Made concurrently with Agnès Varda’s portrait of Jane Birkin, Jane B. par Agnès V., Kung-Fu Master! is a true family affair, achieving a sense of of lived-in intimacy by casting the actor’s real-life relatives, including daughters Charlotte Gainsbourg and Lou Doillon, as themselves. Varda and Birkin give the familiar theme of a misunderstood couple searching for a place where their love can survive a provocative twist in this daring romance, in which Birkin (who wrote the story that provided the inspiration for the film) plays a middle-aged woman involved with a fourteen-year-old, video game–obsessed boy (Varda’s son, Mathieu Demy). The taboo relationship plays out with supreme delicacy and restraint, as Varda transforms the explosive premise into a disarmingly tender portrait of a woman’s search for lost youth.
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.