A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

Movie 56 – Memento

Memento – April 25th, 2010

I’ve never seen this before. Part of the reason is that I know it needs more attention than I can often muster up after work in the evenings. But I had today off, so I’m good! Now, normally I write notes and thoughts while I watch these movies. Some movies I know well get their reviews written within the first hour or less, others get it in bits and pieces. Even reviews of new things are usually just a matter of organizing the thoughts I had and jotted down. This one, on the other hand, I could not write during. I wrote those first two sentences up there as we put the disc in and started it up. And then I stared at the screen and tried to follow what was going on. I’m a pretty damn fine multitasker, which is useful in the job I have and also means most nights I can watch the movie and carry on a couple of IM conversations and check a few websites out and not lose track of what’s going on. Tonight I had a single conversation going and I had to keep apologizing for not responding. I pulled up two sites and never looked at them. That’s rare for a home view for me. I will give this movie immense credit for demanding as much of my attention as I could give it.

Of course, I’ll also give it credit for being an amazing story. On the surface – though I’d have to say the surface of this movie is far from a flat plane – it’s a murder mystery/suspense. The main character, Leonard, has gotten involved in something. His wife is dead. His short term memory doesn’t exist. He’s looking for his wife’s rapist and murderer and what he has to work with is a police file, a handful of polaroids, and a collection of tattoos detailing the things he wants to make sure he always relearns. And so the movie is a puzzle to be put together. Find all the clues and put them in the right places and you’ll figure out whodunit.

Except if the movie is a puzzle, it’s arranged in a mobius strip. You start at the end, with Leonard killing a man he believes to be the one he’s looking for. You start at the end and work your way backwards, each scene cutting to Leonard in his hotel room, explaining his condition, and then back to the scene leading up to the scene you just saw. And bit by bit you travel around the strip, thinking you’ve found new ground and then realizing Leonard’s already been there and the new view you have of it shows you new facts, but they were already the facts. You just didn’t have them at the beginning, which was the end. Leonard didn’t have them either. So why should you? And by the time you reach the beginning, it’s a whole new story.

It’s a beautiful concept piece. An experimental film, almost. It’s amazingly well-executed and well acted. I mean, I do enjoy watching Guy Pearce anyhow, but he’s excellent in this regardless of being easy on the eyes. The whole cast, small as it is, is fantastic. I’m curious now as to how filming went. I know movies usually get filmed out of order, depending on all sorts of conditions and reasons and whatnot, but for a movie like this, I do have to wonder. Was it confusing? Did they have flow charts? Color coded?

Anyhow, I definitely enjoyed it, and I’m definitely glad I watched it on a day off. At the end of a work day I would never have been able to keep my eyes on the screen long enough to catch it all, and that would have ruined the movie.


April 25, 2010 Posted by | daily reviews | , , | 2 Comments


April 25, 2010


I understand that the version of the DVD that we own allows you to watch the movie re-cut so that it’s in chronological order, and that it still works as a tense mystery.

This is why I think this movie is so absolutely awesome.

For Lenny it’s all going to be lost, like a dream upon waking up. The difference is that for us, the viewer, the puzzle can be understood. We figure out what’s going on the same way he does. At the start of the movie you have the same problem as Leonard does. It starts at the end and movie and goes backward. And the most brilliant thing about the movie is the way Chris Nolan has flipped it around. Lenny doesn’t have any idea what it is because of his condition. He’s caught up in something. The problem is that Lenny’s system only works just so well.

“Never answer the phone.” “John G. raped and murdered my wife.” He tattoos notes on his body with the most important facts. He takes Polaroids of everything and writes notes on them. So Leonard has developed this complex system to replace the memories that he can’t form. Not all of it… he still remembers the murder, but he was wounded in the attack and now he can’t form any new memories. The problem is that Leonard has lost his memory. Sort of like The Fugitive, but instead of the one-armed man he’s hunting for the enigmatic John G. It’s a tense mystery about a man who is hunting for guy who killed his wife. This movie is one of those brilliant moments that defies all description. Awesome, awesome, awesome.

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April 25, 2010 Posted by | daily reviews | , , , | Leave a comment