Thursday, July 27, 2006

Yasijuro Ozu's Good Morning

In the past 6 months I have really developed a bit of a taste for Yasijuro Ozu films that I just did not appreciate a few years back. I don't know if I saw them at the wrong time or what. Maybe I was so submerged ramshackle all over the place direction like Darren Arronofsky that I just didn't appreciate Ozu. Instead of a constant zoom in or out or ridiculous cuts all over the place Ozu films seem like a series of still lifes at times or postcards. The stories seem to be simple too yet at some point it clicked and I still have not even been able to write about Late Spring I feel whatever I write will not do justice to how much I appreciate that film and how it affected me. When Good Morning arrived via Netflix I didn't know what to expect. Would I enjoy Ozu's "comedy" as much? The answer was no, but it doesn't mean Good Morning was a poor film by any means.

The film tells the tale of two children who after nagging their parents over and over for a tv are told to be quiet. They then choose to take the advice litterally and are quiet for weeks. The story shows how this affects the family and community. It opens up like other Ozu films with a few still shots of scenery surrounding where the films action will take place. The first is of a TV reception tower. I already knew this would be a different film. Next thing I know I am looking at children pushing eachother's heads and farting. Yes, farting. Their are fart jokes a plenty in this film. That, I did not bargain for and I was taken back by. It's difficult not to take expectations into a film, especially after a director wowed you so much before. And it took me a while to wrap my head around flatuence jokes in an Ozu film.

Other than that there is no change in how Ozu tells the story. His camera stays seemingly low to the groud during all dialogue. There is very little camera movement, the action seems always be be centered in the frame. And, overall the film still works, even if I found it slightly disappointing.

Still too, some of the familiar themes of Ozu stay her in the difference between generations or generational conflict. The kids refusing to talk leads to gossip amongst the neighbors about the parents of the children, who suggest that the mother may be holding a grudge. You see the father concerned that television may produce 1 million idiots. You watch adults strugle to connect beyond meaningless conversation after the children tell them they talk too much. Perhaps the television will show the children to talk of something more, or as one Rick Prelinger put it, "They don’t want to grow up into a world of meaningless rituals, a world where two twentysomethings in love can’t get beyond mannered talk about the weather. It's doubtful that the children were thinking that deeply, but in this film Ozu shows generational differences in a more lighthearted way than in many of his others. And for that it is reccomended, if not essential, viewing.

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