Made with a righteous political anger that anticipates the incendiary polemics of documentarians such as Michael Moore and Joshua Oppenheimer, Kazuo Hara’s most renowned film is a harrowing confrontation with one of Japanese history’s darkest chapters: the atrocities committed by the country’s military during World War II. Hara’s unforgettable subject and collaborator in The Emperor’s Naked Army Marches On is Kenzo Okuzaki—a former soldier, convicted murderer, and defiantly anti-establishment agitator—who has made it his life’s mission to expose the crimes committed by Japanese officers against their own men while stationed in New Guinea. As the often-violent Okuzaki resorts to extreme measures in his crusade to find out the truth about what happened to two soldiers murdered by their commanders, what emerges is at once a shocking piece of investigative journalism, a courageous condemnation of militarism and blind obedience, and a riveting portrait of a single-minded man driven by a raw fury bordering on madness.
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.