Arthouse Garage Podcast

Podcast Transcript for Episode 35: Hirokazu Koreeda’s Shoplifters

Read the Podcast Transcript for Episode 33: Bong Joon Ho's The Host

Read the transcript below:

Andrew Sweatman 0:08
Hello, hello and welcome back to art house garage, the snob free film Podcast, where we make art house indie classic and foreign cinema accessible to the masses. I’m your host Andrew Sweatman, and today, we are continuing season five contemporary Asian filmmakers by turning from Korea to Japan. Today’s film is shoplifters from Japanese director Hirokazu creative shoplifters is a beautiful film about a family living in poverty in modern day Tokyo. This film came out in 2018, when it won many awards, including the Palme d’Or at con the con Film Festival, which is one of the most kind of prestigious Film Awards in the world. This film is a favorite of many, and it’s in my personal top 50 of the last decade when I did that ranking, and it’s one that I’m really excited to discuss with today’s guest. I’m joined again by Omaya Jones film podcaster, and curator of the Arkansas times film series. Omaya, how are you today? And what have you been watching lately?

Omaya Jones 1:08
I’m doing pretty good. It’s been a stressful week, but I’m ready for the weekend. And I’m ready for hopefully the end of the NBA Finals tonight. Yes, which, you know, game five is happening as we record art was going to happen the night that we’re recording this. And as a result of several things, including current events, and the NBA Finals, I’ve been watching a lot less lately, I was looking at letterbox I’ve only watched three. I’ve walked three things this month. One of which was shoplifters which we’re going to discuss today. And then I also went to one of the ACS events to see one night Miami where I saw you there. Yes. And then the last thing I really the first thing that I watched this month on the first was an Albert Brooks film called real life that’s on the criterion channel as part of, I guess a number of Albert Brooks films that they’ve got going now. And it’s it’s this weird is scripted. But the premise is that is a documentary that’s supposed to document the real life of this family in Arizona. And so they have this camera crew who are wearing these weird cameras that you actually wear on your head. And that describes like the the microphones are built into the helmet contraption that the cameraman wear and it’s meant to mimic. I guess human audio hearing is really weird. If you go to letterbox actually pull up real life, the background images like someone with this camera thing on their head. It’s really strange. But it’s a farce, right? And everything sort of sort of evolves as the character that Albert Brooks plays, which is himself sort of devolves into insanity throughout the course of the film, and like everything just kind of falls apart.

Andrew Sweatman 2:52
Sounds bizarre and interesting. Well, I as far as what I’ve been watching, yeah, same so ACS that Arkansas cinema society had filmland recently I did a podcast episode about that. They showed some really great stuff. I saw one out of Miami as well. And the other three things that I was able to go at each night which was great. The way I see it, which is a documentary about the White House photographer Pete Souza, and then Nomad land, the Chloe Zhao directed Francis McDormand starring, which is just wonderful. It’s sort of a documentary ask, but it’s also scripted, but it contains almost Agnes Varda like, you know, in the way that it’s like mixing documentary and narrative. And then the last night was dreamland, which is a kind of a Bonnie and Clyde sort of style story, but it kind of deconstructs that and it’s, it’s kind of like, what would these people actually be emotionally experiencing if they’re doing something like this, and it’s starring Margot Robbie, which that was kind of the main draw for me because I really like her. And then, and the last one, which was it was a virtual screening as a documentary called, you cannot kill David Arquette, which is interesting. He David Arquette, the actor from the screen movies had. He has a kind of a checkered history with the wrestling industry pro wrestling, he did a pro wrestling thing as like a publicity stunt that then parlayed into a kind of a quick, I seems like it’s kind of short lived, pro wrestling career. But wrestling fans hate him like big time and so this and it also kind of messed up his acting career. So this documentary is made last year and it’s kind of him trying to redeem himself and become a wrestler again. So that’s an interesting, so I’m hoping to talk about all of those actually on separate podcast episodes. I won’t go into too much depth on any of them. But yes, watch some really good stuff. And then one final thing that I did watch recently is You’re kind of in the Halloween spirit, the TV version of what we do in the shadows. Have you seen the film of that or any of the TV episodes? TV show?

Omaya Jones 5:09
I have seen the film and I’ve seen I think like the first episode of the TV series. I actually I have a housemate and he was watching it the other night. Yeah, there was an episode that pica with DD Actually, I guess get started on. That’s an episode and I told the Swinton was also in it. So I was like, oh, maybe I should actually go through this.

Andrew Sweatman 5:30
Yeah. It’s one that I like, I’ve seen two episodes now as all I’ve seen, but I watched the first one A while back. I love the movie. And you know, if people don’t know, it’s Tyco, ytt. And we’ll talk about he directed the film, I believe. And it’s like a mockumentary about vampires living in New York City, or actually like Staten Island, I think. And it’s, it is really this weird dark humor. It’s so funny. It’s got the movie has Jemaine Clement and Chris, like who else is in the movie, but then the show has Matthew Berry, who I know from The IT Crowd, I’ve seen him and a few other things. And he’s got this really just bizarre comedic timing, but he really cracks me up. Yeah, and then I think that some guest stars pop up along the way. So I’m excited to to keep going with it. But yeah, it’s it’s really funny, because like, I don’t know, around this time of year, I kind of want to watch something scary. But this is like, not actually scary. It’s mostly just funny. So it kind of gives me that Halloween vibe without, you know, keeping me up at night, because I’m scared of it. So anyway.

Omaya Jones 6:41
You know, at one point, they talked about doing a sequel called werewolves. Right, which is, you know, just like werewolves but if you say it, like, really? Yeah, it’s almost like you can say it like, it’s like, you know, like people who practice accents. Yeah, will have like key phrases that they recite to get into it. And it’s almost like, if you were trying to do like a New Zealand accent, you can I could use the phrase werewolves who’s like the wolves. I don’t know,

Andrew Sweatman 7:06
which the other wearables are so funny in the movie, and it’s can’t remember the actor’s name either but Murray from Flight of the Conchords, which I love that show back in, in college. And he’s so funny. And yeah, the werewolf scenes are hilarious in that. Yeah. What an interesting little universe they’ve created in this kind of, you know, mockumentary style. It’s really I’ll highly recommend the movie and the show, which I think are all pretty easy to find. streaming. So yeah, there’s my Halloween recommendation, I guess. All right, well, let’s get into today’s movie. Here is our discussion of shoplifters.

Connor Smith 8:30
it. Hey, this is Connor Smith, filmmaker from Arkansas calm. And then it talks about shoplifters. So I just finished washing that are watching it. For the third time for me, third or fourth. THE PAST COUPLE OF viewings was just absolutely floored. I’m a huge coriander fan. And often when people ask me, like, Who’s my favorite director, I will say coriana. There’s just an empathy and a nuance that he brings to every story he tells, and it’s just absolutely heart wrenching, but also, life giving all simultaneously. And shoplifters is just another instance of that. When I think of what specifically what he does in this cell, I think of like, some of his peers in America and how right now as like American audiences were subjected to watching Bruce Wayne’s parents die. Every couple months so vividly. We see violence depicted on screen. And it’s just so unnecessary and in Korea films. It’s not needed and shoplifters is a perfect example of that. He Trust the audience to fill in the blanks, we don’t need to see like these acts of pain or trauma. But instead we we get the depth of emotion. So, like perfect examples are one shot, Shota falls from the bridge. And we don’t need to see him rising and pain, what the point of the whole movement was with him standing up for his sister, Lynn. And so when he falls on the bridge, always use the orange as rolling away. And it’s just such a beautiful masterstroke to the empathy as not only for his characters, but more importantly, the audience. Because he, he tackles like really challenging things like domestic violence and shoplifters. But he doesn’t have to subject us or his characters to depicting that on screen. But what he does do is he uses right language and like honest, true lived in emotions, like it’s hard for me to even talk about without tearing up. But the moment where and learns in your chosen mother hugs and says, This is what you do. When you love someone, you instantly know the pain that both of them have gone through. And the warmth that this hug gives to them. And they have in that moment is just so lived in so pure. And it just it also speaks to the performances and intimacy that criada gets in all of his films, whether it’s slowly Frank and or or Kieran Kiki, kind of all stars and choreographers truth, every appearance in those films. But to the children who are, like, who have never seen before, just delivered to lived in, and well observed, intimacy and emotion. And it’s just, it’s just a beautiful film. I think it’s a perfect little object of a thing that really gets that like what is a family. But yeah, I love this movie. And I want anybody and everyone to see it and love it clipping it is so universal, and it’s emotion.

Andrew Sweatman 11:57
All right here Kazu corita shoplifters tells the story of a group of people living in Tokyo and living in poverty. And also as the title suggests, they shoplift to survive. As the story unfolds, we learn a lot about each character and their motivations. And we learn kind of the secrets of the family and how they operate. And in the end, we learn even more secrets. And the ending is really pretty breathtaking. So along those lines, I want to say if you haven’t watched shoplifters, you know, it’s it’s got a lot of kind of revelations throughout it even at the beginning. So we’re going to talk about some things, we’re basically going to just be spoiler spoilerific the whole time. So I really would recommend going watching it. Watch on Hulu right now. Because there’s some kind of first act revelations that, you know, wouldn’t technically maybe be a spoiler, because you could read it online. But I was surprised when I first watched it. And I would love to, you know, pass that on. So here’s your spoiler warning, go watch shoplifters, and then come back and listen. But yeah, I highly recommend it. It’s a great, great movie. Alright, so yeah, let’s get into it. So um, I know, you’ve seen this more than once. How has it aged for you,

Omaya Jones 13:07
I would say is a is really well, I think this was the first creative film that I saw. And so after seeing it, and I watched it, and I’ve now seen a couple others, and so watching it again, I was able to, to appreciate it sort of in the context of eliminating demography. And it it’s a subtle film, right, his style is very subtle. And I think that you just pick up on different things, watching it more than once. And you can appreciate the acting more, and the nuance and the structure and just the way that information is revealed throughout the film. In rewards rewatching

Andrew Sweatman 13:46
Yeah, absolutely. I’ve seen it just twice now. I watched it. And we’re probably in 20, early 2019, I think. And I just heard buzz around it and really, really liked it. And yeah, I liked it even more the second time, kind of knowing more about it. Yeah, all the performances are, I think just fantastic. And it is it has that subtlety. I saw people as I was researching a little bit. I mean, people like to call him like a modern day Ozu, which we had a previous podcast episode talked about Tokyo story, and a separate guest. But yeah, I can definitely see some parallels there as far as the subtlety goes, and yeah, it’s kind of minimal in a way. But I think it feels more I don’t know, I think about Ozu, it feels it feels very cinematic. In like a kind of like the framing of shots and things like that. Whereas this is a little bit more like a realism style. And not that it was used. not realistic, but I don’t know it feels it feels very modern and feels. Yeah, very realistic. But it is very moving. I think one of the things that I kind of liked the most about it is the most compelling Mi is kind of the way it deconstructs the idea of family like nuclear family. And so here’s that that first act revelation, you meet this group of people, and they very much seemed like a family, we’ve got a grandma and a mom and dad and kids are like a teenage daughter, when you learn pretty quickly that they’re not related at all. And they’re all kind of misfits that have come together. And that ends up being kind of the main thing this is about. So that that story begins when they take in this little girl whose name is Yuri, find out it’s actually jury. And then they change it to Lynne. But she’s basically an abusive situation. And they decide to, to bring her in. And yes, so yeah, throughout it, then they start talking about, you know, maybe it’s better if you choose, maybe it’s better if you choose your family, which I think the idea of a chosen family is kind of an interesting cultural thing right now, too. But yeah, do you have a favorite moment or thing around that idea of a family that this this film deals with?

Omaya Jones 16:05
I think, and this, I think this this comes from my research when I was reading about sort of the process of the casting and the roles and but the mother character secure. So the mother character played by secura endo. She has is the scene towards the end of the film, where she’s being interrogated. And she’s asked if she was ever if she ever wanted to be considered a mother. Right? Yeah, she starts crying. And so what I was reading was that in the script that wasn’t in the scripted interrogation scene wasn’t in the script, or the scene was in the script. But that line of dialogue question was not Wow. And it was sort of in conversations with her that Cory Ada decided to add something about that, because she noticed in the script that, you know, the father character wants to be called dad or father. And there was nothing like that for her character. Yeah. And so apparently, like when they, when they shot that interrogation scene, he handed the question to the actor who was the policeman without telling her what he was doing? And so like, the tears just kind of came naturally. Because she had been thinking about this moment, I guess, I’m thinking about the idea. Previous to that, and so like, it’s just everything that she brought to the roles kind of came out at that in that scene.

Andrew Sweatman 17:34
That is fascinating to know. Because I mean, that scene, it’s for me, and probably for a lot of people, it’s like the best scene of the movie. I think it’s really movie her performances is incredible. Their car knowing that context is, that’s so interesting. Yeah, I was going to mention that scene as she’s asked something about. So apart from that question about motherhood, she has something about when So, again, spoiling, spoiling this, but when the grandmother dies, and they bury her, she’s asked about that, like, Did you throw her away? Why did you just throw her away, and she says, I didn’t throw her away, someone else threw her away, I, I found her. And the way she she kind of repeats it, almost like she’s trying to convince herself of it, I think is really interesting. I also love the moment this is much earlier on, when it’s kind of URIs transformation into limb, they burn her clothes and give her haircut. And as they’re, they’re kind of around this fire. She has this beautiful moment where she says, if they if they hit you, they didn’t really love you. And here’s what you do for a person that you love. This is what you do to a person that you love. And she’s like, hugging her and kind of swaying and it’s, that’s just such a beautiful moment. And then yes, then at the end, in that interrogation scene, they, yeah, they asked her about motherhood and something about I can’t read exactly the exact words, but it’s basically just because you have a kid doesn’t make you a parent doesn’t make you a mother. And, and then you find out in that moment, too, that she is unable to give birth right. And she’s barren in some way. They say I understand. It’s tough that you can’t give birth and then she gives you the space of kind of anger. But then moves into just being emotional and kind of upset. Yeah, it’s and she said they say, Are you jealous? Is that way you kid to kidnapped her? And yeah, she’s goes through a lot of emotions right there. So yeah, I think that’s really an interesting idea of her of URIs, natural born parents perhaps or less parental then than this chosen family that she found. And you know, not that. I’m going to advocate the situation that’s happening here and Cory Ada said something like that to your like, like he’s not saying this is the way things should be. But by looking at it this through this lens, you can make some Interesting, just parallels to real familial relationships. And what He also mentioned that a lot of adoptive families reached out to him and said how much they loved the movie. And actually, so here’s a personal connection, my son we have adopted, and a few years ago. Yeah, definitely had this this sense of energy. It’s very moving. Like when you have a family that you’ve kind of helps to build apart from. Maybe it doesn’t even come down to like adoption, but thinking about the intentionality, because one thing that you hear we hear just the URIs, you know, biological parents fighting towards the beginning, and they say something like, first of all, who knows her the real father is what we hear the dad saying, as he’s in anger. And then one of them says, I didn’t want to have her either. And so there’s like, there’s an amount of choice in that. And so it’s kind of a very complicated situation, obviously. But the fact that this movie is playing with all those different aspects of family, I think is just really interesting. And it’s really a strong, strong reflection on that. So having not seen a ton of creative movie, actually, this is the only one I’ve seen. We’re gonna watch another one for the next episode. But it is family something he comes back to, in the movies you’ve seen as well.

Omaya Jones 21:25
Yeah, so he, he’s described his career as being sort of in three areas, right. And so he describes the first era of his film as being of his career as being from a period of time he started where he was making documentaries, and then in the late 80s, then he started making feature films. After that the second era starts, he says, really, with, I think, with still walking maybe. And like, that’s when he really starts to make these films that are examining familial units. And they start really, with if you want something like, Like father, like, son, or still walking. Some of these themes like adoption, are like raising children that aren’t biologically around, are addressed. Or like with Father like, son, the issue is these parents with two different parenting styles. Who are raising sons that were Switched at Birth, right. And so early in that film, we find out about that, and we and they have to sort of address their preconceived notions about being a father. And then, so like, still walking aren’t Excuse me. So walking, but shoplifters is sort of the culmination of this second era film, which he says, the end and so like with the truth, which we’ll talk about next time, begins the next third era of his filmmaking career. And so he’s also sort of talked about trying to make films that intentionally highlight the members of society of Japanese society that are outcast. Yeah, he makes films that highlight crime. Even though Japanese, Japan has a relatively low crime society, but they’re these people who are overlooked. And so he’s just trying to like, highlight them in their stories. And then, like, his style, you know, in terms of the way he’s just the camera, I think is rooted in that documentary background. Yeah. So everything is like the the frame is composed, but it’s less model. There are Yeah, doesn’t feel as polished. Like, Mm hmm.

Andrew Sweatman 23:36
Yeah, that’s really interesting. So he, I saw in the interview, I talked, I was able to watch it was a q&a at Khan, actually. And he said something about the he likes explore the friction between Japanese society and the family. It’s a Yeah, that seems like this would be very much in line. And I even saw one thing saying this was sort of the culmination of, of those themes. And so yeah, this is, I guess, the end of that, that triad, as you mentioned, so we’ll jump into the next one with the next episode with the truth, which is also his first English language film, I believe. So yes, that’s very interesting. I thought we might just talk through each of the family members because they each have a really kind of fully realized journey and different kind of desires and motivations. And so let’s start with with that mother character who so her we find out so it’s confusing because we’re looking at IMDb and they have one name listed. But they all have a an alias as well that we kind of know them as. So no, Bo u is the mother character to crew under and she Yeah, so interesting. So we find out as I mentioned at the end, that she’s not able to have children. We also find out that the reason she and her husband or partner, or it’s not clear if they’re actually married are Sort of the, the main, I guess they the core members of this family, it seems like they started it. And we find out that that was a crime of passion. That’s what the detective says that she she and Osamu who is Lilly Frankie’s character that the data Miss murdered her previous husband and ran off together. At least that’s what’s claimed. And it’s never made clear if that’s 100% true, but I mean, I kind of assumed it was based on how it’s presented. But, yes, so she clearly has this drive to kind of maternal care. And I really like the relationship she has with Aki, the the younger woman, they have an interesting dynamic. And then the the affection that she and Assad we have is really interesting as well. There’s a what we’ll talk about this, I guess, when we get to talking about him, but there’s an interesting discussion with him about how they’re connected. We I think so she and the grandmother have lots of conversations. They’re they’re the primary ones talking about this idea of chosen family. And it’s just really interesting, we find out that they are living here, basically, and sharing grandmother’s Pynchon. I guess I’m getting into grandma a little bit. So anything else you want to say about soccer Rondo’s character in this film?

Omaya Jones 26:32
She’s definitely one of my favorite characters. zacher I think she’s phenomenal. You know, she comes, she comes from an acting family, like, our family of actors and directors, her sister’s an actor. She’s only 34, which I thought was odd. Like I the first time I watched it, I didn’t even think about it. But now it’s just trying to figure out what else she was in. And I saw that she was born in 1986. Which kind of just blows my mind. Yeah,

Unknown Speaker 26:59
that’s wild.

Omaya Jones 27:02
But her like, just the journey of that character. And like, she’s not the moral center of the film, because that’s showed up, I think,

Andrew Sweatman 27:15

Omaya Jones 27:16
yeah. But she is the one who sort of starts from questioning things. Really like he, because she’s the one who initiates the conversation where she asked him sort of, like how he started learning about shoplifting, or what he was told about shoplifting as an act, and sort of starts this, this the route down questioning more deeply what it is he’s actually doing, and how he got there. I was gonna say this is the first film that she has made with creata. or some of the other actors in the film have worked with them before.

Andrew Sweatman 27:47
Yeah, including Willie Frankie, I think so let’s talk about him now. He plays Yeah, the quote unquote, Dad of the family. His name is Osamu Shibata. And he’s, he’s like a really charismatic guy. As you mentioned, he’s worked with Korea before. And that q&a, I watched they, they talked a little bit about that and just kind of being on the same wavelength with projects and stuff. He’s in like, father like, son, is that right? Okay, yes. And he is injured. He’s kind of comedic in this like, He’s funny. He desperately wants for shoda to call him dad. And he doesn’t until the very, very end, which is, which is interesting moment, we should probably talk about. But he’s the, I guess, the primary driver behind the shoplifting. At the very opening scenes, we see him and showed a shoplifting at this grocery store. And he has all the philosophy about it to about, you know, think he says things in stores don’t belong to anyone yet. And it’s okay, as long as they don’t go bankrupt, which is an interesting kind of moralizing there. But is he I’ve ever seen, I was mentioning where he’s talking to Mikey, the, the young woman that lives with them. And she asked them, you know, when do you and novo you have sex, because they’re kind of all living in this small house. And he says something like, we’re connected in our hearts or in our minds or something like that. We’re not connected down here. Any kind of points. So that was a really funny line. And of course, later, there is a sexy between them, which is really sweet, actually. But it’s, yeah, and he just has, he’s always philosophizing kind of about, you know, here’s how life works. But yeah, I really like his performance to he’s, he’s phenomenal on this. I think. Yeah. What’s your impression of his character?

Omaya Jones 29:41
I think part of part of the his goofball personalities as part of his natural nature, which I think why he’s a fit. He plays a similar sort of like, relatively laid back father figure and Like father like son, or at least in contrast to the other character, that’s also the father. He’s also in our little sister, which I have not seen yet. And after the storm, so we’ve worked with create at least four times. So I think that’s enough to call him like a regular. But I also, like the idea that he doesn’t have this character in the film that’s have a lot of background through education, you know, he talks about not being able to speak English and seeing that as Japanese is actually worse. But he knows how to live on the street. And so like, there are a certain set of skills that he’s acquired, and he’s sort of passing them down. And sort of like to kind of like, more broadly, overall, he is a good father, you know, but for his circumstances of being poor, he’s caring. They’re a tight family, they care about each other, they take care of each other. They provide as best they can. And they’re really just living. I don’t want to use the word victim, but they’re just, you know, you know, their circumstances are such that they’re poor, and some, and they the things that they do are a result of navigating poverty.

Andrew Sweatman 31:06
Yeah. And I think that it’s important that it comes through so strongly early on is that warmth that you’re talking about, like, the reason they really seem like a families because they really seem like they love each other. And like the relationships seem really tight, like you mentioned, I love the scene early on, where he showed his run off. And he seems like he goes to this empty car kind of abandoned car nearby. And we later find out that he was found in a car, that’s where he was kind of rescued from. But then as they’re leaving, he has some to call him down, he doesn’t do it. But then if they’re leaving, they kind of stopping. Or they have a ball or something that they’re playing in this kind of lot. And the camera really lingers on this really big wide shot of them playing. And it’s just so touching. And I think that’s one of the moments early on. I really was keyed into, like, again, my first creative movies like this guy really knows what he’s doing. This is a really good moment. But yeah, I think his character really great.

Omaya Jones 32:00
Yeah, and I mean, that scene, you know, he has a fractured foot. That’s right, you know, but he’s still willing to go out there and play and throw the ball around and run on it just to pacify this child.

Andrew Sweatman 32:12
Oh, yeah, there’s another great moment with him. He so he works in construction, of course, he gets injured at the very beginning. So he kind of stops working. But we see him on the construction site once and they’re building an apartment building and he walks in all by himself to this empty apartment that’s like, you know, half built and he just goes into this little roleplay the tank to show that he’s not there but he’s just like playing out this father son thing all by himself. I thought that was a great like little character touch that like he really that’s his his heart is to is to be a father figure to show a really does love show that much. And he just kind of a sweet guy, you know, and that comes out of that that nice little moment. Yet, let’s talk about the grandma figure who is hot sway is her name and play by Kiran Kiki, who I wasn’t familiar with. But at the q&a, they talked about her as you know, a long standing Japanese actor and and Korea talked about her, her presence and her her just willingness to do whatever for the movie, which I thought was interesting. But her character is great. So she they’re all living off her pension. She says that they’re her insurance policy, because she doesn’t want to die alone. She’s widowed. And so that in itself is really kind of beautiful. I think. So I think even greater than family, this movies kind of about human connection and kind of a desire for connection. And I think that we’ll get to that a little more with Lucky’s character. But she the grandmother, yes. So they’re sharing her pension and they talk about the how much money that is monthly and all of that. And then when she dies, how much money that she has in her account that they you know, split up and shoulder feels kind of sketchy about that. I think that’s probably contributes to his actions towards the end. But But then the other interesting thing is that huts away, visits her. So I guess, widow, so he is dead. I think we maybe you can kind of cast some clarity on this. But her husband ran away with another woman. And she goes and visits their children, which is an interesting connection. And she kind of plays up this poor old lady, kind of I just need someone to talk to you kind of thing, so that they will give her money. And every time she visits, they give her a novel of cash and we see her leave. And so it’s kind of like not clear if she’s like playing an act here at first. And then she leaves and she says only 30 K and she’s like mad and so we kind of kind of left us behind the curtain, which is a great moment. But yeah, did I get that family dynamic? Right?

Omaya Jones 34:52
Yes, so her husband ran off with our had an affair and certain other family and AQI is his granddaughter, right. So okay. So then there’s there’s also this thing where she is pretending to be in another country in Australia. Right. But I actually was not clear on whether or not they knew that she was.

Andrew Sweatman 35:14
Yeah, not a big us extent. Yeah, I was thinking I thought they really didn’t know, at the end, it really calls into question. Because that’s when it comes out that, you know, she finds out the grandma is getting money and all of that. But I think that they really didn’t know.

Omaya Jones 35:30
But what it shows is that like, they are a tight knit fam, like familial unit that cares about each other. But they’re also they all have their side hustles that they use to like, supplement their income and sort of make the finances work.

Unknown Speaker 35:43
Yeah. But

Omaya Jones 35:46
but there was the result of that is that people get hurt, right? Because I keep was then like, wait, was our relationship only because of the financial element? Or does she really care about me or like what was going on there? But yeah, the actor, she’s also been in several of his films. She’s also in a film called Sweet beam, which is one of the few films that I’ve seen by a Japanese woman that was directed by Japanese woman. And she’s also done. Some, I think, some stuff that I haven’t seen in a long time, like, like a film called pistol opera, which is like this pop action Japanese film, but interesting. She, I think this was one of the last films that she made that she died in 2018. And I really

Unknown Speaker 36:32
hadn’t know that. Well.

Andrew Sweatman 36:36
Yeah, so her her relationship with Aki is, is really interesting, as you mentioned, that they have an affection to you. That’s really sweet. And then, yeah, again, it’s all kind of calling the question. And speaking of all the side hustles. So yeah, we kind of see that with the dad with a shoplifting with the mom, she steals things at work, we didn’t even mention her job, but she works in a laundry sort of laundry processing facility. And she and her co workers to kind of steal things. And then what’s really moving with that is that her boss says, You or her have to leave this job. We can’t keep you both on you guys have to decide, and which is a terrible thing to do as a boss in the first place. But then, her coworker basically blackmailed her because they know about URI. And so that she sacrifices her job, you know, for the sake of Uri, which is really touching, I think, and kind of furthers that maternal, like she has real takes real action as a makeshift mother.

Omaya Jones 37:33
Her response, also said there was her response to that threat is one of the most, like, underplayed Yeah, but like believable things, you know, just like saying, If you tell I will kill you. Yeah. And I’m like, probably see it like that first hit that you get that like, oh, there’s something else that’s going on? Yeah,

Andrew Sweatman 37:53
there’s like a darker side. Yeah. Yes. That’s a really remarkable scene. I think.

Omaya Jones 37:58
I would say back to the grandmother, though, I think it’s notable that in the beach scene, she’s the one that lays out the idea that sometimes it’s better to make your own family, which is what you’ve done in that says,

Andrew Sweatman 38:08
Yeah, and then so so as you mentioned, she dies but at that beach scene as well, which the beach scene is kind of the I think, the more maybe the kind of the iconic scene, it may feel like such a family and that’s actually kind of the beginning of the end to you find out but grandma has this moment where she just looks out and says thank you to know and in particular, they’re all at the beach and she’s looking at them and it seems like she’s you know, making maybe a whispered prayer or something but I thought was really a touching moment and then create a said in the q&a. I watched that that was not scripted like she she had lived that which How great is that?

Omaya Jones 38:45
That’s beautiful.

Andrew Sweatman 38:47
Let’s talk about Aki the older you know, quote unquote, daughter, she is Yeah, really affectionate with Grandma, which is a pretty we see their relationship is, is really tight at the beginning so that it is really moving when that’s called into question at the end. But then she also her job is interesting. So she works in like, I guess a sex club of sorts. So she basically she and the other dancers where she works. They have like one on one interactions. But there’s a sheet of like one way class and between them, so I guess they’re safe in that way. But then people come and watch them and they communicate like she communicates with one client in particular, whose name is Mr. For it’s what he goes by. And he holds up a sign and they kind of communicate a little better. I guess he can hear her. But then he writes things on a piece of paper and holds it up. And then at one point, she says we can go to what’s the name of the room? I think the other like the feeling drew or something like that. The talking room? I can’t remember what they call it. Do you remember?

Omaya Jones 39:52
I don’t remember the name of the room. But yeah, it seems like it’s like an extra service that you can get where you have some physical contact with the girls.

Andrew Sweatman 39:59
Yes. chat room. I found the chat room, though. I guess I could have thought of that. But yeah, so they said, she says, Do you want to go to the chat room after having Hamza Kai seems like she’s known him for a while we see two, two interactions between them. But they said you won’t go to the chat room. And they do. And he just kind of lays his head in her lap, and they just talk or she talks and he’s silent. And then we find out and and I want to ask you is the implication that he has he’s mute in some way, or he has some sort of voice problem.

Omaya Jones 40:31
Yeah, I thought it was just like a stutter, like, severe stutter or something that makes it difficult for him to connect with people outside of the context of this of the of the, this environment.

Andrew Sweatman 40:44
Yeah, that’s where I was going with that is that that connection, and you see where she is longing for that as well, because as they’re, I guess, leaving the chat room, he sort of communicates a little bit. And that’s where we realized that is he’s not able to speak or has a communication issue of some kind. And then they share this really tender hug that, again, this is one of the kind of the more moving moments is it just really lingers. And it’s it’s almost not sexual, it seems to me like it’s, yeah, just this longing for connection that that they’re both are feeling. And maybe that’s part of, I don’t know, maybe criticism of modern society. I’m not sure, but it’s really a beautiful moment. I really, I really liked that scene.

Omaya Jones 41:27
Yeah, I mean, it’s not sexual and thing in that, like, you know, at this particular club, they’re not even allowed to stick their fingers down their underwear. Right. Yeah. And it seems like there’s there’s no nudity. So it’s all it’s suggested, suggested. Yeah. But I think sort of questioning the, like a lack of empathy. Or an increase in loneliness in Japanese society is like a recurring theme for several films, and it’s definitely at play here. Like the fact that you would you would need a club or something like this where you could go just to get a hug? Yeah. I think it’s an indictment on that society. Yeah. I kind of curious about what her actual relationship with her parents are. Yeah. Why they think she’s in Australia. Will she ever there? Does she like going come back? or?

Andrew Sweatman 42:21
Yeah, cuz they say they make some comment about how she even forgot to call last week or something like that, where she’s like, she loves it so much in Australia is what they say. And whether or not that’s a cover story. I guess this isn’t in question. Yeah.

Omaya Jones 42:33
Yeah. But like, She’s so like, when she’s has a question, just the relationship between her and her grandmother. It just seems like it just devastates her. Mm hmm. Yeah.

Andrew Sweatman 42:42
Yeah. That that that moment at the end, and then a moment with the the mother character I think of the most like, like, heartbreaking moments probably. Is that and then probably too, with the dad and showed at the end. But yeah, she’s a she’s a really great performance from IKEA as well. And it’s something about her name, her her real name is actually her sister’s name or something like that. So they’ve all again, taken on these different aliases. But yeah, it’s interesting. Yeah, so Uri, as we mentioned, at the beginning, she’s, they find her outside of her parents, like out on the balcony of her parents apartment. And they say, she’s out there again. So clearly, this has been going on. And they end when they bring her home good, because she’s hungry. They find scars in her arms and find out she’s being abused and all this and then decide to take her in. So I think her she’s kind of our way into the family. Like we kind of see things through her eyes because she’s kind of learning how they operate and, and learning what she is like and all that as she kind of experiences it. I should also mention, she’s probably the cutest little girl ever. Like she’s so adorable. It was actually on the q&a that I watched she and Aki, the actor who plays a key are sitting next to each other and you can tell she’s kind of like Aki, I can remember Rocky’s real name, but she’s kind of doing some work to like keep her occupied because like, it’s like an hour long thing and she’s just sitting still mostly not talking. And so they’re kind of like poking each other and like whispering secrets which is just so cute. But anyway, so Yuri she has a moment where she’s burning her clothes and they let her decide. I think that’s what’s so interesting is they laid out and of course, you know, the not that this is in a vacuum. There’s all kinds of power dynamics and you should a child ever be put in the position to make this kind of choice. Of course not. But in the context of this movie, she they say you can go back if you want, you know the way back and and kind of give her that option. But she decides to stay with him which of course she would. And they go shopping is really nice more than well shopping. They still delicious. They steal them with that they get her this bathing suit that she loves. And that’s another moment when Aki is talking to Mr. For she talks about her her little sister who loves to wear a bathing suit in the house. And it’s so cute as to make her and Aki have a have a good relationship as well. But your recent journey, she gets the new haircut and and she learns to shoplift from shoda. And at first she doesn’t like that, that they’re teaching her that. And I guess we can talk about that with this discussion. But she just kind of bears witness to everything. And and we kind of see, as I mentioned, do her eyes and learn what’s going on. Yeah, What’s your impression of URI?

Omaya Jones 45:45
Yeah, I think first of all, like once we once this reveal the extent of the abuse that she suffered, like, there’s this scene where we see the scar from like, an iron or something that has been pressing us or flash, our the way she reacts to the prospect of getting new clothes, she says she’s gonna get hit, you know. And that’s when the mother says that line about people who love you don’t hate you, they and like when she’s when she’s telling me that she’s embracing her and they say that hold you like this. And then she calls it spider and squeezes or. And I think that’s where even though the film is a whole, I think tries to remain somewhat objective. It’s also like building this case for like, families can you can make families that are more powerful than these blood relations? Yeah. And it’s in how you treat people and how you connect with people. And I think her character shows like how you can she’s like this audience surrogate because, you know, we come into the family with her. Right. And so we get to see how you become ingratiated into this new dynamic.

Andrew Sweatman 46:52
Yeah. And I think it’s when we first realized that she has the choice, that’s when it’s made it at least when I first realized that explicitly, like, oh, none of these people are related. Because that’s when I think mom and grandma have a little short discussion about choosing, saying maybe it’s stronger when you choose that kind of thing. So the very, very end of the movie we’ll talk about showed his decision, because he’s kind of, I guess, the climax, but like the final shot, is she’s back on her balcony we see her with she’s back with her biological mother. She’s not happy about it. It’s clear, I think. And then at the very end, she’s on our balcony again. And it seemed to me that she like makes a motion like she’s going to jump over. Is that your interpretation of the ending?

Omaya Jones 47:35
I don’t think my interpretation is that bleak, I think. I think she’s sort of looking out and maybe thinking back to this other experience that she had, but i don’t i don’t think she’s quite old enough.

Andrew Sweatman 47:48
Right. I didn’t mean jump over as in like, yeah, did jump jump off. Like I thought she was like jumping out to escape and go back. I should have been clear. Oh, I can remember how high up it is. Because originally, she’s on like the ground floor. But it does seem in that final moment that she’s higher up. So yeah, I just misinterpreted that, but I definitely had a feeling at the very least, that she’s longing for that but then I thought that was she like trying to try to leave again and and find something better? I don’t know.

Omaya Jones 48:14
Right. But it’s it’s, it’s, it’s it is depressing, though. I like how quickly they slide back into these old roles. Right? Yeah. And so, like, when they when they initially tried to take her back? After they fed her. The first thing they witnessed is that, oh, her parents are in an argument. Mm hmm. And, and then, you know, later on when she’s back with her mother, the first thing that she she does that we see when the cameras aren’t on is they start to ignore her. And her mother has been hit to like she’s like trying to conceal a mark on her face with makeup. And so even though this is her biological, these are her biological parents. It’s just not necessarily the best situation for her. But it is what is the what the state says is correct.

Unknown Speaker 49:04
Right yeah.

Andrew Sweatman 49:07
Yeah, it’s it’s interesting I think it’s a strong a lot of strong emotions in that ending and and just I think for me like the takeaways just like the such a strong realization of the way kids need love and how important that is. Yeah, and so like that that scene where she’s hugging her around the fire and saying this is what you do if you love someone that’s like I found it on YouTube and that’s like if I need a good cry just put on that 32nd clip because it’s it’s so touching to me and I think she so yeah showed us the moral compass I think URIs maybe like the emotional center of this or like I think most of the the strong emotions around what’s going on with her I guess she’s she’s kind of driving the plot anyway, like her story is kind of the the story that is kind of conspiring but transpiring is the word I’m looking for transpiring. Yeah, let’s see. Let’s talk about showed us. So he’s the son he’s, I don’t know, like nine or 10 years old like he’s, he’s pretty young. And he first of all great little actor. He’s really great in it. And he has this relationship with his dad with the first thing is them shoplifting together is clearly a thing they do together. He doesn’t want to call him dad. He’s really resistant to that. And it’s not exactly clear why. And then you have you kind of find out more about why maybe, but he is a great kind of big brother to Uri, which is, is really sweet. And he doesn’t want her to shoplift. At first he says something like, it’s, it’s because this is a guy thing. But I had the sense that he wanted to protect her innocence. It was kind of my feeling around that. But he his decision at the end is kind of what makes everything unravel is and I think it is secondary to grandma dies. He feels uncomfortable with him taking the money and hiding this big secret. And then he so he basically gets himself up more or less he does jump over the edge of a tall thing and breaks his leg during a obviously really clumsy shoplifting. We’ve seen him shoplift really expertly many times. And then in this one, he just kind of, obviously is doing this on purpose and then is in the hospital and people inquire and that’s how everything happens at the end. But he Yeah, so what’s your impression of his character? And then we can talk about the final part of his story at the very end of the movie, too.

Omaya Jones 51:38
Yeah, I think that he. So I think initially, when the film starts, and he’s sort of resonant, are hesitant to include Yuri, on their shoplifting exploits. And, you know, initially, he tried to portray it as sort of like he’s being he’s jealous, right, of how he split his time or affection with his father character. But I think, later on in the film, once he starts to question things, especially after the scene, where, like, whether the father tries to break into the car, right, right, because that goes against the code that he has taught him, right. Yeah, it’s okay to still think from stores. Because they don’t belong anybody yet. But here he is speaking to the car. And that sort of relates to the story of how he’s, you know, he told me that you found me in a car. But were you really like doing something else? Like pre perhaps, like stealing from the car, and then you saw me and took me like, what was going on there? And then, you know, his transformation also coincides with his puberty, right? Because there’s a scene at the beach, where he’s staring at at aqis breast. And then so he gets his father son, talk about how like, That’s normal. That’s okay. Which still goes into the column of him being a good father.

Andrew Sweatman 52:54
Yeah. I love that single time. I think it’s Yeah, like dad goals, almost, you know,

Omaya Jones 52:58
but like that beach scene signals, you know, that’s like the last thing what the grandmother alive. That’s where we realize, okay, he’s hitting puberty. So he’s sort of changing and maybe perhaps, rebelling a little bit. And he started to question things. And that like that pivotal, I beat scene is sort of like the pivotal moment in the film. Where after that everything sort of unravels for everybody.

Andrew Sweatman 53:24
Yeah, so his Yeah, I love that beach scene. And that purity talk is so interesting. And then. Yeah, so I think that that car scene that you mentioned, where he, he kind of calls into question the moral code, and then he just questions everything about how he even joined this family. And I think that yeah, that’s the kind of the road to his, his action at the end. So then, in the conclusion of the movie, we see, mom’s in jail, she took the fall, because she has less of a record, and it’s less time for her. And then dad is just living by himself. But he’s able to see showed at the orphanage where he’s now living and the he like comes in, they spend the afternoon together, and then he end up spending the night there, which is against the rules, but he kind of just kind of this cute little mischievous. Yeah, it’s fine, whatever, kind of a moment. And then he gets on the bus to leave. And then dad runs after the The bus is a show to show to and you know that the bus doesn’t stop or anything, but then showed it looks back and then finally verbalizes dad, like Thanks, dad or something like that. So why do you think that is the moment that he finally kind of embrace that title?

Omaya Jones 54:39
I think that he comes to an understanding. I think that’s also probably the last time that they see each other, right? Yeah. It’s ambiguous as to whether or not so like before that they go to jail, and they visit the mother and she’s giving him the information, if he wants to how he can find his family. And so it’s ambiguous whether he’s actually going to go do that. But he sort of realized that this period of his life is over. And even though he can’t hear it, it’s important for him to, I guess, to give the affirmation that like, you know what, you are my father for this period of time. I think he didn’t, you know, he’s like, I think you did a good job. The best you could do, but you also just have these human weaknesses that I guess you could never come? Yeah. Because like, in that period of time, when he snuck away from the orphanage, and they’re staying together, they also had that conversation where he confirms that, yes, we were going to sneak away and the night right, and to avoid getting caught. And that’s like, the last thing like the last crumbling piece of the infrastructure that sort of held them together, because he realizes like, okay, I too, am disposable. Yeah.

Andrew Sweatman 55:47
Yeah, I agree. I think it’s, it’s kind of like finally seeing this father figure in, in context, and like, seeing his flaws and, and then still coming to accept him, even though you’re not gonna see him anymore. Like it’s, and it’s kind of thing like the people that you really love you, you know, except the good and the bad. And I think it’s an interesting way to, to demonstrate that that he, I think, for years, kind of blindly trusted this father figure, even though he was had some emotional block about calling him dad. But now that he knows the full story, and I think he sees that this, this father figure really does love him, and yet, is doing the best he can and is very imperfect. And so maybe that just kind of sink getting the full picture of, of his father’s character, and then being able to accept him as a as a person and really love him. Even as they’re saying, Goodbye. Yeah, it’s really a nice, nice moment. And it surprised me. I didn’t I, you know, I kind of thought, when we find out that he’s reticent about saying, Dad, are we gonna is that gonna play out of the drama, but I think by the end of the movie, it was like almost over I kind of let that go. And so that that was really surprising and touching. Yeah. Well, I think that from there, is there anything else we need to say about Corrie eight as a filmmaker, because so we’re going to move into picking his kind of final phase or third phase of filmmaking, as we look at next times a movie, which is the truth. But yeah, so any other kind of creative facts we should know? What do you think of Maya?

Omaya Jones 57:20
So I would say that one in terms of his role and contemporary Japanese cinema, obviously, he’s one of the most celebrated, he often gets compared to Ozu. There’s another Japanese director that he references as an influence. And as Mickey and Bruce, who was a contemporary of Ozu and Kurosawa. And he made a number of films, including films like when a woman is since the stairs and a film that I saw on the criterion channel called yearning. And the thing about narrows is that he made a lot of, of these women’s pictures or that they’re these movies that explore the role of women in Japanese society, in this post war period, but he is an idealist, so they all have these sort of like subtly bleak endings. And I think that’s something that you see in some of Korea’s work as well. He also references a number of European directors. So like Ken Loach is one whose work I’m not familiar with, but he says one of his favorite films is cast, which I think is about a boy at boarding school who doesn’t have any friends, and he ends up befriending like a hawk or something. I just watched the trailer for it last night. But he also has like, it’s interesting, because like I said, he started as a documentary filmmaker, and he was making these films are for Japanese television. He wanted to be a novelist, and he gets into film, and he has this relationship with a government. That is not it’s not necessarily like hostile, but he thinks it’s important to say, at an arm’s distance away from them, lets you be co opted for propaganda purposes. I have, let’s see. It’s a quote. This is from an interview that was published in a box set called a flesh and blood that was published by bf phi. And he’s asked, okay, so he was, after the success of shoplifters, you know, he was invited to meet with the Prime Minister, which he declined. And he sort of talks about how the relationship between filmmakers and even athletes and government needs to be such that you don’t get co opted for political purposes. And he said, I’m a filmmaker, but also a television person. My background is in TV. And I feel concerned about broadcasting situation in the sense that they don’t criticize the current government all at all. The media is fulfilling to serve his true purpose and it’s probably unheard of in the west of the heads of news outlets have lunch and dinner with the top government officials. Politicians, the Prime Minister They ought to be in a position of criticizing keeping check in the government, but they’re not. And say, for example, a sportsman wins an award abroad. Then the government congratulates that person by inviting him to the Prime Minister’s Office, to take photographs with him and sending the congratulatory message, all that sort of thing that makes me feel sick. I don’t understand why they don’t feel more of a sense of danger. The arts and sports are prone to being used politically, look back at Japanese history. And it’s important to sit them and not get too close to the powers that be. And I think, actually, maybe the US and Japan are more alike in that respect. Yeah, he realizes

Andrew Sweatman 1:00:40
that a lot of resonance right now, actually. And so I’m hoping to discuss the the documentary, The way I see it in the next few weeks. And that will absolutely I’ll try to bring that quote in again, because that’s perfectly it kind of goes right in line with just political powers and media, and the way that relationship should work, maybe. Yeah, anyway, that yeah, that has a lot of resonance for 2020.

Omaya Jones 1:01:05
Yeah, and like that, like, the next question is, do you feel that the film and perhaps he’s talking about shoplifters, because you fill out this film, and perhaps your films more generally create a picture of society that’s heading in the wrong direction. And he says, maybe there’s a bit of that, but I depicted just the positive thing. But if I’d depicted just the positive things about Japan, that would be nothing more than a tourist film, a promotional film. I think you should have variety depict all sorts of things. But it seems that the criticisms and negative comments about this film since its release are mainly online. None of them seem to grasp the actual nature of the film. They don’t seem to get the point. Interesting. So there’s just a couple a couple of things. There was another quote, I can’t find it right now. But maybe it’ll come up again, when we do the truth about how he just is trying to be honest in his films. I think he’s responding to sort of like why they can be kind of bleak at the end.

Andrew Sweatman 1:02:01
Yeah, yeah, this definitely does have a, I don’t know, the ending of this film, as you mentioned, is bleak. I think it’s not as bleak as you’re jumping off a bridge. But it is, I think, don’t end the way we want. We’ve seen this warm relationship. But I was gonna say, I think that when I think about this movie, I don’t necessarily think about the end, I think about maybe this just like, I’m just an optimist, I don’t know but I think about, like the the warmth of those relationships and the strong connections that they have. So like, as much as it doesn’t have a happy ending, I think of it as like a, an emotionally positive experience for me to watch. But even just like the story, I think is very, I don’t know, full of love and that kind of thing. So I think of it as I don’t know, happy movies, not the right word, but just uh, it feels I think it’s positive about human nature maybe even as it It shows systems falling apart. But yeah, I don’t know. I really like shoplifters excited to watch the truth. And, and and hopefully get to dig into some more creative stuff in the near future. Well, thanks again Omi for joining us, and we’ll hear from you next time again, for the truth and then also I’m having some making some plans for the next season of the podcast. I’ll announce simply something soon. I’ve kind of hinted at that on this episode. And we’ll have hopefully a variety of guests including on my effort one or two more episodes there. But yes, back again for for the truth next time. So thanks again, Maya. Thank you for having me. You are so welcome. And thank you so much for listening to art house garage. We’ve got a few years worth of episodes now and you can hear all of those in your podcast app of choice. If you want to support our house garage. You can leave a rating a review in your podcast app or you can buy an art house garage t shirt at art house garage, comm slash shop. stay in the loop about art house garage and the Arkansas film community by subscribing to our email newsletter by going to art house garage comm slash subscribe or you can email me directly Andrew at art house garage COMM And of course follow on social media. You can find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and letterbox just search at art house garage and all those places. And that will do it for this episode. Thank you again so much for listening. And until next time, keep it stop.

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Andrew Sweatman

Andrew is a writer, podcaster, and film lover who wants to help people think critically about movies. He lives in central Arkansas with his wife Allison and two children, Rosie & Beau. Andrew is the Senior Editor at Arthouse Garage and a member of the Southeastern Film Critics Association (SEFCA). Find him at and on Twitter and Instagram: @ArthouseGarage.

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