Off the Shelf: 'Memento'

Reported by: James Eppler
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Updated: 7/27/2012 10:31 am

By my reckoning Christopher Nolan hasn't made a movie I didn't like until "The Dark Knight Rises," which was overstuffed, lazily plotted and cheesy in the end. It was a huge disappointment for me, a long-time Nolan supporter. He has consistently told intricate, methodical stories over the years with popular films like "Inception," "Insomnia," "The Prestige," and especially the first two Dark Knight movies.

He exploded onto the indie scene with a brilliant crime drama in 2000 that never got past cult status. It's still his best.

"Memento" (2000)
Writers: Christopher Nolan, Jonathan Nolan
Director: Christopher Nolan
Stars: Guy Pearce, Carrie-Anne Moss, Joe Pantoliano

What's it about?

A former insurance salesman, Leonard (Guy Pearce), is working to track down the man who killed his wife. But during the attack on her he suffered a brain injury that doesn't allow him to create new memories. He remembers everything before the attack, but since then his brain essentially re-boots every few minutes. In order to keep things straight, he tattoos clues on his body to remind himself of his mission and where he is in the investigation.

What's good about it?

Nolan puts us in Leonard's shoes by telling the story backwards. Each scene is followed by what happened before the scene we just watched. So like Leonard, we're never quite sure how we got there, and we have to use the clues to get our bearings. That's the "A" story. The "B" story finds Leonard telling the tale of how he became afflicted with his condition. It's told in black and white and it moves forward. Sound like a head-trip? It is - and that's the point.

What's the best scene?

Leonard comes to in a hotel bathroom with a bottle of booze in his hand. He finds a man tied up in the closet. How did this happen?

Fun facts:

-The medical condition experienced by Leonard in this film is a real condition called Anterograde Amnesia.

-Nolan originally wanted Alec Baldwin to play Leonard. Aaron Eckhart, Brad Pitt, Thomas Jane and Charlie Sheen were also considered. Eckhart later worked with Nolan in "The Dark Knight"

-The Batman logo is visible in one scene.

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