Diary of a Shinjuku Thief

Tokyo's teeming Shinjuku district is a center for artistic experimentation, intellectual radicalism, and, for the likes of Oshima, adventure. Diary of a Shinjuku Thief is itself a teeming mixture of fantasy and reality, on one level a kind of documentary of the social unrest and counterculture life of Shinjuku, featuring several well-known underground figures. On the level of narrative it is the story of “a boy and a girl in search of their rightful moment of sexual ecstasy,” in Oshima's words. The film begins brilliantly in a bookstore where a boy who calls himself Birdy Hilltop is caught stealing a book and leaves with the shop clerk. What follows is their labyrinthine search for sexual satisfaction, which takes them to a Freudian sexologist who just doesn't get it, and to the neo-Kabuki Situation Players led by Kara Juro. Ritual and riot, thievery and fantasy, and ancient forms of role-playing: parts of a complicated analysis of sex, and perhaps of cinema.

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