Posts Tagged ‘ Tampopo ’

Great Classics: Tampopo (Itami, 1985)

Who doesn’t love food?

Itami Juzo’s Tampopo is a heartwarming film about people who love, and are often obsessed with, food.  The main narrative follows two truck drivers, Gun (Yamazaki Tsutomu) and Goro (Watanabe Ken) who stumble upon a run down, unpopular ramen noodle shop.  The shop’s owner, Tampopo (Miyamoto Nobuko), is running it all by herself and isn’t too experienced in the “art” of making good ramen.  After a brawl, Gun and Goro take it upon themselves to improve Tampopo’s cooking and redefine her shop.  The film not only focuses on this narrative, but is interspersed with brilliantly transitioned scenes of people’s interaction with food: a white-suited yakuza (Yakusho Koji) and his mistress perform erotic acts with food, a group of homeless turn out to be master chefs, a young corporate subordinate upstages all of his superiors with his knowledge of French cuisine at an expensive dinner, an old lady sneaks around in a supermarket just to feel the food, among others. Continue reading

Roger Ebert’s Japanese Film Reviews

Roger Ebert is possibly the world’s best-known film critic and has been at it for years, contributing reliable reviews and critical analysis that many English-speaking film-goers turn to when in doubt about what to spend their money on.  He has a massive collection of reviews on his website, over 6,400 according to movie review aggregation site Rotten Tomatoes.  Roger Ebert’s collection of reviews includes a large amount of foreign films, many of which are Japanese.  He lists Ozu Yasujiro as one of his favorite directors, so his films are well-represented, but he seems to also have a penchant for Koreeda Hirokazu, Miyazaki Hayao, Kurosawa Akira, and other Japanese greats such as Mizoguchi and Imamura.

This was a difficult list to put together.  The idea came to me as I was sitting at work, wondering if Ebert’s review database was sortable or searchable in some way.  I arrived at home to find that it is tough to pinpoint his reviews of Japanese films, though searching the website can net a few.  So, I poured over countless reviews to find the Japanese films represented in this list.  It’s probably not a perfect representation–I’m sure I missed some–but there is a wealth of great films along with Roger Ebert’s expert opinions and analysis here.  Although I don’t agree with him on everything, he is mostly spot-on.  Ebert has seen a great amount of Japanese masterpieces and you’ll notice that out of the 61 films on this list, 52 of them received a rating of three stars or higher (out of four) or are on his “Great Movies” list.  Truly a great list for anybody interested in foreign and masterful cinema.

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