Wednesday, November 30, 2016

You know what's a good movie? (Part 10) Memento

Welcome back to the You know what's a good movie? column. It's when I talk about movies that are connected in some way.  Maybe they share a director, maybe they share a starring actor or actress, or maybe there is a common theme?  Let's review:

Part 1: Forrest Gump

Connection: Tom Hanks

Part 2: Toy Story

Connection: Pixar

Part 3: The Incredibles

Connection: Superhero Films

Part 4: Batman (1989)

Connection: Jack Nicholson

Part 5: The Departed

Connection: Matt Damon

Part 6: Good Will Hunting

Connection: Robin Williams

Part 7: Mrs. Doubtfire

Connection: Chris Columbus

Part 8: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

Connection: Richard Harris

Part 9: The Count of Monte Cristo

Connection: Guy Pierce

Part 9: Memento

At this point, it should come as no surprise to anyone who's ever read a post on this blog, that I am a total Nolanite.  Don't know what a Nolanite is?  Well let me explain.  It's a biased, illogical, one-sided fan of one of the greatest directors in the history of cinema, Christopher Nolan.  Ok, now that we've got that out of the way, let me tell you why Memento is a good movie.

Memento is most recognized for it's non-linear approach to storytelling.  The movie is told, simultaneously, in a straight forward narrative, but backwards.  What does that mean?  Well, we're shown the ending of the story at the beginning of the film.  And we're left in utter shock by watching the beginning of the story, at the end of the film.  It was revolutionary at the time, and something so different, and so creative, Hollywood quickly took notice.  We know Christopher Nolan went on to direct other high-profile, big-budget films; but it was his work on Memento that really catapulted him into the ranks of the Hollywood elites.

Other than the way in which the story is told, it's an actually engrossing premise.  What would you do if you had no short-term memory?  I mean really think about this.  You couldn't remember the TV show you just watched.  You couldn't remember a phone number someone read to you.  Or the directions to the location you're going to.  It would totally and completely paralyze people.  Yet, the Guy Pierce character of Leonard, is trying to find his wife's murderer with this debilitation.  It's unique, and thought provoking.

Speaking of Pierce, he nails it.  He just owns the roll of Leonard, and the emotional struggle that comes with his debilitation.  He balances an angry undertone that expresses to the audience his thirst for vengeance, while keeping him vulnerable, because of his condition.  Carrie-Anne Moss and Joe Pantoliano play terrific supporting characters that help round out the 'world'.

From simply an aesthetic perspective, the movie is ugly.  It's washed out and distorted; it's sort of a neo-noir film meets Training Day.  It's tough and gritty; and paints the picture of a life none of us want to live.  I love that about the movie.  It uses the various settings, that would otherwise have been throw-away locations, to further the story.

I obviously won't spoil the ending.  But you have to see it for yourself, and hopefully enjoy the pay-off as much as I did.  Nolan and company made a film that is still talked about until this day.  Want to hear something horrible?  About a year ago, there was talk of re-making this cult classic.  Hopefully those rumors are all false, and we can watch more creative works, rather than run of the mill remakes.  Either way, I highly recommend you check out this film and let me know what you think.  Tweet me, or Instagram-me.  Is that a thing?  

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