As she roams the streets of Tehran in her car, a recently divorced woman (Mania Akbari) chauffeurs a rotating cast of passengers, from her combative young son to a heartbroken wife abandoned by her husband to a defiant young sex worker going about her job. Fully embracing the minimalist freedoms of digital filmmaking by shooting entirely on two cameras fixed to the vehicle’s dashboard, Kiarostami crafts a miracle of slice- of-life docufiction that probes the experiences of women in contemporary Iran. Capturing revealing moments of everyday human interaction, Ten uses its simple premise as a vehicle for a remarkably rich, perceptive look at the tension between the strictures of a patriarchal society and the universal need for personal freedom.
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.