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Rating History

Memento (2000)
2 years ago via Rotten Tomatoes

Leonard Shelby (Guy Pearce) is a victim of this mental condition, claiming that he can't remember anything after his wife was brutally raped and murdered. He has sworn revenge and obsessively searches anonymous motels and abandoned warehouses around Los Angeles in search of the killer. Shelby believes he has solved the murder at the beginning of the film and kills his suspect because he doesn't "believe his lies." We spend the next 110 minutes mostly going backwards to see how our narrator has solved the mystery and to see if he got the right man. (Though it may sound difficult to believe, I assure you that I haven't given away too much here)
There are actually some black and white snippets that objectively carry the plot forward if you watch specifically for them. There are other mysteries to resolve along the way, like who is the battered guy in the closet with the duct tape over his mouth?
Memento weaves a mesmerizing puzzle that comes across like a hybrid of Tarrantino's Pulp fiction. We discover the missing pieces along with our unreliable narrator since he can only recall recent events by taking Polaroid photos, labeling them, and by tattooing key messages on his body. Like unfolding news events broadcast by clueless reporters, how accurate can those cryptic messages and pictures be?
Traveling backwards in time with Shelby, we become privy to his disoriented existence, only most of us have functional short-term memories. Indeed, during one sequence Shelby has to sort out whether he is chasing a gunman or is being chased by him. While the scene gives a chuckle, it also helps us realize Shelby's vulnerable condition. Each waking moment requires going through his photos and examining his tattoos anew, as he attempts to piece together where he is and what his latest task is.
If this sounds confusing, just check out the film. It makes a lot more sense visually than anything I could describe verbally. Similarly, detailed people are sure to find a plot hole somewhere due to the complexities of crossing time and sequence, but that's irrelevant. It can make for some interesting discussion afterwards, and I've found that people who have seen the film will often disagree over some plot ambiguities associated with the unfolding revelations near the end.
Memento works, and actually invites re-watching.

Gravity (2013)
3 years ago via Rotten Tomatoes

While on a routine mission for technical repairs of the Hubble telescope. Mission specialist Dr. Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock), veteran astronaut Matt Kowalski (George Clooney), and the crew of shuttle Explorer get caught up in space debris caused by the remains of a Russian satellite. Director Alfonso Cuarón uses the force from the film's title and pulls the viewer in without will and never lets go. Cuarón flawlessly projects a heavenly atmosphere while the astronauts safely orbit the Earth, while simultaneously reminding us of the dangers of the endless void of nothing just below their feet. From every emotion Bullock experiences in character, the viewer also is a participant in Gravity. From an uncontrollable spin towards the void of space, we are fully aware of her endless destination. Cuarón again pulls the audience along for the ride while having the viewer being fully aware of her never-ending destination through third person view, and simultaneously having the viewer be right in the experience from showing the view through Bullocks eyes. George Clooney as veteran astronaut Matt Kowalski helps bring the hope to survival for Stone. He is Stone's guardian angel per se, in a film full of many physical and spiritual references. Gravity is more than a film. It is an experience, from the quietness of empty space, to the elevated tension of the constant dangers of an environment not following the rules of gravity. Alfonso Cuarón has crafted not only one of the most visual and suspenseful films I have seen, but also he has intertwined it with thought provoking elements that elevate every scene. Gravity is an incredible film, and I strongly suggest this film for everyone to experience.