06 May, 2010
The Ramen Girl
Apparently I need more light-hearted comedies in my Instant Watch queue. I think this is due to several aspects of my Type A personality:
1. I like to watch one TV show at a time, straight through.
2. Currently, that TV show is Bones.
3. I thoroughly enjoy it so far, but canNOT watch it while I eat.
4. To avoid looking for a new TV show to start watching, I look for something light in my queue.
5. There is hardly anything light in said queue. It's all Bleak House and Born into Brothels, kiddos.
So I ended up watching The Ramen Girl, starring the sadly deceased Brittany Murphy. And it was a charming movie, totally predictable, and I enjoyed it. I have to admit that I probably wouldn't have watched it had this not been one of her last movies; I'm not a big fan of hers (Clueless aside, of course), but I am amused by the husky voice that comes out of such a wee slip of a girl.
From what I could tell, most of this movie was actually shot in Japan and used Japanese actors, which I find a refreshing change. The story was okay - girl moves to new country to be with boy, boy leaves girl high and dry, girl tries to pick up and move on, girl learns Something About Herself along the way. But what I found really charming was the background. It's impossible for Hollywood to capture the essence of a culture in a studio the way that they can by simply shooting in that culture. The Japanese are a fascinating group of people, and this movie included a lot of the little quirks that make them so interesting, like walls of vending machines (infamous "used panty" vending machines were left out of the script entirely, for which I was grateful) and the excessive drinking that goes on. It also touched on the familial expectations embedded in Japanese culture that aren't familiar to a Western audience.
And above all, it made me want soup. I'm not a huge fan of true ramen, actually - I don't care much for pork, and ramen is usually pork-based and oily - but I do looove soup, and especially Korean pho, which is very similar but usually with a beef or chicken broth and rice noodles instead of egg. Pho used to be a staple food in my diet because it's cheap, filling, minimal on the veggies, and works wonders on a hangover; since moving here from the Silicon Valley, it's been distinctly missing from my diet.
Movies that make me crave food are few and far between. Even Julie & Julia didn't make me want to eat the way this one did, maybe because I'm not familiar with French cuisine?
Anyway, I liked the movie okay. Did it make me want to move to Japan? No. But was I able to pick out some Japanese characters and understand a few words? Yes, thanks to a year of Japanese class that's still embedded somewhere in my memory.