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Memento Limited Edition DVDisturbs Again,
This review is from: Memento (Widescreen Two-Disc Limited Edition) (DVD)This review will only deal with the features found on the "Memento Limited Edition 2 Disc Set", and not the merits of the movie proper.
My only qualm with this DVD edition is the packaging. Wrapped in a tight-fitting but flimsy cardboard box, designed to look like Leonard Shelby's case file, it's almost impossible to get the discs out on first try. I find that I have to open the back to push out the innards, which tends to warp the shape of the box. Found inside are several loose sheets of paper, which look like psychological tests, notes from the case history, and, as you will soon see, the DVD's on-screen menus. The whole thing is ostensibly held together by a little plastic paper clip, whose only real purpose, I've deduced, is to get lost behind my TV set.
The first thing one notices once Disc 1 of the DVD loads is a psychological test, asking the viewer to commit to memory a list of words that will go flashing by on the screen. Don't be alarmed. Although Chris Nolan and Co. have set up the DVD to look like a series of tests, you really don't have to read through or pay much attention to everything on the screen. However, because sometimes they can be quite entertaining, I suggest you do. "Why are these people laughing at you?" asks one question. "We know you did it," ominously states another. This edition can get trippy if you let it.
After the memory flash, you are then asked to select from a list of words the ones you didn't see. Like I said, this isn't really a test, but an ingenious way to present the disc's main menu.
Selecting WATCH plays the movie. Selecting READ allows you to choose between English or Spanish subtitles, while LISTEN allows you to hear the movie in either English or French, 5.1 Dolby Digital or DTS 5.1 Surround Sound. CHAPTER sends you right to the scene selection option. And COMMENTS turns on Christopher Nolan's Director's Commentary track.
In my review of the commentary track for "Following", Nolan's first movie, I called his delivery "monotone... somnolent at times" but that he's "so smart and precise about what he's saying you can easily overlook that and become engrossed in the content." I can say pretty much the same thing here. Except that, in some ways, it's a less effective track. Nolan spends a lot of time analyzing the story, deconstructing the main character, his motivations, the structure, etc. They are the kind of out-loud thoughts a screenwriter might use when figuring out his screenplay, but serve little purpose for a viewer watching the film (okay, I suppose prospective screenwriters will get some value out of it). It is thrilling to see how Nolan's big brain works, how he's thought through every situation, and has a reason for including everything in the movie. But it's just one note played over and over for an hour and a half. If Nolan had mixed things up a bit, included more anecdotal information, or behind the scenes goodies, it would have been a stellar track. As it is, it's got a very narrow appeal.
Selecting the COMPASS shows you a behind-the-scenes photo gallery, as well as pages from Leonard's Journal. The BOOK allows you to read Nolan's script while listening to the audio track of the movie. You are even privy to the notes he made in the margins of the script, offering further thoughts on how scenes might be filmed. The GLOBE brings forth a whole mess of international promotional material, while the BINOCULARS give the option of viewing the international and North American theatrical trailers.
Selecting the SKULL starts a featurette, produced by the Sundance Channel, called "Anatomy of a Scene". Nolan, his editor, composer, producer, cinematographer, and one actor (Joey Pantoliano) discuss the whys and hows of the production. Particular emphasis is given to the opening few scenes, detailing how they were set up to gently bring the audience into the aesthetic of the film. Overall, the 25-minute segment further cements the notion that Nolan is an intelligent filmmaker, in full control of his cinematic palette.
Although not listed in the features on the DVD box, the much-ballyhooed 'Chronological Version' -- playing the scenes in the order in which they happen rather than back to front -- is here. Trust me. I just watched it. I'm not going to tell you how to find this version, for I think that would be a spoiler on par with giving away the end (beginning?) of the movie. But I will say that this information is available in several places online, so those of you who get frustrated with the puzzle should easily be able to obtain the answers (if not, drop me an e-mail). And I must say, "Memento" is still quite a gripping tale when told this way. But it does make Nolan's reason for telling the story his "gimmicky" way quite clear. The problem with this feature, however, is that it doesn't offer you the option of fast forwarding or jumping from scene to scene. So unless you can watch the whole movie in one sitting, you better not press 'stop'.
If you enjoyed "Memento" because it was a complex puzzle of a film, than I suspect you will enjoy this equally complex and even more puzzling DVD version. I'm almost positive that there is more to this edition than the features I've listed above. And I look forward to hunting for them in the future... or is that the past?
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Initial post: Feb 14, 2008 10:41:43 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Feb 15, 2008 12:00:07 AM PST
Barbara L. Morris says:
I just bought this edition, and had the same packaging problem you did, and I had to open it also, by pushing the disks through from the back.Anyway, there is a small cutout on the back of the box, too, and if you hold it where the paper clip is,with thumb, and put your index finger in the space on the back, and press down, you can slide the disks right out.
Anyway, I haven't watched it yet, and STILL have yet to see it. A few years back, I had a single disk copy of the movie, and half heartedly went to watch it a couple times, then stopped. I wrote it off as a bad movie, and ended up giving it away...Now I found THIS version at Circuit City for only 3.99- So I hope I have the patience to watch it this time.
I am SO glad I read your review, so now I will be looking for those features you talked about.
By the way, Your review is excellent!!!
After reading it, I can't wait to watch !
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