Louis Malle unveiled the natural beauty of Jeanne Moreau in his breakthrough, Elevator to the Gallows. With his follow-up, the scandalous smash The Lovers (Les amants), he made her a star once and for all. A deeply felt and luxuriously filmed fairy tale for grown-ups, perched on the edge between classical and New Wave cinemas, The Lovers presents Moreau as a restless bourgeois wife whose eye wanders from both her husband and her lover to an attractive passing stranger (Jean-Marc Bory). Thanks to its frank sexuality, The Lovers caused quite a stir, being censored and attacked for obscenity around the world. If today its shock has worn off, its glistening sensuality and seductive storytelling haven't aged a day.
This boldly cinematic trio of stories about love and loss, from Krzysztof Kieślowski was a defining event of the art-house boom of the 1990s. The films are named for the colors of the French flag and stand for the tenets of the French Revolution—liberty, equality, and fraternity—but that hardly begins to explain their enigmatic beauty and rich humanity. Set in Paris, Warsaw, and Geneva, and ranging from tragedy to comedy, Blue, White, and Red(Kieślowski’s final film) examine with artistic clarity a group of ambiguously interconnected people experiencing profound personal disruptions. Marked by intoxicating cinematography and stirring performances by such actors as Juliette Binoche, Julie Delpy, Irène Jacob, and Jean-Louis Trintignant, Kieślowski’s Three Colors is a benchmark of contemporary cinema.
The Hong Kong crime drama was jolted to new life with the release of the Infernal Affairs trilogy, a bracing, explosively stylish critical and commercial triumph that introduced a dazzling level of narrative and thematic complexity to the genre with its gripping saga of two rival moles.
The release of François Truffaut’s The 400 Blows in 1959 shook world cinema to its foundations.