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Tampopo (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray]
Criterion Collection, Special Edition
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Juzo Itami’s offbeat, outrageously sexy, long-unavailable “ramen western”
The tale of an eccentric band of culinary ronin who guide the widow of a noodle-shop owner on her quest for the perfect recipe, this rapturous “ramen western” by Japanese director Juzo Itami is an entertaining, genre-bending adventure underpinned by a deft satire of the way social conventions distort the most natural of human urges—our appetites.
Interspersing the efforts of Tampopo (Nobuko Miyamoto) and friends to make her café a success with the erotic exploits of a gastronome gangster and glimpses of food culture both high and low, the sweet, sexy, and surreal Tampopo is a lavishly inclusive paean to the sensual joys of nourishment, and one of the most mouthwatering examples of food on film ever made.
“A weird, mouthwatering masterpiece . . . Itami piles every ingredient imaginable into his bowl, but who cares? It’s delicious, and you’ll slurp up every bite.”
—Dan Kois, Slate
- New 4K digital restoration
- A 90-minute documentary on the making of the film
- New interview with actor Nobuko Miyamoto
- New interview with food stylist Seiko Ogawa ramen scholar Hiroshi Oosaki
- New interview with chefs Sam White, Rayneil De Guzman, Jerry Jaksich, and Ivan Orkin
- Itami’s 1962 debut short film
- And more
The tale of an eccentric band of culinary ronin who guide the widow of a noodle shop owner on her quest for the perfect recipe, this rapturous “ramen western” by Japanese director Juzo Itami is an entertaining, genre-bending adventure underpinned by a deft satire of the way social conventions distort the most natural of human urges, our appetites. Interspersing the efforts of Tampopo (Nobuko Miyamoto) and friends to make her café a success with the erotic exploits of a gastronome gangster and glimpses of food culture both high and low, the sweet, sexy, and surreal Tampopo is a lavishly inclusive paean to the sensual joys of nourishment, and one of the most mouthwatering examples of food on film ever made.
BLU-RAY SPECIAL EDITION FEATURES
- New 4K digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack
- The Making of “Tampopo,” a ninety-minute documentary from 1986, narrated by director Juzo Itami
- New interview with actor Nobuko Miyamoto
- New interviews with ramen scholar Hiroshi Osaki; food stylist Seiko Ogawa; and American chefs Sam White, Rayneil De Guzman, Jerry Jaksich, and Anthony Bourdain
- Rubber Band Pistol, Itami’s 1962 debut short film
- New video essay by Tony Zhou and Taylor Ramos on the film’s themes of self-improvement and mastery of a craft
- New English subtitle translation
- PLUS: An essay by food and culture writer Willy Blackmore
- Is Discontinued By Manufacturer : No
- MPAA rating : s_medNotRated Unrated (Not Rated)
- Product Dimensions : 7.25 x 5.75 x 0.5 inches; 4 Ounces
- Item model number : 43480058
- Director : Juzo Itami
- Media Format : Restored, Special Edition, Subtitled, Widescreen
- Run time : 1 hour and 54 minutes
- Release date : April 25, 2017
- Actors : Nobuko Miyamoto
- Subtitles: : English
- Studio : Criterion Collection
- ASIN : B01N6S6ICN
- Number of discs : 1
- Best Sellers Rank: #16,565 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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It plays better on larger and newer (hd) televisions, almost like watching it in a theater again, which is important since it is supposed to be like you are in the theater with the Japanese audience watching the movie that is within the movie. All of the experience seems better than watching it on a smaller, older television from a VCR.
Yes there is a movie about a dandelion (tampopo) and ramen, you might even say it is a ramen jedi story as the traveling truckers do save the widow and her ramen restaurant from the bad guys and teach the widow and her son to stand on their own two feet and how to cook ramen just right. There is also the analysis, even the over analysis, of all things noodle and how the Japanese pride themselves in being more civilized with the noodle. But it is also the story of our movie watchers, the fated lovers (spoiler alert) who are at their last movie together. Unluckily Itami committed suicide so there are only a limited number of his movies and this is probably the best for westerners to be introduced to them. Once you watch this movie you will probably want to check his others like "A Taxing Woman" or "The Funeral". He definitely had a sense of humor and was intelligent.
The other supplements will give you an idea of why real ramen is a national obsession. I've been to Japan many, many times (10) and trying out the different shops is always a priority of any trip. Thousands, and there is even a ramen museum that re-creates post war Tokyo backstreets with different shops from all over Japan. You will never view those crappy, cheap instant noodles as ramen ever again.
Thank you Criterion. Now if you could just transfer all of Itami-san's other films.....
The film is based upon a single mom, Tampopo (Nobuko Miyamoto) who runs a small ramen shop who is struggling because her noodles aren’t that good. Two truck drivers, Goro (Tsutomu Yamazaki) and Gun (Ken Watanabe) stumble across her business and decide to mentor her on how to make a perfect bowl of ramen. That requires her to go to other businesses to compare their products, and go to a series of masters that even includes an old homeless man to learn the trade. Many of these situations are hilarious such as when she goes to one ramen shop and goes over everything they do wrong.
You would never know that was the movie however because it starts with a gangster and his girlfriend at the movies complaining about audiences making too much noise. They return throughout the movie along with other small snippets that include side stories. Again, these are rather funny such as when a group of businessmen go to a French restaurant. They don’t know what to order so after the boss makes his decision, all the others order the exact same thing except for a really nerdy guy who knows French and makes a very detailed list of all the food he wants. The scene then switches to an etiquette teacher who tells her students not to slurp when eating pasta. However, then a western man in the restaurant starts slurping the whole class follows his lead and slurps away.
You also get the foodie moments. The second scene for example has Gun eating ramen with an expert who goes over how to truly appreciate a bowl of soup. In another Goro puts Tampopo through basic training on how to make ramen. She has to lift and move a bucket full of water back and forth in her kitchen. She has to fill a table full of bowls in a set amount of time, etc.
The movie is bizarre at times, highly comedic, and a fantastic food film all wrapped in one. I’ve seen it several times over the years and it never gets old.
Top reviews from other countries
This is a superb transfer. I've seen this film many times, but never in this quality. Probably this is the best way we'll ever see the film.
The film is complete: it has all the scenes - the crayfish, the cream. There seem to be a few seconds here and there of different film stock -- which is not a criticism, it looks as if they have made a most complete edition. The subtitles are as far as my moderate Japanese goes pretty good. I don't have a particularly great audio setup at home but it sounded clear all the way through.
There are a few extras on the blu-ray disk, which I didn't watch all the way through yet.
But in summary, buy buy buy.
The film's title (which means Dandelion) comes from the name of the protagonist, a middle-aged widow with a bullied kid, struggling to run the Ramen restaurant left by her husband. When cowboy trucker Goro (and his buddy Gun) enter her life after having saved the kid from a beating and fended off her coercive suitor, she finds in their honest criticism of her cooking a chance to improve her skill and make a better life for herself. Goro (and a host of other people, including a band of gourmet hobos) come together to aid Tampopo in honing her craft and and push her to achieve her own holy grail of Ramen.
Intersecting this main artery are several vignettes with other characters, all of which explore the almost spiritual importance of food in our lives: In a delicious jab at the culture of subservience and lack of individuality, a junior executive embarrasses his protocol-slave bosses by ordering a stand-out lavishly flavorful meal at a company lunch after all of them have opted for identical bland fare. Another episode shows a sick woman cooking a final family dinner before she drops dead. In some we see people going to desperate, even life-threatening extents to satisfy their food indulgences. Weirdness comes in the thread where a gangster and his moll indulge in kinky food-meets-sex games, including repeatedly passing a raw egg yolk between their lips till it breaks.
With this wonderful smorgasbord, Itami, himself a gourmet, expresses his philosophy of food with an almost reverent air. The technical aspects of the film, its visuals and sounds, are dedicated to the service of this meditation. This was one of the early films to have a dedicated food stylist. Assuming you're not a vegan/vegetarian that gets offended by the very sight of animal food (and in one scene a young turtle is killed on camera), I dare you to watch it on an empty stomach without drooling. Like warm soup on a rainy day the film is very cheering, and the plot thread of the gangster with its kinky sex and weird metaphors for virginity is about the only thing that keeps it from being recommended as family fare.
Coming off a fresh 4K restoration, the film looks and sounds mouth-watering on Criterion's blu-ray (I got the region B-locked UK release). Apart from the main feature, there's a vintage 90 min making of, hosted by director Itami himself. There are also new interviews with the lead actress (his wife), the food stylist and featurettes about the legacy of the film (including one that talks to a bunch of Ramen noodle restauranters). The cover unfolds as a full-size poster on the back of which is a single decent though not very essential essay.
I had only seen this on TV before, and to look this good it was almost like a new film.
Guess I can throw out the old VHS version ow!