiny and repeated 50% of the explosion scenes to save animation costs.

The best scene of the first movie was a very unimportant, glossed over part. Optimus Prime engages some random Decepticon (I think he was a construction truck or something), while driving on the road. He jumps him, whips out a blade on his wrist, and just wrecks him. The camera focuses solely on this fight without jumping around all over the place. You get to actually see the carnage of mecha vs mecha, down to the fine details of him delivering the killing blow. This is what I came to see.

No prisoners. No mercy.

Now, to get back to the point. I actually thought Transformers 3 was OK. Michael Bay is finally figuring out how to do mecha battles. I can’t help but think that in between Transformers 2 and 3, he must have watched a ton of anime for inspiration. You could copy paste Sentinel Prime into some Gundam Series and I wouldn’t know the difference. They started using melee weapons instead of dicking around shooting volleys of bullets at each other. Heat blades, heat axes and shields were all present. I almost expected them to whip out (pun intended) the Epyon heat whip. Optimus Prime literally kills a guy as he begs for mercy, grabbing his innards and tearing them out (Neon Genesis Evangelion style). You can feel the tension in the cables as he rips them out and mecha “blood” spills everywhere. I actually enjoyed watching the mecha vs mecha scenes in this movie, and there were a lot of them scattered throughout to keep me somewhat interested.

Now of course, the storyline was terrible, the characters are unlikeable, the jokes are unfunny, and someone seems to still think watching humans running around on the floor fighting giant mecha is entertaining to watch. I fell asleep in the middle part because it was so boring. Release a Transformers movie with no humans and I will be there opening night to watch.