Posts Tagged ‘San Francisco Bay Area’

East Side Sushi  (2015)  —  movie review
Every now and then you find (or someone recommends) a small independent movie that really entertains and moves you.  This is one of those movies.
East Side Sushi” was recommended to me by the younger brother of my best friend from childhood.  He currently lives in Hawaii and we communicate mostly by email.  He provides me with insight to things happening on the island and in Asia.  He is the one who clued me in to the Korean pop music videos I posted about a couple of years ago.  Anyway, he said he saw this great movie, filmed in Oakland, CA and it reminded him so much of the Bay Area he could almost taste the food being prepared in the movie.  I told him I’d keep my eyes out for the film.  I guess it was released on HBO and I didn’t subscribe at the time, so I didn’t have access to it.  To make a long story a little shorter, the film is available on my library streaming service, so I finally got a chance to view it.
The basic story line is old news: someone at the bottom wants to improve their place in society and then works to achieve it.  The twist in this movie: the lead is Mexican / American and female and she wants to become something (a sushi chef) which is “traditionally” both Asian (mainly Japanese) and male.  Apparently, female hands are too warm to prepare fish and they wear too much perfume, which changes the flavor of the fish.   Blah, blah, blah…  Racism and sexism neatly bundled into one plot.  Oh, yeah.  She’s a struggling single mother who also looks after her widowed father.  Strangely though, it works and it works well.
Diana Elizabeth Torres plays Juana (the Mexican lady who wants to become a sushi chef), Yutaka Takeuchi plays Aki (the senior Japanese sushi chef who mentors Juana), Rodrigo Duarte Clark plays Apa (Juana’s father), Kaya Jade Aguirre plays Lydia (Juana’s daughter), Roji Oyama plays Mr. Yoshida (the sushi restaurant owner – and also a sushi chef), and Miyoko Sakatani plays Mrs. Yoshida (the co-owner and maître d’ who originally hires Juana).
Now before we get too into the movie, let me make clear: while I have sampled sushi, I am nowhere near competent to evaluate the food preparation or display demonstrated in the film.  But, and this is a BIG but, I think I’d like to go to a restaurant and try some different types of sushi.  Just to see what all the fuss is about.  (LOL)
I found the movie well acted.  The Mexican family was very much the way I would imagine it: from the father not wanting to eat raw fish, to his complaining about why can’t Juana get a job cooking in a cantina.  I also found the white customer objecting to the restaurant owner about having a Mexican preparing the sushi a fascinating little scene.  It “justified” to the Japanese owner the position that ONLY males and ONLY Asians could prepare “true” sushi.  It reaffirmed the owner’s prejudice without him realizing / acknowledging the customer was as prejudiced against him as he was against Juana.  There is also an amusing staff lunch scene where Juana misunderstands the Japanese accent of English words and the other staff (various Asian and Hispanic) laugh at her error.  If you’ve ever been at a mixed culture meal / event, you’ve probably seen this happen in real life.
Final recommendation:  very highly recommended!  This is a pleasant movie which doesn’t break new ground, but which does cover the same ground while pointing out different scenery which you might not otherwise notice.  It’s a genuine “feel good” movie which can be watched by the whole family.  I emailed my friend to thank him for the recommendation and ask him to pass along any more he might have.  “That’s what friends are for…”  Now, I’ve paid it forward.
On This Day In:
2018 Blocking The Light And Air
2017 It’s Even Dimmer When You Don’t Have It
2016 Inconvenienced By Degree
2015 Sincerity
2014 Prayers For Junior
2013 Interesting Drink
Super Bowl XLVII Declared A No Bird Zone
2012 Smile
2011 Come Forward

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The Road To Sparta” (2016©)  —  book review
Today’s book review is for “The Road To Sparta” written by Dean Karnazes.  Karnazes may not be the “Dean” of ultramarathon runners, but he is certainly one of the sports most famous names and faces.  Karnazes lives in the San Francisco Bay Area (where I also was raised and currently live), and, from his writing, appears to have totally adopted the ethos of being from Northern California.  Clean air, physical fitness, sometimes single minded pursuit of one’s goals, etc.
The book is another semi-autobiographical book about Karnazes.  His other book (which is reviewed here) is titled: “Ultramarathon Man“, and deals more with his various runs – particularly the Western States One-Hundred.  This book is about his being descended from Greek immigrants and him getting back in touch with his roots in his native country via participation in an ultra-run called “The Spartathlon.”  This run recreates the run which Pheidippides made from Athens to Sparta to ask the Spartans to help the Athenians resist the Persian invasion of Greece at the beach of Marathon.  Not to spoil the story (as it is ancient history), Pheidippides ran about 150 miles to carry the message (request).  He then ran a similar distance to carry the reply (“Yeah, we’ll come, but not for a few days”).  And then, … wait for it… he ran from the battlefield (Marathon) to Athens (about 26 miles) to carry news of the victory.  And then he died.
The race isn’t so spectacular.  Karnazes “only” has to run the initial portion (Athens to Sparta).  Oh, yeah.  You have to run the race in a “similar” time span to that of Pheidippides – 36 hours.
If you are a serious distance runner, much of the book will seem self-affirming as you will probably relate to the action and feelings of a ultra-distance runner.  If you are not a “serious” runner (or athlete), you may still relate, but you’ll probably also find Karnazes’ descriptions of the Greek countryside a bit flowery.  Make that extremely flowery.  Almost (but not quite) off-puttingly so.  Almost…  On the other hand, if you are just an average reader, you may really like all the verbiage.  I was kind of in the middle.  Parts of the book made we want to strap on some shoes and go out for a jog.  Others left me feeling like he had been assigned a set number of words to get the book published and he was going to reach that number with the same determination it takes to run an ultra.
Final recommendation: strong.  I enjoyed the history.  I enjoyed most of the descriptions, particularly when he was talking about the people out in the Greek countryside.  And I enjoyed the re-telling of the actual Spartathlon he ran in.  Ultimately, a good running book should make you want to lace up and hit the pavement.  As mentioned above, this book did that for me.  I picked the book up at Half-Price Books off the $3 rack.  A steal at that price.  I’ve already used a couple of quotes on my blog and I’ve got about another dozen or so hi-lighted for use in the future.
On This Day In:
2017 Today Is Not Lost
Day 8
2016 Paying Attention
2015 An Awful Ordeal
2014 What Are You Doing?
2013 Lives > 1
2012 Strange To All The World
2011 Unnecessary Stagefright

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