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Directed by Christopher Nolan.
Written by Christopher Nolan.  Based on a short story by Jonathan Nolan. 
Starring Guy Pearce, Carrie-Anne Moss and Joe Pantoliano.
Release Year:  2000 
Review Date:  4/1/01 


Talk about night and day.

After going to see the flaming piece of shit "The Tailor of Panama", I was at rock bottom.  With my experience this evening watching the thriller "Memento", all is right with my world once again.

If you don't live in New York or Los Angeles, you will have a hard time finding this film--it is only showing at three theaters here in Washington, and we're a "major" city--but if you can find it, go see it right now.  I will only tell you how this film starts, as doing more than that will give parts of its intriguing storyline away:  Lenny (Guy Pearce, "LA Confidential") shoots a guy named Teddy (Joe Pantoliano, "The Matrix") in the back of the head.  The rest of the movie goes backwards in its time sequence to let the audience figure out what led to Teddy's demise.  I don't think I have ever seen a movie do it this way; even in films where the story starts with the ending, you usually backtrack to the beginning and tell us the whole story in sequence up to its conclusion.  But in "Memento", the story works off of the strange condition of Lenny--he has lost his short-term memory, so he needs to take pictures and notes every few minutes in order to remember anything.

Rarely do I get to see a movie where literally every single scene means something, but "Memento" is it.  With that in mind, you've got to listen to every word and watch every clue to figure out why the ending makes any sense.  So, if you go to the bathroom, expect to be a little confused at the end.  The acting is great, there are some humorous touches provided by the fact that Lenny cannot remember anything, and just the way this movie is put together makes it worth seeing.  And, don't let anyone tell you that "they could see the whole thing coming" with the's just not possible, because there are certain things that you aren't made aware of until the last five minutes.

Check this one out soon, before someone in the cubicle next to you givesaway the goods!

Rating:  Opening Weekend


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Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09