The Mayans, the wise race of ancients who created hot cocoa, set December 21st, 2012 as the end date of their Calendar, which the intelligent and logical amongst us know signifies the day the world will end, presumably at 12:21:12am, Mountain Time. From now until zero date, we will explore the 50 films you need to watch before the entire world perishes. We don’t have much time, so be content, be prepared, be entertained.
The Film: Memento (2000)
The Plot: Leonard Shelby (Guy Pearce) is a man with some problems. Foremost, he has an inability to formulate new memories, which means his entire life is dictated by his note taking abilities and his tattoo reminders. A close second is the fact that he’s hunting the man who murdered his wife.
The Review: Before Christopher Nolan was elevated far beyond deserve for his Batman films, he made the (previously) under-seen and under-rated noirish thriller Memento. In light of his recent major successes the film has gained a lot of traction and you may have seen it – but for those of you who haven’t, consider this your official invitation.
Memento is told in a non-linear style to heighten the murder mystery plot – clues are revealed through flash backs and a variety of editorial tricks are used to heighten the experience – from playing footage in reverse to subtle, single frame additions to the picture and black and white footage. Fortunately, none of these come off as gimmicks, but rather serve to heighten the story telling experience.
The cast of the film is at least 67% fantastic, with Guy Pearce headlining and turning in the first performance that really made me say “Hey, this guy is awesome.” Similarly, Joe Pantoliano does great work as the conniving Teddy. Carrie-Anne Moss, not known for her acting ability, is somewhat the weak link here, but actually manages to mostly hold her own.
In large part due to the black and white, but also the murder mystery, the film has a very noir feeling. Plenty of the regular conventions are visible, from seedy bars to cigarette smoking and narration. With the additional layer of Leonard’s memory issues, Memento is a strange and strong beast, different from many films and truly worthy of praise, unlike say, Inception. Zing.
The memory disability provides a lot of great moments where Leonard is vulnerable in ways a person never has to consider – take away his note taking methods and he’s going to forget everything that just happened in a matter of moments.
But why spend 113 minutes watching this film when you only have 251,829 minutes left to live?
Memento is an original and engaging film. After the world ends, who knows what debilitating illness the survivors may be left with. Or maybe you just don’t really find what the big deal about Christopher Nolan is – this movie will help shed some light on it. It’s also just worth it for the sequence when the guy with no memory doesn’t know if he’s the chaser or the chasee.