14 Pews presents Tampopo
“Don’t crumple those snack wraps!” In an eiga-kan (moviehouse), dapperly white-clad yakuza Kôji Yakusho forcefully points out to a hapless audience member and – speaking directly to the screen – us, that he doesn’t like his screenings interrupted. That said, Shane-like truck driver Tsutomu Yamazaki (the kidnapper in Kurosawa’s High and Low and the veteran mortician of Departures) and his sidekick, a very young Ken Watanabe (late of Broadway’s King and I revival), are trapped by a downpour in Nobuko Miyamoto’s (real-life wife of director Itami) ramen joint – but all Yamazaki winds up with is a knuckle sandwich when opinions differ on the quality of her fare.
Itami’s “Noodle Western” is an exploding piñata of gags on man’s two eternal favorites – food and sex – as Miyamoto’s Tampopo (literally, “Dandelion”) embarks on a relentless quest in search of the perfect noodle, with plenty of room for tangents on how to cook a delicious rice omelet before the night watchman comes in; how to enhance bedroom delights with a raw egg; and how dreams of yam sausage can assuage the after effects of a bullet fusillade.
This film has been restored in 4K from the original camera negative.