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Truck driver Goro and Gun are in search of some good eats and run into a widow who is trying to run a ramen shop. Unfortunately, she's not doing too well so Goro and some unlikely guides offer her some sage advice and help her on her way to becoming a true ramenista. The story is punctuated with some vignettes about the "social aspects" of eating and our behavior with food.
THIS EDITION NOTES: This is a "no-frills" deal with the bear minimum of subtitle options and the movie's original trailer. Although Amazon is listing the zone playability as "unknown" the jacket lists it as ALL ZONES. It played on our ancient Zenith DVD player which can only handle zone 1 DVDs and nothing else. Picture is good, but sound quality is poor. However, its definitely worth the price to see this wonderful movie once again!
But what makes this movie extraordinary are the vignettes, both within the plot-line and outside it, that mingle food, sex, cultural hangups, life and death in hilarious and sometimes very touching combinations.
The movie succeeds not only because of its marvellous material and fine actors but also through excellent direction and cinematography. For example, the scene toward the end where Tampopo & Goro are eating companionably in a restaurant: notice the camera movement from the food to the people; the positions of the actors conveying clearly the ambiguity of the relationship and their attitudes to each other; how at times Goro actually has his back to the camera; the cut to the symbolic passing train, nicely understated; the whole scene is an example of effective simplicity in movie-making.
This movie is ultimately unclassifiable; it is itself, funny, sad (sometimes both at once), shocking, absorbing; but above all funny. I have never seen another film quite like it, and it stays in the memory like the best of Fellini.
It is a journey to mastery of ramen making and in this, a journey toward mastery itself. Tampopo, a 'noob' noodle chef, enlists the help of expert advisers one-by-one as she assembles the skills necessary to make a compelling ramen noodle soup in the competitive environment of Japanese ramen-ya (ramen noodle shops). Along the way she steals, bribes and cheats with the support of her advisers but, as the goal is honuorable, in good Japanese (and indeed in other nations') style, the ends justify the means.
Apart from yielding the best ramen imaginable, the film is interspersed with a myriad of vignettes - all food related but otherwise unrelated apart from being elements of Japanese idiosyncrasy. These vary from an old lady who sneaks into delis to squeeze the food with a naughty abandon and then to be chased out by the bemused/confused staff to fabulous sequences with the young Iron Chef chairman as a food obsessed gangster exchanging the yolk of an egg in a kiss with his equally food obsessed lover (the roots of the Iron Chef series are clearly present in this film so if you love food ....).
This is a wonderful film. It holds people for years after viewing with each remembering a different element of beauty. It drew me back after 20 years and I had to find it and see it again. Having just done this (and I cooked ramen to go with the viewing!), it lives up the memory!
I actually fell onto the floor laughing when I saw this, and it makes me laugh even now. And this is the film (together, now, with Water Boys, Shall We Dance, anything else with Takenaka Naoto, and After Life) I show friends when I want to share Japan (where I lived for ten years) with them.
The wonderful aspect of this movie is the way Itami intercuts the main story, of a woman named Tampopo (Japanese for dandelion, by the way), trying to run a ramen shop and raise a boy on her own, and the two truck drivers who end up helping her recreate that business and teach her son to stand up to bullies, with many of the different ways that Japanese obsess about food. From shopping, to macrobiotic mothers, to ordering in restaurants, to learning how to eat Western food... And Itami's cast, a group of actors he works with time and again, rise to the challenge brilliantly.
If you decide you need to see only one Japanese film, make it this one. And if you're a fan of Japanese film, but have never seen this, then do so immediately!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Tampopo is a light-hearted feel-good comedy with a heavy focus on making a winning bowl of ramen and setting up a great shop. Read morePublished 10 months ago by rbrogan3
Japanese movies are not well known for their comedies. However, this is one of the funniest movies ever made. The theme of this movie is eating. Read morePublished 12 months ago by Scott Jackson
The humour in this movie is subtle and restrained. However the viewer reaction to it, or at least mine, was unrestrained. Read morePublished 13 months ago by Tom Gray
Truly great film. Slightly off-beat but the story is intelligent and fun.
Interesting insight into Japanese society as the economic bubble was forming. Read more
My favorite of foreign films (and I am not a subtitle reader). Watch it an you will want a bowl of ramen.Published on November 7, 2013 by Donald S Mayekawa