Firebrand auteur Nagisa Ōshima offers a devastating vision of moral rot within postwar Japanese society in the form of a hauntingly sad family tragedy. Inspired by a scandalous true story, Boy follows ten-year-old Toshio (Tetsuo Abe, an orphan whose real life mirrored the tumultuous upbringing of his character) whose grifter parents use him as a pawn in a scheme to stage car accidents and then extort money from the drivers. As the family crisscrosses Japan in an increasingly desperate attempt to elude the law, Toshio escapes into an imaginary world of science fiction fantasy and space aliens that he dreams will deliver him from his harrowing existence. Applying the blistering stylistic experimentation of his earlier Japanese New Wave touchstones with newfound restraint, Ōshima adopts a relatively sober docudrama approach that proves no less shocking and subversive in its emotionally annihilating portrait of a stolen childhood.
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.