2012 Movie Mini-Reviews: Jiro Dreams of Sushi, The Kid with a Bike, Silent House

February has been a bit of a slow month for me in terms of movie watching, but I have still managed to catch a few more of last year’s films. One of them would likely even make my top 10 list if I were to update it today. Let’s take a look:

Jiro Dreams of Sushi [2012]
Jiro Dreams of Sushi [dir. David Gelb]
Jiro Ono is an 85-year-old sushi chef who is considered by many to be the greatest in the world. His Tokyo restaurant, Sukiyabashi Jiro, only seats ten people, and its patrons have no say in what sushi they receive. Reservations are required months in advance, and a meal costs roughly $300. Jiro’s restaurant also has the distinction of being the smallest to receive the coveted 3-star Michelin review, which it receives year after year.

This documentary details Jiro’s dedication to his craft, and his work ethic is infectious. Even his two sons are sushi chefs, though perhaps not by their own choice. His eldest son is actually his top chef, and he will be taking over the reigns when the inevitable happens. Jiro’s youngest son was pushed out and told to essentially sink or swim with his own sushi business. Spoiler: he’s still working today. It’s a testament to just how persistent Jiro is, and how strong of a leader he remains. Jiro Dreams of Sushi is a wonderful, inspirational film that will make you want to work even harder to reach your goals. 8/10

The Kid with a Bike [2012]
The Kid with a Bike [dir. Jean-Pierre Dardenne, Luc Dardenne]
In this latest film from the beloved Dardenne brothers, newcomer Thomas Doret stars as the titular character, a young boy abandoned by his father who now lives in a shelter. A chance encounter with a local hairdresser (the beautiful and extremely talented Cécile De France) leads to her agreeing to adopt him on weekends. The boy is reckless and rebellious, struggling to come to terms that his father wants nothing to do with him. This makes him an easy target for a local teen “gang” leader who rewards him with video games in order to employ him in petty crime. The film and its plot are incredibly simplistic in nature, but there is a rewarding sense of warmth and compassion underneath.

This is a film that feels very real, and anyone who grew up in a broken home can immediately emphathize with Doret’s character. I have heard others complain that he is too whiny, insufferable, etc., but he comes across exactly how I would expect a young boy to act in this situation. Doret’s performance is revelatory, and the warmth provided by De France is felt through the screen, even if her character is perhaps a tad unqualified to raise a child. This is a beautiful little film, and a worthy entry to the Criterion Collection. 8.5/10

Silent House [2012]
Silent House [dir. Chris Kentis, Laura Lau]
This remake of the 2010 Uruguayan horror film, La casa muda, relies heavily on a simple gimmick: to make the film appear to have been shot in one single, continuous take. This isn’t anything new — Alfred Hitchcock crafted a fantastic thriller around the concept with 1948’s Rope — but it seems rather pointless in the context of this film. The plot is standard fare, with Elizabeth Olsen starring as a young woman who is terrorized in a house by persons unknown. The situation quickly grows worse for her once her father and uncle disappear, seemingly due to the strangers.

As is wont with modern horror films, there is a big twist at the end, and it’s so obvious that I’m willing to bet most viewers will know what’s up within the first ten minutes of the movie. Predictable or not, it is an interesting concept; that’s why it’s a shame that it is a dull, monotonous ride to get there. There’s only so much stupid character behavior and shaky camerawork I can take without being rewarded in some fashion. Instead, all we get is a terrible script, amateur acting (aside from Olsen, who makes the best of the poor source material), and a lame payoff. Quite frankly, this may very well be the worst film I have seen from 2012. 2/10

Now let’s hear your thoughts! Have you seen any of these? What do you think of them?

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26 thoughts on “2012 Movie Mini-Reviews: Jiro Dreams of Sushi, The Kid with a Bike, Silent House

  1. le0pard13 says:

    Jiro I’ve heard of and want to see. You’ve intrigued me with The Kid with a Bike. I’d rather see the original La casa muda than the remake, though. Thanks, Eric.

    • Eric @ The Warning Sign says:

      Yeah, I imagine La casa muda is better than the remake (isn’t it always?). Such a shame that Silent House ended up so poor. On the other hand, Jiro and The Kid with a Bike both come highly recommended.

      BTW, thanks for the Twitter shoutout as always, Michael. 🙂

  2. Fogs' Movie Reviews says:

    Yeah, Silent House was really bad. It speaks to how jam packed 2012 was with bad movies that I didnt have it on my worst of. Frankly, for me, Olsen’s performance lifted it out of the muck – like you metion, she rises above the source material.

    Jiro is something else, isnt he? That dude is crazy. 😀 It was a good flick too, you describe it well.

  3. The Heretic says:

    I have yet to see Jiro Dreams of Sushi, I still want to see the Bananas!*. There is a couple of other docs I forgot the names of; one is about a German family who discover their parents (or grandparents) were part of the Nazis party, and the other one about some kids playing chess that takes place in a New York school that (Yeah, that is a pretty vague description, but I cannot remember what they were called at the moment).

  4. Will says:

    Jiro is such a great movie. I loved it. Arnold Schwarzenegger just went there too, so check out his Twitter feed for a pic of him with Jiro and his son! I got a good kick out of it.

  5. Cole says:

    Reblogged this on Cole's Films and commented:
    At the end of this Year we are doing a final piece, which in this case is a documentary. I will be filming and conducting a interview with a chef, well that is my plan at least. The first film on this post, really showed me what and how to do an interview with a chef and how he works, if i find any spare time i will watch this film and use it a more research in what to ask a chef about and how to go about filming it and whether it will be good and if any music should be added, which i am considering and a quite and docile background noise.

  6. keith7198 says:

    Sooo glad to see someone else talking about Kid with a Bike. I saw it in the theater last year and thought it was very good! Powerful film and some really strong performances!

  7. Chris says:

    Those Dardenne brothers make some quality films, The Son (2002) is my personal favorite. I read today at The Playlist that Marion Cotillard is to star in their next project, so maybe they will reach a wider audience with a star attached.

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