What A Film Critic Watches During Lockdown


Adam Nayman is a film critic and lecturer who writes regularly for TheRinger.com. His new book, Masterworks, dives deep into the movies of the great Paul Thomas Anderson (Boogie Nights, There Will Be Blood, Phantom Thread to name but three). When SLMan asked Adam what he’s been watching while cinemas are shut, he came up with seven thrilling under-the-radar classics you really need to see…

Locke (2014)

Featuring Tom Hardy's best performance to date, this one-man show is set entirely in the confines of a moving car as it speeds out of London and into the countryside towards its driver's date with destiny. As a study of a man who is mobile and imprisoned in the same instant, the film approaches an existential profundity, while its star holds our attention from beginning to end with a series of looks, gestures and brilliantly precise line readings placing him in Britain's great theatrical lineage.
Watch it here

Kill List (2011)

The British director Ben Wheatley moves between genres like a truly free man, but if he ever does make another horror movie, he'll be hard pressed to top his 2011 breakthrough. Kill List is a genuinely nightmarish tale of hitmen who stumble upon a conspiracy far more sinister than your run-of-the-mill organised crime syndicate. By turns hilarious, grotesque and devastatingly sad, this is one of the millennium's legitimate masterpieces – watch it if you dare. 
Watch it here

Dead Again (1991)

Kenneth Branagh's beautifully goofy reincarnation thriller is filled with gimmicks, switching between eras, genres and colour schemes with reckless finesse. The director stars as a private eye trying to unravel the mystery of a dazzling, amnesiac mute woman (Emma Thompson). The leads are wonderful, but there are great actors at the edges of the frame – look out for a marvellous (unbilled) cameo by Robin Williams as a foul-mouthed psychiatrist with some funny ideas about karma.
Watch it here

D.O.A. (1949)

One of the tightest, most propulsive thrillers ever made, this classic film noir is the story of a man trying to solve his own murder before a lethal poison in his bloodstream finishes him off once and for all. He knows he's done for; what he's after is revenge. Shot in near-real time and pioneering the kind of lean, claustrophobic intensity that Christopher Nolan would harness for Memento, D.O.A. holds up 70 years after its release. For a something old-something new contrast, watch it in a double bill with Jason Statham in Crank, which hotwires the same plot.
Watch it here

A Perfect Getaway (2009)

Words can barely describe the pulpy satisfactions of David Twohy's sadly underrated, island-set action thriller, featuring a pair of honeymooning couples dealing with the presence of a murderer in their midst. Lots of B-movies turn on radical plot twists but it's rare that any of them have anything left in the tank afterwards. A Pefect Getaway shows its hand and then actually gets better during its superbly choreographed climax. Brilliantly entertaining stuff.
Watch it here

The Taking of Pelham One Two Three (1974) 

This is a lean, mean portrait of New York in the 1970s, as a hijacked subway car stops the city and its 8m residents in their tracks on a dog day afternoon. Walter Matthau is wonderful as our hangdog hero. Robert Shaw is even better as the efficiency-expert villain, whose plan to hire mercenaries and give them colour-coded nicknames was borrowed by Quentin Tarantino for Reservoir Dogs. It all builds to one of the all-time great final shots: a freeze frame that's a happy ending, a gotcha moment and a punchline all at the same time.
Watch it here

They Live (1988)

Evil hides in plain sight in John Carpenter's visionary horror comedy; all you need to see it is the right pair of sunglasses. A devastating satire of Reagan-era conformity yoked to cheesy B-movie stylings and topped off with a killer synth score, They Live casts a pro wrestler (Roddy Piper) as the only guy around with a grip on reality. It just gets funnier and more surreal from there. Without compromising his silly sci-fi set-up, Carpenter makes us consider the effects of subliminal advertising (and political rhetoric) within an increasingly visual culture. 
Watch it here

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