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Memento (SE)
DVD disk
10.06.2004 By: Mike Sampson
Memento (SE) order
Director:
Christopher Nolan

Actors:
Guy Pearce
Joe Pantoliano
Carrie-Anne Moss

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
A man survives a violent attack in his home but is dealt the double-whammy of now suffering from anterograde amnesia (the loss of short-term memory) and finding out his wife wasn't so lucky. Now, the man (Pearce) is bent on revenge, spending the rest of his life searching for his wife's killer. He collects the facts but he can't remember them, so he tattoos them on his body. Further complicating his plight are two "friends" (Moss & Pantoliano) who may or may not be good guys, may be lying, may be using him or may be telling the truth...or all the above. You decide.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
Yes, yes, yes! Not only is it a good movie, but it's a GREAT movie! Finally a movie that doesn't pander to the lowest common denominator and manages to make an intelligent, though-provoking and, most importantly, entertaining film. In a film where the very first scene is the last scene (chronologically at least), you find yourself wondering exactly what happened. Repeated viewing while yield more tidbits of info, but most frustratingly, will offer more questions. I hesitate to say that this movie is one of the most overlooked films in recent memory because of its huge fanbase, but somehow, the major awards all managed to forgot some of the most powerful filmmaking I've seen in a long time (except for our own GOLDEN SCHMOES, of course :).

Guy Pearce is perfectly ambiguous as the memory-deprived Leonard Shelby and helps the audience feel exactly as baffled as he feels. Joe Pantoliano and Carrie-Anne Moss both do a fine job as the people you're not so sure if you should like. Are they good guys? Bad guys? Both? Neither? The editing by Dody Dorn (which did manage score an Oscar nomination) is fantastic and mixes chronological black-and-white sequences with reverse-order color sequences with a few overlapping seconds to help the audience along. I couldn't leave without mentioning the work by Christopher Nolan. He lost out to Julian Fellowes who won the Oscar for Best Screenplay for GOSFORD PARK (blecch!) but Nolan proves the real winner here. Whenever I have doubts about the current state of films, I remind myself that sometimes a MEMENTO slips through and makes up for about ten MURDER BY NUMBERS.
THE EXTRAS
Hoh boy. Do you have a lot of time on your hands? If so, good. If not, you might want to search the net for a guide (try this one here which seems to be the most updated). The way the extras are presented are sure to be the subject of much division and debate. I'll explain: For the most part, all the extras on disc 2 (and a handful on disc 1) are hidden easter eggs. The menus are designed to look like psychiatric examinations (to go with the neat-o packaging which is set up to look like Leonard Shelby's psychiatric chart). The main page comes up with about 28 (give or take) images. You click on one and are taken to a five-question exam. Depending on how you answer the questions you either return to the main menu and nothing happens or you enter one of the special features. Since I attempted to go about this without a guide, I assure you I didn't find everything and did find things that were unadvertised. You could spend countless hours (either having fun or getting frustrated) searching for extras...

First off, the feature I found that I enjoyed the most was the unadvertised chronological edit of the film. I always wanted to see the film "in reverse" and this gives you that option. You'd think it'd shed some light on the "mystery" of the movie, but it doesn't. You're so used to seeing it in reverse it winds up confusing you even more because you see a scene that used to be at the end and it's at the beginning and you forget what characters do and don't know and that point. Hard to explain, but you'll see what I mean. My only complaint with this feature is the inability to skip or search ahead or backwards. You have to watch it all the way through or pause and come back to it.

The audio commentary by Christopher Nolan isn't the best I've ever heard. I get the feeling he really didn't want to do it and spent the entire time trying to fight giving too much away. So he instead talked about rather mundane things in a droll British voice. Giving him someone to bounce off, like a co-star or his brother who wrote the short story for example, might have helped. Still, if you're into the movie, it's informative, Nolan just isn't as charismatic as you'd hope.

The only other features I found were smaller items like the DVD credits, trailers, and production stills. Unfortunately no major finds. I've read a few online guides and there is a lot hidden on there that I didn't find. Included somewhere on this disc are "Memento Mori," the short story the film is based on, the shooting script, prop gallery, alternate endings to the audio commentary (??), bootleg cover art, an art gallery, and a journal. And this is only the stuff people have found to date! I'm sure this much more hidden on these discs somewhere...
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
I loved this movie to death and enjoyed many of the features that I could find. The key part of that sentence is "that I could find". At times I thought about what a great and creative idea this was for a DVD. Other times I found myself getting fed up and wondering how to just get to something. Depends on your outlook. I applaud the cryptic and original design and recommend this movie to anyone looking for an interesting night (just don't expect to get to sleep anytime afterwards).
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