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Memento (Widescreen Limited Edition) [2 Discs] [Import]
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Memento (Widescreen Two-Disc Li
If ever a movie was made for DVD format, this is it. A mind-bending psychological thriller of the highest order, Memento is the rare flick that begs to be watched repeatedly. Writer-director Christopher Nolan (Insomnia, Following) shakes up the concepts of time, narrative, and audience perception in a film that happens in chronologically reverse order. Leonard (Guy Pearce) survives an assault that leaves his wife dead, only to find himself with a faulty memory: he can remember all the details of his life before the assault, but can't "make new memories, everything fades." Quickly. This impairment, along with his unstoppable drive to find his wife's killer, brings Leonard into contact with people who don't always have his best interests at heart.
Though this remarkable story is told in reverse, Nolan's innovative direction maintains a rapid forward momentum that keeps the viewer on the edge of his seat, waiting for new revelations. Memento is an unsettling, eminently engrossing examination of how memory (or the lack thereof) affects our lives and our relationships. It's unique in that it reveals more layers with every viewing. And Pearce's portrayal of the confused yet totally focused Leonard is truly Oscar-worthy. --Adem Tepedelen --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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--The folks at Columbia/Tristar really went all-out to bring the viewer into this movie. The menus alone give you a perspective on the story and main character not possible in the theater. This two-disc set gives you everything you'd expect from a special edition: director's commentary; trailers; production photos; mini documentary; 5.1 surround sound, etc. But wait, there's more... It's just hidden within the maze of questions in the psychological exam that makes up the menus on both discs. If you keep searching on disc two, you'll be able to watch the movie in chronological order, which is my reason for buying this special edition. (If they don't edit this out as a spoiler, just select the Clock form the main menu, choose answer "c" five times on the questions, then put the pictures of the woman fixing the flat tire in the order of 3,4,1,2.)
The story unfolds backwards, an unusual narrative technique that is tricky to use. We see a scene and think we understand. And then there is another scene that has happened prior to it, and it totally changes our perception of what is going on. Purposely, it is confusing. And purposely, there are moments of clarity where it all fits together only to become even more confusing in the next scene. Carrie Ann Moss plays a femme fatal and, as we get to know her, we are not quite sure what her motives are. Joe Pantolino is cast as in the role of Leonard's buddy, and we are constantly confused as to whether he is friend or foe.
I sat there fascinated as this complicated plot unfolded, enjoying the mastery in which the director led me down different avenues of thought and also introduced questions about the moral issues involved. By the end, I was absolutely sure of nothing at all, except that I had been traveling on a roller coaster of an experience that didn't have any easy answers. While I tend to want films to have a beginning, middle and end, and a story line that is easy to follow, this an exception to the rule. I definitely recommend to those who are willing to explore this unique film, which is certainly one of a kind.
The acting is first rate. Guy Pearce, best known as "the one who wasn't Russell Crowe in L.A. Confidential", is Leonard, a character who will intrigue you, engage your sympathy, and might even scare you by the end. Joe Pantoliano's Teddy will have you debating his intentions towards Leonard for days afterwards. The real acting coup, however, is fellow Matrix alum Carrie Anne Moss--her performace as Natalie will make you love her, hate her, and make you fiercely protective of her.
The movie can only be watched on DVD. Keep the remote handy as you'll want to pause every now and then, if only to read Leonard's tattoos for various clues. After watching the movie, be sure to check out Otnemem in the Special Features section for newspaper articles, pictures, journal entries, and psychiatric reports on Mementos intriguing characters. They will help confirm what you think happened in the movie. DVD also offers the playful option of choosing to watch the movie backwards (or would it be watching the movie forward?). You will definitely consider the option after watching the movie. I haven't done it yet, but I can't wait to see the effect that it has on the movie.
This movie is worth the critical hype. If you enjoyed movies like The Sixth Sense, The Matrix, The Usual Suspects, Seven, Fight Club, and Dark City (some of my personal faves), then Memento will be the crown of your DVD collection!
My only qualm with this DVD edition is the packaging. Wrapped in a tight-fitting but flimsy cardboard box, designed to look like Leonard Shelby's case file, it's almost impossible to get the discs out on first try. I find that I have to open the back to push out the innards, which tends to warp the shape of the box. Found inside are several loose sheets of paper, which look like psychological tests, notes from the case history, and, as you will soon see, the DVD's on-screen menus. The whole thing is ostensibly held together by a little plastic paper clip, whose only real purpose, I've deduced, is to get lost behind my TV set.
The first thing one notices once Disc 1 of the DVD loads is a psychological test, asking the viewer to commit to memory a list of words that will go flashing by on the screen. Don't be alarmed. Although Chris Nolan and Co. have set up the DVD to look like a series of tests, you really don't have to read through or pay much attention to everything on the screen. However, because sometimes they can be quite entertaining, I suggest you do. "Why are these people laughing at you?" asks one question. "We know you did it," ominously states another. This edition can get trippy if you let it.
After the memory flash, you are then asked to select from a list of words the ones you didn't see. Like I said, this isn't really a test, but an ingenious way to present the disc's main menu.
Selecting WATCH plays the movie. Selecting READ allows you to choose between English or Spanish subtitles, while LISTEN allows you to hear the movie in either English or French, 5.1 Dolby Digital or DTS 5.1 Surround Sound. CHAPTER sends you right to the scene selection option. And COMMENTS turns on Christopher Nolan's Director's Commentary track.
In my review of the commentary track for "Following", Nolan's first movie, I called his delivery "monotone... somnolent at times" but that he's "so smart and precise about what he's saying you can easily overlook that and become engrossed in the content." I can say pretty much the same thing here. Except that, in some ways, it's a less effective track. Nolan spends a lot of time analyzing the story, deconstructing the main character, his motivations, the structure, etc. They are the kind of out-loud thoughts a screenwriter might use when figuring out his screenplay, but serve little purpose for a viewer watching the film (okay, I suppose prospective screenwriters will get some value out of it). It is thrilling to see how Nolan's big brain works, how he's thought through every situation, and has a reason for including everything in the movie. But it's just one note played over and over for an hour and a half. If Nolan had mixed things up a bit, included more anecdotal information, or behind the scenes goodies, it would have been a stellar track. As it is, it's got a very narrow appeal.
Disc 2 begins much the same way that Disc 1 did, except this time you are asked to view a series of pictures, and then are asked to select which picture from a list wasn't shown. This is, as I'm sure you have guessed, the menu for the additional material features.
Selecting the COMPASS shows you a behind-the-scenes photo gallery, as well as pages from Leonard's Journal. The BOOK allows you to read Nolan's script while listening to the audio track of the movie. You are even privy to the notes he made in the margins of the script, offering further thoughts on how scenes might be filmed. The GLOBE brings forth a whole mess of international promotional material, while the BINOCULARS give the option of viewing the international and North American theatrical trailers.
Selecting the SKULL starts a featurette, produced by the Sundance Channel, called "Anatomy of a Scene". Nolan, his editor, composer, producer, cinematographer, and one actor (Joey Pantoliano) discuss the whys and hows of the production. Particular emphasis is given to the opening few scenes, detailing how they were set up to gently bring the audience into the aesthetic of the film. Overall, the 25-minute segment further cements the notion that Nolan is an intelligent filmmaker, in full control of his cinematic palette.
Although not listed in the features on the DVD box, the much-ballyhooed 'Chronological Version' -- playing the scenes in the order in which they happen rather than back to front -- is here. Trust me. I just watched it. I'm not going to tell you how to find this version, for I think that would be a spoiler on par with giving away the end (beginning?) of the movie. But I will say that this information is available in several places online, so those of you who get frustrated with the puzzle should easily be able to obtain the answers (if not, drop me an e-mail). And I must say, "Memento" is still quite a gripping tale when told this way. But it does make Nolan's reason for telling the story his "gimmicky" way quite clear. The problem with this feature, however, is that it doesn't offer you the option of fast forwarding or jumping from scene to scene. So unless you can watch the whole movie in one sitting, you better not press 'stop'.
If you enjoyed "Memento" because it was a complex puzzle of a film, than I suspect you will enjoy this equally complex and even more puzzling DVD version. I'm almost positive that there is more to this edition than the features I've listed above. And I look forward to hunting for them in the future... or is that the past?
About the chronological version of the movie - yes, it is indeed on Disc 2. You can find out how to access it by trudging through the puzzling menus, or just looking it up on the internet like I did. Let me say this: THE CHRONOLOGICAL VERSION OF MEMENTO IS NOT NEARLY AS COOL AS IT SOUNDS! This version was the reason I bought the Limited Edition, and there are a number of problems with it, beginning with the fact that the only buttons that work during playback are "Pause" and "Stop." That's it. No fast forward or rewind, no slow motion, no subtitles. Believe me, this gets annoying real fast, especially since the movie begins with the complete end credits - rolled in reverse. Three minutes never lasted so long (and remember, you can't fast forward through them). Plus, the chronological version hasn't been re-edited or re-cut, so the scenes appear exactly as in the theatrical version, with the last few lines of each scene repeated as the first few lines of the subsequent scene. You would think they could have put in a little effort to make the transitions more seamless. And it's not like watching Memento in chronological order is absolutely necessary to understanding it; like The Usual Suspects, The Sixth Sense, and any other movie that requires the viewer to piece together information shown throughout the film, a second viewing of the theatrical version was sufficient for me to fully grasp everything. I didn't get a chance to explore any of the other special features on the Disc; it's just too much of a pain to try and find them.
Bottom line: unless you are a huge Memento fan, save your money and buy the regular edition. You'll be much happier.