July 30th, 2014 § 0 comments

Last night HG reveled in an annual indulgent pleasure: Watching Tampopo, the 1985 Japanese movie directed by the late Juzo Itami. Tampopo is a self described “ramen western,” a deeply self-conscious and Japanese spoof of the “spaghetti western” genre. But, it is much more than a Blazing Saddles, much more than a big bowl of noodle soup. It is a sly, but hilarious, commentary on food, sex, cinema, Japanese corporate structure, culinary pretension…and more. Like a great dish, the film has many layers of flavor. The hero, Goro (Totumo Yamazaki), pays homage to Shane (he wears a cowboy hat and like that solitary, legendary figure, he rides off alone–in his truck rather than on a horse). The heroine, Tampopo (Nobuko Miyamato), is lovable, lovely, innocent and funny. Brilliant. There’s a film within the film starring a gangster in a white suit, his beautiful girl friend and plenty of food, sex, violence. This satire of western romance and gangster movies concludes with a startling last-moments-before-dying elegy (given by the gangster) concerning a wild boar and sweet potato sausage. HG’s favorite section of Tampopo (which HG shares with SJ), is where The Ramen Professor (Ryutoro Otomo) instructs a neophyte in the proper, classic way of eating ramen. Deadpan hilarity (which also make you very hungry for a steaming bowl of ramen). Since the basis of the film is food and nourishment it ends with a beautiful image of loving nourishment: A mother suckling her child.


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