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 Post subject: 84 Good Morning
PostPosted: Sat Feb 12, 2005 8:45 pm 

Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 8:53 pm
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Good Morning

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A lighthearted take on director Yasujiro Ozu's perennial theme of the challenges of intergenerational relationships, Good Morning (Ohayo) tells the story of two young boys who stop speaking as an act of resistance after their parents refuse to buy a television set. Ozu weaves a wealth of subtle gags through a family portrait as rich as those of his dramatic films, mocking the foibles of the adult world through the eyes of his childish protagonists. Shot in stunning Technicolor and set in a suburb of Tokyo where housewives gossip about the neighbors' new washing machine and unemployed men look for work as door-to-door salesmen, this charming comedy reworks Ozu's own silent classic I Was Born, But... to gently satirize consumerism in postwar Japan.

SPECIAL FEATURES

• New 4K digital restoration from Shochiku Co., with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray
I Was Born, But..., Yasujiro Ozu's 1932 silent comedy masterpiece, with a score composed by Donald Sosin in 2008
• Surviving excerpt from A Straightforward Boy, a 1929 silent film by Ozu
• New video essay on Ozu's use of humor by critic David Cairns
• New interview with film scholar David Bordwell
• New English subtitle translation
• PLUS: An essay by critic Jonathan Rosenbaum


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 14, 2005 11:47 am 
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I found peerpee's review from the previous forum.

peerpee wrote:
Here's a review I wrote for GOOD MORNING:

I've read a few recent Western reviews of this DVD that fail to comprehend the film's gentle charm or its historical/aesthetic significance. Understanding this film from an historical and aesthetic perspective is not essential, but it helps the first time viewer appreciate the special qualities that an Ozu film has to offer - and for me, those qualities are some of the most rewarding in all of cinema. This DVDs enclosed booklet thankfully features an excellent essay by Rick Prelinger which goes some way to explaining Ozu's appeal. It's a shame that this is not on the outside of the box so prospective buyers could read it!

The master filmmaker Yasujiro Ozu (1903-1963) is most famous for TOKYO STORY (1953), a film regularly cited in director and critics' favourite film lists alongside LA REGLE DU JEU, THE SEVEN SAMURAI, and 8 1/2. Ozu made GOOD MORNING in 1959 towards the end of a distinguished career that started in the silent era and was tragically cut short on his 60th birthday in 1963 from throat cancer. Ozu's minimalist personal vision of cinema developed over his career into a pared down approach that involved no moving cameras, and close-to-the-floor camera positions, about which Ozu said "I have formulated my own directing style in my head, proceeding without any unnecessary imitation of others."

The Film

GOOD MORNING (also widely known in Europe as "Ohayo") takes place in a close knit working class Japanese community during the late 1950s. Neighbours visit each other to gossip and "Chinese whispered" gossip becomes false information. This is how the film moves forward and becomes a fascinating study of a small community. Amidst this setting is the focus of the story: a family with two young brothers. The brothers decide to wage a war of silence against all those around them in retaliation for their parents' refusal to buy a TV set. They see their parents' lives revolving around small talk, such as "hello, how do you do? isn't the weather nice?" and their only form of retaliation is to extract themselves from it by being silent. Rick Prelinger's excellent accompanying essay points out that "Ozu criticises adults' propensity for meaningless, space-filling conversations... ...it's the emptiness of adult chatter that turns the young TV wannabes into social critics. They don't want to grow up into a world of meaningless rituals." In turn, I feel, Ozu is not suggesting that the TV is the answer, he is suggesting that we should talk more honestly about how we really feel.

GOOD MORNING was Ozu's third colour film. He was keen to experiment with colour yet he eschewed any frame wider than standard Academy ratio, saying that the wide frame looked "like a piece of toilet paper". So all Ozu films are in 4:3. Ozu particularly liked to make the colours very bold and he loved the reds he got from the Agfa film he regularly used. He often graphically matches colours and objects between cuts, leading us through space this way, so for example a red shirt hanging on a washing line will be in the same part of the frame as a red teapot cosy in the next shot. This subtle attention to detail, the unflinching camera (no movement, no pans), and the fine performances combine to create a gloriously lyrical representation of suburban life in late 1950s Japan as it became rife with Western influences such as jazz (the young couple sing scat and play pretend double bass as they walk through the streets); US films (the same couple have a poster for "The Defiant Ones" on their wall); and TV (the root of the problem).

The DVD

The print is the best I've ever seen of this film. That's not to say it's excellent, but it's better than the version UK Channel 4 showed in the 1980s, and much better than the USA NTSC VHS release. It's a new digital transfer from a low contrast composite print, but there's a regular light fluctuation in the colour balance throughout the film. It's not something that would bother too many people but I wondered how it came to be like that (bad storage on a wound reel?). 99% of the time the print is lovely, detailed (if rather soft focus), very colourful (almost too colourful, just as Ozu liked it), but in the 16th and 33rd minutes there are a few problems that could have been put right. Criterion's THE SEVENTH SEAL DVD established just what could be done in the field of digital restoration without compromising the film's integrity. So the 12 frame tear in the print during the 16th minute of GOOD MORNING was a shock to see in an otherwise beautiful print. It's over in a second, and is actually quite fascinating to watch (well, for me anyhow), but I thought Criterion would have addressed this and the missing frames in the 33rd minute. Nevertheless, it's the best released print of this film ever.

The sound is about as good as it's possible to get a 40 year old mono soundtrack. Nothing to worry about here.

Overall

If you've got this far into the review and it sounds interesting to you, it probably will be. Ozu's films are not mass appeal, they're often considered boring when I find them meditative; or they're called shallow when that's about the last thing I find them to be. There's no hiding that I love this film.

Being in Criterion's lowest price band (but still relatively dear at $30 RRP) reflects the fact that there are no extras at all on this disc. Optional subtitles are thankfully present, but these should be standard now. All I can hope is this DVD sells well enough to inspire Criterion to produce a 2-disc set of Ozu's TOKYO STORY with Wim Wenders' TOKYO-GA Ozu documentary.


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 14, 2005 12:05 pm 
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To re-open old wounds.

It is nice that Criterion released a DVD of this film -- but they did a lousy job. The color balance of this DVD is radically "off" -- far worse than the previous laserdisc and video releases -- and nothing like the later Japanese DVD release. The Hong Kong DVD of the Japanese version has slightly iffier English subtitles (but supposedly passable) and looks much better.


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 14, 2005 1:34 pm 
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For me, this DVD was a blind buy. The cover art looked intriguing (as did the back cover description) and it was Criterion so I figured why not?

I really enjoyed (and still do) this movie. The two little kids are adorable but not in an annoying, mugging-for-the-camera way you see in so many mainstream Hollywood movies. I find it to be a funny, entertaining movie that I pull out and watch every so often.


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 14, 2005 5:07 pm 
wax on; wax off
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I know I'm a minority on this forum when I say: I CANNOT STAND TOKYO STORY. Static camera. I despise all the characters hiding behind their perma-grins...yes, I know a bit about the cultural context, but to me it is like watching paint dry. Does nothing for me. I bought it as a blind buy after all the hoopla surrounding it...and sold it a week later.

But GOOD MORNING...I don't know. There's something so endearing about these characters, these two kids struggling to stretch out in the modern world with all the warts that we now recognize (i.e., crap on TV) but which is so sweet to them in their innocence. Certainly not my fav in the collection but definitely an unexpected gem.


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 14, 2005 6:00 pm 
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Quote:
The color balance of this DVD is radically "off"

Hmm... There is the BLUE/WEST - GREEN/EAST tendency to grade DVD transfers... It would be intriguing to know the filmmakers' original intentions...

Just read Hasumi Shigehiko's chapter in Dresser (ed.) TOKYO STORY... Despite the changing seasons of the titles of Ozu's films, the weather depicted is almost resolutely the sunlight of California/Hollywood or of Nice/South of France - two major centres of moviemaking... None of the changing weather/seasons of Japanese life - rain, snow, really cloudy - is other than rarely depicted...

On this count Kurosawa and Mizoguchi appear more Japanese, suggests Shigehiko, confounding Western observers who sometimes project their own ideas onto Ozu...

Interesting if inconclusive, as I suspect is the colour grading issue...


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 14, 2005 8:01 pm 
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Color balancing -- rule of thumb

What color are people's faces/skin? If all the Japanese actors have pink (to reddish/sunburned-looking) skin, there is something seriously wrong with the color balance. ;~}

Japanese-produced DVDs rarely if ever give Japanese actors Caucasian skin coloration (some women mayu have very light skin -- but not all the men).

re: Hasumi

Unfortunately Hasumi's chapter in Desser's book is so truncated as to be more than a little misleading (or confusing). Hasumi concluded this chapter with a long discussion of the film that is the biggest exception to his rule -- the decidedly wintry "Tokyo Twilight". This really is an essential piece of the puzzle -- to bad it got edited out.


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 15, 2005 5:09 am 
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Interesting - where can the extended version of Hasumi's essay be accessed in English? I would like to read how it pans out re: TOKYO TWILIGHT...


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 15, 2005 8:38 am 
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ellipsis7 wrote:
Interesting - where can the extended version of Hasumi's essay be accessed in English? I would like to read how it pans out re: TOKYO TWILIGHT...

Nowhere. One has one's choice of reading this in Japanese or French (a somewhat updated French version of this was published by Cahiers du Cinema). I've read it in French -- but not for a couple of years -- so I wouldn't want to get very specific about details. I just recollect now that this last third of the chapter placed the preceding two-thirds in a somewhat different light.


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 16, 2005 6:37 am 
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Thanks - I got the full reference...

Quote:
Hasumi, Shiguehiko
Yasujiro Ozu (French version, originally published in Japan in 1983). Cahiers du Cinema, 1998.

Broché: 237 pages
Editeur : Cahiers du Cinema Livres (24 avril 1998)
Collection : Auteurs
Langue : Français
ISBN-10: 2866421914
ISBN-13: 978-2866421915

Is available from Amazon France... I see the passage excerpted and translated in Desser's book is just a small part of the entire work analyzing the 'Japaneseness' of Ozu as a filmmaker...

Quote:
Analyse de l'oeuvre du cineaste japonais Ozu. Au d�part, une question: pourquoi ce cin�aste, qui est le moins japonais, est-il � ce point consid�r� comme le plus typiquement japonais?


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 16, 2005 8:40 am 
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Such is my devotion to Ozu that I ordered this (from Alapage of FNAC) and embarked on my first extensive reading assignment in French for many decades. ;~}

It was worth it.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Feb 16, 2005 9:03 pm 

Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 9:11 pm
Miguel wrote:
I found peerpee's review from the previous forum.

peerpee wrote:
Here's a review I wrote for GOOD MORNING:

It's a new digital transfer from a low contrast composite print, but there's a regular light fluctuation in the colour balance throughout the film.

The "regular light fluctuation" makes me feel dizzy everytime I watch this Criterion DVD. I can no longer endure the torture of watching this Criterion disc. I'm buying the USA VHS. The disc from the Shochiku boxset shows a slight hint of this light (brightness) fluctuation (one has to really look for it in order to notice it); but it's nothing when compared to that of the Criterion disc.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Jul 31, 2005 9:48 am 

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Would Good Morning make for a good choice to show an 8th grade class? I'm trying to select several Japanese films that would be age-appropriate, and so much of the anime is either aimed at a younger audience or a much older audience.


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PostPosted: Sun Jul 31, 2005 11:13 am 
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sherlockjr wrote:
Would Good Morning make for a good choice to show an 8th grade class? I'm trying to select several Japanese films that would be age-appropriate, and so much of the anime is either aimed at a younger audience or a much older audience.

Well, if by "age-appropriate" you mean "having no content that would offend their parents", then this should be a safe bet. And if there is an Ozu film that can hold the interest of a roomful of 8th graders, this is probably it. There is some great humor, etc. But it's still Ozu, so it's not obvious that kids would be into it. So, if your goal is to expose them to Ozu, I'd say this one is good; but if the goal is to expose them to Japanese film, then maybe there are better choices that would make them want to see more. (I know that when I was in 8th grade, I would have much rather watched Samurai battles, a la Kurosawa, than contemplate power struggles in the modern Japanese family.)

Good luck! What class is this for, anyway?


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PostPosted: Sun Jul 31, 2005 11:26 am 
wax on; wax off
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I'm certainly not an Ozu fan, but I could see how this would appeal to 8th graders if they were in the mood. It's in color at least. But would be surprised if they'll really bother to read the subs. Sad that people are so put off by reading their own language. Trying to think of any other recommendations if you are seeking Japanese cinema but I think if the object is to combine short duration for the ADD of our young generation, color for their modern sensibilities, and theme appropriate to their age--you're probably on the money with that. Regarding Kurosawa nothing comes to mind....unless it's a Shakespeare class.

Perhaps worthy of it's own thread: but what CC films would be appropriate for younger people, perhaps high school age. I start teaching English at the local high school here in Hungary in a month and was hoping to show a film to my classes at the end of the semester. For me it would have to be an english language film to justify viewing. Perhaps horrible thing to suggest here, but I was thinking of Ferris Bueller's Day Off.

And that on an Ozu thread. Sorry Ozu fans. I have to admit, that 's pretty poor.


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PostPosted: Sun Jul 31, 2005 11:50 am 
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"Good Morning" was not only my introduction to Ozu -- but my childrens'. At that point, they were 11, 11 and 14. Everyone absolutely loved it.

;~}


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PostPosted: Sun Jul 31, 2005 1:07 pm 

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Thanks for the info, all.

Stockton, I'm an 8th grade English teacher who's been awarded the Fulbright Memorial Fund award. That means I'm going to Japan for 3 weeks in November and will develop a unit on Japan for my class. I'll also partner with a high school teacher for a film series for 11th/12th graders, mostly honors students. (For them, I'm considering Seven Samurai, Tokyo Story, Grave of the Fireflies, and others.) The main point of showing the films is simply to expose them to Japanese film/culture.

Eighth-graders are a tricky age. Kerpan, I'm glad that it was a success for your family. That helps make my decision.

Skuhn8, you're right about color, reading, etc. Because I live in the Bible belt, just about every single student saw Passsion of the Christ last year without complaining about subtitles and said they loved it. Hopefully, "Passion" made reading subtitles less off-putting.

So, I'll be purchasing Good Morning. I'm confident I'll be able to develop activities around the film.

Stockton: about those samurais you mentioned, we're already going to read a Japanese novel about samurais and read a manga that has plenty of action (as yet undetermined), so hopefully they can stand a family drama. I hope!)


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PostPosted: Sun Jul 31, 2005 5:51 pm 
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What bunch of schoolkids wouldn't enjoy a film with so many fart jokes?


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PostPosted: Sun Jul 31, 2005 9:15 pm 
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sherlockjr wrote:
(For them, I'm considering Seven Samurai, Tokyo Story, Grave of the Fireflies, and others.) The main point of showing the films is simply to expose them to Japanese film/culture.

Consider checking out the animated series "Azumangah Daioh" (and its associated manga) -- an absolutely delightful show about a group of girls throughout the full three year course of Japanese high school. (Available on R1 DVD -- from ADV).

"Ganbatte ikimasshoi" is an equally wonderful (live action) film about high school in Japan (in the provinces). It tells the story of a girl who cajoles some of her classmates into starting her school's first girls' rowing team. The Japanese DVD is subtitled -- and is (or was originally) a R1/R2 release.

sherlockjr wrote:
Eighth-graders are a tricky age. Kerpan, I'm glad that it was a success for your family. That helps make my decision.

Mind you, my children were started quite early on classic cinema. Your mileage may vary.


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PostPosted: Sun Jul 31, 2005 9:59 pm 
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sherlockjr, have you ever heard of the book Reel Conversations: Reading Films with Young Adults by Alan Teasley and Ann Wilder? It's a terrific book on using film in the classroom that I wish more of my fellow English teachers (the ones who continually show Disney's version of Huck Finn after reading the novel) would read. Anyway, the authors reported success with showing The Samurai Trilogy to tenth-graders as a means of teaching about Japanese culture. There's a bit of an age-gap between those classes and yours, but it might work. I admit I haven't seen these, though I've been meaning to.

I've shown Rashomon in my film class (mostly seniors) with mixed results, so I wouldn't recommend that as a Kurosawa film for eighth-graders, but how about Yojimbo and/or Sanjuro? These were mentioned by the authors as possibilities and, flashing back to my memories of these films, I think they'd work fairly well.

All of this is contingent, of course, on you wanting to show samurai movies in addition to all the other samurai-related content you said you'd have in the course.

skuhn8 wrote:
what CC films would be appropriate for younger people, perhaps high school age.

I've used a couple English-language Criterions in the classroom, and both went over well and provoked thoughtful discussions. One is Do the Right Thing, which I showed in my film class. It made high school seniors engaged in something school-related in May, which says quite a bit. Of course, you have to be careful because of the language and nudity (again, my class is mostly seniors and they and their parents sign off on watching R-rated movies at the beginning of the semester). The other is the 1946 version of The Killers, which I showed to honors-level sophomores as part of a unit on different types of narratives and heroes, pairing it with reading Slaughterhouse-Five. Obviously, the use of this one is a bit more esoteric than you'd like, but the kids did enjoy the movie itself and trying to piece together the fractured story.


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 01, 2005 2:51 pm 
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What about Stray Dog? A captivating, fun, quick, easy to get through film.


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 01, 2005 3:02 pm 
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Michael wrote:
What about Stray Dog? A captivating, fun, quick, easy to get through film.

I completely forgot about that one -- you're right. I've described the plot to students just to fire them up to see a non-U.S. film. They've responded positively, but naturally, no one's taken me up on actually seeing it. #-o


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 01, 2005 4:52 pm 
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I would definitely show Stray Dog. It offers more than enough for discussion without getting too heavy.

Like Truffaut's Small Change, it's easy to approach for those who haven't experienced a foreign film before.


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 01, 2005 8:53 pm 

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MEK--Azumangah Daioh sounds like a possibility. (I'm trying to sift through manga as well, so I'll check it out.)

essrog--Thanks for the tip on Reel Conversations. I read the intro material on Amazon and instantly purchased it (no time to wait on school funds!).

Michael--Stray Dog? I own it but didn't think about it. I think I'll need to watch it again with students in mind. I appreciate the suggestion.


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 02, 2005 2:19 pm 
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I saw Good Morning yesterday. As a semi-remake of I Was Born But.., I do not think it as good as the older film, but holds its own quite well. Essentially, I saw it as a light-hearted commentary on both the mounting consumerism of late 50s Japanese society and problems of communication between the generations/sexes. It's also quite funny - I liked the grandmother character best of all.


Last edited by King of Kong on Tue Aug 02, 2005 9:44 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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