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Is there really no thread on this? I looked twice, using Google and A&F's search function.

I recently posted some thoughts upon revisiting the film Ten Years Later:


 

Unquestionably, and probably unfortunately, the predominance of intricate structure over interesting character is something typical of Nolan’s work. I’ve never been a big fan of The Dark Knight (with the clockwork bank robbery and zestful joker shooting adrenaline through a somewhat flat delivery of political aphorisms masquerading as internal conflicts), but this shrinking of Memento may also bode ill for the long term appreciation of Inception (a film I found myself responding to in essentially the same manner asMemento).

Both films have main characters that are essentially ciphers. These films don’t so much have plots as they do back stories. Was it Jonathan Culler (or perhaps Aristotle?) who famously opined that a mystery was like any other story only instead of having a beginning, a middle, and an end, it provided the beginning last?
 


 

 

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Memento was one of my favorite movies when it came out. I watched it on DVD (normal and forward edits) enough times to basically memorize it, and to

see that Leonard really is Sammy Jenkis. There's a shot of Sammy in the hospital, and after someone passes in front of him, you can see Leonard in his place. It's only onscreen for a couple of frames, though.

Haven't watched it in a few years, though.

BTW, kenmorefield makes me envision a meadow filled with dishwashers.

It's the side effects that save us.
--The National, "Graceless"
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kenmorefield wrote:

: Is there really no thread on this?

Apparently not. The film does predate A&F by a few years; I can remember Doug Cummings expressing distaste for the film at OnFilm way back when because it bore no resemblance to actual neurological or psychological phenomena. But I'm pretty sure we must have discussed it at A&F at some point, in some thread, somewhere, because I seem to recall Greg Wright and I talking about how the film's plot holes become really obvious when you play the film's scenes in chronological order. I still like the film, though, and I think there are at least hints of emotion in the flashback sequences, which prefigure the similar flashback sequences in Batman Begins.

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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Is there really no thread on this? I looked twice, using Google and A&F's search function.

I recently posted some thoughts upon revisiting the film Ten Years Later:

[MEMENTO and INCEPTION] have main characters that are essentially ciphers. These films don’t so much have plots as they do back stories.

Leonard's character IS his back story, with the exception of his final moment of clarity (more anon). What I think reading through your writing, with all due respect and apologies, is that you've simply missed the ending and its point, which is fatal because it is -- and I will stand by this statement -- the greatest third-act mind-fornicate in movie history. One that radically reformulates what MEMENTO is about. And in a way that's consistent with everything that went before it.

MEMENTO is not a whodunit, but a whydoit. And a tragedy. MEMENTO is Chesterton's aphorism "When a man stops believing in God he doesn't believe in nothing, he believes in anything" made cinematic. Meaninglessness is Leonard's existential position. His condition means that he is stuck in an eternal present with no possibility of a future or a recoded past (which is why complaining he has no character in the usual sense is true but irrelevant; also why criticizing the movie for coldness is equally true-but-irrelevant). He even actually did kill the man who raped his wife (as Teddy tells him, and the photo of his bloodstained exultation). But he forgot that too. Teddy continues that he had to have a reason to live. And enables him to live separated from the fact he really did kill his wife (the Sammy Jankis story is a third-person narrative to displace his own worst deed). So he "created a puzzle [he] could never solve." The drug dealer he killed was not the man who killed his wife but a stooge Teddy set up to get some money.

All this info, these revelations from Teddy to us and him that his recent life has been built on a lie produces -- not liberation, as the evangelical atheists would predict -- but anger. And in the few moments of clarity he has, when he can rationally reflect, he deliberately chooses a lie that gives life to a truth that does not set him free. (This is Nolan's recurring theme BTW -- preferring life to truth.) He'll believe anything, because he has to believe something rather than in nothing. And he has to believe it's really true and corresponds to the outside world rather than be a fully conscious Nietzschean (a contradiction in terms)

"You think I just want another puzzle to solve? Another John G. to look for? You're John G. So you can be my John G... Will I lie to myself to be happy? In your case Teddy... yes I will.

"I have to believe in a world outside my own mind. I have to believe that my actions still have meaning, even if I can't remember them. I have to believe that when my eyes are closed, the world's still there. Do I believe the world's still there? Is it still out there?... Yeah. We all need mirrors to remind ourselves who we are. I'm no different. Now, where was I?"

Absolutely heartbreaking.

Especially once you've figured it out and see the film with all that at the front of your mind.

Edited by vjmorton

Yeah ... well ... I'm gonna have to go ahead and disagree with you there on that one.

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vjmorton wrote:

: MEMENTO is Chesterton's aphorism "When a man stops believing in God he doesn't believe in nothing, he believes in anything" made cinematic.

Hmmm, don't know that I'd ever put it in quite those terms. (Do I mean "put it" in the past tense or the present tense? Is "I'd" short for "I had" or "I would"? I can tell you which one I had in mind when I first wrote those words, but now...? Hmmm.)

Leonard does profess belief in an objective reality ("the world doesn't go away when you close your eyes", or words to that effect). So he does, analogically, profess belief in God. True, his belief in God may be built on a lie of which he is currently completely unaware. But I don't think it's as simple as saying that Leonard once believed in God and now believes in something else. If anything, what this film cautions against is uncritical acceptance of the continuity of tradition, religious or otherwise: if a lie crept in somewhere along the way, and nobody even remembers how the lie got there -- indeed, if no one even remembers that it is, in fact, a lie at all -- then all sorts of sincere belief can be built on that lie, and it doesn't make the belief any less sincere, just as the sincerity of that belief doesn't make the lie any more true.

On a possibly related note, I remember saying back in the day that Leonard seems to be the "scapegoat mechanism" personified. I remember that phrase loomed large in some of the religious studying I was doing at the time.

: And in the few moments of clarity he has, when he can rationally reflect, he deliberately chooses a lie that gives life to a truth that does not set him free.

Ironically, he also chooses a lie that he will no longer be able to live. Because once he has killed Teddy, what else can he do? He has Teddy's information tattoed on his body. (Somehow, he never tattooed anything so specific onto his body before.) And Teddy, who helped him keep this self-deception going for so long, is no longer there to hold his hand. The DVD bonus features suggest that the cops eventually catch up with Leonard after the events of this film (I trust that that isn't a spoiler, given that the film BEGINS with the very end of the movie's chronology, and that Leonard is killing a man in cold blood -- a criminal act -- in that opening sequence), so Leonard's dead end is more than existential (though it is certainly that, too).

: (This is Nolan's recurring theme BTW -- preferring life to truth.)

Hmmm, interesting.

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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.... I seem to recall Greg Wright and I talking about how the film's plot holes become really obvious when you play the film's scenes in chronological order.

I still enjoy the film as well, but I think the first couple of sentences in Roger Ebert's review might reveal the biggest plot hole...

Roger Ebert - I have here a message from Vasudha Gandhi of Queens Village, N.Y., about the movie "Memento": "Although I loved the film, I don't understand one key plot-point. If the last thing the main character remembers is his wife dying, then how does he remember that he has short-term memory loss?"

Which is a great point, because it's the one thing that Leonard constantly refers to without having to look at one of his tattoos.

Edited by Baal_T'shuvah

Formerly Baal_T'shuvah

"Everyone has the right to make an ass out of themselves. You just can't let the world judge you too much." - Maude 
Harold and Maude
 

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I still enjoy the film as well, but I think the first couple of sentences in Roger Ebert's review might reveal the biggest plot hole...

Roger Ebert - I have here a message from Vasudha Gandhi of Queens Village, N.Y., about the movie "Memento": "Although I loved the film, I don't understand one key plot-point. If the last thing the main character remembers is his wife dying, then how does he remember that he has short-term memory loss?"

Which is a great point, because it's the one thing that Leonard constantly refers to without having to look at one of his tattoos.

It's been quite a while since I saw it. I look forward to a revisit. But if, and I think "the greatest third-act mind-fornicate in movie history" can be read this way, Leonard has developed this whole short term memory loss as a way of escaping what he has done it would be perfectly fitting for him to "remember" having short term memory loss or his whole house of cards will fall. Seems a likely quirk within the mental gymnastics he has created.

A foreign movie can't be stupid.

-from the film
Armin

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*** SPOILER ALERT (for whoever hasn't seen this film in the past eleven years...) ***

Darrel Manson wrote:

: But if, and I think "the greatest third-act mind-fornicate in movie history" can be read this way, Leonard has developed this whole short term memory loss as a way of escaping what he has done . . .

The problem here is that "what he has done" was already supposed to be a CONSEQUENCE of his short-term memory loss. So he can't have developed it AFTER he did what he did -- not entirely, at any rate.

One of the questions that some people debated back in the day was whether Leonard's condition was physical or psychological, and I think the answer pretty clearly has to be psychological. It can't be physical, because it is inconsistent: his memory sometimes re-sets after a few minutes, and sometimes after hours, and if his condition WERE physical, we would expect to see more consistency here. Plus, of course, there is the question of how he could remember the death of his wife (and transfer the memory to Sammy Jankis) if his condition were physical and he had been afflicted with it since before her death. So, his condition must be psychological, then. But is there any sort of real-world precedent for this sort of psychological condition? Doug said there was not, and this was partly why he dismissed the movie at the time. (I don't know what his take is on it now.)

As for whether Leonard would even be aware of his condition... I have heard of at least one person who suffers from it, and who is apparently capable of joking about it with his caretakers, which suggests that he is at least aware that he has the condition. But HOW aware, and how CONSISTENTLY aware, I do not know.

As for plot holes, the one recurring plot hole that really came to bug ME, after I watched all the footage in chronological order, was the question of why Teddy kept leaving Leonard to himself, if Teddy really wanted and needed the contents of Leonard's trunk.

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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  • 4 years later...

Remake Sammy Jenkis.

AMBI Pictures, run by Andrea Iervolino and Monika Bacardi, has announced it will finance and produce the remake.

The company has the remake rights due to its acquisition of the library of Exclusive Media Group. The 400-title library also contains such as movies as Cruel Intentions, Donnie Darko, Rush and Sliding Doors, among others.

AMBI launched a new $200-million film fund last week, a movie which followed the acquisition of the library, and subsequently greenlit Memento as its latest production.

Edited by Tyler

It's the side effects that save us.
--The National, "Graceless"
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  • 1 year later...

This one is pretty good.

 

 

"Anyway, in general I love tragic artists, especially classical ones."

"Even the forms for expressing truth can be multiform, and this is indeed necessary for the transmission of the Gospel in its timeless meaning."

- Pope Francis, August 2013 interview with Antonio Spadaro

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