Spasmodically effective rather than bitingly funny.
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Like all of the best comfort food, Tampopo tastes familiar but not derivative, something more than the sum of its ingredients. If Tampopo resonates with you in ways you might not expect or be able to name, it’s because Itami also engenders the same respect for everything that goes into the making of a movie.
Tampopo is perhaps the funniest movie about the connection between food and sex ever made. But, as you're watching it, the movie's base broadens, and the parallels between the noodle-maker's art and the filmmaker's become richer, sweeter.
Lacking space for a proper review, let me say first that Tampopo is right up there with “Ratatouille” and “Big Night” when it comes to peerless movies about food.
Like newfangled Western revisions of ramen itself – sprinkled with corn niblets and topped with melty hillocks of shredded Swiss cheese – Tampopo is an exercise in hybridity.
The often unorthodox inventiveness of Tampopo registers like the dividend of a filmmaker who has found his ideal subject.
It has the irresistible freshness of a recipe that many have tried to copy and none have matched: a barbed, sprawling, scintillating vision of a society happily in thrall to its taste buds.
Tampopo is one of those utterly original movies that seems to exist in no known category. Like the French comedies of Jacques Tati, it's a bemused meditation on human nature in which one humorous situation flows into another offhandedly, as if life were a series of smiles.
Everyone needs nourishment, and Itami found humor and poignancy in how it’s provided and received.
Mr. Itami often strains after comic effects that remain elusive. The most appealing thing about Tampopo is that he never stops trying. A funny sensibility is at work here.