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Movie: Jiro Dreams Of Sushi (2011)
Rating: **1/2 out of *****
Notes: A much renowned documentary, "Jiro Dreams Of Sushi" examines the life and practices of Jiro Ono, owner and proprietor of a $300, Michelin 3-star, 10-seat sushi restaurant in Japan. Don't go in expecting the high-energy sensationalism of Food Network or any other mainstream restaurant expose. Very little time is spent on cooking, customers, or kitchen etiquette. Rather, there's a lot of classical music with close-ups of slicing and constructing bites of sushi, as well as the interpersonal relationships between Jiro and his sons, and how he treats his workers and their impressions of him. Best approached as a portrait of the man himself, he's very old-school when it comes to familial traditions. In this, the old ways of raising ones family and the structured discipline that involves can seem both archaic and even hypocritical, but it needs to be viewed in the context of Japanese culture, which can at times be very foreign compared to America. If you're not into sushi, this can be slow and ponderous, but the artsy nature of it can suffice to make a viewer feel high-minded. Otherwise, it could be somewhat light on content.

Movie: Edge Of Tomorrow (2014)
Rating: ****1/2 out of *****
Notes: An Americanized version of a manga and a novel, "Edge of Tomorrow" (better known post-theatrically as "Live, Die, Repeat") is one of the best sci-fi films to hit theaters in years. A military spokesman sent to the front lines against his will finds himself stuck in a time loop after dying on the battlefield. Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt play off each other beautifully, but the former actor has all the best scenes and lines. Darkly comic, the script recalls the best moments of both Cruise's earlier films and Verhoeven-esque bleak humor, and this goes a long way toward making an enjoyable viewing. Describes by the studio as a cross between "Groundhog Day" and "Starship Troopers," I'd also throw in "Mission: Impossible" and "Aliens," too. The E.T.s have the generic design of randomly-generated monsters, the overproduction of "Transformers," but their motion, aggressiveness, and violence sets them apart and makes them actually seem dangerous, if not frightening. The scenes are action-packed, featuring mature adults instead of teenage models, no women or children in distress, no goofy sidekicks, and minimal romantic interest to bog anything down - just straight plot and no filler. The very few nitpicks include Blunt not being particularly soldier-esque, her ridiculous anime melee weapon (the movie is supposed to recall the concept of restarting a videogame, with all that entails), and the semi-derivative climax once the story tires of the restarts. Amazingly fun and thrilling, it's inconceivable that it bombed at the US box office. An absolute must-see for any fan of novel, hard sci-fi.

Movie: Mr. Peabody & Sherman (2015)
Rating: *** out of *****
Notes: From the director who brought us "The Lion King," this animated contemporary remake of the shorts from the Rocky & Bullwinkle TV series is much more like Minkoff's Roger Rabbit pieces, especially in its frantic pace. Sherman, a boy adopted by genius dog, Mr. Peabody, gets in an altercation at school which leads to time travelling adventures in their Wayback Machine. Speeding along like a kid on to much Pepsi, the story crams in a whole lot of adventures, action, and guest voices for a basic 90 minutes, but falls short in the hilarity or pacing department. In its rush to get everything done, the puns and pop culture references are egregiously old school and elicit little more than groans or chuckles. Animation is bright and colorful, an the interpretations of the characters are adapted to be both a close resemblance and dolly-esque to look good on t-shirts, keychains, action figures and other toys and merchandise. Since it doesn't give you much time to think or absorb what you've seen before racing on to the next scene or timeline, it's not terribly memorable which is shame because the themes are very clearly representative of such modern topics as bullying and gay/extra-racial adoption, which the film should be rewarded for addressing at a kid's level. Cute, amiable, and geared to the ADD set, it's an otherwise mild, but not unpleasant diversion.

Next: Hunger Games 4, X-Men: Days Of Future Past, Sin City: A Dame To Kill For

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