Show & Tell: Shoplifters


Our story up to now: January has done its worst and is consigned to the scrapheap of winter history. Last week’s relatively polite snowstorm got sweated away by Tuesday’s spring-like heat wave. The Super Bowl, which always ignites a Monday of calling-in-sick absences, is history, for better or for worse.

The only bright red light of excitement on the horizon is Valentine’s Day. But stores have been marketing that since Christmas, so the bloom is off that particular rose.

No, I’d say that the best thing to look forward to in February is definitely the roster of films at The Music Hall.

Tuesday night, we will be discussing Shoplifters, a film by Japanese filmmaker Hirokazu Kore-eda.

I mean no disrespect to A Star is Born, which is playing the same night in The Historic Theater; it’s a grand movie in the classic over-the-top Hollywood tradition, and will likely make a movie star out of Lady Gaga and confirm Bradley Cooper’s status as a top A-list actor and (now) director.

But Shoplifters is something else entirely. It’s the story of a Japanese family that lives by petty crime and tells what happens when they take in a nearly frozen young girl with no future. Ultimately, the movie asks what family means, which is a tough one.

It’s likely that you’ve never seen a Kore-eda movie (I don’t think I have), but he has a reputation as a close observer of ordinary life and a director with a humanist sympathy with his characters.

And here he is with an Oscar nomination for Best Foreign Language Film for Shoplifters and phenomenally high scores on critical averaging sites like Metacritic (93%) and Rotten Tomatoes (8.8/10). I don’t generally trust any single review of a movie, no matter how well known the critic. But when the entire critical community is raving, I tend to respect their judgment.

I hope you will join me in The Music Hall Loft at 7:00 for Shoplifters. It should be a great movie and a great discussion.

Paul Goodwin


ps: And don’t forget to tell Alexa, Siri, or your quaint paper calendar to remind you about discussions of At Eternity’s Gate (a Vincent van Gogh biopic) on February 12 and Mary Queen of Scots on February 26 (which will also be a chance to gripe about/celebrate the Oscars).