Tampopo ★★★★½

How can one film contain this many flavors in a single bite? Tampopo is formally complex but also incredibly balanced and effortless; one might say its a unique but tasty recipe.

Comedy and slapstick meet the Western and a touch of noir in a light hearted story about ramen, and everything that the staple dish entails to those that consume it.

Food in general is examined thoroughly. It’s a discipline, it’s a matter of ritual, principle, and respect. It’s also playful, sensual, messy, surprising, and even erotic. Every shade of cuisine is dissected for it’s cultural, social, psychological, and phenomenological aspects. We see the ettiquite of noodle slurping, the limits of testing produce in the grocery store, food as sumptuous erotica, even a baby suckling, which one might suppose is the meal of our earliest days. The mouth that sucks the nipple will one day slurp ramen with the same zeal. The movie executes with versatile style and structure, hopping from the main storyline to amusing, dramatic, and sexy tangents, each vignette in support of the film’s vision despite being seemingly unrelated to it’s core plot. 

On paper it could be misconstrued as too all over the place. In practice, it becomes exceptionally charming and effortless. Great filmmaking that doesn’t even let you see it break a sweat while it pulls formal gymnastics. 

Funny. Adventurous. Charming. Sexy. Innocent. Detailed. Romantic. Tasty. Easygoing. Slurpable yet chewy. Complicated yet simple. Spicy yet sweet. 

Tampopo.