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  • Cross of Iron

    Cross of Iron

    ★★★★★

    Peckinpah's only war movie is also one of his best. James Coburn stars as the anti-authoritarian German sergeant, looking out for his men on the cold Eastern Front, while his imbecilic superior (Maximilian Schell) chases the elusive Iron Cross. Beautifully shot and filled with the violence and camaraderie synonymous with the director's work this rarely gets the praise it deserves as one of Hollywood's most profound meditations on the futility of war.

  • When a Woman Ascends the Stairs

    When a Woman Ascends the Stairs

    ★★★★★

    Takamine Hideko is absolutely devastating as the ageing geisha in 60s Ginza faced with the difficult decision of whether to marry one of her rich customers or set up a bar of her own. Already a widow burdened with debts, derision and illness, Mama becomes a symbol of women's battle for independence in post-war Japan. Naruse's direction is unobtrusive and stylishly laid back, accompanied by a breezy jazz soundtrack symbolising the city's complacency to the plight of our heroine.