Between the international triumphs of La strada and Nights of Cabiria, Federico Fellini made this fascinatingly unique film, which has been long overlooked. Largely eschewing the poetic flourishes of the more famous works that bookend it, Il bidone is a dark neorealist crime drama starring a commanding Broderick Crawford as one of the most complex characters in the director’s canon: an aging con man who, having made a career preying on the desperation of poor peasants, suddenly finds that his crooked ways have begun to catch up with him. Masterfully entwining the story’s human grit with elements of humor and pathos, Fellini crafts a searing portrait of a man reckoning with the consequences of his life’s choices that hits with the force of a profound moral tragedy.
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.