NEW RESTORATION OF THE 1985 JAPANESE COMEDY MASTERPIECE!
Screening: Sunday November 6 @ 2:00pm Monday November 7 @ 7:30pm Tuesday November 8 @ 5:00pm Wednesday November 9 @ 7:30pm
at the Riviera Theatre
2044 Alameda Padre Serra
Juzo Itami’s rapturous “ramen western” returns to U.S. screens for the first time in decades, in a new 4K restoration. The tale of an enigmatic band of ramen ronin who guide the widow of a noodle shop owner on her quest for the perfect recipe, Tampopo serves up a savory broth of culinary adventure seasoned with offbeat comedy sketches and the erotic exploits of a gastronome gangster. Sweet, sexy, surreal, and mouthwatering, Tampopo remains one of the most delectable examples of food on film.
Written & Directed by Jûzô Itami
Starring Nobuko Miyamoto, Tsutomu Yamazaki, Koji Yakusho, Ken Watanabe, Rikiya Yasuoka
Country of Origin: Japan
Running Time: 115 min
“Tampopo is right up there with Ratatouille and Big Night when it comes to peerless movies about food.”
Joe Morgenstern – Wall Street Journal
“It’s a funny story beautifully told.”
Gene Siskel – Chicago Tribune
“Charming and touching, with lots of sumptuous meals to inspire you to get cooking.”
David Parkinson – Empire
“The movie, which Itami calls a ‘Noodle Western,’ is a rambunctious mixture of the bawdy and the sublime.”
Hal Hinson – Washington Post
The silent films screened in Japan from the 1920s to ’40s were never completely silent. Katsudo-shashin benshi, or benshi for short, delivered live narration that provided everything an audience might need to appreciate a film — from commentary to translation. Derived from Japan’s many narrative art forms, benshi were an effective way to introduce cinema to Japanese audiences.
Though the era of silent films is gone, the art of narration lives on through a handful of professionals. Ichiro Kataoka is one of the country’s few active benshi, and he will provide narration for Tomiyasu Ikeda’s 1926 classic “Chushingura” at the Tokyo International Film Festival’s Special Night Event at Kabukiza Theatre. The event will also feature narration by guest benshi Ichiro Furutachi and a special performance by kabuki actor Onoe Kikunosuke.
“I had known about benshi but I thought that it was a long lost profession,” Kataoka tells The Japan Times. “When I was 18, I happened to attend a benshi performance by Midori Sawato and it made me want to learn about being one.”
At age 38, Kataoka has built an impressive career out of the art. The professional benshi has narrated more than 300 films and has been invited to perform at events around the world.
“When I perform overseas, I’m asked to narrate classic Japanese films, but I do films from any country: Japanese, European, American, Chinese, anything,” Kataoka explains. Are non-Japanese films more challenging to narrate than domestic ones?
“There’s a specific pacing with classic Japanese films that makes it easier for benshi, since Japanese silent film directors were aware of the benshi and filmed their work with them in mind. With foreign cinema, mostly European, the director tries to convey as much as possible through the cinematography,” he says.
“At the end of the day whether it’s Japanese or not, the film I’m narrating is old. But I’m a modern person and my audience comprises modern people, so I need to constantly think about how to communicate the old film from one modern person to another — what themes to bring up and what scenes to emphasize — in order to present it as a terrific piece.”
While Kataoka has a compelling tone and presence to him, he says it’s crucial for benshi to understand they don’t have the leading role.
“A good benshi always remembers when to shut up and let the images do the talking,” he says. “Silence can be more powerful than words.”
Special Night Event at Kabukiza Theatre will be held on Oct. 27 and is sold out. However, The Japan Times has two pairs of tickets to give away to readers. To apply, send a postcard by Oct. 23 with your name, address, postal code, phone number and the word “TIFF” to the Life & Culture section of The Japan Times, 4-5-4 Shibaura, Minato-ku, Tokyo 108-0023. To apply online, visit jtimes.jp/film.
Because of the war, few countries participated in the 1940, 1941 and 1942 Festivals, not taken into consideration later on, with the dominating presence of the members of the Alliance. Following the war pause, the Festival was held again in 1946 with screenings at Cinema San Marco (the Palazzo del Cinema had been requisitioned by the Allies).
In 1946, in view of an agreement with Cannes, which had held its first festival that year in the spring, a simple transitory festival was organized in September. The 1947 Festival was held in the splendid setting of the courtyard of the Ducal Palace, with a record audience of 90,000. It was one of the best festivals and saw the return of the USSR and the new “popular democracies” including Czechoslovakia, which won first prize for Siréna by Karel Stekly. That year the international jury was reinstated to assign the International Grand Prix of Venice. Up until 1948 the director was Elio Zorzi, a Venetian.
Proceedings were transferred permanently back to the Palazzo del Cinema on the Lido in 1949, and the Golden Lion of St. Mark introduced for best film.
During the Fifties the Festival experienced a period of international expansion, with the affirmation of new types of film (Japanese, Indian), and the arrival of leading directors and film stars. The Festival director’s chair was occupied by Antonio Petrucci (from 1949 to 1953), Ottavio Croze (1954 and 1955), Floris Ammannati (from 1956 to 1959) and Emilio Lonero in 1960.
Over the years the Festival has had a noteworthy influence on the history of world cinema. Japanese cinema has become well known in the West mostly thanks to the Golden Lion awarded to Akira Kurosawa’s Rashômon in 1951, and successively through the Silver Lions won by Ugetsu Monogatari (1953) and Sanshô Dayû (1954) by Kenji Mizoguchi, not to mention the presence of films such as Biruma no Tategoto (1956) by Kon Ichikawa. It was the same case for Indian film, Golden Lion in 1957 to Satyajit Ray’s Aparajito. Eastern European cinema was brought to world attention partly through the Grand Prix awarded to the film Siréna (1947) by Karel Stekly (Czechoslovakia), and later thanks to the presence of emerging filmmakers such as Andrzey Waida (Popiól i diament, 1959).
After the first neo-realist films were shown at the Festival (Paisà by Roberto Rossellini and Il sole sorge ancora by Aldo Vergano in 1946, La terra trema by Luchino Visconti in 1948), a number of foremost Italian figures were recognised as leading talents in the ’50s and ’60s: Fellini, Antonioni, Rosi, Olmi, Bertolucci, Pasolini, Vancini, De Seta, and Zurlini. The fact that Luchino Visconti did not receive the Golden Lion for Senso in 1954 nor for Rocco e i suoi fratelli in 1960 led to heated debate. Visconti was to be awarded the top prize in 1964 for Vaghe stelle dell’Orsa.
French cinema marked decisive steps in the Festival history, with the presence of directors such as Jean Renoir (The Southerner, 1946), Henri-Georges Clouzot (Manon, 1949), Robert Bresson (Journal d’un curé de campagne, 1951), Marcel Carnè (Theresa Raquin, 1953), Louis Malle (Les amants, 1958), Alain Resnais (L’année dernière à Marienbad, 1961) and Jean-Luc Godard (Vivre sa vie, 1962; La chinoise, 1967).
Great figures in world cinema received awards with significant works: Carl Theodor Dreyer (Ordet, 1955), emergent Andrej Tarkovskj (Ivan’s Childhood, Golden Lion in 1962), Luis Buñuel (Belle de jour, 1967), Ingmar Bergman (The Face/The Magician, 1959), who had first come to the Lido in 1948 as an unknown figure with Musik i mörker.