Thursday Screener

Caché, Bicycle Thieves and House of Flying Daggers
Film+TV | 12 August 2021
Above:

House of Flying Daggers by Yi-Mou Zhang, 2004

This article is part of HERO Dailies – Essential culture, curated daily and also part of Thursday Screener

HERO DAILIES: Essential culture, curated daily
THURSDAY SCREENER: Three films that should be in your watchlist

Caché by Michael Haneke, 2006

Few directors handle psychological thrillers with the chilling deftness of Michael Haneke and his 2006 masterpiece is a perfect case in point. Set in Paris, the story centres on an affluent couple who receive a series of anonymous video-tapes showing surveillance of their apartment, each accompanied by gory, child-like drawings. When they approach the police they are told the tapes are not threatening enough to warrant an investigation, forcing the couple to scrutinise their own past in search for any possible motive.

This leads husband Georges to confront a shameful memory from his childhood, a guilty conscience he thought he’d buried deep enough to ignore. Georges’ guilt is used by Haneke as an analogy for wider collective guilt, more specifically the 1961 Paris Massacre, in which around 200 Arab protesters are believed to have either been shot or drowned by French police while voicing their opposition to the Algerian War. The tapes, and their mysterious sender, are largely incidental. More pressing is the question of how we face up to the things we’re ashamed of.

Caché is streaming on Google Play. 

Caché by Michael Haneke, 2006

Bicycle Thieves by Vittorio De Sica, 1948

Widely regarded as one of the finest films ever made, De Sica’s black and white masterpiece embodied a golden era in European post-war cinema and the very best of the Italian neorealist movement. The plot is straightforward enough, but it’s the emotional clarity and brutal honesty of the performances that have forever immortalised Bicycle Thieves as a parable of have and have-nots.

Set in the immediate years following the war, when Italy (and much of Europe) remained paralysed by poverty and urban destitution, the film centres on a man who needs a job to provide for his family. Realising he requires a bicycle to stand out from the crowd of men who gather daily for a chance of employment, our protagonist, Ricci, pawns his wedding linen to buy one. On his first day as a poster hanger, Ricci finds himself up a ladder when his bicycle is swiped by a gang of youths, leading him and his young son to comb the streets of Rome in a needle-in-a-haystack search for their lifeline.

Bicycle Thieves is streaming on Apple TV. 

Bicycle Thieves by Vittorio De Sica, 1948

House of Flying Daggers by Yi-Mou Zhang, 2004

Embracing the colourful theatricality of wuxia, House of Flying Daggers elevates this more mystical sub-genre of martial arts films into a true modern-day spectacle. Following Yimou’s landmark success two years previously with Hero starring Jet Li, House of Flying Daggers relies less on star power for its global appeal than the sublime camerawork of cinematographer Zhao Xiaoding.

Set in 859 AD during the tail-end of China’s Tang Dynasty, a corrupt and oppressive government are desperately trying to quash various warring factions while hunting down members of the House of Flying Daggers, a guerilla group of elite fighters capable of throwing daggers round corners. At times however, the exact details of the plot feel secondary to the breathtaking beauty that unfolds virtually from the first scene until last, with a number of scenes that will stay with you forever.

Watch House of Flying Daggers on Amazon Prime. 

House of Flying Daggers by Yi-Mou Zhang, 2004



Read Next


YES PLEASE, SIGN ME UP FOR ALL THE LATEST HERO NEWS