Each year at Newburgh Cinema, alongside the well-known Oscar-winning films that we sometimes show, we always try to find something a bit different and this year its “Tampopo”. A subtitled, Japanese film from 1985(don’t stop there!)
I lay my cards on the table and admit that this was my choice and my choice alone because it’s one of my all-time favourite movies and I’ve been asking myself why and here are some of my thoughts about that.
When people ask me what it’s about, the simple answer is that it’s about creating the perfect Ramen Noodle soup. And certainly that is the central plotline that runs through the whole movie telling as it does the story of a young widow, Tampopo, who is trying to make a go of her husband’s noodle shop and not doing a very good job of it. One dark and stormy night, two truckers stop at her shop to have noodles and are not very impressed with the food but seem rather taken with Tampopo and agree to mentor her in achieving her goal of the perfect noodle. And there the adventure begins.
Intertwined with this story are short vignettes giving insights into some of Japanese culture, their attitudes to food, class, death, ritual, sex and love.
If this sounds a bit heavy I can assure you that under the deft and light direction of Juzo Itami it is never that and is consistently funny, stylish and thought-provoking.
You will never see another movie like this one and that’s a good thing in this case. Where else can you see the Master of Noodles instructing us in the exact way to address a bowl of noodles followed by a most erotic scene of the imaginative use of food in lovemaking?
Itami called it a “ramen western” and throughout the film, there are many, many references to American movies like “Shane” “Gunfight at the O.K. Corral” and other westerns but only in a way to lighten the story.
But don’t just take my word for it. Rotten Tomatoes gives it 100% and film critics from all over have loved this film.
Criterion Cinema has just released a newly restored version on Blu-ray which isn’t something they do very often and it will be this version that we will be showing on the night.
So, take the bull by the horns and come and see this wonderful movie. The opening scene alone will have you captivated and the final scene will linger with you for some time.