Kaurismäki took his penchant for despairing character studies to unspeakably grim depths in the shockingly entertaining The Match Factory Girl. Kati Outinen is memorably impenetrable as Iris, whose grinding days as a cog in a factory wheel, and nights as a neglected daughter living with her parents, ultimately send her over the edge. Yet despite her transgressions, Kaurismäki makes Iris a compelling, even sympathetic figure. Bleak yet suffused with comic irony, The Match Factory Girl closes out the “Proletariat Trilogy” with a bang—and a whimper.
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.