“Tampopo” Review ✦✦✦✦✦

12 November, 2017

Year of Release: 1985
Jûzô Itami
Jûzô Itami
Director of Photography: 
Masaki Tamura
Ken Watanabe, Tsutomu Yamazaki, Nobuko Miyamoto

Synopsis: A widowed restaurant owner who strives to become a successful noodle chef enlists the help of a milk-truck driver whose casual knowledge of the industry helps in transforming her failing business into the best roadside ramen shop in town.

Tampopo Review:

Japan’s “Cinema Paradiso” with a mix and match style that somehow works in all of its silliness, “Tampopo” is an exercise in appreciation from experimental visionary Jûzô Itami, whose love of cinema extends beyond mere admiration. A full-course dinner complete with appetisers, dessert, and a succulent entrée, “Tampopo” surrounds its central story-line in absurdist sketches, exploring the social impact of food through satire and comedy, becoming both Chaplinesque and insightfully hilarious as deathbed cookery, etiquette lessons, and beet-red encounters are chosen as the supplementary ingredients in an already perfect dish.

Wacky but delicate in its ability to capture the ethos of great food and great cinema, “Tampopo” proposes the noodle alternative to the Spaghetti Western, turning a roadside restaurant into a saloon where a passing drifter aids a struggling cook. Unspecific in its reference to classical Hollywood yet instantly recognisable as a love letter to the likes of Hitchcock, Wilder, and Ford, the movie affectionately reimagines western concepts through an Asian lens, miraculously retaining the essence of ‘Japaneseness’ through Itami’s prizing of food, family, and Eastern tradition.

Delectable four-star cuisine wrapped up in the magic of majestic cinema, “Tampopo” serves a nostalgic meal, practically hugging viewers who wolf down the noodles and lap up every last drop of its whimsical soup. Lovable, quirky, and unafraid to flick Kamaboko in everyone’s faces, Jûzô Itami’s finest work is a unique and unmissable experience, a true exercise in breaking the fourth wall and getting away with it, featuring a cast of characters whose bizarre traits and playful scuffles are rendered iconic in a film about exploring every inch of your palette.


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