Friday, April 29, 2016


Tamopopo; comedy, Japan, 1985; D: Juzo Itami, S: Nobuko Miyamoto, Tsutomu Yamazuki, Ken Watanabe

A man in a white suit and his girlfriend enter a cinema and warn a man crunching chips not to make noise during the screening of the film. During one rainy night, Goro, a truck driver, and his friend Gun get hungry and stop randomly at a ramen noodle bar. However, the widow running the place, Tampopo yields weak results since her cooking is mediocre. Goro decides to train Tampopo by stealing receipts from rival restaurants and through guidance by a retired "Old master". With the new skills, Tampopo creates a great noddle soup and her bar flourishes. Goro's job is done and he leaves with his truck in the unknown.

One of the cult films from Japan's cinema of the 80s, Juzo Itami's "Tampopo" is primarily a film ode to food and love for gastronomy, since various characters are simply seen eating all the delicacies on the screen throughout the film  (ramen soup; spaghetti; rice...) which all channel the film's energy and theme that eating is one of the pleasures of life, or that it defines and gives meaning to the protagonists' lives, going to such an extent that it is not even that unusual that when one nameless gangster in white suit is shot, his last words are about a boar sausage recipe to his girlfriend. Some of these are even "strengthened" with an erotic "spice" (a girl dipping her right breast in a cake and then letting her boyfriend suck it). As such, "Tampopo" included itself in the vein of such films about food as "Eat Drink Man Woman" and "Ratatouille", as well as "Babette's Feast". All this is fun, albeit light, and a major problem is that Itami overstretched his main storyline about widowed cook Tampopo by intervening it with unconnected, random episodes which seem like a "fifth wheel" and amount to almost a 1/3 of the film's running time, which somewhat undermines the impression. It is somewhat indicative that, for a movie about food, "Tampopo" lost its 'taste' by including some of these episodes, which are often tasteless (the man in white suit and his girlfriend tossing a raw egg yolk back and forth between their mouths; the man eating a raw oyster).


No comments: