BOOGIE NIGHTS: This movie about the LA porn world in the 1970s made Philip Seymour Hoffman a star. It is remarkable that he was able to stand out—it's packed with great performances from some of the best of the best: Don Cheadle, John C. Reilly, William H. Macy, Heather Graham, and, of course, Burt Reynolds. Hoffman plays Scotty J., a rather chubby, flubby, awkward, and sorry lighting and sound technician for porn director Jack Horner (Reynolds). Hoffman also has a serious crush on Horner's star penis, Dirk Diggler (Mark Wahlberg). The scene where Hoffman tries to kiss Wahlberg ("Can I kiss you on the mouth?") and fails ("Nooooo!... Scotty!") is now considered a peak moment in '90s cinema ("I'm an idiot, I'm an idiot, I'm an idiot"). RECOMMENDED BEVERAGE: Shots of Goldschläger, because it's at once glamorous (it has gold flakes in it) and sad (it has gold flakes in it). RECOMMENDED ATTIRE: A tight-fitting something. CHARLES MUDEDE

MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE III: This iteration of Tom Cruise's action franchise is unremarkable in almost every way, but goddamn if Philip Seymour Hoffman doesn't turn this dreck into a great movie whenever he's on-screen. His Owen Davian isn't your typical omniscient blockbuster villain: He's a brute of a man, and he's as mean as a hungry reptile, but he's just some low-level arms dealer who happened to cross into Cruise's narrative arc. He's not a world-dominating bloviator, or a cretin obsessed with revenge; he just wants to make a lot of money, and he will hack the most direct path to that goal. His cruelty and his smallness make him even more terrifying than your typical multiplex baddie, a mannered study of the banality of evil. RECOMMENDED SUBSTANCE: Marijuana will transform the opening scene, in which Hoffman threatens death to Cruise's fiancée, into one of the tensest cinematic showdowns you've ever experienced. RECOMMENDED SNACK: Buttered popcorn, of course. PAUL CONSTANT

THE MASTER: The Master is not a brilliant film all the way through—it's 144 minutes long, and Joaquin Phoenix as a brooding, brutish WWII veteran gets predictable and tiresome (I fell asleep toward the end of my home screening). But Philip Seymour Hoffman is riveting as dapper cult leader Lancaster Dodd. The character was reportedly inspired by L. Ron Hubbard, and Hoffman's bounteous charisma make the scenes of seemingly normal people under his spell on a boat at sea completely plausible; a cult run by PSH is a cult you want to join. Also, he throws good parties, and Phoenix keeps whipping up batches of some kind of terrifyingly powerful bootleg liquor made with paint thinner, which Hoffman takes a shine to. RECOMMENDED BEVERAGE: Several mismatched strong liquors, mixed together "Graveyard" style; pour one at the beginning and one midway, and feel free to snooze off whenever. RECOMMENDED ATTIRE: Dapper PJs. BETHANY JEAN CLEMENT

PUNCH-DRUNK LOVE: Philip Seymour Hoffman is excellent in this prickly rom-com, but the DVD special features contain one of his best performances. He's a mattress-selling extortionist filming a TV commercial. The shot opens close on him; his hair blows in the breeze while he strums an electric guitar. The camera pulls back; he's walking along the roof of a semitruck trailer. Parked alongside it is a gold limousine, on top of which rest five mattresses. As Hoffman's spiel winds down, he tosses himself, guitar and all, off the roof of the trailer and onto the mattresses; he appears to be landing well, but bounces sharply to the side, plunging face-first to the pavement, where he crumples around his guitar. It is shocking. People rush from offscreen to help, and Hoffman waves them off, getting up and walking off-camera while mumbling ego-preserving things in character. RECOMMENDED SUBSTANCE: Leftover Percocet—this is a film of slightly illicit warm-'n'-fuzzies. ALSO RECOMMENDED: Watch while lying on a mattress. DAVID SCHMADER recommended