JIRO DREAMS OF SUSHI
This writer likes people who do things with their hands, and absolutely adores those storied few who elevate something seemingly mundane to the level of art. That's a big part of the reason I like sushi. Nobody does the mundane-as-art better than the Japanese, which is probably why sushi got started there. A little fish, some rice, a few veggies and a whole lot of artistic flair, and lowly ingredients can become abstract sculpture on the plate, something so pretty it can even make you feel a little guilty about eating it. In the lovely documentary, "Jiro Dreams of Sushi," filmmakers take a close look at Jiro Ono, an 85-year-old Japanese sushi chef who has spent his whole life in pursuit of perfection, rising from poverty to become the undisputed master of the form. From a tiny, perfectly-appointed, ten-seat restaurant in a subway station, Jiro reigns like a Jedi master, dishing up perfect little morsels for $300 a plate to the rich and powerful, who are happy to wait two months for an audience with him. Adding to the poignancy of Jiro's own pursuit is that of his sons — aging apprentices for whom Jiro has always been more of a boss than a father. Though they should be masters in their own right, they live in their father's shadow, silently struggling with the reality that once Jiro is gone, they'll wind up as also-rans in the minds of those who loved him. A beautifully made documentary that should delight any foodie, but especially those who love sushi.
Seasons 1 and 2
We're going to talk about sex now, children. Not the sex your mother told you about. We mean the freaky stuff. While most people are just fine sticking to "missionary-with-the-lights-off," that just doesn't cut it for some of the sexual spelunkers among us, those people whose crank can only be turned by whips, collars, patent leather boots and referring to their significant other as Master or Mistress. Yes, S&M is creeping into the mainstream, and is nowhere near as weird as it used to be. You can buy a ball gag at the mall these days, so one can only wonder where those who can only get off on the fringe will have to go for satisfaction once Woman's Day starts printing kinky sex tips for moms on the go. For those curious sorts who aren't quite ready to make the leap into ropes, whips and chains without a little couch research, Netflix Instant offers the first two seasons of the Canadian reality show "Kink," which aired from 2001 to 2006 (and probably on their version of late-night Cinemax, if the sexual situations and copious nudity are any measure). Each season features a revealing look at a group of kinky Canucks —"You like it when I spank ya, eh?" — both gay and straight, as they get their licks in, so to speak. I've only caught a few episodes, but what I've seen so far is promising. If you've ever been curious about how the local Spankers Union gets their groove on, this is an interesting place to start.
It can suck to be a fan of old time rock 'n' roll, especially if you're one of those who thinks the purest rock is the rock you see live. Thanks to the live-fast-die-young culture that's pervaded rock and roll — and later hip-hop — since the early days, there's a good chance all hope of a true reunion tour for most bands died face down in a backstage restroom in 1976. Besides, you don't want to see your rock idols when they're fat and old, wheezing through their hits while they bankroll their retirement in the Bahamas. You want to see them in their prime — all piss and vinegar and attitude! Luckily for rock fans, Netflix Instant now features a very nice selection (available under the "music" subcategory if you hit the Netflix website) of shot-live concerts and making-of-the-album documentaries from many of the greats, including Lou Reed, Ike and Tina Turner, Bob Dylan, Black Sabbath, The Pretenders, Cream, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Issac Hayes, Korn, Edith Piaf, Michael Jackson, Wu-Tang Clan, Joan Baez, Elvis Presley, Neil Young, The Doors, The Who, Metallica and many, many others. Definitely cheaper than buying tickets to The Absolute Last Ever (For Real This Time) Reunion Tour of your favorite band, and you don't have to watch in pity and horror as the guy whose music you once made out to changes his oxygen tank in the middle of the set.
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