When I concluded my post for Manhunter I thought I would be leaving the 1980s after three consecutive eighties films. Then came Tampopo, a film that I only picked because it had a fun sounding name, which continues my streak. It’s always a bit of a toss up to go for a film based just on an interesting name… but I had never expected to be watching food porn.
From it’s very meta beginning, which depicts a lavish dinner in the front row of a movie theatre, Tampopo does not let up on how much gorgeous food it displays on the screen. As a public service announcement, I would recommend that you need to be either eating dinner or have just finished eating dinner – otherwise you will be climbing the walls with hunger.
So aside from it’s graphic depiction of food (and sometimes I mean really graphic), what does this film have to offer? Well, it’s very much a comedy in the style of The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie with there being a main story thread – around the renovation of a ramen restaurant – which is broken up with a number of smaller comedic (some very darkly comedic) asides which all revolve around food in some way.
There are times where the asides are a bit too dark (the dying wife cooking her family one last meal comes to mind), but as a whole I really enjoyed what Juzo Itami was doing to mix things up with Tampopo. It’s hard to say that I have seen a comedic film like this before which can be so culturally specific to Japan in some places and yet, in others, be incredibly universal. It also shows just how much care and attention goes into ramen making, which may explain the near religious experience I had in Kyoto… man I want to go back to Japan so much.
I have to say that Tampopo was such an amazing surprise that I am eager to see some of the other comedies that Juzo Itami ended up producing – especially The Funeral and A Taxing Woman which both won a number of awards in Japan.