In the face of our new social reality, many of us are undoubtedly searching for new avenues in which to pursue our social lives and extra-curricular activities. These strange times have forced all of us to reconsider the venues we once frequented and the crowds we once immersed ourselves in—things we likely took for granted only months ago. Personally, I have found myself turning to movies as a way to not only pursue my culture-fix but also, and perhaps more importantly, to escape temporarily from the present reality, which is at once angst-ridden, depressing, though at times hopeful.
Fortunately, as students of UBCO, we have free and unlimited access to an impressive selection of movies through the streaming website Kanopy—if you were unaware of this, I’m sure you’re not alone! As such, this new column, “Quarantining with Kanopy”, will introduce readers to a monthly film recommended by members of The Phoenix and the student body. Our aim is to choose movies that are diverse, culturally relevant, and critically acclaimed, so you can impress a future tinder date or dinner party with your discerning cultural awareness.
Our first selection is director Juzo Itami’s brilliantly offbeat 1985 film Tampopo. Unlike many niche films that have a painstakingly slow start, the first few minutes of Tampopo set the tone for the brilliance that follows. Indeed, the movie begins by breaking the fourth wall—cinema-speak for whenever cinematic conventions are violated. In this instance, the character speaks directly to the audience from, even more ironically, a movie theatre, in which he comically introduces the audience (us) to the film that follows.
In similar fashion, the next scene introduces a striking young man who is comically instructed by a Sensei on the proper way to eat ramen—who knew the importance of caressing the noodles and apologizing to the pork! This kind of irreverent humour that pokes fun at social conventions and hierarchies is certainly part of what makes Tampopo so brilliant.
At a basic level, Tampopo is the story of one woman’s mission to create the best ramen noodle bar in Japan. Yet at a symbolic level, Tampopo shows us through its main plot, as well as interwoven comical, erotic, and sentimental vignettes, the myriad ways in which food both connects us to, and actively creates, our culture and relationships. Ultimately, the genius of Tampopo lies in its ability to use the obsessive pursuit of ramen in order to reflect universally compelling ruminations on life.
The Phoenix would love to hear your take on Tampopo, or any movie suggestions you may have from Kanopy. Connect with us on Facebook or Instagram, or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to have your movie suggestion featured in the next volume of Quarantining with Kanopy.