A film travelling back in time to the era of the 80s, Tampopo (1985) tells a story of the livelihood of the Japanese of that decade.
Image from http://en.wikipedia.org/
The sophomore directorial effort from ill-fated Japanese filmmaker Juzo Itami, Tampopo is an off-beat comedy featuring several intersecting stories all related to food.
Tsutomu Yamazaki plays Goro, a truck driver who helps a young widow named Tampopo (Nobuko Miyamoto) improve her noodle restaurant. Over the course of the film, the story drifts around, not only following the stories of Tampopo, her son, and Goro, but also a number of customers who come through the diner, including an old woman (Izumi Hara) who insists on squeezing the cheese at a market and a criminal (Ken Watanabe) with a food-based kink.
Tampopo was nominated for Best Foreign Film at the 1988 Independent Spirit Awards. Source: http://www.rottentomatoes.com/
Popularly catalogued as top ranking ‘must watch’ food movie by many, its essence brings out the pleasure of food closer to home, from the minuscule mundane lives of individuals to the broader aspect of the society as a whole – covering areas from the mastery of the art of culinary, entrepreneurship, consumer behaviours, food culture, social classes, relationship between men, women, family units to corporate businesses.
It’s truly an original film that combines the elements of the culture of East and the West with style and comfort yet it encapsulates the essence of the local Japanese flavours. Having different parts of the film with different feel, the plot moves gently from reflective tranquillity, warmth and lively moments to comedic flairs.
In a nutshell, it’s a film that depicts how we can relate food in our lives while resonating the influence of the food culture of a country to another at all levels of a society.
It’s a film worth your watch, though the story may seem incoherent at the outset but it will surely leave a tantalizing lingering effect which moves you to ponder deeply on the message of the director. It’ll be a ‘eureka’ moment when you see it, knowing that you may have learn certain aspects of the culture of others.