Films of the week: Compelling clash of wills is brought into sharp focus in The Master


Click to follow
The Independent Culture


The Master

10am & 9.45pm Sky Movies Premiere

(Paul Thomas Anderson, 2012) Philip Seymour Hoffman plays Lancaster Dodd, a charismatic and domineering cult leader modelled on L Ron Hubbard. But this is not a film à clef, or even a critique of Scientology. It is more abstract and more distilled; a compelling, hyperreal, psychologically astute dramatisation of a clash of wills between Dodd and his most troublesome disciple, Freddie Quell (Joaquin Phoenix). *****


Rear Window

1.10pm More 4

(Alfred Hitchcock, 1954) Set almost entirely in the two-room apartment of James Stewart's wheelchair- bound photographer, Alfred Hitchcock's murder mystery is claustrophobic and masterfully controlled. A study in the complex mechanics of voyeurism and desire which has kept film theorists busy for decades, it's also an edge-of-your-seat thriller and a fascinating love story. Grace Kelly co-stars. *****


The Wings of the Dove

9pm ITV3

(Iain Softley, 1997) A good amount of the richness and subtlety of Henry James's novel about a love triangle between two penniless English lovers and their rich American friend remains intact in this screen adaptation. The performances by Helena Bonham Carter, Linus Roache and Alison Elliott contain the necessary complexity of emotions, while the film-makers get the tone about right too. ****


Five Easy Pieces

12.40pm & 8pm Sky Movies Greats

(Bob Rafelson, 1970) This free- wheeling character study is very much of its time – in ways both good and bad. It was one of the key films of the "New Hollywood" of the Seventies, and turned Jack Nicholson from a counterculture icon into a movie star. He plays a once-promising pianist who has dropped out of his upper-class life in order to work the oil rigs of California, drink, and argue with his girlfriend (Karen Black). ****



10pm ITV4

(Brian De Palma, 1983) Along with Wall Street – which was also scripted by Oliver Stone – this loud and violent film is one of the definitive Eighties essays on the ugly side of the American Dream: greed, egoism and vulgar, conspicuous consumption. It's also a classic rise-and-fall gangster narrative, with Al Pacino unforgettable as the cocaine-addled, trigger-happy psychopath Tony Montana. *****


Breakfast at Tiffany's

12.55pm Channel 4

(Blake Edwards, 1961) There are things in Truman Capote's novella that the film dared not say, George Peppard is a slightly weak leading man, and Mickey Rooney's buck-toothed Japanese stereotype is just awful. But Audrey Hepburn is utterly radiant, so this is still a pretty wonderful movie, about a secretly fragile and somewhat damaged good-time girl, having to learn how to love. *****


Out of Sight

7.55pm Sky Movies Select

(Steven Soderbergh, 1998) The best adaptation of the work of the recently departed crime novelist Elmore Leonard, this slick, stylish and sexy romance-thriller also helped establish George Clooney as a leading man and was the beginning of his fruitful collaboration with the director Steven Soderbergh. He plays a smooth- talking bank robber inappropriately falling for a US Marshal (Jennifer Lopez). *****