Georges (Daniel Auteuil), the TV presenter of a books show, and his wife Anne (Juliette Binoche), a publisher, want to know who is sending them video-taped recordings of the exterior of their chic town-house, of Georges' childhood home, of a corridor in a suburban tower block... But, despite the fact that each tape comes wrapped in a scary, child-like drawing, the couple seem too self-absorbed, at first, to be particularly frightened - until, that is, their young son goes missing briefly. Then a dream of Georges' hints that he may know more about the videos' author than he cares to tell his wife. And so, terrifyingly and dizzyingly, Michael Haneke mounts his study of personal and public culpability.
Georges, his family and friends are not quite what they seem. As Haneke lays out their well-appointed, haut-bourgeois lives, it becomes apparent that nearly everyone here - to a lesser or greater degree - is lying. While he's obviously hiding something about his past from his wife, Georges also edits his guests' contributions to his show; his mother, too, claims not to remember much about an Algerian boy she nearly adopted; and even Anne, honest to a fault, could be withholding information. Haneke also toys with us, the audience: at times the screen is filled with the video footage in question, as Georges and Anne wind it back and forth for clues. But such is Christian Berger's photography, you find yourself wondering, long after Hidden's most gripping and violent moments, whether you were watching Haneke's film or the video within his film.
This directorial sleight-of-hand isn't just formal showing-off: it's one more disturbing way in which Haneke poses the question: who can you trust?
The New World (12A)
In 1607, the crew and passengers of three English ships landed in Virginia to establish a settlement, Jamestown, and, in time, one of the foundation myths of Wasp America. Not that you'd know it from Terrence Malick's lush but diffident epic. The landing party puts ashore without ceremony, weary and nervous about the natives who wander over the marshes to inspect them. The settlement is soon failing, and a Captain Smith (Colin Farrell) is sent upstream to treat with a nearby native American tribe. These opening sequences are appealingly underplayed, the settlers apparently dazed by the enormity (and sogginess) of the continent that stretches before them. Yet, soon after Smith falls into the arms of Pocahontas (Q'Orianka Kilcher), daughter of the local chief, Malick reverts to his brand of pastoral sublime that stymied much of The Thin Red Line. It's undeniably beautiful, and Malick's vision of America is unfamiliar, of bogs, forests and muddy shorelines. But even when a love triangle develops between Pocahontas, a tobacco farmer (Christian Bale) and Smith, Malick fights shy of the slightest dramatic tension.
Rumour Has It... (12A)
Over the course of her sister's wedding weekend, journalist Sarah Huttinger (Jennifer Aniston) comes to suspect that her Pasadena family were the inspiration for The Graduate. Having hijacked Charles Webb's 1963 novel and, more to the point, Mike Nichols' 1967 adaptation, Rob Reiner's rom-com then pulls an unsightly U-turn by insisting that running away with your lover is all very well but settling down with your sensible fiancé is best for all concerned. So here's to you, then, Mrs Robinson.
The sly grin, the girlish enunciation, those crazy pixie eyes... Shirley Henderson fans are in for a treat here. In a bleak Northern coastal town, she plays Kath, a woman in despair at the disappearance of her sister two years previously, and obsessed with a CCTV tape showing her last known moments. Perhaps because Henderson is so intense, first-time director Juliet McKoen pares back pretty much everything else in her gloomy psychodrama. And in case you think there's light at the end of Kath's tunnel, I should point out that doom-meister Lars von Trier's Zentropa film company collaborated in the production.
Bee Season (12A)
The spelling-bee backlash begins here. Three years ago, the fun documentary Spellbound brought this quirky US institution to a wider audience. And, as B follows A, so Hollywood decided to get in on the act...
When his daughter Eliza (Flora Cross) reveals a knack for spelling, domineering Berkeley lecturer Saul Naumann (Richard Gere) for once stops picking holes in his son's viola playing and his wife's cooking. But he decides that nothing as dull as mere lexical ability lies beneath Eliza's impressive performances at a series of heats leading up to the national bee. Eliza, you understand, might be a prophet of Kabbalah, the tradition of mystical Judaism. Clever girl. Whatever the truth of her talent, Eliza's propensity for "seeing" words is represented in a series of sweet special effects. Her brother (Max Minghella), meanwhile, has fallen for the Hare Krishnas and her mother (Juliette Binoche) is undergoing a more troublesome crisis of faith. Through the Naumanns, then, directors Scott McGehee and David Siegel grind out their theme of personal redemption. Predictable? Like the alphabet.Reuse content