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  • Writer's pictureApocalyptic Thanksgiving


I wanted to see SHOPLIFTERS twice before I wrote this review… Why? It’s that damn good. But I also wanted to get this out there while this film is still in theaters. Catch it while you can! I’m sure that you can relate in wanting to do the best job ever since it’s just one of those films. And what exactly are those kinds of films?

They are the kind where the filmmakers capture moments of true humanity. My favorite example in this film is when the family featured realizes the authorities are looking for one of them because of their shoplifting ways. The family’s solution is to cut the little girl’s hair to “give her a disguise.” She is still recognizable except she is even cuter because you can see her face better. The family is the same way in that the haircut represents the peeling back of their layers to see how lovable they all are in their eclectic ways. You want to hang out with them as well as help the little girl hide in plain sight. Another interesting layer to the scene is that the family learns her real name.


But what is this family anyway? The description that I initially saw said that they are dysfunctional. It’s just that all families are that way if we’re all honest. This term is often thrown around as a way to dismiss all the stuff that happens behind closed doors. It’s the stuff that people don’t truly want to talk about for fear of retribution and possible loss of friends. This is why movies like this are so important for they explore ideas that would be delicate to bring up at any kind of social function or social media for some of the characters’ actions are risky. Okay. Most of the characters do questionable things except love and survive in the big city.

These moments then ask us what we would do if faced with similar situations? How short sighted would some of our decisions be? Is even considering the future a luxury? I don’t know…


However, there is one thing that I do know: I’ve revealed all that I will about the inner workings of this family for I’d much rather have you enjoy watching their different layers fall away. I don’t want to ruin this beautiful film for you in the same way others did for me with "The Walking Dead" Everyone told me of significant characters dying before I got to the episodes. It bummed me out to the point that I can’t bring myself to watch those scenes since I love the characters so much. This may not mean much to you except Richard and I used to faithfully wait every Sunday for a new episode and went on the “Talking Dead” twice.


A thing that I won’t leave a mystery about SHOPLIFTERS movie is that it doesn’t take place in bazillions of locations. It was also clear that a lot of thought was put into the different details that make up the images on the screen. They also give a great slice of life in the slums of a Japanese city on the seedier side. A great book that talks about this aspect of the story is Bruce Block’s “The Visual Story: Creating the Visual Structure of Film, TV and Digital Media.”

The lighting in the way the girl is introduced in the movie is a prime example of this… (A tiny spoiler. Big spoiler here) She is in the light except she is alone on a porch whereas the family is in the dark looking at her. But the family in the light while the porch is dark the second time we see that same location. The darkness and the light speak to the idea of the good guy vs the bad's just that this movie plays with that well since these characters are multi-layered. No one is completely good and no one is completely bad.

Another aspect of SHOPLIFTERS is that the images also reflect the emotional story that play out on the screen. They work well together in order to tell this story. An example is how the house is crammed full of mismatched stuff in the same way this family come together for their greater good. Tom Provost also has a wonderful class that explains all about how to tell your story visually in his Cinema Language Class.

Tom has classes in conjunction with Mark Stolaroff’s “No Budget Film School.” Richard and I took both of these classes prior to shooting MY APOCALYPTIC THANKSGIVING (MAT). Charlie also was the one who suggested that we attend them since he liked them so much.


A visual style we used in MAT is to try to have bars or shapes that look like bars around the character of Kim throughout the movie. They represent Kim’s emotional state and reveal his past.

We thought that this movie is a good fit for MAT since MAT is also about family. It also talks about the Asian family experience in a way not often seen in movies. And it helps us to understand that our hearts grow from love rather than restrict…

Have a great night!

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