One of the world’s most influential and provocative filmmakers, the Oscar–winning Austrian director Michael Haneke diagnoses the social maladies of contemporary Europe with devastating precision and artistry. His drama Code Unknown, the first of his many films made in France, may be his most inspired work. Composed almost entirely of brilliantly shot, single-take vignettes focusing on characters connected to one seemingly minor incident on a Paris street, Haneke’s film—with an outstanding international cast headlined by Juliette Binoche—is a revelatory examination of racial inequality and the failure of communication in an increasingly diverse modern landscape.
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.