Alfred Hitchcock’s glitzy burglar flick stars Cary Grant (John Robie, ‘The Cat’) and Grace Kelly (Frances Stevens) under the sapphire-like sun rays of the Côte d’Azur, southeastern France’s Mediterranean Riviera. Grant plays a retired jewelry thief, who previously cleared his name by working for the French resistance during WWII, only to become ensnared in scandal by a sudden rash of robberies: all of which conveniently feature his old MO. ‘The Cat’ sets out to apprehend his impersonator, leading him to lavish locales in and around Cannes, Nice, and Monte Carlo—featuring yacht-filled ports, the Art Deco Carlton Hotel, the impressive bridge at Èze along the Avenue de Verdun, and a host of classic châteaus, flower markets, and cafés—as he hobnobs with diamond-festooned tycoons, like Kelly, to solve this mystery before the police catch up with him.
The expanse of West Texas desert seems like the perfect backdrop for a drug deal gone wrong in this Coen brothers’ western crime-thriller. The film—based on Cormac McCarthy’s 2005 novel set in the 1980s—follows the intertwining paths of Llewelyn Moss (Josh Brolin), a Vietnam vet who stumbles upon a $2 million in cash in the aftermath of a collateral drug exchange; Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem), a coin-tossing sociopath who mercilessly hunts down the missing money and anyone who stands in the way; and Ed Tom Bell (Tommy Lee Jones), a soon-to-be-retired sheriff who must track the both of them down before the story ends in mayhem. The movie packs in plenty of gore, outstanding performances and vistas of Marfa, New Mexico, Texas and Las Vegas.
In Sam Peckinpah’s infernal thriller, former American veteran Bennie (played by Warren Oates) plays piano in a seedy nightclub in Mexico City (an actual dive bar called the Tlaquepaque, in an actual crime-infested corner of the city). Upon learning of the windfall bounty on the head of his ex-girlfriend’s (Isela Vega) dead boyfriend, the titular Alfredo Garcia, he calls on the former. After much persuading on his part, the pair set off for Garcia’s final resting place (the pre-Aztec city of Teotihuacan, a UNESCO World Heritage Site), having drawn-out picnics and dramatic encounters with hormonal bikers in the weirdest road trip you’ve ever seen. In the final moments, a bloody massacre unfolds at the hacienda (an actual 200-year-old fortress) of the antagonist El Jefe.
This atmospheric thriller by Bong Joon Ho is set in a brooding rural hamlet in the Korean provincial countryside. Memories follows the true account of ten rapes and murders of women in the Hwaseong, Gyeonggi province, and the film noir-like treatment of the investigation of the case by local officer Park Doo-man (Song Kang-ho) and the slick detective from Seoul, Kim Sang-kyung (Seo Tae-yoon). The film was shot in the heavily agricultural Haenam County, located at the tip of the South Korean peninsula. The cinematography, with its dreary, desaturated tones, never fades from memory—and the locations of scenes, like the reed field from the opening and closing shots, and the tunnel where the killer escapes, are now frequented by cinephiles and tourists.
In a tale as chilling as Mrs. Danvers’ whole personality, Alfred Hitchkok’s Rebecca, based on Daphne Du Maurier’s iconic book, has one biting their cuticles till the very end. A young girl plays companion to a wealthy (and haughty) lady, and it’s here that she crosses paths with the handsome, mega-rich and brooding Maxim de Winter. While their secret courtship period takes place amidst the sleek and glitzy backdrop of Monte Carlo (think vintage cars, exclusive poker hubs and the fanciest hotels), the two marry (scandalously!) and return to the intimidating de Winter mansion, Manderley, in Cornwall—where the location instantly darkens to the isolated Cornish cliffs and coastlines, and where the ghost of the first Mrs. de Winter lingers still…
In 2002, Christopher Nolan remade this brilliant ’90s Scandi noir for Hollywood, shifting its backdrop to Alaska. But only the Norwegian original, directed by Erik Skjold-bjaerg in the Northern Lights-ground zero of Tromsø, delivers a head-spinning dive into peak winter’s disorienting atmospherics. Detective Jonas Engstrom (Stellan Skarsgard) and his partner arrive in town to solve a local woman Tanja’s brutal murder, a case with more psychological ramifications for Jonas than he bargained for. Clinical and world-weary, Jonas ought to be at home in this frozen wonderland yet as he drifts deeper into the investigation, under Norway’s oppressing midnight sun, sleep seems out of reach. And so does his liminal sanity.
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