Memento on Blu-ray

by Johnny Bray

Memento is a brilliant movie. Let's start off by getting that straight. It is written and directed in such a way I've never seen before. It's about a man - Leonard (played perfectly by Guy Pearce) - who has a rare brain disorder which makes him unable to form any new memories. This makes it difficult for Leonard to find out who it was that raped and murdered his wife. Poor Leonard must take notes and pictures of certain things he wishes to remember; and the really important stuff he has to tattoo on his body.

We start off at the very end of the film. However, it isn't the kind of movie where it starts at the end, then goes back to the beginning to show you the events that led up to the end. It starts at the end and moves backwards. Not only is this a unique touch, but it also works perfectly for Memento.

If the movie were running forwards, it would not be enjoyable at all, because we would know exactly what's going on. It's because of the fact that Leonard has no short-term memory that makes going backwards the only way to go. We're left guessing who is really his friend, who is using him, who is just having some fun at his expense, and who the hell these people are in the first place. If you pay close attention, you might be able to figure a few things out, but the movie features so many twists and turns that guessing the outcome is virtually impossible.

That is a good thing. A thriller is no fun if you can figure out what happens. That is what I like about movies like The Sixth Sense and The Usual Suspects. Just when you think you know what's going on, it throws everything in your face and says "so there."

Writer/director Christopher Nolan got the idea for the film from a short story by his brother. He's done an excellent job of coming up with a script, and an even better job of directing. The only flaw is that at times, things can seem pretty redundant. On the other hand, the redundancy is necessary to let you know that, yes you have seen this part already, so let's move backwards again.

Memento co-stars Carrie-Anne Moss and Joe Pantoliano, who are both well cast. Pantoliano looks sort of like a cross between Jack Nicholson and Clint Howard. No, that's not relevant to the movie, just something I noticed.

Take caution when viewing this movie. You have to be in the right mood, and the right kind of person for it. It's very smart, and at times can be disturbing. You have to be willing to pay complete attention. At the right time, it's a masterpiece. Fortunately, I saw it at the right time.

Memento's Blu-ray incarnation is presented in 2.35:1 widescreen and 1080p video, which of course is as it should be. Overall it looks good, and sometimes it's great, but despite there being no visible anomalies, blemishes and the like, it appears a tad soft and flat. On the other hand, the dark scenes reveal subtle details that were probably lost on the DVD, and colors are vivid and smooth most of the time, but a tad bland sometimes. So overall, it's good but inconsistent.

Ditto for the audio. It's presented in uncompressed PCM 5.1 surround, which is also as it should be, and the dynamic range is good. Dialogue is natural-sounding and but rest of the soundtrackand is also inconsistent. There's only sporadic use of the surround channels, and when they kick in it's obtrusive. Perhaps that all goes back to the original source, though.

Extras include a director's commentary and a featurette "anatomy of a scene."

Memento, from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
113 minutes, 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen; PCM 5.1 uncompressed
Starring Guy Pearce, Carrie-Anne Moss, Joe Pantoliano
Written and directed by Christopher Nolan

Jim Bray's columns are available from the TechnoFile Syndicate.

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