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Crime, Drama, Thriller, Mystery
IMDB rating:
Christopher Nolan
Guy Pearce as Leonard
Carrie-Anne Moss as Natalie
Joe Pantoliano as Teddy Gammell
Russ Fega as Waiter
Jorja Fox as Leonard's Wife
Storyline: Memento chronicles two separate stories of Leonard, an ex-insurance investigator who can no longer build new memories, as he attempts to find the murderer of his wife, which is the last thing he remembers. One story line moves forward in time while the other tells the story backwards revealing more each time.
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This movie has been vastly overrated.
There are holes in the plot of this movie that should prevent it from receiving the ranking it has in this database (1 of the top 10 all time best movies). In the end, the characters are not sympathetic or interesting enough to warrant the treatment they get in the film. I do not think this is a must see movie for anyone.
An intriguing downer
I didn't have too much trouble following this film after the first ten minutes - maybe because I'm a touch dyslexic, and I'd seen the backward Seinfeld wedding-in-India episode several times. It was ingenious that while the central character had his puzzle to figure out, we as an audience were given one that paralleled his.

But the further Memento progressed, the more I felt that I neither liked nor related to any of the characters, who become more one-dimensional the further back in time we encounter them, and that then becomes who they really are. It's not a film I would have cared to see had it been chronological.

Take Groundhog Day, make it the others in the film who know what's going on, then change it from a comedy to a moody thriller with a bunch of sleazeballs, and you have Memento. It gives the impression not only that nothing is as it seems, but that no one can be trusted, and everyone is parasitic when given the opportunity. It's sad that so many people have praised it, given it's jaundiced view of humanity.

Yes, it's a milestone, a new Third Man for the new century. I recommend it only as a study in film-making and storytelling. You may smile at the tricks in the unfolding of the magic. But if you have the simple desire to see real, complex characters -- with both good sides and human failings -- they won't turn up in Memento.

By the end - or beginning, as it were -- the completion of the puzzle only creates an ugly, slimy picture. It's like watching the magician pull a dead rabbit from his hat. At a different time in my life, I'd have been a lot more impressed.
Skin as Photograph
Spoilers herein.

I rate this very high on my scale, primarily for its ambition and intellect.

Usually I get annoyed at IMDB comments that report the story as if it were important, but it is here:

---Lenny's home is attacked, wife raped, him injured. He develops this `condition' which has no physical cause. In other words, the condition is invented. The insurance investigator (Sammy Jankins), uncovers him as a fraud by using electrified test blocks. Knowing this, his wife challenges him and he `accidentally' kills her rather than face the condition. Sent to a hospital, he escapes and ties up with the cop who investigated the case. Together, they track down the petty crook and kill him. Over time, the condition becomes more pronounced and embedded. The cop (Teddy) is crooked and exploits Lenny in a doublecross drug deal, getting him to kill Jimmy. Jimmy's girlfriend Natalie also manipulates Lenny to first chase off Dodd (who is looking for the missing money). Lenny decides to get even with Teddy, so plants a seed that he will use later to justify killing Teddy.

---It is essential to know that Lenny was never an insurance investigator, and that his condition is self-delusional. The order and ritual is not to cope with, but to create the condition. Remembering his wife increases the intensity behind the psychosis -- remembering his investigator gives him identity and focus in refining the condition -- knowing all this transforms the idea behind the film into something of genius.

That's because it is deeply self-referential: us looking at a film, especially at a mystery, is just the same as looking at a few polaroids and trying to create/remember a past. Watching movies is self-delusional, and with detective stories it is a game of wits between viewer and writer to outwit and manipulate each other just as here between Lenny and Teddy. (The filmmaker calls us, we shouldn't answer, but we forget.) This film goes further. An actor forms the picture by putting words on it; in the case of acting, the `picture' is the body, so it makes sense for the clue/words to appear on his body.

The combination of the three (words on skin, remembrances of images past, the mind duel with the writer) adds up to a pretty mind-expanding framework. That alone transports the intelligent viewer to another world, a shocking world of self. This makes the film important, and an important film deserves criticism.

So what could be better?

The ink on skin as referential of film acting was done so much more elegantly and deeply with `Pillow Book.' The playing with time was moderately clever compared to the other, deeper games in this film -- but it could have been much more challenging. It could have stuttered (`Limey') could have folded (`Pulp Fiction') could have paralleled (`Run Lola Run') could have spiralled deeper (`Snake Eyes'). Maybe in the next film.

I did not think the eye of the camera was very clever. This had `noirish' writing but not filming. More like the later `DOA' in the black and white would have really spun. The dialog and plot were needlessly simple. If I am going to go to the trouble to displace my mind for a day or two, I want it shifted beyond Jupiter. That the story was so simple was pandering to the dumb masses and annoyed.

But the biggest flaw was our friend Guy. Moss is not a real actress. Guy is, but he's of the rather simple kind, who thinks he plays a character. Consider what this film is: it is a film about films first, and within that we have a character inventing another character and reality. That's three roles in one. Woody Allen made a similar movie so far as this matter: `Sweet and Lowdown.' It was a fake documentary about a guy who created a stage persona which he subsequently adopted. Simple stuff plotwise compared to `Memento.' But it had Sean Penn. Watch Sean play three roles at once, weaving them into a complex multidimensional space. This film was intelligent enough in its conception to warrant such texture, to have the actor remind us that we are him and he isn't.

Come on people, it wasn't THAT good
Before I rant on the absurdity of Memento being currently ranked #14 on the Top 250 list, I'll say what I liked about it. Yes, it was an extremely entertaining, original and well-done all around film. The acting was first rate, the story decent, and the film makers did a great job putting it all together.

However, I may be crazy, and I'm sure the "film snobs" will grit their teeth at this, but at the end of the day, isn't Memento just a gimmick? A water cooler novelty? I mean, basically they took a slightly above average plot and did something new, and granted inventive, by editing the film structure in reverse. For the most part, the movie is pretty much shown from end to beginning. Yes, they did enough to make things make sense in between, but essentially it was an exercise in "hey, let's make a movie, and then edit it so everyone will talk about that reverse movie".

I don't care what anyone says. That's the bottom line, period. I've talked with plenty of fellow movie buffs who I consider to be reasonably intelligent, and some are even the snob-types mentioned above. And none of us can figure out what all the fuss is about. Maybe we ain't that smart.

I hate to get into comparisons, because it's difficult to compare different types of movies. But be honest, if you can tell me with a straight face that Memento is an overall better film than "Apocalypse Now", "A Clockwork Orange", "Pulp Fiction", "Goodfellas", "Fight Club", "Jaws", "Chinatown", "Raiders of The Lost Ark", "American Beauty", "Silence of the Lambs" and a large chunk of the other 230 films ranked below it, than you just need to sit back, take a deep breath, reel in that massive "I'm a nonconformist art-house movie aficionado" thing and get a reality check. It was a good movie, but it wasn't that good.
Memento sees Guy Pearce play Leonard Shelby, a man with no short term memory, on a search for his wife's killer in a film which is intelligent, engaging, well thought out, and sometimes, even funny.

Memento demands your full concentration, and its backwards development is a stroke of genius, placing you in the same situation as Leonard; you see what he sees, and aside from small clues, very little else. This way of engaging its audience is what makes Memento special, as it draws you into the plot and Leonard's complex situation without leaving you lost amidst the chronology or bogged down in little clues. This is also helped by Guy Pearce's performance; he remains likable for most of the film, his little jokes and his honesty helping you side with him, but he also shows evidence of a darker side, especially towards the end (the beginning?), as Teddy (Pantoliano) plants the seed of doubt in his mind.

Basically, Memento is a very good film, an intelligent, engaging storyline that keeps you interested even after it ends.
An unforgettable trip into the mind of a man with no memory
If you're looking for something intense, suspenseful, and different than your usual effects-packed thriller, this is the best movie you will see all year. You will be talking about Memento at work, at the grocery store (to total strangers!), and you will find yourself joining conversations when you hear the word "Memento." That's why this little film that received almost no marketing stayed in theaters for months and was in the top 10 money makers for several weeks.

The movie starts with a murder -- a revenge killing, in fact. But was the right person killed?

Leonard Shelby (Guy Pearce) is a man with no short-term memory. He hasn't been able to form new memories since the night his wife was murdered. Now he's on a hunt to find the murderer but with no way of remembering names, dates, places, facts and faces. Instead he tattoos himself with mementos of his search. When someone knows his name, he checks Polaroids to see if he knows them. Does he like this person? Does he trust this person? Is this the killer? He doesn't know unless he's scribbled a note.

Don't worry about trying to empathize with Leonard because Writer/Director Christopher Nolan puts you right in Leonard's shoes. You live the story in reverse order so that you never know more than Leonard does. In one scene you see Leonard getting information from a person who knows him -- maybe a good person; maybe bad. In the next scene you see a previous meeting between the two which sheds more light on their relationship. Later still you see how they met. But is that all of the story? You've yet to find out... and you won't know everything until the last scene. By living it backwards, you, like Leonard, have no knowledge of what came before.

It's brilliant story telling. But you might get frustrated because you don't know what's going on. That's normal. In fact, that's the whole idea. Just sit back, try to relax (though that's difficult in this movie), and find out just how twisted and complex Leonard's world is.

This film will leave its own memento on your mind, and you'll have a hard time forgetting how much you enjoyed it.
Memento or how to make an insipid story seem intricate
As for the story: throw in the usual wrongfully deceased wife/daughter. Add a formula, like memory loss, also a proved recipe. Now throw in a little gimmick, lets write it backwards in time, or half of it forward and printed backwards so you need to read it using a mirror.. Something like that. Great idea! Really, after I managed to recompose the story from its fragments, all I had was an incredibly thin story. With entirely one- dimensional characters, all equally unlikeable. This one I can spoil in a single line. Guy suffers from memory loss from a head injury, and tries to get revenge, but is used time after time because of his memory loss. Give or take a handful of unimportant and uninteresting details. Top ten movie? Apparently people can be bought cheaply, and they take chaos for complexity when given the chance.
One of the most innovative works I've ever seen!!!
This is my 1st review on the site and I have chosen this masterpiece of a movie to review.

I have seen movies in my life with an innovation factor whether its the characters, the plot, the directing or even the soundtrack, but this movie deserves to be a great, clear contender in the innovation land.

Since the 80s, we are tired as viewers of clichés regarding protagonists or antagonists and this movie serves the cause of surprising the viewer not necessarily plot-wise, but character-wise. I mean all of the characters in this movie have their ups and downs within the build up.

Guy Pearce is certainly one of my favorite actors of all time, so it isn't new to me that I got owned by his acting and for Carrie-Anne Moss, she is an actress of natural, God-given ability. So, where did the pleasant surprise came from?... It came from Joe Pantoliano who added THE flavor to the movie.

If you still haven't watched this movie and I doubt it, then go and see it today for it is a masterpiece not necessarily in its epic, rich, novely aspect, but for its innovation.
Not as good as I'd hoped.
I'd heard a lot of great things about this film before going out to rent it. But once I did, I must say I was not extremely thrilled with it as the rest of the world seems to be.

It is a brilliant and creative idea of how to make a movie (backward revealing of pieces of the story with every new scene) but unless I missed something, I believe that this is all this film had to offer. The acting was good, the story was good, the movie was good... but I do not believe it should be rated the number 1 best indie film and number 10 best film of all time. (As it is on IMDB while I write this review)

I think it simply receives a lot of praise because it is a movie made in a way that no one has ever seen before. A friend even told me that he thought it was an amazing movie--though he didn't quite totally understand it. Maybe it is appealing because it is confusing and people view it as a "smart" film because they can't quite follow totally what it going on and they have to watch it over and over again. Either way, I believe it has received much more acclaim than it deserves. It has certainly won many awards for great editing and original screenplays, etc--which it has. But a movie of the year--or of all time as some IMDB users are rating it--I totally disagree.

Finally, It is indeed totally original in the way a story is told and presented, but it is certainly not the greatest movie of all time. I was disappointed overall with this film. I do not believe it is a must-see.

I could film an entire movie by attaching a camera to a dogs back and having him film the action, then playing it on the big screen mirrored and upside-down during some scenes. That would certainly be an original idea never seen by movie-goers before, but that doesn't mean it should be voted into a group with The Godfather or Citizen Kane.

I'm not saying Memento is like watching an upside-down film from a dog's point of view... But I'm saying it's up there with the Godfather for reasons that it should NOT be.
The Reverse Genius Principle
9) And that's when we realize we could never be sure of anything to begin with.

8) When Leonard eventually thinks he has found his wife's killer, eleventh-hour reveals shock us with the possibility that his whole crisis may be nothing more than delusion.

7) Editing this movie must have been like navigating inside Las Vegas hotels with no watch or compass: sex and drug distractions, deprivation of day or night, no signposts or exit signs, and of course, nauseous on cheap shrimp and hairy tequila. Untold credit to editor, Dody Dorn, for shuffling the deck as confusingly as possible, yet weaving the tale as tightly as a sanitarium wicker basket.

6) But every few minutes, the movie twists back on itself, each flashback a segment of Leonard's life that happened just before the segment we have just seen – and with each flashback, we realize just how wrong Leonard is about who his friends are, his past life, clues to the killer, his quest *in toto.* By about the fourth paragraph we realize: this piece is running backwards.

5) From Jonathan Nolan's short story, *Memento Mori*, we meet Leonard mid-investigation, slumming it in a cockroach motel, having lost his job as insurance consultant, looking disheveled (as Guy Pierce can do so natchelly), and optimistically on the trail of the murderer; hanging with gregarious Teddy (Joe Pantoliano), and involved with hot bod, Natalie (Carrie-Anne Moss), both of whom seem to be aiding Leonard catch his killer.

4) Leonard's last "new memory" was the murder of his wife. During the scuffle with his wife's killer, a blow to the head caused his memory faculty to shut down. Whether this is truly biologically possible (if you cannot make new memories, how do you even shop for food and water or pay the rent?), for the movie's purposes, it means Leonard must piece together clues to his wife's killer through copious notes, tattoos on his own body and Polaroids. But the truth will forever elude him and the clues that lead to the killer are mere wraiths, the products of his own "selective" reasoning.

3) The harder you strive for something, the harder it is to grasp. But what you care least about - or that you were never striving for – falls into your lap. Some call this the path of least resistance, but it's actually called The Reverse Genius Principle. And Leonard - all ephemeral ideas and misplaced action – is a Reverse Genius in full throttle.

2) Guy Pearce is the memory-challenged Leonard, who is trying so hard to move forward – to find his wife's killer, but unable to create "new memories" to retain info - that he ends up moving backward. Thusly, writer-director Christopher Nolan has crafted a film where the clues to a murder fall neatly OUT of place. Backwards.

1) *Memento* opens with a killing. We don't know why. We don't know who.
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