The Master and 5 Other Provocative Films We Love

September 13, 2012

Amy Adams and Joaquin Phoenix in The Master. Photo credit: The Weinstein Company

Some films have the power to turn your world upside down. P.T. Anderson’s highly anticipated The Master, which hits theaters Friday, is such a film. Allegedly based on the story of L. Ron Hubbard, the charismatic founder of Scientology, it tells the tale of troubled WWII veteran Freddie Quell (Joaquin Phoenix) who, upon returning home from war, finds himself lost and spellbound by Lancaster Dodd (Philip Seymour Hoffman), leader of The Cause. Shot in striking 70mm, the film beautifully illustrates Anderson’s storytelling and directorial mastery, but it has been a source of controversy even before its release.

Take a look at some of the epic —a nd most contentious — films of modern cinema, all available on DIRECTV.

The Passion of the Christ
Mel Gibson produced this epic religious drama, which recounts the last 12 hours in the life of Jesus of Nazareth. The film was not only accused of excessive violence, but its historical accuracy was also debated. Most importantly, the blood-soaked saga was extensively criticized for allegedly presenting anti-Semitic content.

The 1991 Academy-Award winner directed by Oliver Stone, tells the story of Jim Garrison (Kevin Costner), a New Orleans district attorney who’s convinced there are flaws in the investigation of Lee Harvey Oswald (Gary Oldman), and sets out to recreate the events leading up to Kennedy’s assassination. Although the film was a riveting political thriller and box office smash, Stone found himself under attack for historical inaccuracies.

A Clockwork Orange
Stanley Kubrick’s adaptation of the classic novel by Anthony Burgess presents an ironic and disturbing depiction of the future. Alex (Malcolm McDowell) is a violent youth who ends up in jail for committing a series of ruthless crimes. In order to get back his freedom, he agrees to be part of a behavior modification experiment, which conditions him to hate violence. Once he’s released from jail, he becomes a victim of the same vicious world he had previously helped to create. The film was criticized for its extreme violence and banned in the UK for inspiring copycat crimes. It was re-released in 2000, a year after Kubrick’s death.

Natural Born Killers
Mickey (Woody Harrelson) and Mallory (Juliette Lewis) embark on a gory killing spree in order to capture the attention of the media. Wayne Gale (Robert Downey, Jr.) happily documents their violent antics for his TV show American Maniacs. Oliver Stone directed the psychedelic crime-action-drama to satirize today’s celebrity-obsessed media. In doing so, he not only alienated viewers with the disturbing subject matter, but also allegedly inspired copycat killings.

Do the Right Thing
Spike Lee examines racial tensions in a Brooklyn neighborhood on the hottest day of the year. With a star-studded cast that includes Martin Lawrence, Rosie Perez, Giancarlo Esposito, and John Turturro, the film won an Academy Award nomination and established itself as an important contemporary film. Critics believed the film would provoke riots and other acts of violence. Fortunately, it just created an exuberant portrait of ethnic America and fertile ground for debate.