The first film in Abbas Kiarostami’s sublime, interlacing trilogy of films set in the northern Iranian village of Koker takes a premise of fable-like simplicity—a boy searches for the home of his classmate whose school notebook he has accidentally taken—and transforms it into a miraculous, child’s-eye adventure of the everyday. As our young hero zigzags determinedly across two towns aided (and sometimes misdirected) by those he encounters, his quest becomes both a revealing portrait of Iranian society in all its richness and complexity and a touching parable about the meaning of personal responsibility. Shot through with all the wonder, beauty, tension, and mystery one day can contain, Where is the Friend’s House? established Kiarostami’s reputation as one cinema’s most sensitive and profound humanists.
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.