‘Memento’ 2000

A man juggles searching for his wife’s murderer and keeping his short-term memory loss from being an obstacle.

Memento chronicles two separate stories of Leonard, an ex-insurance investigator who can no longer build new memories, as he attempts to find the murderer of his wife, which is the last thing he remembers. One story line moves forward in time while the other tells the story backwards revealing more each time.

Memento is a 2000 American neo-noir psychological thriller film written and directed by Christopher Nolan, and produced by Suzanne and Jennifer Todd. The film’s script was based on a pitch by Jonathan Nolan, who later wrote the story “Memento Mori” from the concept. It stars Guy Pearce, Carrie-Anne Moss, and Joe Pantoliano.

Pearce stars as a man who, as a result of a past trauma, has anterograde amnesia (the inability to form new memories) and has short-term memory loss approximately every five minutes. He is searching for the persons who attacked him and killed his wife, using an intricate system of Polaroid photographs and tattoos to track information he cannot remember. Memento is presented as two different sequences of scenes interspersed during the film: a series in black-and-white that is shown chronologically, and a series of color sequences shown in reverse order (simulating for the audience the mental state of the protagonist). The two sequences meet at the end of the film, producing one complete and cohesive narrative.

Critical Reception

Memento was a box office success. In the United States, during its opening weekend, it was released in only 11 theaters, but by week 11 it was distributed to more than 500 theaters. It grossed over $25 million in North America and $14 million in other countries, making the film’s total worldwide gross some $40 million as of August 2007. During its theatrical run, it did not place higher than eighth in the list of highest-grossing movies for a single weekend.

Memento was met with critical acclaim, earning a 92% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Online film critic James Berardinelli gave the film four out of four stars, ranking it number one on his year-end Top Ten list and number sixty-three on his All-Time Top 100 films. In his review, he called it an “endlessly fascinating, wonderfully open-ended motion picture [that] will be remembered by many who see it as one of the best films of the year”. Berardinelli praised the film’s backwards narrative, saying that “what really distinguishes this film is its brilliant, innovative structure”, and noted that Guy Pearce gives an “astounding…tight, and thoroughly convincing performance”. In 2009, Berardinelli chose Memento as his #3 best movie of the decade. William Arnold of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer writes that Memento is a “delicious one-time treat”, and emphasizes that director Christopher Nolan “not only makes Memento work as a non-linear puzzle film, but as a tense, atmospheric thriller”. Rob Blackwelder noted that “Nolan has a crackerjack command over the intricacies of this story. He makes every single element of the film a clue to the larger picture…as the story edges back toward the origins of [Leonard’s] quest”.

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‘We Need to Talk About Kevin’ 2011

Eva Khatchadourian is trying to piece together her life following the “incident”. Once a successful travel writer, she is forced to take whatever job comes her way, which of late is as a clerk in a travel agency. She lives a solitary life as people who know about her situation openly shun her, even to the point of violent actions toward her. She, in turn, fosters that solitary life because of the incident, the aftermath of which has turned her into a meek and scared woman. That incident involved her son Kevin Khatchadourian, who is now approaching his eighteenth birthday. Eva and Kevin have always had a troubled relationship, even when he was an infant. Whatever troubles he saw, Franklin, Eva’s complacent husband, just attributed it to Kevin being a typical boy. The incident may be seen by both Kevin and Eva as his ultimate act in defiance against his mother.

We Need to Talk About Kevin is a 2011 British-American psychological thriller drama film directed by Lynne Ramsay, and adapted from Lionel Shriver’s novel of the same name. A long process of development and financing began in 2005, with filming commencing in April 2010.

Tilda Swinton stars as the mother of Kevin, struggling to come to terms with her son and the horrors he has committed. The film premiered at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival and was released in the United Kingdom on 21 October 2011.

Swinton was nominated for the Golden Globe Award, Screen Actors Guild, and the BAFTA for Best Actress in a Leading Role. It was given positive reviews by both critics and audiences alike.

‘Nocturnal Animals’ 2016

A “story inside a story,” in which the first part follows a woman named Susan who receives a book manuscript from her ex-husband, a man whom she left 20 years earlier, asking for her opinion. The second element follows the actual manuscript, called “Nocturnal Animals,” which revolves around a man whose family vacation turns violent and deadly. It also continues to follow the story of Susan, who finds herself recalling her first marriage and confronting some dark truths about herself.

Critical Response

Owen Gleiberman of Variety praised the film, stating “Tom Ford’s first film since A Single Man is another winner”, and complimenting the performances of Gyllenhaal, Adams, Shannon and Taylor-Johnson. Steve Pulaski of Influx Magazine gave the film a perfect A+, saying, “Nocturnal Animals is one of the best films of the year. A layered, masterful work of interwoven storylines mixed with crime-drama craft, infused with the same kind of pulsating, West Texas-vibes we saw so beautifully in Hell or High Water, and multilayered storytelling at its finest, the film features gifted actors throwing themselves into performances that require massive versatility between scenes.”

‘Taxi Driver’ 1976

A sensationalized paranoia movie that is one long preparation for a massacre. It creates a tight, obsessive, suffocating world that excludes `normal’ outlets for relief, rest, connection, gratification. Robert DeNiro is superb as a lonely, impotent, insomniac ex-marine provoked to orgasmic carnage. it is definitely not suitable for the squeamish, the impressionable or the very young.

Loneliness seems to capture the soul that is Travis Bickle. He is an alienated man, unable to establish a normal relationship. Almost every action taken by him to make a meeningful connection with others might seem like good intentions at first but end up in failure.

‘The Perfect Host’ 2010

Warwick Wilson is the consummate host. He carefully prepares for a dinner party, the table impeccably set and the duck perfectly timed for 8:30 p.m. John Taylor is a career criminal. He’s just robbed a bank and needs to get off the streets. He finds himself on Warwick’s doorstep posing as a friend of a friend, new to Los Angeles, who’s been mugged and lost his luggage. As the wine flows and the evening progresses, we become deeply intertwined in the lives of these two men and discover just how deceiving appearances can be. With outstanding performances by David Hyde Pierce and Clayne Crawford, cowriter/director Nick Tomnay takes us on a suspense-filled ride where nothing is as it seems. The Perfect Host is a slippery psychological thriller that exposes true human nature and reveals just how far we’re willing to go to satisfy our needs.