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Momentous Filmmaking?

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 it 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, it can seem pretty redundant. However, 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. Viewed while in the right mood, it's a masterpiece. Fortunately, I saw it at the right time.

Personally, I can't wait to see what Nolan comes up with next.

Columbia didn't seem to care enough about this movie to give it the gold treatment. This is odd, considering an indie film that makes $25 million only comes around once every few years. The picture and sound are good, but could have been a lot better. The extras include merely an interview with Christopher Nolan, a tattoo gallery, some trailers, and all the other standard stuff.

A movie this good deserves a lot better. Hopefully they'll realize their error and come out with a special edition in the future.

But even with the merely adequate video and sound and the lack of special features, Memento is the best movie to come out in a long time.

Memento, from Columbia Tristar Home Entertainment
113 minutes, anamorphic widescreen (2.35:1) 16X9 enhanced, Dolby Digital 5.1
Starring Guy Pearce, Carrie-Anne Moss and Joe Pantoliano
Produced by Suzanne Todd and Jennifer Todd
Based on the Short Story by Jonathan Nolan
Screenplay by Christopher Nolan, Directed by Christopher Nolan.


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Updated May 13, 2006