OK, I’m not a huge fan of Yasujirô Ozu. I recognize his place in world cinema, but I’ve never warmed to his work on a personal level, I don’t care for his restrained style—and I don’t accept the idea that everything he made was of great importance. (If you’re an Ozu completist, sure, but otherwise, no.) Good Morning (1959) is a case in point. It feels a lot like a throwback to the silent I Was Born, But… (1932) with a slightly different set of concerns. It’s a pleasant little slice of life story set primarily in a small middle-class neighborhood—a nice enough place, so long as you don’t scandalize anyone. Unfortunately, the neighborhood’s one “showbiz” family are a scandal—in part because they stay in their pajamas all day. They also own the only TV set in the area, making them popular with the local children. It is this TV business that ultimately drives the plot about two boys refusing to speak until their rather reactionary father buys a TV. This is all pretty typical Ozu with its concerns over the Westernization of Japan, but the tone is lighter and more playful, Much of the film is actually given over to the amusing relations and backbiting among the neighborhood women. There’s also a good bit devoted to the employment problem in the area. This, in fact, is shrewdly brought around as a means for the father to settle the TV issue without, in his own mind, losing face. A pleasant film, but hardly a great one.
Classic World Cinema by Courtyard Gallery will present Good Morning Friday, March 28, at 8 p.m. at Phil Mechanic Studios, 109 Roberts St., River Arts District (upstairs in the Railroad Library). Info: 273-3332, www.ashevillecourtyard.com