Archive for June 6th, 2012

Screen cap from ‘Babette’s Feast’


© 2012 by James Clark


In coming to terms with the hyper-critical disclosures of Bresson’s Pickpocket, as perched upon the rewards of mastering a lucrative craft, my thoughts often drifted back to an early-childhood discovery the bite of which still impacts. Knowing, from family experience, only about 9 to 5 weekday employment (and the outsider dramatic shift work of the likes of police and retailers), I would be in awe, on weekend excursions with my grandmother, in noticing office buildings sometimes disclosing, in lighted windows, people toiling at their desks. (A review of that otherworldly agenda still makes waves for me when passing office towers around midnight and beholding dozens of cabs at the ready for the homeward trek of workaholics within.) Whereas policing and shop keeping were easily factored into mundane perception, there was about that glowing terra incognita an aura of exertion quite out of this world. (From our place, I often marvel in some vague kinship, when, if wakened in the middle of the night, I notice people working on through the darkness, at architect, advertising, animation and other such firms in full view of our windows.)

There is a moment in the documentary, Jiro Dreams of Sushi (2011), which inadvertently corresponds with the extremity of Pickpocket, and catches up once again with work phenomena my family never touched. The proprietor of a renowned (Michelin three-star) Tokyo sushi bar, Jiro Ono, recalls with typical deadpan bemusement, that, on a very rare morning when there was an interruption of his 5 a.m. wake up and departure routine (playing out to an after 10 p.m. return), his two young sons were perplexed on seeing a strange man in their mother’s bed. (Showing an incisive taste for piquant understatement, he observes, “I wasn’t much of a father.”) Whereas reformed felon, Michel, does head toward being a dutiful father to Jeanne’s present child and probable others to come, a figure like Jiro—just in showing us how he works—indirectly tears into that centre of compromise’s stolid bids as to “getting ahead,” as if he were a strip of tuna going under a very sharp knife. As such, the initiative of Jiro Dreams of Sushi finds its truly remarkable sphere of discovery in a presentation of “purity” (primordiality) giving a very sharp point to the rehab-preoccupied detective’s outcry, “That turns the world upside down!” Director David Gelb’s visit to the octogenarian, now become legendary amongst gourmets worldwide, becomes in fact a measuring of resolute energy that does pose a threat to the everyday world. “What defines deliciousness?” is how the undomesticated chef ushers us into what’s really on his menu. (more…)

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