Wednesday, November 18, 2015


It was announced the other day that Christopher Nolan's 2000 hit Memento is getting a remake. The announcement was met with a general reaction of annoyance, pretty typical anytime an unnecessary remake is announced. But the frustration, which is normally dealt with by a shrug of the shoulder, was a bit more amplified because we're not dealing with franchise property settling for an easy cash grab, but a vital film in the canon of an elite filmmaker, and to some, a visionary artist. While it's easy to explain most remakes, this one is more perplexing, resulting in a sense of pessimism and exasperation for the future of mainstream filmmaking. It's as if studios are saying that because they can't get their hands on good original material, and because they don't like the idea of producing mediocre movies that people don't like, they will start taking bonafide works of creativity (AMBI pictures, which acquired the rights to the film, will also be putting out a remake of Donnie Darko) and making them over again. It's tough not to walk away scratching your head at that. What's worse is that the statement made by the company sounds downright idiotic:

“Memento is a masterpiece that leaves audiences guessing not just throughout the film, but long after as well, which is a testament to its daring approach,” Bacardi stated. “We intend to stay true to Christopher Nolan’s vision and deliver a memorable movie that is every bit as edgy, iconic and award-worthy as the original. It’s a big responsibility to deliver something that lives up to the mastery of the original, but we are extremely excited and motivated to bring this puzzle back to life and back into the minds of moviegoer's."

To "stay true to Nolan's vision" sounds like they will try to replicate what Nolan did. Here I should say that theoretically I don't think remakes are a bad thing. Movies have been being remade since the early days of Hollywood, and ideally a remake should be an invitation to alter or to expand, not stay true to the original. 

It continues: 

“’Memento’ has been consistently ranked as one of the best films of its decade,” Iervolino added. “People who’ve seen ‘Memento’ 10 times still feel they need to see it one more time. This is a quality we feel really supports and justifies a remake. The bar is set high thanks to the brilliance or Christopher Nolan, but we wouldn’t want it any other way. Our acquisition of the EMG library reinforced our commitment to build a strong global studio with a strong pipeline of commercial films that can play to a worldwide audience. Bringing a new ‘Memento’ to audiences is an initial example of how we intend to execute this strategy.”

This is an absurd justification. The idea is that people re-watch Memento many times, and yet always feel they need to see it again. This is a big compliment for a movie. He thinks it's the reason they need to re-make the film, when in fact it's the very reason it does not need to be remade. If people had grown tired of Memento, if it didn't hold up after multiple viewings and no one ever wanted to see it again, then a fresh take on it might be understandable. But Lervolino has stated the opposite (which is true for me--I've enjoyed the film immensely each time I've seen it and would always be willing to watch it again), in which case we should be grateful for the movie as it is and that we'll always be excited to re-visit it. 

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