Often called the Godard of the East, Japanese director Nagisa Oshima was one of the most provocative film artists of the twentieth century, and his works challenged and shocked the cinematic world for decades. Following his rise to prominence at Shochiku, Oshima struck out to form his own production company, Sozo-sha, in the early sixties. That move ushered in the prolific period of his career that gave birth to the five films collected here. Unsurprisingly, this studio renegade was fascinated by stories of outsiders—serial killers, rabid hedonists, and stowaway misfits are just some of the social castoffs you’ll meet in these audacious, cerebral entries in the New Wave surge that made Japan a hub of truly daredevil moviemaking.
The title character, played by Tadanori Yokoo, takes the first step on the road to ruin when he steals an inconsequential item from a bookstore. Caught in the act by the shopgirl (Rie Yokoyama), the shoplifter becomes the girl's sexual partner-and virtual slave. The film is rife with erotic symbolism that will be lost on no one. Originally titled Shinjuku Dorobo Nikki, Diary of a Shinjuku Thief is director Nagisa Oshima's homage to controversial French author (and unregenerate thief) Jean Genet.