Full Review: SHOPLIFTERS (Japan 2018) ****

Shoplifters Poster
Trailer

A family of small-time crooks take in a child they find outside in the cold.

Director:

Hirokazu Koreeda

Writers:

Hirokazu Koreeda (original story), Hirokazu Koreeda (screenplay)

Hirokazu Kore-ed’s (his masterpiece AFTER LIFE and last year’s THE THIRD MURDER) latest film, SHOPLIFTERS won him the Palme D’Or at Cannes this year and is a real gem of a movie.  It tells the story of a poor family barely etching out a decent living in the outskirts of Tokyo.  The family is comprised of a couple, a grandmother and children.  The beauty of the movie is the twist in the story, that if revealed would definitely destroy the movie’s purpose.

The film’s Japanese title MANBIKI KAZOKU literally translates to ‘shoplifting family’.  Indeed so.  This is not Kore-da’s first family themed film, after making AFTER THE STORM,    LIKE FATHER LIKE SON and NOBODY KNOWS.   The patriarch, Osamu Shibata (Lily Franky) and his young boy, Shota (Jyo Kairi) complete a shoplifting spree at the residential grocery store before treating him to delicious croquettes.  They hear the cries of a hungry 4-year old who they bring back home (or kidnap) to feed her and later not return her to her family after discovering scars all over her body.  Shota and the young girl, Yuri bond.  Kore-eda’s film is kept interesting from the various characters of the family that also includes the grandmother (Kiki Kilin), Shota’s wife, Nobuyo (Ando Sakura) and her sister who works in a strip club.

The message that this make-shift dishonest family has more love than the typical Japanese family is obvious and drummed into the audience at the end of the film, in case the audience did not get it.  But thankfully, Kore’eda’s message is all not all black and white.  He also looks at the limitations of homeschooling as Shota is taught shoplifting and does not attend school.  “I thought kids who cannot study go to school,” Shota questions a detective at one point in the film.  The detective’s answer is: “Some things you cannot teach at home – meeting people.”

One of the film’s most interesting segments has the family go to the beach together.  How they interact with each other makes good observation.

The audience might wonder why did it took so long for Yuri’s mother to search and claim her back.  The audience overhears an argument between mother and father that they did not want her and that she was a nuisance.  

The film contains two twists that occur after the son, Shota is injured while jumping off a highway overpass in order to escape being caught from shoplifting.  This he does to save his little sister from getting caught.  What is revealed is both unexpected that teaches the audience both of that family and what an ideal family should be.  

Kore-ed’s actors need not act – his camera does.  From, close-ups, long hots, a character’s glance, the turn of a face, Kore-ed knows exactly how to capture a moment or create an effect.  The result is a superior movie from a clear Master of a medium who is not only a great story-teller (telling a story with a clear timely message) but a superb filmmaker.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rwcb5ki1f-4

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TIFF 2018 Review: SHOPLIFTERS

 Submit your Screenplay to the Festival TODAY

Shoplifters Poster
Trailer

A family of small-time crooks take in a child they find on the street.

Director:

Hirokazu Koreeda

 

Hirokazu Kore-ed’s (his masterpiece AFTER LIFE and last year’s THE THIRD MURDER) latest film won him the Palm d’Or at Cannes this year and is a real gem of a movie.

It tells the story of a poor family barely etching out a decent living in the outskirts of Tokyo.  The family is comprised of a couple, a grandmother and  2 children.  The film contains two twists – story turns (not revealed in this review) that occur after the son, Shota is injured while jumping off a highway overpass in order to escape being caught from shoplifting.  This he does to save his little sister.  

What is revealed is unexpected that teaches the audience what an ideal family should be.  Kore-ed’s actors need not act – his camera does.  From, close-ups, long shots, a character’s glance, the turn of a face, Kore-ed knows exactly how to capture a moment or create an effect.  The result is a superior movie from a clear Master of a medium who is not only a great story-teller (telling a story with a clear timely message) but a superb filmmaker.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rwcb5ki1f-4

 Submit your Screenplay to the Festival TODAY

TIFF 2017 Movie Review: THE THIRD MURDER (Japan 2017) ****

Movie Reviews of films that will be playing at TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival) in 2017. Go to TIFF 2017 Movie Reviews and read reviews of films showing at the festival.

The Third Murder Poster
Mikuma has a criminal record dating back many years and is now under the spotlight again. It looks like and open and shut case for Mikuma has confessed to the new charge. Enter prominent …See full summary »

Director:

Hirokazu Koreeda

Writer:

Hirokazu Koreeda (screenplay)

Stars:

Masaharu FukuyamaKôji YakushoIsao Hashizume

THE THIRD MURDER is director Hirokazu Kore-eda’s (AFTER LIFE, AFTER THE STORM LIKE FATEHR LIKE SON) first murder mystery/courtroom drama and one that encompasses deep thoughts on morality. From the first scene, Misumi (Kôji Yakusho) robs and kills an industrialist. Misumi freely confesses to the cops, claiming he was desperate to settle a gambling debt.

But defence attorney Shigemori (Masaharu Fukuyama) isn’t entirely satisfied with his mild-mannered client’s testimony. As Shigemori and his team go about their research, secret histories are brought to light, inconsistencies surface and unlikely alliances point to a more complicated set of circumstances.

One flaw of the film is the point is that it is brought up later Misumi might not have killed the industrialist and someone else could have done it. But showing the killing at the start of the film, dismisses the fact that someone else could have done it.

It is the film’s classic case where a director should never lie in a flashback scene. (Hitchcock did it once in STAGE FRIGHT and was never forgiven for it.) Kore-eda’s shot of Misumi’s reflection in the glass in the film’s final scene when he finally concludes his case with his attorney demands mention. The image in the reflection is different from his actual face reflecting the two sides of the man.

Brilliantly thought of and executed THE THIRD MURDER marks Kore-eda as his continuous best.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Plr3V4TYBQE

THE THIRD MURDER

Film Review: AFTER THE STORM (Japan 2016) ***1/2

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AFTER THE STORM.jpgDirector: Hirokazu Koreeda
Writers: Hirokazu Koreeda (original story), Hirokazu Koreeda (screenplay)
Stars: Hiroshi Abe, Yôko Maki, Satomi Kobayashi

Review by Gilbert Seah

 I was totally amazed with the first Hirokazu Kore-eda film I had seen called AFTER LIFE in 2003, which I considered a minor masterpiece. The British magazine did a 5-page article on him and the film hoping the publicity would get the then undistributed film distribution. It did. Kore-eda followed AFTER LIFE with a few other films, most notable being the Cannes Palme d’Or winner in 2013 LIKE FATHER, LIKE SON – again an excellent film.

AFTER THE STORM is not Kore-da at his best but at his mildest filmmaking. Don’t expect the drama of LIKE FATHER, LIKE SON or the imagination of AFTER LIFE. Yet AFTER THE STORM is not without its pleasures. On the surface it is a simple film, a kind look at a loser. Ryota (Hiroshi Abe) is a failed writer, a third-rate detective, and a hardened gambler. As the film’s title seems to suggest, the salient moments of his life have already passed before the beginning of the story. He won an important literary award when he was young, but his promising career vanished into thin air. Now, his father has died and his wife has left him. What he makes as a private detective, he loses on gambling and can barely pay his child support. After the death of his father, his aging mother Yoshiko (Kilin Kiki) and his ex-wife Kyoko (Yoko Maki) seem to be moving on with their lives. Renewing contact with his initially distrusting family, Ryota struggles to take back control of his existence and to find a place in the life of his young son, Shingo (Taiyo Yoshizawa). Ryoto seems resigned to his position on the sidelines of the boy’s life. But Ryota works with another young man, his private-eye assistant, who fills in the position of his absent son.

The audience is left to judge Ryoto. Ryoto is a man, not without vices, but still honest man despite dishonest doings. And he is still a handsome man, besides his age, able to attract the opposite sex, as in the old classmate he meets at the beginning of the film.

Thefilm’s climax takes place one night when a typhoon strikes. The broken family is forced to spend the night together at Ryota’s mother’s home. The ensuing interaction that is both bittersweet and tender forms the film’s highlight. “I never want to grow up to be like you.”, the son says. “I will always love them. They are my family.” The father says at one point. These are the sensitivities always prevalent in Kore-eda’s films that make them memorable. Great performances here come not only from Abe but from Kirin Kiki as Ryota’s mother, who is so funny she steals every scene she is in. And as in all Kore-eda’s films, there are a lot of scenes of trains. Kore-eda has said that this film is based on his personal experience of the death of his parents.

Also interesting is the observation of the ex-couple’s arguments. Ryota argues with his ex-wife over seeing his son and child support. In this film, typical of Japanese films, there is argument with reasoning without any shouting or display of cheap theatrics that are common to European and American films.

There is a beautiful shot of a delicious braised pork brewing stew at one point in the film when Yoshiko tells her son: “A stew needs time for the flavours to sink in; so do people.” The same applies in AFTER THE STORM – patience is needed for the audience to savour the pleasures of Kore-eda’s film.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DwJcIoFuhto

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