Tuesday, 3 August 2010

homage to Tampopo, a film by Juzo Itami

Having found myself trapped in the cave in a haze of herbal teas and antibiotics, with a bad chesty cold and a cough, I thought it would be nice to switch off the Drugstore machinery for awhile, lie low, eat soup and watch a good movie.
Tampopo, by the late Japanese director Juzo Itami, has been part of my life for sometime, and managed to survive many house-moves and quite a few Japanese inspired dvd-dinner parties.
It has become one of my weird acts of induction, a rite of passage, that any new housemate or lover has to go through, in order to access some of the most intimate corners of the cave.
The story-line is dead simple: little woman, with the help of handsome hero and friends, on lifetime quest for the perfect noodle-soup.
Or in Tampopo's own words:

But you must not be fooled by its spaghetti-western comedy vibe, or wrongly assume that this is a 'foodie-movie'. It isn't. Food is only the vehicle, the paint used by Itami to interweave within the main plot, some beautifully crafted vignettes about life, love, passion, the absurdity of our ways, our hopes and disappointments, the inextricable cycle of life and death.
It is a small arthouse movie, but just like its characters and its ideas, it has a very big heart.

a very sad ps- The director Juzo Itami was married to the main actress, the beautiful Nobuko Miyamoto, but following some scandal over an alleged affair, Itami jumped off his office building, leaving a note to Nobuko, stating that he could not bear to live, knowing that he had disappointed her - (although, this was later disputed/denied by his family, and his suicide remains shrouded in mystery).
A real tragedy.
I don't want to give it all away, but here's a selection of some of my best loved scenes, that will hopefully inspire you to get your own copy of Tampopo.
The movie has been out of print for sometime, but there's a guy on Ebay who will burn you a decent copy: Tampopo on Ebay
1 - The Restaurant
A masterly take on individuality against convention.

2 - The Orgasm
It's hard to imagine a more intense representation of what it really feels like to orgasm in the arms of passion.

3 - The Temptation
Indulgence and temptation. We just can't help ourselves, nevermind the dental pay-back, for life without a little sin and indulgence, would not taste quite as good or be as fulfilling.

4 - The Last Supper
Love, more often than not, is not expressed in grand gestures of over-blown proportions, but, discreetly, in the smallest daily acts of duty and kindness.

5 - The Final Movie
Mahler provides the heartbreaking soundtrack to this unbearably moving scene.


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