11 of Director Ben Wheatley's Favorite Moviesby IMDb-Editors | last updated - 3 months ago
'Free Fire' director Ben Wheatley presents some of his favorite movies of all time, many of which serve as a great primer on 1970s crime films. Dig in!
Evil Dead II
Evil Dead II has a very special place in my heart because I saw it blind one afternoon while I was bunking off school and it blew my mind. The mixture of inventive camera work and comedy/horror really resonated with me. It was the most outrageous film I'd ever seen and it was the first proper horror film I had seen at that point. I still watch it to this day.
It's cinema of uncomfortableness, and yet a masterpiece of moving the camera, every shot seems to be different and designed. It gave me a sugar rush just watching it.
For me, this fits with Evil Dead II and After Hours, watching these movies as a teenager and marveling at how fast the camera moves and where it could move. From that perspective, this is like the crime version of Evil Dead II, combined with the Coen brothers' incredible writing.
I really like what Michael Mann did with the digital look of this film, which looks much better in the cinema. And I love it for the sound design of the shootout towards the end of the movie, which sounded like nothing I'd ever heard before. The sound design and digital photography created an incredibly harrowing and intimate feeling – when they're crouching during the firing with glass breaking from the windows, you can feel it. And any film that has someone take a speedboat to Cuba just to have a drink is a five-star movie in my book.
Who'll Stop the Rain
A counterculture movie gone wrong that had a big effect on me. It's a crime/road movie, post-Vietnam, post-Hippie navel-gazing film that to me is a bit underappreciated.
This is another '70s crime film that’s a very disturbing treat and stars Lee Marvin, Gene Hackman, and a very early Sissy Spacek performance. It's just crazy. Lee Marvin goes down from Chicago to a farm in the heartland that is a meat processing factory and also a prostitution/human trafficking ring. He goes to collect money from Gene Hackman, and amongst other things fights a giant combine harvester. I'll watch anything with Lee Marvin and anything with Gene Hackman.
The Friends of Eddie Coyle
This is a cold film. Cold to look at; cold hearts all the way through. It's about gun dealing and betrayal, a neo-noir at the end of the road of a cycle of movies that Robert Mitchum basically started in the '40s. It has terrific performances all the way through and feels very authentic.
This was a revelation, that opened up the door to The Killer, A Better Tomorrow, Bullet in the Head, and all those amazing John Woo crime movies. It felt like a boiling down (no pun intended) of Sam Peckinpah's style into some super cool new version and the shootouts made everything else feel tired and old by comparison.
This is the other end of the Scorsese street, not as comedic as After Hours, but he moves the camera like nobody else, and the documentary-style editing in Goodfellas is incredible. Criminally, I didn’t see Goodfellas in the cinema when it came out, but my sister rented it on VHS and I bumped in her door, saw ten frames of it and thought this was the greatest film I’d ever seen, then immediately rushed to watch it myself.