A defiant woman asserts her autonomy in the face of a disapproving society in Márta Mészáros’ complex look at the ways in which women’s bodies and minds are held in check by the strictures of patriarchy. Frequent Mészáros collaborator Lili Monori delivers a fearless performance as Juli, a young woman who begins a new job at a brick factory where she is immediately pursued by possessive coworker János (Jan Nowicki)—a relationship that grows complicated when he discovers that she is raising a son from a previous lover. Mészáros’ background as a documentarian is evident in her feeling for the industrial landscapes of Northern Hungary and in the astonishing final scene in which the boundaries between actress and character are radically dissolved.
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.