Film: The five best films

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The Independent Culture

Pleasantville (2)

Two Nineties teenagers are magicked into the world of a favourite Fifties sitcom and begin to exert a dramatic influence on its conformist black-and-white idyll. A witty, inventive parable about prejudice and change.


Festen (5)

Danish director Thoman Vinterberg's superlative black comedy concerns the 60th birthday of a family patriarch, who finds himself at the centre of the dark secrets that unexpectedly emerge.


The Thin Red Line (5)

Terrence Malick returns to the screen after an absence of 20 years with a hugely ambitious film about the battle of Guadalcanal. A war movie of a sort, though what that sort might be is uncertain.


Affliction (5)

Paul Schrader's magnificently bleak study in fatherhood and fatalism, adapted from Russell Banks's novel, stars Nick Nolte as a man struggling to escape the influence of his violent dad (James Coburn).


Shakespeare in Love (5)

This enjoyable historical romp suggests how romance fired the young Will Shakespeare with the creative inspiration for Romeo and Juliet. Joseph Fiennes and Gwyneth Paltrow head an impressive cast.