Posts Tagged ‘Joe Pantoliano’

Blu-ray Cover

Distributor: Samuel Goldwyn Films

Release Date: June 12, 2018

Region: Region A

Length: 01:53:28

Video: 1080P (MPEG-4, AVC)

Main Audio:

5.1 English DTS-HD Master Audio

2.0 English PCM Audio

Subtitles: English, English SDH, Spanish

Ratio: 2.35:1

Note: This title has been out of print on Blu-ray for quite some time but was released twice before (once by Sony and then by Lionsgate).

Title

“What’s been interesting about [Memento] is the differing reactions to it. Older people are less comfortable with it because the film sides with the idea that we are pretty much living within our own heads. I think that as people get older that notion becomes more frightening.” –Christopher Nolan (BBC)

Before the Dark Knight Trilogy and making his mark with a stream of other huge budgeted blockbusters, Christopher Nolan made a pair of small indie films that played with traditional storytelling structure while simultaneously forcing his audience to question their objective realities (if such a thing even exists). Memento is the second and better of these two efforts, and it’s difficult not to wonder if it isn’t still his best effort. There is always something more to discover with each viewing but is less convoluted than many of his other efforts—including Inception (which feels like two hours of solid exposition).

It’s a simple revenge tale of a man who seeks revenge on the man who killed his wife and left him with a brain injury that makes him unable to form new memories. The structure follows two timelines: one moving forward and the other moving backwards until they converge for the final act. This structure puts us in the protagonists head and forces us to experience the story much like he does, but instead of simply confusing us, it keeps us interested. There are always new questions being raised and then answered. Never are we passive observers simply staring at a screen to pass the time. We are forced to participate.

Nolan’s more recent blockbusters are both interesting and engaging as well, but one wishes that he would occasionally tell stories on a smaller scale as he did with his first two independent efforts. He’s extremely good at it and such stories are incredibly rare in this age of comic book adaptations.

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The Presentation:

3.5 of 5 Stars

This new Samuel Goldwyn Films houses their disc in a standard Blu-ray case and borrows the artwork used for Lionsgate’s 10th Anniversary release, but this new release looks more attractive without band announcing that previous edition.

The disc’s animated menu features are attractive and easy to navigate.

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Picture Quality:

4.5 of 5 Stars

First of all, it is important to be 100% clear about one important point: This film has seen two previous Blu-ray releases and I haven’t seen either of them. It has been out of print and ridiculously overpriced for much too long, so this new release is very welcome. I assume that this is the same transfer that was used for Lionsgate’s 10th Anniversary Edition since they are not promoting this new release as a re-master. However, this is merely a guess as we do not have that earlier disc for comparison. The image is certainly a huge leap forward from the DVD release (but this should go without saying).

Detail is crisp and lives up to expectations as contrast is well rendered and colors seem to represent Nolan’s original aesthetic rather nicely. There are aspects of this aesthetic that may appear harsh to certain viewers, but one feels compelled to give them the benefit of the doubt here, because the look suits the material and is really very nicely done. Depth is also impressive here as is clarity. Compression artifacts are evident but minimal and never distracting. One would have to be looking for it to really be bothered. This is a pretty nice transfer that should make fans who missed out on the previous release very happy.

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Sound Quality:

4 of 5 Stars

The 5.1 English DTS-HD Master Audio mix packs a larger punch than I was expecting. The degree of immersion fluctuates rather wildly depending on the scene and what is needed (as it should) and isn’t exactly a showpiece for your speaker systems, but it does its job rather nicely. It’s dynamic when it needs to be dynamic and subtle when it needs to be subtle. Dialogue is always clear and well prioritized while effects, ambience, and music are used masterfully to pull the viewer into the film’s universe. It is a very nice mix that leaves little room for criticism.

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Special Features:

3.5 of 5 Stars

Feature Commentary by Director Christopher Nolan

It is difficult to really discuss this particular commentary track. Nolan is articulate and informative about certain aspects of the film and its production, but for some reason it doesn’t feel like we are getting nearly enough information here. There were so many avenues to explore with this film, and he wastes quite a bit of time describing the action when we’d rather be hearing about the film’s structural differences from other films and the challenges of writing this sort of script, how he was able to get the film produced at Newmarket, reasoning behind his aesthetic choices, and so much more. The technical information he offers is more than welcome and always entertaining, and if this sort of information was all that he wished to discuss here, that would have been wonderful. Unfortunately, there isn’t enough of this or anything else. It’s still worth a listen and does manage to add value to the disc, but more information would have added more value.

Anatomy of a Scene – (25:17)

The Sundance Channel’s Anatomy of a Scene was a much too short-lived series that burgeoning filmmakers really need to check out. This episode focusing on Memento is a good example of why it is inspirational as it takes a generalized look at the entire film before concentrating on the film’s opening title sequence. The technical aspects and narrative importance of the scene are discussed by Christopher Nolan, Joe Pantoliano, David Julyan (composer), and Dody Dorn (editor). The focus on this single scene is both the program’s greatest strength and weakness, but the other supplementary material included on the disc covers other areas of the film’s production.

IFC Interview with Christopher Nolan – (23:52)

We have always enjoyed this archival IFC interview, although one certainly wishes that Elvis Mitchell would probe a bit deeper into both the themes and the production of Memento. This was obviously one of Nolan’s stops on his publicity tour for the film, and it is very interesting to see this articulate director at the beginning of what we now know would become an extraordinary career. It’s nice to hear a bit about Following (his first film) as well. This is really quite worthwhile—and may be every bit as informative as the commentary track (which shares some of the information). There is also some overlap with the Anatomy of the Scene program, but none of these three supplements should be skipped.

Remembering Memento – (38:20)

It is nice to have this retrospective post-screening interview and Q&A with Christopher Nolan and Guillermo del Toro included on the disc. It was one of the new additions to the aforementioned 10th Anniversary Blu-ray release and has happily been carried over to this one. Nolan discusses a variety of topics, but some will probably feel that nothing is covered in enough detail to consider it a substantial or truly revelatory addition—especially considering that most or all of the actual information relayed was already discussed in some of the older supplements that are also featured on the disc. It’s simply a missed opportunity, because an in-depth examination of the film and its production would be of enormous value. Having said this, listening to these filmmakers discuss their trade is enormously satisfying. The strengths outweigh the weaknesses.

Re-release Trailer – (01:22)

Most fans would probably prefer to have had the film’s original theatrical trailers included here instead. Oh well.

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Final Words:

Christopher Nolan’s Memento is must-see viewing. Luckily, this Blu-ray re-release offers cinephiles the opportunity to see it on Blu-ray once again and the disc’s supplemental features only expand the viewer’s appreciation of the film. Recommended.

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