The Independent Recommends

Click to follow
The Independent Culture
The Five Best Films

The Third Man (PG)

A front-runner for the greatest-film-of-all-time award. Carol Reed's thriller (right) leads us around post-war Vienna, through which slithers Orson Welles's smirking racketeer.

Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me (12)

Catchphrases, moon bases, groovy babies and crooked dentures. Welcome to the plastic-fantastic landscape of Mike Myers' irrepressible super- spy creation.

Place Vendome (15)

Nicole Garcia's upmarket Parisian thriller provides a velvet-lined showcase for the cut-glass skills of an on-form Catherine Deneuve.

West Beirut (15)

Involving rites-of-passage debut from former Tarantino collaborator Ziad Doueiri, all played out in a divided-up, war-riven Beirut. A vibrant and authentic-looking walk on the wild side.

The Matrix (15)

Keanu Reeves makes for a very 1990s messiah in the Wachowski Brothers' slick and stylish arcade-game actioner. With Laurence Fishburne and Carrie Anne Moss.

Xan Brooks

The Five Best Plays

The Merchant of Venice (Cottesloe, National, London)

With the magnificent Henry Goodman as Shylock, Trevor Nunn's 1920s-style production finds a rich complexity in a play too often simplified on the stage. In rep to 11 Sept

Look Back in Anger (Lyttelton, National, London)

Five tremendously alert performances make this revival of Osborne's iconic play completely riveting. In rep to 11 Sept

Antony and Cleopatra (Globe Theatre, London)

Mark Rylance is a beguilingly persuasive Cleopatra - ironically much less of a drag act than Frances de la Tour in the current Stratford production. In rep to 26 Sept

The Family Reunion (Swan Theatre, Stratford)

A masterclass in electrically incisive verse-speaking from Greg Hicks in a skilful revival of this rarely performed TS Eliot play (right). To 7 Oct

Easy Virtue (Chichester Festival Theatre)

Greta Scacchi scintillates as the glamorous "woman with a past" in Maria Aitken's assured revival of this early Coward play. To 2 Oct

David Benedict and Paul Taylor

The Five Best Shows

Bridget Riley (Serpentine Gallery, London)

The classic Op period: paintings from the 1960s and 1970s, blazing and shifting in black, white and magically elusive and illusive shades of grey. To 30 Aug

Disasters of War (Imperial War Museum, London)

Three ages of European war through the etchings of Jaques Callot, Goya and Otto Dix. Black-and-white flashes of horror, mass executions, madness and blood everywhere. To 26 Sept

Chuck Close (Hayward Gallery, London)

The original painter of the very big face, analysed into pixel fragments. Work from the photorealism of the 1960s to the current tesserated, bright-candied images. To 19 Sept

Notorious (MoMA, Oxford)

One hundred years after his birth, Alfred Hitchcock lives. Group show looks at his legacy in art (right), most cunningly in the Phoenix Tapes. To 3 Oct

As Dark As Light (Venues around Cornwall)

A countywide contemporary art festival, focusing on the solar eclipse. James Turrell's open-air sky-dome, The Elliptic Ecliptic, is the sight to see. To 20 Nov

Tom Lubbock