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I Can’t Remember: Amnesia And The Movies

I Can’t Remember: Amnesia And The Movies (photo)

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At 12 a.m. ET tonight on IFC we are showing Shattered. Tom Berenger stars as an amnesiac who begins to suspect that the car crash that caused his memory loss was not an accident and his doting wife (Greta Scaachi) may not be all that doting.

Have you ever met someone with amnesia? I haven’t. Yet I bet everyone has seen a movie or a television show where a character gets knocked on the head and forgets everything. This is currently being used in ABC’s “Brothers & Sisters” where one of the characters was in a car crash that erased her memory to the extent that she forgot she had a daughter. Bummer, right? But realistic? I don’t know, because I’ve never met a neuroscientist at a cocktail party and haven’t been able to ask that extremely pressing question.

Yet use of amnesia as a plot device in movies and television shows continues unabated. Maybe filmmakers can’t remember they’ve used it before? Here are a few movies and television show that use memory loss as a central part of the plot:

Memento Written and Directed by Christopher Nolan, it stars Guy Pearce as a man suffering from short-term memory loss. The last thing he remembers is his wife dying and he wants to avenge her death, but he has to remember who to kill:

Samantha Who? Much like Tom Berenger in Shattered, Christina Applegate wakes up from a coma with no memory of her former self only to realize that no one really liked her. The show was quite funny, but sadly abbreviated:

The Bourne Identity stars Matt Damon as Jason Bourne, a one-man killing machine who wakes up on a boat with a bunch of mysterious scars, terrible people skills, and a hit squad after him:

Overboard starring Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell is one of the funniest amnesia films ever:

Regarding Henry, (1991) Harrison Ford plays Henry, a lawyer who survives a shooting only to find he cannot remember anything. The film is directed by Mike Nichols and written by J. J. Abrams. Yes, he of “Lost” and “Star Trek” fame. Check out all the smoking:

Total Recall While it’s true that Arnold Schwarzenegger chooses to erase his memory, it still counts. Directed by Paul Verhoeven.

Did I *ahem* forget something? What are your favorite amnesia moments from television and film? Tell us in the comments.

Shattered airs on IFC at 12 a.m. ET

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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at

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Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

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