A darkly comic portrait of late Thatcher-era London, High Hopes examines the different lives of a pair of siblings: Cyril (Philip Davis), a caustic motorcycle courier who takes pride in his working class roots, and Valerie (Heather Tobias), a high-strung aspirant to upper-middle class materialism. Cyril and girlfriend Shirley (Ruth Sheen) debate the merits of starting a family as they help Cyril’s aging mother (Edna Doré) cope with senility; Valerie, meanwhile, remains oblivious not only of her mother’s plight but also of the infidelities committed by her boorish husband Martin (Philip Jackson). Applying his cutting yet sympathetic observations of human behavior to a transitional cultural climate, Leigh contrasts the divergent values—and directions—of England’s social classes.
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.