The Pick Pocket (1997) is Chinese sixth generation film maker Zhangke Jia's first feature film and has more of an Italian neo-realist feel to it than some of his later films. It is part of what is known as his "The Hometown Trilogy" [the other two films are Platform (2000) and Unknown Pleasures (2002)] which were filmed in Zhangke's hometown of Fengyang. This film focuses on the life of small-time pickpocket, Xiao Wu, played charmingly by Jia regular-to-be Wang Hong Wei. It is a time of change, the Hong Kong turnover takes place in this year and many of his pickpocket friends have gone legitimate or somewhat legitimate. But Xiao Wu is stuck in a rut stealing, depositing ID cards in the mail, loafing about at pool halls, shops his friends own, and karaoke bars. He seems to fall in love with a bar girl and goes as far as to buy a ring for her, but she disappears and moves away suddenly one day prompting an ill-fated return to his hometown where he argues with his family and eventually is caught stealing and is displayed in the town square chained to a post. I have seen several other Zhangke films: Platform, The World, and 24 Hour City, and certain patterns emerge. Zhangke prefers long shots,a meandering pace, and real life locations that reflect the decay, poverty, and reality of the China he is depicting. Basically, his films mainly appeal to critics and art film aficionados and isn't necessarily appealing to the general film goer. I find his realistic portraits of contemporary China fascinating.