We’ve already mentioned this before, but MIFF2018 is here! We’re going to catch Tampopo this weekend at the Astor Theatre, a classic “Ramen Western”. A Guardian review:
In the years since first stumbling across Tampopo, I’ve rewatched many other films many more times, but Juzo Itami’s “ramen western” has always stayed in my mind. It was the first film I’d ever seen that seemed to want to do something more than stick to one linear story, that played with the language of film as it tried to do it all: to be a comedy and a drama, to show death, sex and food all together – sometimes in the same scene.
On the surface, it’s a simple story – a cook tries to find the perfect recipe for making noodles – but along the way it takes in everything from a Seven Samurai-style “get the gang together” plot, to slow-boiled romance, bar-brawling cowboys and etiquette-obsessed housewives. Tampopo was only Itami’s second film, but it’s a self-assured gem constructed like the bowl of classic ramen the characters strive to cook: a collection of individual parts perfectly arranged. It delights in getting sidetracked, meandering through backstreets, wandering off to tell other stories. Tampopo is Japanese for “dandelion”, and it’s not too much of a stretch to see Itami’s camera at times floating from scene to scene like a dandelion seed.
Nobuko Miyamoto – the late Itami’s wife – plays the eponymous noodle cook whose modest attempts at keeping her ramen cafe going after her husband’s death are met with disdain when long-distance trucker Goro (Tsutomo Yamazaki), pure John Wayne swagger in his cowboy hat, sits down one night and tries a bowl. Ken Watanabe – who seems to have cornered the Hollywood market recently for don’t-mess Japanese types in Inception, The Last Samurai and Batman Begins – plays Goro’s fresh-faced sidekick Gun. The two agree to teach Tampopo how to cook the perfect bowl of noodles, and the film’s wild ride begins.
What are you guys going to watch?