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Masajiro Oju
Masahiko Shimazu, Koji Shidara, Tamiko Hayashi
Writing Credits:
Masajiro Oju, Kogo Noda

Two boys begin a silence strike to press their parents into buying them a television set.

Rated NR

Aspect Ratio: 1.37:1
English LPCM Mono

Runtime: 94 min.
Price: $39.95
Release Date: 5/16/2017

I Was Born, But… Feature Film
• Video Essay by Critic David Cairns
• Interview with Film Scholar David Bordwell
A Straightforward Boy Film Excerpt
• Booklet


Panasonic TC-P60VT60 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


Good Morning: Criterion Collection [Blu-Ray] (1959)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (May 8, 2017)

A film I never would have seen without my stint on this site, 1959’s Good Morning delivers a slice of life in suburban Japan. Essentially a plotless observation of this setting, the title alludes to the preponderance of mindless chit-chat spoken by the adult characters. The women care about little other than gossip, while the men simply like to get drunk.

The kids act as the main focus of the film, and they seem to care about little other than TV and farting. Man, do we find a lot of flatulence in this movie! It may not rival Blazing Saddles but an awful lot of gags feature forms of bodily gas.

The closest we come to a unifying story thread stems from the desire of brothers Minoru (Koji Shitara) and Isamu (Masahiko Shimazu) to have a TV. Their parents (Chishu Ryu and Kuniko Miyake) don't want to get one, as they think it'll make the kids morons.

The two brothers attempt to influence their parents through various kiddie tactics: tantrums, begging, and eventually a vow of silence. The latter backfires because a neighbor (Haruko Sugimura) interprets the boys' refusal to greet her as a sign that their mother is angry at her. This sparks more gossip and quiet animosity.

I suppose Good Morning attempts to say something about the superficial qualities of modern life - as of the late Fifties, at least - and it does make its points to a degree. However, the ideas that folks are concerned with appearances and "keeping up with the Joneses" weren't exactly fresh even in 1959, and the movie does little to expound upon these ideas in creative or compelling ways.

As such, Good Morning comes across as little more than a pretty ordinary sit-com of the era, albeit one with an unusual setting – for American eyes, that is - and with a lot more flatulence. By strange coincidence, not long before I watched the film, I happened to see an episode of The Andy Griffith Show that featured a similar theme.

Half-heard remarks and misinterpretations of events led some Mayberry residents to think Aunt Bee had something going with the milkman. Of course, this wasn't true, but the gossip spread its insidious web across Mayberry in the blink of an eye.

That's why I think of Good Morning as nothing more than a glorified sit-com. There's nothing in the tale that makes it more effective than that episode of Andy Griffith, and it has little else to offer – well, except for all that aforementioned farting, of course.

I find Good Morning to be cute and mildly entertaining, but it doesn't provide anything I can't get from an average episode of Leave It to Beaver. The movie gives us minor diversion and goes down painlessly, but it lacks real creativity or insight.

The Blu-ray Grades: Picture A/ Audio B-/ Bonus B

Good Morning appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.37:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. The movie offered terrific picture quality.

Sharpness worked very well, as the film suffered from virtually no instances of problematic softness. This became a well-defined, crisp presentation. No signs of jagged edges or shimmering occurred, and I also witnessed no signs of edge haloes or print flaws.

In terms of palette, Good Morning favored subdued greens and browns. The image brought these out well, as they looked warm and full. Blacks seemed deep and dark, while low-light shots demonstrated appealing clarity and smoothness. I felt delighted with the excellent quality of this presentation.

Though less impressive, the film’s LPCM monaural soundtrack seemed more than competent for its age. Speech appeared natural and concise. Since I don’t speak Japanese, I can’t accurately judge intelligibility, but the lines sounded fine to me.

The movie’s gentle score seemed peppy enough, and effects were adequate. Those elements lacked much of a role in this quiet film but they showed good clarity. Again, this wasn’t a great track, but it worked fine given the movie’s vintage and ambitions.

How does the Blu-ray compare to the Criterion DVD from 2000? Audio showed greater range and clarity, and visuals delivered tremendous improvements. The Blu-ray looked much sharper and cleaner, with superior colors and blacks as well. This was “night and day difference” time, as the terrific Blu-ray mopped the floor with the flawed and unappealing DVD.

While the prior DVD included virtually no extras, the 2017 Blu-ray brings us a nice collection of materials, and the prime attraction comes from I Was Born, But…, a 1932 silent film from director Yasujiro Ozu. It runs one hour, 30 minutes, 38 seconds as it provides a tale of a family that moves from the city to the suburbs and encounters a variety of adjustment issues.

Presumably Born appears on this disc because it shares the suburban theme with Good Morning, and it also focuses on two young brothers. Born gives us a more “active” tale, as it feels like more occurs than in the more leisurely Good Morning.

That said, Born also seems fairly plotless, so beyond its global look at life in the suburbs, not much of note occurs. Still, I think its characters come across as a little more involved and dynamic, so it seems a bit more interesting than Good Morning.

From 1929, a short film called A Straightforward Boy offers another glimpse of Ozu’s silent work. Alas, only 13 minutes, 54 seconds of the original 38-minute movie survive, and we see that short snatch of film here.

The flick shows a weirdo who kidnaps a young boy. It avoids the To Catch a Predator side of things and plays the them for laughs, mainly in the ways it shows that the boy outsmarts his captor. It’s not a great work and it sure doesn’t seem PC, but it comes with some minor laughs.

Next comes a 2017 Video Essay from film critic David Cairns. In this 17-minute, 32-second piece, Cairns discusses Ozu’s career, with an emphasis on lighter movies that presaged Good Morning and on the “potty humor”. Cairns provides a good overview of Ozu’s works.

Another 2017 program, an Interview with Film Scholar David Bordwell lasts 18 minutes, 40 seconds. He discusses aspects of Good Morning’s creation and themes. Though I think he tries too hard to justify some of Ozu’s choices – mainly the flatulence – Bordwell still gives us a nice array of insights about the film.

The set finishes with a booklet. This mixes credits, art and an essay from critic Jonathan Rosenbaum. It adds value to the package.

With 1959’s Good Morning, we get the Japanese version of an American sit-com. The movie presents a fairly bland tale of suburban life that features lots of flatulence and little incisive social commentary. The Blu-ray delivers excellent picture quality along with good audio and a few useful supplements. The movie comes across as a mild pleasure at most, but the Blu-ray brings it home in excellent fashion.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.5 Stars Number of Votes: 2
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