"Conceived by the Greek-born filmmaker Costa-Gavras as a celluloid indictment of the right-wing junta that had seized power in his native country, Z was a surprise international hit fueled by a few choice suspense sequences, jagged editing, handsome color images lensed by the great Raoul Coutard, and the topicality niche it occupied as an entertainment spun out of a real-life political assassination. Forty years on, it's still an eye-catching, fast-paced watch, but the plaudits it won as an uncompromising thriller and landmark cinema seem as shaky as the film's villainous military officers' insistence that its central murder was an accident. Not a true thriller as much as an investigative procedural with a semblance of geopolitical cred, Z often relies on some slick camouflage of shopworn genre standbys, and perhaps because its pacifist-leaning dissidents made for less problematic heroes than the militant guerillas of The Battle of Algiers, Hollywood bestowed on it two Oscars and a Best Picture nomination. (A French-Algerian co-production dramatizing police beatings and government-sanctioned murder had the necessary distance from domestic strife to win Academy approval.) "