Saturday, January 15, 2011

Remember Me Discussion - Outside the Film

After the short hiatus,I'm going to try something a little different with the Remember Me discussion group. Questions will deal with the film outside of the actual movie. Let me know what you think!

Do you think that the negative reaction to the ending of the film would have been lessened if the 9/11 aspect would have been alluded to in the marketing? Or,do you think that knowing beforehand would have lessened the impact of the film?

Friday, January 14, 2011

Remember Me - One of the Most Profitable Films in 2010

When Remember Me first came out, alot of people were saying that it was a flop because it didn't set the box office on fire (a la Twilight numbers). But we all knew that that sentiment was totally incorrect and that Remember Me was quietly plugging along doing respectable business, both in the US and especially internationally. This little film did what quite a few bigger films did not do, and that was to break even at the box office.

Well, guess what? Not only was Remember Me not the flop that "critics" and naysayers were predicting it to be, but it was one of the most profitable movies from 2010.

The site has analysed the crop of 2010 and has come up with their list of most the most profitable films for the year.
This week we continue our wrap-up of 2010 by looking at the year's most profitable films. In making this calculation, we took the production budget, domestic and international box office and domestic DVD sales for each movie released during the year and calculated a rough total gross profit for the film. There's just one chart this week, but we think you'll find it interesting.

Remember Me just makes it on the list of 30 films with a comparative profit of $20,996,644. Other films that are included on this list are Toy Story 3 and The Twilight Saga: Eclipse.

To read about their methodology and to view the entire list, please click here:
Year in Review: Most Profitable Movies of 2010 - The

Thanks to Hsquare for finding this article!!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Remember Me and Inception: Wake up Call

Our Jessegirl has written a very interesting article that looks at additional layering and bracketing in the Remember Me story. She also discusses her thoughts on the differences between the small Remember Me and the bigger Inception.

In Remember Me the fascinating bookending or bracketing device is used often. For example, when we first see the Hawkins’ family as a unit, it is at Michael’s grave. The last time they come together is also at the grave site, this time Michael and Tyler’s. The first time there was obvious discord between Tyler and Charles and Tyler was late. The last time the family had become a tighter unit, with parents Charles and Diane linking arms. In this instance, it is just a single bracket, a simple way Coulter used to introduce and then leave characters.

I’m returning to the bookending idea, because, the thing is, it has occurred to me during the process of writing about Remember Me, that this bookending device has more layers. If you think of brackets within brackets you’ll see what I mean. Brackets within brackets within brackets. It is intriguing, really.

The film Inception also has layers, dreams within dreams specifically, and in this way can be compared to Remember Me. Yes, the films are very different but, believe it or not, striking comparisons can be made. I’ll get back to this, but first, I’ll explore Remember Me’s brackets a bit.

To me, the penultimate, symbolically-charged bracket is Tyler sitting outside his apartment on the fire escape when we first see him and our last look is of him inside the doomed building with no chance of escape. I have analyzed that particular bookend and most of the other significant ones in a previous article. Beginnings and Endings - Deja Vu in Remember Me

The bracket encompassing all the others contains the opening and closing shots. It is not an unusual cinematic device, but an effective one.

[Opening shot: R E M E M B E R M E letters appear one at a time through the hazy blur as the subway moves along. You move with the car towards the stop, where Ally and her mother are waiting for you.
Closing shot: The subway train carrying Ally speeds up, blurs, as we leave the story.]

The first scene, however, is the opening bracket for a number of closing ones. It is quite marvellous, when one thinks about it. I’ll enumerate them.

1[The subway will take Ally and her Mom underground.
Close: Tyler is on the 93rd (?) floor, far above ground.]

2[The Twin Towers in the distance light up the city at night behind Ally and her Mom as they wait for the subway.
Close: In the climactic scene the Towers are up close, sparkling in the sun.]

3[Ally’s Mom is murdered.
Close: Tyler is murdered.]

4[As Neil carries young Ally down the stairs of the subway, until the screen is black, the old-fashioned 'iris out' cinematic device Freeman and Coulter used deliberately.

Close: Then, we see the Twin Towers standing tall in the sun and as we absorb the meaning, the screen goes suddenly black/blank. Not the same photographic technique, but blackness at the beginning and at the end.]

First, we follow father and daughter down the tunnel created by the camera into the black depths of their mourning, and later, with the Towers blacked out, we begin—symbolically—our own walk down the steps of grief. Here the cinematic techniques themselves are the brackets.

5[The first time we see Neil and Ally together, at the subway, he holds her tightly.
Close: The last time we see them together, on 9/11, they are also hugging fiercely.]

6[Ally is on the subway platform with her Mom.
Close: Ally is on the same platform at the end.]
The significance, of course, is that finally she can brave it again.

7[Ally’s Mom on the subway platform looking into the murderers’ subway car:
Close: the mother’s ghostly image on the platform as Ally rides away on the train.]
The image is only a nanosecond and very faint, but it is there.

8[We see, in the brief scene, the love Ally and her Mom share.
Close: Ally on the subway, her face radiant with love.]
Love is the penultimate force in this film and Coulter has managed to show love between mother and daughter within a minute of film time.

Although the order at the beginning is not precise, all these many bracketed sections had begun with that first fateful scene, and then brackets close one by one, slowly taking us to the end. It’s almost like that aperture is closing in increments with each bracket, until the credits—on black—roll. This is brilliant.
-Tyler above ground at the window]
-The Twin Towers in the sun]]
-Tyler murdered]]]
-The black screen]]]]
-Neil and Ally hug after 9/11]]]]]
-Ally on the subway platform]]]]]]
-ghostly image of her mother when she’ in the subway car]]]]]]]
-Ally’s serene and loving smile]]]]]]]]
-the car blurs past us.]]]]]]]]]

Each bracket is meaningful, usually in an emotional way as well as a symbolic or cinematic one. The viewer concentrates not on the symbols but on the story and its emotions, which is where the focus should be. Symbols hit the subconscious mind and are often only later recognized. But they enrich and support.

The closing of each of these Remember Me brackets is a satisfactory completion. I do not mean a ‘welcomed’ completion, of course, because many of them point to the tragedy and death and heart-ache inherent in this story. But they effectively close a door. They don’t play mind games.

This beautiful tale of love and loss, of loving and grieving, of conflict and healing, nourishes with quiet potency, as all satisfying stories do. In a way, the bookending or bracketing device is just an extra treat, because Will Fetter’s story carries enough weight of meaning by itself. Although most of these brackets are not obvious on first viewing, they support the meaning, and one can feel their impact intuitively.

To be clear:
In Remember Me, the bracket/bookends do not create the meaning; they only support it. I emphasize this because other films, some much lauded, prop up an emotionally inadequate story by using intriguing layers. The film becomes a game the viewer plays, trying to solve the mystery of what is ‘real’. The film is, for all intents and purposes, just an intricate puzzle. The viewer—who must see the film multiple times in order to make sense of it—finds clue after clue, removes layer after layer, in fascination. (The film itself is an attempt to implant the idea of inception in the audience.) And it is fun, I grant you that. But, after everything is removed and the puzzle is solved, the story itself is as naked as the emperor without his clothes. And it is insubstantial. It lets you down because a story devoid of meaning is empty. Your brain has gotten a workout but that’s all. Films like this are poseurs. They pretend there is something behind the curtain.

I am, of course, speaking of films like the wildly popular and acclaimed Inception. I challenge fans. Do the characters engage you? Do you care about them? Or did the concept and the special effects fool you into thinking there would be a jewel in the centre of this maze when, in essence, there is nothing?

Wake up, indeed.

Inception has been called every kind of brilliant. The best films need a heck of a lot more than brilliance to have staying power. The dreamers who are awake, who are dreaming, and so on, (or the dreamers dreaming four levels down), in Inception; the reality that is not, that is, that is not, and so on, may be a brilliant concept, -perhaps, although it is not a new idea at all. And brilliant is not a jewel. It might be glass, mirrors, Escher illusion, incredibly clever.

But a gem of a film, like Remember Me, strikes at the heart. Not without its own cleverness, it nevertheless aims into the true centre of human reality, the heart and soul. And, only this hearth-fire, blazing, nestled deep in the core of our very beings, has true power, the power to make us live. We don’t waste time wondering what is real—or not—we know it. We are engaged at a deeper level.

Inception, on the other hand, begins with the premise of either extracting ideas from people’s minds to gain control, or implanting ideas to do so. These endeavours can not be morally defended. In the end, the issue is one of control, not waking up. The concept of Inception has nothing to do with profound spiritual ideas, as some have said. Why? Because it lacks heart and steals freedom. It is so obvious in the way Christopher Nolan executed his idea.

Unlike Remember Me, so very unlike it. I’m aware that in many ways these two films are apples to oranges, but not here. Nolan’s film is one which abandons heart for cleverness, in the service of control. If you want real feeling, real people, you won’t find them in Inception, but Remember Me is chock full of them. Can we relate to Inception on a personal level? (After two viewing I still couldn’t root for the characters, or otherwise be invested emotionally in them, even though the actors did a good job.) All we can do is try to figure out the metaphysical concept—which is an old one—and feel clever.

In the end, Inception, despite Zimmer’s hefty score, is legerdemain, smoke and mirrors. The story itself is minimal. Furthermore, if we don’t care about the characters, it is all inconsequential.

On the other hand, Remember Me offers, in the most humble manner, emotional sustenance. Its true spiritual message trumps Inception every time. In the end, whether ‘awake’ or ‘dreaming’, what matters is how you behave. Do you strive for love, as in Remember Me, or do you attempt to control, as in Inception? That is the bottom line. Are you elevating the human condition, or cheapening it, to paraphrase Robert Pattinson? This is what is relevant.

Just one last thought, this one about how the way a film is presented shows its attitude to the audience. The attempt to appear profound and layered in Inception was so obvious and was a dare to the audience ('Are You smart enough to get it?' sort of attitude), whereas, in Remember Me, all the symbols, layers, so much, comes across subtly and never eclipses the story, never detracts from that beautiful script Will wrote. There's also an inherent respect for the audience in Remember Me, whereas in Inception that dare covered in a shiny lustre really insults the viewer.

This article is a bit of David and Goliath, and I’m armed only with my sling shot. Inception is in the stratosphere of box office, and critical and popular acclaim. It seems a bit ambitious to bring it down a notch. Meanwhile, Remember Me has only recently been acknowledged by some critics as one of the most misunderstood, under appreciated film of the year, and even they put Inception up there. I’m aware that some readers are big fans of Inception; some might love both films too. But consider my opinions here with the open mind the makers of Remember Me had hoped for—but not received—for their film. It goes without saying that, to guess what I’m talking about, you would have to have watched both films, with an open mind and open heart.

These two films are not in the same league; Remember Me is miles ahead. It is awards season and what I said about it way back in May still holds. Oscars and Remember Me May 26

Inception distracts the mind from its true obligation to heart and soul.
It is not one of the remarkable movies of 2010.
It is not extraordinary.

Remember Me engages the heart and keeps you grounded in the only reality that matters, while it bravely charts new territory in the matter of grief. This is the true undiscovered country.
This film is remarkable.
This is an extraordinary film of 2010.