Tag Archives: Oliver Twist

Shoplifters (2018)

It would have been easy for Shoplifters to glamorize the criminal acts of its central characters. Hirokazu Kore-eda’s latest film follows an impoverished Tokyo family surviving on a hierarchical system of thievery, nicking small items where the opportunity arises or, more frequently, setting out on an express mission to steal that which they need. The setup, of course, is worlds away from the heist genre, but it’s still refreshing to experience these criminal acts for what they actually are: desperate, thrill-less acts devoid of meticulous planning or grifter’s luck. And if there is any thrill in stealing shampoo and ramen noodles, it’s a thrill that quickly sinks into the pit of one’s stomach, weighed by the immorality of it all.

Shoplifting — or crime, more broadly — isn’t really the main focus of Shoplifters, anyway. This is a movie about family, and the family in focus happens to sometimes commit criminal acts. For the first chunk of the film, we might almost leave it at that. We spend as much time at home in quiet moments with the members of this family as we do in the “action” of their thievery, although it quickly becomes apparent that both are survival tactics. Fulfilling the role of Family Member, in many ways, provides much the same life-giving sustenance as does the role of Thief.

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Constantine (2005)

Like it or not, the 2016 presidential election is already one for the books. On the Democratic side we have an ex-First Lady and a septuagenarian leading a whiny guy from Baltimore for the nomination; the GOP, meanwhile, having been essentially co-opted by a real estate mogul, is among others asserting a guy who literally read Green Eggs and Ham aloud on the Senate floor. For President. Of the United States.

It’s all Trump all the time, of course, primarily because of the fact that he’s an absolute firecracker and partially because of the fact that we’re all pretty much mortified that he might actually win (having the benefit of time travel, we already know he does). This past weekend The Boston Globe ran a great article about Trump’s forerunners, detailing a collection of figures who for all intents and purposes were Trump before Trump was Trump. Ironically, the point raised here is that Trump’s freshness, his standout vigor, and the anti-establishment rhetoric on which he’s built his entire campaign are in fact already storied installments in the annals of American politics. It’s history repeating itself while the guy at center stage harps about how everything he’s doing has never been done before.

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