Videohounds World Cinema

Great movies, maybe the best movies, are made in other countries, often in a language other than English. With the advent of DVDs, there is no need to wait until they show up in an art film house — if they ever do. This is the best guide to non-English movies in print. I prefer it because unlike other anthologies of “foreign” films, this one was written by a single author, and therefore has the benefit of comparative reviews and context. Tampopo Dandelion
When it premiered here in 1986, this second film from the late Juzo Itami (his debut, The Funeral, caused something of a modest scandal in Japan) seemed all the sweeter for being so thoroughly unexpected. Yet recent repeated viewings minus the element of surprise reveal Tampopo to be a marvel of comic structure so inventive, knowing, sweet, and tart that this trailblazer of the recent flood of food movies feels more like a classic than ever. The movie s heroine is Tampopo (Dandelion), a woman whose noodle shop is failing because she s a terrible cook. To the rescue comes Goro, a swaggering, macho truck driver with cattle horns on the cab of his truck, who makes Tampopo s cause his own. Swearing to make her noodles the best in the east, Goro and Tampopo embark on a fantastic gastronomical odyssey of epicurean research that keeps spinning the picture s plot off into darkly hilarious shaggy-food stories. Tampopo is a celebration of movies, food, and sex, and Itami s whirling vision of a ravenous, unrepentantly insatiable world is never interested in separating the three. Tampopo is played by the wonderful Nobuko Miyamoto (Mrs. Itami), who would later go on to become the closest thing to a Japanese superwoman as a corruption-buster in Itami s subsequent, controversial comic expos s A Taxing Woman, a Taxing Woman s Return, and Minbo.

p362master.web.jpgThe Master (Ryutaro Otomo) gives his opinion on the noodles in Juzo Itami s Tampopo.

Polish Films
Ashes and Diamonds
Contract
The Double Life of Veronique
The Dybbuk
A Generation
Illumination
Kanal
Knife in the Water
Man of Iron
Man of Marble
Moonlighting
The Saragossa Manuscript
Trois Couleurs: Blanc
Trois Couleurs: Rouge

-- KK  

Videohound’s World Cinema:The Adventurer’s Guide
to Movie Watching
Elliot Wilhelm
1999, 559 pages
$9
Visible Ink Press

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