At a nondescript intersection in Chiyoda City, Tokyo sits Bizentei, an unassuming ramen shop. Its owner, Masamoto Ueda serves an incredibly minimalistic menu in a restaurant that only seats six patrons. However, in that space, Masamoto has created a community of camaraderie and fellowship for over four decades.
Much like Bizentei, Come Back Anytime is not a fancy or flashy documentary. There are no major developments or eye-catching digital effects. Yet its simplistic style is executed to perfection, like Masamoto as he methodically and masterfully chops his fresh vegetables. Director John Daschbach uses intimacy like a master chef’s knife, cutting together a film that gently immerses the viewer into the communal environment Masamoto has fostered in his restaurant.
The scenes that follow Masamoto and his frequent customers venturing into the woods to forage wild mountain yams and bamboo roots shows that the craftsman and the relationships he’s developed exist beyond the confines of the ramen shop. Come Back Anytime is a quiet, emotional reminder about the singular connective power of food. It’s a documentary that you’ll want to continually return to just like one of Masamoto’s favorite patrons.
The Silver Lining
The piano smooth jazz score, constructed by composer Michael Shaieb, is light and naturally settles you into the laid-back tone of Come Back Anytime. Concurrently, the jazz also seems to be an American cultural relic hearkening back to a time when this style of music would be played in every mom and pop shop that wasn’t a diner. In a way, despite the film’s Japan setting, Shaieb’s score is a living eulogy to the death of the local community restaurant in the U.S.
Come Back Anytime is a part of DOC NYC’s (Nov 10-28th) 2021 lineup. Click here to learn more about how you can purchase a ticket for this title (both for in-person and digital screenings).