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The Independent Culture
November 20: Winner of last year's Cannes Palm d'Or, Sohei Imamura's The Eel proves to be a wild and wrigglesome creature indeed. Throughout it all goes poker-faced Koji Yakusho, out of jail after stabbing his cheating wife, relocating to an oddball lakeside community and spiriting his beloved pet eel along for the ride. It's an acquired taste indeed; swinging its hapless onlooker between dark, droll drama at one end of the pole and heavy absurdist humour at the other. Erin Dignam's Loved has sat around on distributor's shelves for around two years now but it's still worth a look. An unusual, risk-taking essay on a violent relationship, it's buoyed by potent playing from the underrated Robin Wright Penn and William Hurt. Supporting his missus, Sean Penn pops up in a jarring pre-credit cameo.

November 27: Was there ever a crisper, more tightly scripted film than George Cukor's The Philadelphia Story (right)? Re-released for the pre-Christmas rush, this tale of a high-society wedding gone awry gleams as bold and bright as ever. Meanwhile Cary Grant, James Stewart and Katherine Hepburn go through their paces with expert grace, showing today's performers how it's really done.