NOLAN REVIEW: Memento

10 07 2010

After “Following,” Nolan adapted his brother’s short story to create one of the most gripping psychological thrillers of our time, “Memento.”

I can’t tell you enough to see “Memento.”  And then see it again.

I’ve only seen it once, but I can easily foresee multiple re-viewings in the near future.  It’s a movie so brilliantly crafted by the fearless Christopher Nolan that it surely can’t be fully comprehended at once.  Plus, I get the feeling that I’ll appreciate how intricate it really is more and more with each time I see it.

I won’t claim to be any sort of expert on the movie, but there’s plenty that I can tell you from one viewing.  The trick is how to describe it without giving too much away.  Nolan adapted “Memento” from one of his brother’s short stories, and he uses ingenious plot devices to tell the story of amnesiac Leonard Shelby, played by Guy Pearce, who lost his memory after witnessing his wife’s murder.  He’s left with almost no ability to store new memories, something that greatly impairs his ability to hunt down his wife’s killer.  Leonard has to leave himself little clues and notes to remember key facts in his hunt, which he does mainly by tattooing them all over his skin.

We get to see his hunt through two different storylines that run perpendicular.  Nolan keeps us guessing until the very end as we feel there’s a twist coming but still manage to wind up completely dumbfounded and stupefied by the conclusion.  I don’t think I’m spoiling the fun for you first-time watchers because I was aware of the presence of a twist ending and was still caught completely off-guard.  It’s too genius to see coming, and if you do, kudos because you are clearly smarter than me.

Just like any movie Nolan directs, the tension in the air can be cut with a knife.  It’s masterfully made, told with a visually arresting style that will have you completely engrossed from the first Polaroid flash.  “Memento” is like a giant puzzle, and it’s one you almost certainly can’t have entirely pieced together once the movie is over.  It may take many, many viewings before all the pieces come together … and that doesn’t bother me in the slightest.

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Random Factoid #337

30 06 2010

I love a good surprise.

Some of my favorite movies are ones with twist endings.  It’s always such a thrilling feeling to be headed one direction for an entire movie and then have filmmakers pull the rug out from under you.  We celebrate plot twists, and they have made two directors with huge movies coming out in July – M. Night Shyamalan and Christopher Nolan.

But as I watched “Memento,” which I knew had a plot twist, I felt strange.  I was expecting the unexpected, which obviously makes the twist much more … expected and less effective.

Ditto for “The Sixth Sense,” which did actually get me though, and “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind,” whose plot twist I managed to call because I knew it was coming.

So is it really fair for us as bloggers to say that a movie has a twist?  Do we rob the thrill from the next moviegoer, who would be caught much more off-guard had they not been alerted?

Should I have even mentioned “Memento” and the movies that I did?