The first Hungarian film directed by a woman, Márta Mészáros’ debut feature is an assured expression of many of her recurring themes: broken families, the relationships between parents and children, and the search for stability in an uncertain world. Erzsi (Kati Kovács), a young woman living in an orphanage in Budapest, sets out to reconnect with her birth mother (Teri Horváth)—a quest that leads her to a small town where Erzsi’s modern, urban sensibilities clash with the conservative, provincial attitudes of the woman who brought her into the world but with whom she has little else in common. Laced with the feminist concerns that would become a hallmark of Mészáros’ work, The Girl is a minutely observed portrait of a woman searching for where she came from in order to figure out where she is going.
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.