Top positive review
3 people found this helpful
Quirky, good movie from Japan
on September 6, 2014
This is one of those quirky movies that it seems only the Japanese can make. The film publicity calls it the first ramen western, riffing on the term spaghetti western, and is true to that for if you watch there are many western tropes, from the hat the 'hero' wears to the atmosphere, and, most amusingly, the last scene.
The main story is how a truck driving drifter and his buddy (Ken Watanabe in an early role), for reasons never really explained, become involved with the widowed proprietress of a noodle shop, a really bad noodle shop. This principal story is essentially a Cinderella story and is sweet to watch.
There are several vignettes along the way that have nothing to do with the principal story, all one-shot episodes 3-5 minutes but all focused somehow on food. There is one repeating vignette starring Koji Yakusho, who is described as an elegant gangster in a white suit and hat. He is most often with his girlfriend, the episodes are almost pornographic (so young children may need thier eyes covered, <snicker>) yet they also are moving in their way.
The actors are fun to watch, not only for the generally good acting but also because of who they are; Ken Watanabe, Koji Yakusho, Nobuko Miyamoto, Tsutomu Yamazaki, Toshiya Fujita - think Meryl Streep, Jack Nicholson, a young Brad Pitt, Martin Scorsese, Robert DeNiro all doing a low budget film basically for the hell of it.
The movie is a paen to food and to eating. It's funny, heart warming and occasionally tear-inducing. Just remember when watching that these people are not American and that as such they don't have American sensibilities and reactions. But this is well worth watching.