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Memento (2001)

Memory can change the shape of a room; it can change the color of a car. And memories can be distorted. They’re just an interpretation, they’re not a record, and they’re irrelevant if you have the facts.

— Leonard Shelby

It has been a while since I have seen the film that put Christopher Nolan’s name out front and center, the #29 Film of All-Time on IMDb, Memento. It was nominated for two Oscars, including Best Original Screenplay and  Film Editing. The strange thing is that the story is based on Jonathan Nolan’s short story, Memento Mori. Personally, I don’t like movies that go backwards through the narrative. There is something tragically simple about this movie that make me forget about my past grievances with this way of storytelling.

I don’t know how to approach this review without spoiling the ending, which is in the beginning of the movie. Hmm… Be forewarned. A man who has short-term memory loss, Leonard (Guy Pearce) had just shot a cop named Teddy (Joe Pantoliano) in head. He takes a Polaroid for a little reminder that the person that he thinks raped and murdered his wife (Jorja Fox) and lost him with his memories will be documented.

As you know the narrative is backward to retrace the events that lead to Teddy’s demise. The puzzle is slowly being put together. Leonard has an arm full of Polaroids. All of the clues to find the killer has been either in the Polaroids or have been tattooed on his body as a reminder of his ultimate goal of revenge.

Was Teddy telling the truth? Because a person named “John G.” was the person that was there that night his life changes. Teddy is not his real name. Leonard realizes this from Natalie (Carrie-Anne Moss), a woman who Leonard befriends while he is investigating. Is she working for him or against him? He cannot trust anybody unless it was written on the back of the Polaroids.

He tries to remember Sammy Jankis (Stephen Tobolowsky), a former case of his when he was an insurance investigator. He thought that Sammy was faking his condition which it is exactly like his. Everything that Sammy remembers before the accident, he knows. He has trouble building new memories like Leonard. His wife (Harriet Sansom Harris) thinks at she could do something to trigger his memories, but nothing happens.

Leonard has to deal with betrayal, manipulation, murder, drugs, and theft all for the ultimate goal of solving his wife’s murder.

The movie is carefully thought out about what happens next. I thought the flashbacks in black and white broke up the movie in a good way to see how Leonard knows certain things and not others. This is probably the best performance of Guy Pearce’s career. I thought that the ending was different from what I remember. It blows my mind that the movie about memories and not making new ones could make me questions how the ending or beginning was.

But I did have some questions about certain elements of the movies that didn’t make any sense to me. What happened to the drug money? How did Leonard get those items that belonged to his wife? I cannot think of how that happened. I went over the movie again.

Judgment: I know that Nolan is capable of making movies outside of the Batman franchise that could still be good.

Rating: 9/10

SEPS Review: Bad Boys (1995)

Marcus, I just have one question for ya bro. How the hell you gonna leave my ass at a gun fight to go get the car!

— Mike Lowrey

Bad Boys is probably the only movie of Michael Bay’s that I actually liked a lot. I used to watch a burned copy of the movie when it was on rotation of HBO a couple of years ago. The guys at SEPS were playing this movie numerous times and I would be giddy with excitement watching this movie. I know almost every single line in this movie. Is it the end all, be all of buddy action movies? No, but it’s a helluva ride.

The story centers on a pair of Miami narcotic cops, the sexually frustrated Marcus Burnett (Martin Lawrence) and the trust fund playboy, Mike Lowery (Will Smith) who are reeling from a break-in at their precinct. A hundred million dollars worth of heroin is stolen when an ex-cop Eddie Dominguez (Emmanuel Xuereb) lets the bad guy, Fouchet (Tchéky Karyo) to get into the vault. Their boss, Captain Howard (Joe Pantanliano) wants the guys to get the dope back quickly before Alison Sinclair (Marg Helgenberger) would find any excuse to shut the station down.

Eddie becomes greedy when he takes a couple of blocks of the heroin and has a private spending spree. Mike’s friend who happens to be an escort, Max (Karen Alexander) is invited to party with Eddie in his Al Capone suite. She brings her friend, Julie (Téa Leoni) along. They wasn’t the best decision, because Fouchet barges in the suite with guns blazing. Takes down Eddie and Max. Julie manages to escape.

Showing up at the scene, Mike is distraught that his friend was lying under the sheet. He tries to find the person that killed her by himself. When Mike is away from his desk, Julie calls the precinct. She insists to talk to Mike Lowery only, but Marcus is the only one there. The Captain asks Marcus to pretend to be Mike to secure the only surviving witness before Fouchet’s men come knocking on her door.

The rest of the movie is like a comedy of errors when the two cops try to keep up with the charade of the living the each person’s home life in order to keep Julie from blowing town.

I believe this was the first movie I ever saw with two black male leads playing cops instead being criminals. It might have struck a cord with me that two black men could be the good guys for once. Knowing Michael Bay, he loves to have the explosions, women in scantily clad outfits and often ridiculous dialogue. That is his signature with all of his movies. I enjoyed this movie for basic entertainment value. The lines of dialogue are memorable. I could name a dozen of them, but I don’t want to bore you.

Judgment: A likable action movie with equally likable leads.

Rating: ***1/2

Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief (2010)

First rule of battle strategy. Don’t ever let your opponent distract you.

— Annabeth Chase

I was mildly interested in the movie, Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief, because it an obvious Harry Potter ripoff that was based on the book series by Rick Riordan. On the /Filmcast, one of the hosts railed on how bad the movie was, so I had to check out how awful the movie is. The movie is not horrendous, but it’s not that great.

Mixing ancient Greek mythology into modern times, Poseidon (Kevin McKidd) is summoned to Olympus, which is situated on top of the Empire State Building to his brother, Zeus (Sean Bean). Zeus is angry that his lightning bolt has been stolen from him. Somehow, he only blames the offspring of Poseidon for the theft. Zeus warns Poseidon that if the bolt is not returned to him within two weeks before the summer solstice then a full scale war will ensue.

Poseidon’s offspring turns out to be a troubled teenager named Percy Jackson (Logan Lerman) suffering from ADHD and dyslexia. He is living a shabby apartment with her mother, Sally (Catherine Keener) and dickhead stepfather, Gabe Ugliano (Joe Pantoliano). He dreams that his life was be better than it is.

On a field trip to look at the exhibit of Greek and Roman art, he attacked by his substitute teacher, Mrs. Dodds (Maria Olson) who turned out to be a butt ugly fury who seeks the lightning bolt from Percy. A wheelchair bound curator, Mr. Brewer (Pierce Brosnan) and Percy’s best friend, Grover (Brandon T. Jackson) think that Percy is in danger. He has to leave town with Grover being his protector with a pen that was given to him that turns out to be a sword. Huh?

On the drive to Camp Half Blood, his mother explains to Percy about his birth father and why he wasn’t in his life. The car they are in is attacked by a Minotaur. It turns out that Grover is a satyr, a half-person/half-goat creature that is the protector of Percy. During the fight, the Minotaur kidnaps his mother. Percy passes out. Three days later, he wakes in the infirmary with Grover telling him about his father, Poseidon, him being a demigod, and that he has to train for battle.

Mr. Brewer turns out to be a Centaur, Chiron, whose sworn duty to train the heroes for anything that the Gods could throw at them. While Percy is getting situated, the whole camp is involved in a spirited game of “capture the flag”, where he gets into battle with Annabeth (Alexandra Daddario), who is the daughter of Athena. He is wounded. He regenerates from the water by the voice of his father in his head.

At a bonfire, Hades (Steve Coogan) appears in his menacing transformation to tell Percy that his mother is in the underworld with him. If he ever sees the mother, he has to return the bolt. Percy wants to go to Olympus to tell Zeus the truth, but Chiron thinks that is not a good idea. Outside the protective shield of the camp, he is vulnerable.

Not heeding his warning, Percy, Grover and Annabeth decide to try to find a way to get to Underworld to get his mother back. To do that, they need to find three pearls to open the portal to Hell told by the son of Hermes, Luke (Jake Abel).  They have to go on a cross country journey to vaguely Grecian places to find them.

I don’t have the same hate for Chris Columbus and his films like everyone else. I think that Chris take a source and translate it to the screen without any imagination or pizzazz behind it. That is why this movie is laughable at times and not in a good way. Is this movie serious? Sometime I can’t tell if it was supposed to be campy or been taken seriously. That bit with the iPhone? The satyr dancing to Lady Gaga’s “Poker Face”? You have fantastic cast of good actors, but it feels like a B movie you find on the Syfy Channel. An utter disappointment.

Judgment: I would suggest waiting for the Clash of the Titans movie. Don’t watch this.

Rating: **

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