A hilarious comedy from Japan concerned exclusively with food, TAMPOPO begins in a movie theater as we (the viewing audience) sit watching the audience in the film. In walks a suave yakuza attended by his girlfriend and an entourage of goons. Gangster and moll sit down in the front row,
while the henchmen set up a table filled with delectable food. As the gangster eats, he suddenly notices us watching him, leans forward into the camera, and asks, "What are you eating?" He then informs us that he hates noise in movie theaters--especially people who crinkle wrappers and eat loudly.
Of course, a man behind him is eating too noisily, and the gangster angrily threatens to kill the confused moviegoer if he continues. He then sits down to enjoy the show, urging us to do the same. Now TAMPOPO proper begins, a string of rollicking comic vignettes concerning food that--more or
less--tell the story of a heroic truck driver and his sidekick's attempts to help a young widow improve her noodle-shop business.
The second feature by director Juzo Itami (preceded by THE FUNERAL, 1984), TAMPOPO is a wonderfully funny and creative film with a cornucopia of comical characters in absurd situations. These loony elements combine to offer some perceptive observations about human joy, fear, and passion for food.
TAMPOPO also satirizes filmmaking (with references to THE SEVEN SAMURAI, American westerns, Steven Spielberg, and Japanese yakuza films), though Itami's film is itself heavily indebted to Luis Bunuel. With his first two films (his "Taxing Woman" entries, unfortunately, have less bite), Itami moved
to the forefront of the irreverent young Japanese directors who have recently put a comedic spotlight on Japanese society, finding some very funny and disturbing truths about life there.
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- Released: 1986
- Rating: NR
- Review: A hilarious comedy from Japan concerned exclusively with food, TAMPOPO begins in a movie theater as we (the viewing audience) sit watching the audience in the film. In walks a suave yakuza attended by his girlfriend and an entourage of goons. Gangster and… (more)