The Independent Recommends

Click to follow
The Independent Culture
The Five Best Films

Get Carter (18)

Mike Hodges's gangland picture retains a seedy allure, thanks to bleak locations, spare dialogue, and a performance of near-heroic unpleasantness from Michael Caine.

A Simple Plan (15)

Cult horror director Sam Raimi makes a dramatic entry into the mainstream with this chilling, snowbound thriller about a $4m windfall that brings nothing but ill. Bill Paxton, Bridget Fonda and Billy Bob Thornton star.

Happiness (18)

Set in New Jersey, Todd Solondz's second film (right) is a dark comedy of loneliness and sexual deviancy that reaffirms this young writer- director's talent.

Best Laid Plans (15)

Brit director Mike Barker's first American movie neatly rolls a warped love story and a blackmail thriller into one, and features strong performances from Alessandro Nivola and Reese Witherspoon.

Orphans (18)

Peter Mullan's darkly comic tale of four siblings and a funeral movingly captures the emotional stresses of bereavement over the course of a storm- tossed Glaswegian night.

Anthony Quinn

The Five Best Plays

The Real Thing (Donmar Warehouse, London)

Tom Stoppard's witty, thoughtful disquisition on love looks even better now than in 1982, helped by an immensely attractive and subtle performance from Stephen Dillane. To 7 Aug

Holy Mothers (New Ambassadors Theatre, London)

Blocked lavatories and a last-minute beheading are on the menu in this extravaganza of bad taste (right) by Werner Schwab, Austria's answer to Joe Orton. To 3 Jul

Money (Olivier, National Theatre, London)

The courtship scene between Roger Allam's misery-guts and Patricia Hodges's witty aristo is not just the funniest stretch of this fine revival of Bulwer-Lytton's Victorian comedy; it's the most amusing thing on the London stage. To 15 Sept

Volpone (Swan Theatre, Stratford)

Comedies don't come funnier or more astringent than Ben Jonson's dissection of avaricious egotism. To 9 Oct

Oroonoko (The Other Place, Stratford)

There's political indignation but a refreshing lack of political correctness in Biyi Bandele's powerful dramatisation of 17th-century writer Aphra Behn's look at the slave trade. To 6 Oct

Paul Taylor

The Five Best Shows

Rembrandt by Himself (National Gallery, London)

The self-portraits. The first and most searching autobiography in paint. The great pictorial statements of honesty and mortality, of the human depths. Thirty paintings. To 5 Sept

Morandi and His Time (Estorick Collection, London)

Mr Twentieth-Century Still Life: 19 of his table-top pictures (right), with their close but tense families of bottles, jugs and pots - plus work by contemporaries. To 19 Sept

Shape of the Century (Salisbury Festival)

One hundred years of British sculpture - and they're all here: Epstein, Gill, Moore, Caro, Hepworth, Frink, Long, Kapoor, Gormley, Whiteread. To 19 Aug

Presence (Tate Gallery, Liverpool)

Figurative Art at the End of the Century: from a monumental Lucian Freud nude to Ron Mueck's giant, super-real model of a gawky girl in a swimsuit. To 5 Sept

John Coplans (Dean Gallery, Edinburgh)

Portrait of the artist as a fat old naked man? Coplans' photo-tableaux of close-ups of his body present flesh beyond classification, vulnerable and monumental. To 25 Jul

Tom Lubbock