Monday, February 12, 2018

We shut up the whole night through

Another movie I watched over the weekend is Good Morning, since it's available on DVD courtesy of the Criterion Collection.

Good Morning reminded me very much of A Canterbury Tale in the sense of it getting a one-sentence plot synopsis that makes it sound like a whimsical little movie, but that that's not really what the movie is about. In this case, the plot synopsis says that two young boys decides they'll give their parents the silent treatment until the parents cave in and buy a TV.

While that is part of the plot, the movie is really about so much more. Or so much less, depending upon your point of view. Just as A Canterbury Tale looked at a time and a place that was about to face major change -- agricultural Britain just before the D-Day invasion -- so Good Morning is a glimpse into a time and a place. Here, it's the Japan on the outskirts of the major cities, where people can commute into Tokyo, but where they live in small one-story houses for the most part.

The main family are the Hayashis, who have the two young boys who are TV-obsessed. Meanwhile, they're taking English lessons from a private teacher who is also getting translation jobs provided by the boys' aunt courtesy of her employer. They're falling in love, although they don't realize it. Mom and another housewife are accused of not paying the equivalent of HOA fees, which leads to gossip that the person they did pay it to is embezzling the money because she just got a new washing machine. (You'd think they'd have heard of receipts.)

Anyhow, when Mom wants the kids to stop going over to their friends' house to watch TV, the boys decide that they're going to rebel by not talking. One could understand them not talking to Mom and Dad, but they also decide not to talk to any other adults, and that causes all sorts of problems, both at school and with gossiping among the local housewives.

And so it goes like this, for a pleasant 90 minutes. Good Morning is firmly in the "slice of life" genre. I wasn't expecting that going in, so at first I was getting a bit disappointed. But once I realized it was just a slice of life, I realized that there's a really entertaining little movie behind it all.

It's just too bad that the Criterion DVDs are so expensive.

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