Skip to main content

Look Again: Re-Review of Memento

I used to write film reviews for Look in the late 90s and early 00s.

Very occasionally, Eyewear will feature a rearview-mirror glance back at some of the classic, and not-so-classic, films I reviewed then.

Today, a masterwork of looking back, Memento.




Memento
Thriller
Directed by Christopher Nolan
Starring Guy Pearce and Carrie-Ann Moss

Rating: Five Specs (out of 5)

Tagline: “Photographic Memory”

MEMENTO is indelibly haunting and agonizingly suspenseful. The plot, despite its never-ending flashbacks, comes down to an elegant high concept, teased to perfection by new director and writer Christopher Nolan.
Leonard is a former insurance adjuster whose wife has been raped and murdered. In the attack, he received a massive head injury. Because of this, he has lost the ability to “make new memories” - everything he can recall is from before the horrific crime.
Imagine a world where you literally forget everything (except your name) every ten minutes. Leonard (played with intensity by Guy Pearce) is constantly waking up from a bad dream into a worse one. Where is he? Why does he have bloody marks on his face? Who is the woman sleeping in the bed beside him? Why is there a gun on top of the Gideon Bible in the sleazy motel room?
The only way he can keep any semblance of identity together is to follow a rigorous self-imposed regimen of short-term remembrance. This means he has tattooed his body from head to foot (backwards so it’ll read right in the mirror) with “facts” like “your wife was raped and murdered” - and the name of the prime suspect “John G.” he is obsessively hunting down to kill. There’s even a space above Leonard’s heart where he plans to tattoo the fact he’s got revenge, so he won’t forget that either.
To keep his day from disintegrating six times an hour, Leonard takes constant Polaroids of the things that matter most, like “my car” and the motel he’s staying at. His best friends — at the moment — seem to be a tough little guy called “Teddy” (Joe Pantoliano) and a skanky waitress named “Natalie” (Carrie-Ann Moss, as dark and sexy as in The Matrix).
On the back of their photos, he’s marked guides to their intentions, indicating whether they are liars or allies. Leonard has learned to trust only the notes he leaves to himself. As he says, with a condition like this, you have to be a good judge of your own handwriting.
Unbearably, we know (just a little) more about what his shady new friends have planned for him, and are forced to watch as Leonard stumbles from moment to moment, guided by the flimsiest of notes, photographs and pen marks on his hand. Sometimes this blind stumble through lost memories is so frustrating it’s funny. An existential x-ray as inevitable as a slow-mo bullet, this is the Film Noir equivalent of Dostoyevsky.
MEMENTO is one of the most thought-provoking and moving examinations of memory, love and betrayal ever put on film. It’s also a sly commentary on the mutability and impermanence of all images, including those committed to celluloid. As such, it’s as much about us, the audience, as it is about what’s flashing across the screen. You’ll leave the cinema suspicious of your loved ones and yourself.
You will never forget to remember things differently from now on.
1 comment

Popular posts from this blog

DANGER, MAN

Like a crazed killer clown, whether we are thrilled, horrified, shocked, or angered (or all of these) by Donald Trump, we cannot claim to be rid of him just yet. He bestrides the world stage like a silverback gorilla (according to one British thug), or a bad analogy, but he is there, a figure, no longer of fun, but grave concern.

There has long been a history of misogynistic behaviour in American gangster culture - one thinks of the grapefruit in the face in The Public Enemy, or Sinatra throwing a woman out of his hotel room and later commenting he didn't realise there was a pool below to break her fall, or the polluted womb in Pacino'sScarface... and of course, some gangsta rap is also sexist.  American culture has a difficult way with handling the combined aspects of male power, and male privilege, that, especially in heteronormative capitalist enclaves, where money/pussy both become grabbable, reified objects and objectives (The Wolf of Wall Street for instance), an ugly fus…

AMERICA PSYCHO

According to the latest CBS, ABC, etc, polls, Clinton is still likely to beat Trump - by percentile odds of 66% to 33% and change. But the current popular vote is much closer, probably tied with the error of margin, around 44% each. Trump has to win more key battleground states to win, and may not - but he is ahead in Florida...

We will all know, in a week, whether we live in a world gone madder, or just relatively mad.

While it seems likely calmer heads will prevail, the recent Brexit win shows that polls can mislead, especially when one of the options is considered a bit embarrassing, rude or even racist - and Trump qualifies for these, at least.

If 42-45% of Americans admit they would vote for Trump, what does that say about the ones not so vocal? For surely, they must be there, as well. Some of the undecided will slide, and more likely they will slide to the wilder and more exciting fringe candidate. As may the libertarians.

Eyewear predicts that Trump will just about manage to win th…

SEXTON SHORTLIST!

Announcing the Shortlist for the 2016 Sexton PrizeSeptember 13, 2016 / By Kelly Davio
Eyewear Publishing is pleased to announce the shortlist for the 2016 Sexton Prize. The finalists are, in no particular order, as follows:


THE BARBAROUS CENTURY, Leah Umansky
HISTORY OF GONE, Lynn Schmeidler
SEVERE CLEAR, Maya Catherine Popa
GIMME THAT. DON’T SMITE ME, Steve Kronen
SCHEHERAZADE AND OTHER REDEPLOYMENTS, David McAleavey
AN AMERICAN PURGATORY, Rebecca Gayle Howell
SIT IN THE DARK WITH ME, Jesse Lee Kercheval

The shortlist was selected by Eyewear’s Director Todd Swift with Senior Editor Kelly Davio. Don Share of Poetry Magazine will select the winning manuscript, which will be released at the 2017 AWP conference in Washington, D.C. The winner will be announced in October. 
Congratulations to our finalists!