Monday, October 1, 2012

Monday Movie Moments: Memento

Welcome to a weekly feature here at Movies With Abe. There are great movies, and then there are great scenes. Ideally, the two come as a package deal, but sometimes there’s just a scene that’s memorable all by itself. Each week, I’ll be taking a look at a formative movie moment that may be notable for its style, content, technique, or something else altogether. Minor spoilers will be referenced in this edition of the series, so please stop reading if you’ve somehow avoided seeing the movie in question.

Rarely does the first scene of a film prove such a tone-setting example of the film’s innovative and bleak nature. Watching the opening titles of “Memento” (also profiled in a Monday feature from two years ago) without knowing what’s going on leads to a gradual realization that the events being slowly depicted on screen are happening in reverse. The score is extremely helpful in establishing the mood, and zooming in on one photo as it goes from fully developed to grainier is entirely captivating. Watching the gun fly back up into the hands of Guy Pearce, wearing a stoic and dazed look on his face, seems so mechanical that it’s hard to figure out just what to make of it. Right before it cuts to the black-and-white narration by Pearce’s Lenny is the most intense part, when we hear a frantic shout from Joe Pantoliano’s Teddy the second before the shot kills him. Seeing the picture slowing fade away and Teddy’s fate revealed before he speaks is even more haunting, and it creates the perfect feel for this incredibly complex, interesting, and enthralling thriller, just a taste of the complex assembly of scenes and ideas that is to come.

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