Tampopo Screen 11 articles



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  • Itami's episodic satire bulges with invention, ranging from a continuing concern with Japanese concepts of correct behaviour to numerous quirky movie parodies (from Western, gangster and sex films to Seven Samurai and Death in Venice). It is often very amusing, although the ragged, free-wheeling structure tends to blunt Itami's somewhat obvious thesis, that eating is more closely connected to sex than we would normally admit. Spasmodically effective rather than bitingly funny.

  • The wealth of Itami's humor and invention is such that we never have a chance to feel deprived. His stylistic palette and sense of fun are so wide-ranging that he can oscillate between brightness and darkness to articulate one gag (milking the climactic suspense when Tampopo's mentors finally sample her perfect noodles, before giving their verdict), and plaster his actors with beet red makeup to punch home another.

  • Against a contemporary culinary culture that seems to simultaneously privilege voguish trends and the swift backlash to those same trends, Tampopo is a welcome reminder that even the most sacrosanct of cultural traditions shouldn’t be taken so insufferably seriously. Chef David Chang should take notes.

  • It's a veritable beacon around which foodies and Japanophiles (or shinnichi) could gather and gush about Japanese food and this eminently weird movie that takes this country’s food deathly serious while also being completely, hilariously deranged.

  • Savor the delectable comedy Tampopo on a full stomach. Jûzô Itami’s 1985 paean to the fastidious preparation and blissful consumption of food created an American hunger for Japanese cuisine, and can still be enjoyed solely as a satisfying feast. But the writer and director’s second film is also a biting satire of Japanese culture and its uneasy incorporation of Western influences.

  • A gleefully sensual and inventive comedy, Tampopo was an art-house smash in 1986. Director Juzo Itami drew on American noirs and gangster films and Westerns and probably comic books, too, to come up with a quintessentially Japanese lark that blissed out audiences around the world. More than wacky and funny, it’s flavorful.

  • Food consumption is an act bound by social strictures, but it is also sensual, messy, and bodily. Its very essence disrupts the politesse meant to contain it, which the film relishes in nearly every sequence. The sumptuous food photography is accompanied by a soundtrack of slurpy soups, spitting and sizzling fried rice, squishy peaches, dribbling full-bodied reds, and bubbling broths. Consuming Tampopo as a drool-worthy dish requires you to consider the sum of its perfectly seasoned parts.

  • It's perhaps one of those films that is so visceral and celebratory, so uniquely mimetic that the temporal reality in which I experienced the film has been usurped by the film itself. I do not remember the textures of the seat that I may have sat on or whether I had eaten breakfast that day, but I do remember the smell of ramen, the chewy texture of it, the heat of the broth making my nose water, and the pure joy of giving oneself over to the simple pleasure of food.

  • Even as the movie playfully lampoons the obsessiveness with which Tampopo pores over these details — her boot camp consists of transferring a stock pot of water repeatedly from one stovetop to the next — its satire originates from a place of the utmost sincerity. “Tampopo” doesn’t just take food seriously; it grasps the foundational roles that food plays in every culture.

  • With its stylized irises and playfully exaggerated performances, Tampopostrikes the perfect balance between slapstick homage and tender throwback. Itami sees possibility in every corner of the frame, affectionately foraging for new faces and food to illuminate. There’s a spiritual quality to its Zen view of artistry, and something biblical about its epic downpours.

  • No doubt I'm forgetting something, but it's hard to think of another film with a structure like this: clear narrative throughline plus multiple tangents related solely by theme. Seeing it during its original U.S. theatrical run, at age 19, expanded my sense of what a movie can be; three decades later, the playfulness still delights, even if not all of the blackout sketches fully satisfy.

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