The Best of the Rest of the Fest

Les films du Losange and
Sony Pictures ClassicsHIDDEN (CACHÉ) (Austria/France/ Germany/Italy)

This masterful new film by Austrian writer-director Michael Haneke (The Piano Teacher) begins with a surveillance video trained on the Paris home of book critic Georges (Daniel Auteuil) and his wife, Anne (Juliette Binoche). The tape has been recovered from the front doorstep, along with a crude crayon drawing of a child with a red triangle emerging from his mouth. Like Godard, Haneke has never been one to differentiate between red and blood. More videotapes and drawings follow, forming a bread-crumb trail that leads Georges back to his family’s estate and a long-dormant childhood memory. What happened back then, and what bearing it has on Georges’ present dilemma, are mysteries Haneke holds close to his vest. But if Hidden is a thriller, it’s one marked by precious little interest in the very question most thrillers obsess over: Whodunit? For the videotapes rousing Georges from his bourgeois placidity aren’t so much one man’s nightmares made manifest as they are the embodiment of a collective guilt, of all the inhumanities to which we turn a blind eye — be they childhood secrets wished away, dark-skinned strangers passed in the street, or France itself in the long shadow cast by Algeria. (ArcLight 14, Sat., Nov. 12, 10 p.m.; ArcLight 12, Sun., Nov. 13, 2:30 p.m.) (Scott Foundas)


An emotionally buttoned-up doctor flees home and husband after the death of her young son, trying to escape her grief by tending to the citizens of a small town. Instead, she becomes an amateur sleuth investigating the mysterious death of a young Muslim immigrant. Lean and precise, this melancholy film sneaks up on you with its insightful sketches of grief, loss and tearstained resolution. Annika Hallin is fantastic as the inwardly crumbling doctor, while director Sara Johnsen’s recurring use of Jeff Buckley’s version of “Hallelujah,” especially in the film’s closing moments, fuses music and image into a graceful poetry of spiritual ache and escape. (ArcLight 11, Fri., Nov. 11, 6:45 p.m.; ArcLight 13, Sat., Nov. 12, 3:15 p.m.) (Ernest Hardy)


In this exuberant, spontaneous slice of messy life in post-unification Germany, two woman friends — an unemployed single mother and a sexy home help for elderly shut-ins — chase after love and friendship over the course of a long, hot summer. Each has more panache than good sense, and both confront a world full of pain and uncertainty. Writer Wolfgang Kohlhaase and director Andreas Dresen have found a narrative form sufficiently light and loose-limbed to show that modern life has no narratives, other than those we create for ourselves amid the collapse of social institutions. Not for nothing does this warm, mischievous movie end with the intertitle, “... And so on.” (ArcLight 13, Fri., Nov. 11, 6:45 p.m.; ArcLight 10, Sun, Nov. 13, 2 p.m.) (Ella Taylor)


Nothing much happens in writer-director-cinematographer Martin Boulocq’s Dogme-style exploration of three rudderless friends in a small Bolivian town, but the film’s depth of feeling vividly evokes the minimalist wonders of Jim Jarmusch. Berto (Juan Pablo Milan) dreams of moving away, but he can’t afford the plane ticket unless he can sell his grandfather’s beat-up ’65 Volkswagen. Meanwhile, his pal Victor (Roberto Guilhon) engages in a flaky relationship with girlfriend Camila (Alejandra Lanza). That cursory plot summary, however, does little to articulate Boulocq’s quiet skill at rendering the hopelessness of impoverished lives spent fooling around and hanging out, trapped in that difficult transition between adolescence and maturity. (ArcLight 14, Fri., Nov. 11, 9:30 p.m.; ArcLight 13, Sat., Nov. 12, 12:30 p.m.) (Tim Grierson)


Fatherless and dirt poor, Basilio Vargas is a 14-year-old working in the perilous silver mines of the Bolivian mountains, as is his even younger brother. Together they join their normally God-fearing co-workers in praying to the “Tio” — an idol of El Diablo — to help them survive the explosions. Often shooting deep in the mines in what must have been difficult conditions, directors Kief Davidson and Richard Ladkani tell the Vargas’ jaw-dropping story with an intimate and artistic touch: Very well shot and edited, it’s filmed with deft you-are-thereness, making The Devil’s Miner far more than your typical exposé of Third World child-labor practices. (ArcLight 12, Fri., Nov. 11, 10 p.m.; ArcLight 12, Sun., Nov. 13, 5:30 p.m.) (Mark Peranson)


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