Or should that be “where the film has been”? Unlike “The Sixth Sense” and “The Usual Suspects”—indeed, unlike almost every other celebrated “puzzle film” in cinematic history—“Memento's” puzzle can't be undone with a simple declarative explanatory sentence. Its riddles are tangled up in a dizzying series of ways: by an elegant but brain-knotting structure; by an exceedingly unreliable narrator through part of the film; by a postmodern self-referentiality that, unlike most empty examples of the form, thoroughly underscores the film's sobering thematic meditations on memory, knowledge and grief; and by a number of red herrings and misleading clues that seem designed either to distract the audience or to hint at a deeper, second layer of puzzle at work—or that may, on the other the other hand, simply suggest that, in some respects, the director bit off more than he could chew.
All of the notices about the movie have told us that the story is told in reverse order. We hear that Leonard, played by Guy Pearce (“L.A. Confidential”), kills the murderer of his wife in the film's first scene, and that the film then moves backward from that point, in roughly five-minute increments, to let us see how he tracked the guy down, ending with what is, chronologically, the story's beginning.
It turns out that this is a substantial oversimplification of the movie's structure—and that's just one of the surprises that unfolds once you look at the film closely.
It sounds like a very intriguing movie—one that goes on the “to rent” list.
In fact, nine of the 16 claims on Sorensen's patent relate to the waffling. What requires so much elaboration? "Spacing. Depth. All sorts of things," Sorensen offers, then fesses up. “Basically the attorneys write a bunch of b.s. and hope they bore the patent examiner to death and he'll approve it.”
Mark filed a patent while working for a previous company. I saw the original idea, and he read me the original patent before being submitted to the patent board at the previous company. He also read me the patent after it came back from the patent board and I swear, I wouldn't have recognized it at all. Mark barely recognized it. The lawyers made all sorts of extra claims because of the parts involved. They removed some claims because of the parts involved.
I think the lawyers basically made stuff up and turned it into Legalese™ in order to keep their jobs.