A lost treasure of 1990s DIY filmmaking, Afrofuturist art star Cauleen Smith’s UCLA thesis film embeds an incisive look at racial injustice within a lovingly handmade buddy movie-murder mystery-romance. Observing the alarming rate at which the young Black men around her are dying—indeed, “becoming extinct,” as she sees it—brash Oakland art student Pica (Toby Smith) begins preserving their existence in Polaroid snapshots, along the way forging a friendship with a gender nonconforming young woman (April Barnett), experiencing love and loss, and being drawn into the search for a serial killer who is terrorizing the city. Capturing the vibrant community spirit of Oakland in the nineties, Smith crafts both a rare cinematic celebration of Black female creativity and a moving elegy for a generation of lost African American men.
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.