Every now and then, I personally enjoy a good, calming session with certain kinds of YouTube videos, from painting tutorials to chiropractic videos, or even for minutes at a time listening to chillhop during the day or at night. It helps to stave off overload on the nerves from the daily goings-on, from overbearing loquacious of people and television news to constant noise pollution in a commercial street.
I also enjoy cooking videos on occasion. The envy of not having those dishes on hand in real time aside, the relaxation of just a simple shot of a grill and seeing different kinds of foods being cooked can be an entertaining experience. It’s also what drew me to check out Yu Araki’s latest documentary short, Fuel, which takes place at a fireside cooking restaurant in northeastern Hokkaido in Japan, and focuses on the equanimous work of an elderly expert griller.
For nearly sixteen minutes, Araki’s cinematography explores the warmly-lit, cozy atmosphere of Robata on the island of Hokkaido, from the grill, to the artwork and fixtures, and a patron sitting by himself as he awaits his meal. Our griller prepares twelve different kinds of orders while managing the searing flames in the grill, and the most luxuriate characteristic of the film isn’t just watching the food cook.
From nearly start to finish, all you hear is the continuous, deep, soothing rumble coming from the grill, with very little interference from the griller and her tongs. I sat and watched this at least twice – the second time with earphones, and it’s positively beautiful cinematic experience that also lends a window into the exact type of patience and contemplation that comes with the diligence and focus of the work.
Somebody stuff me in a box and ship me to Hokkaido already. I’m starving!