Cinema: Crime Without Punishment

Caper flicks, as the trade calls them invariably involve some lovable folk; who pull off an enormous and improbable heist, only to be foiled in the last reel by a freakish turn of fate. Disaster can come in many forms: a runaway poodle (The Killing), a cremated coffin (Ocean's 11), or a kid with a photographic memory (The League of Gentlemen). At their best, caper movies can be wry little existential parables; at their worst, they are merely two hours of closeups on nervous thieves and unyielding safe dials.

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