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GrahamS.

Does anyone like/understand Tenet?

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I rented Tenet last week wanting to like it and ended up disappointed. It’s just... dull (at least to me). The dialogue is so full of exposition that it’s almost impossible to follow, the character development seems inconsequential (despite the effort of the actors who try to inject personality into the dialogue), the action sequences are cool but surprisingly sparse for a 2 1/2 hour thriller. It feels like Inception redux in terms of spectacle except with any attempt of characterization stripped away (I love Inception, BTW, but know that some people felt that it was too exposition driven. Tenet is a good compare-and contrast in that tespect).

I am a Christopher Nolan fan overall, but this is my least favorite Nolan film. I’m glad I didn’t see it in the theater because I would have been risking my life to be bored.

Does anyone agree/disagree? I’m curious to hear what other people think since this movie was so heavily hyped.

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I enjoyed it when  I saw it Labor Day weekend despite there being a lot of plot holes in regards to the mechanics of the inversion of time, which I assume was a studio addition of the line about "don't think about it just move by instinct and you're good." Nolan again shows he's the master of set pieces in movies because the big action sections were fantastic, especially the final act which I'm wondering how they did it given Nolan's preference for practical effects. After I got done I knew it wouldn't be everyone's cup of tea with the attempts to come off as heady while simplistic. There's always going to be logic/continuity issues in time loop/multiple plane films because they never seem to follow their own rules in order to try and be approachable to as big an audience as possible. They tried to instill an idea that the future is not set and can change but at the same time work so hard at keeping it the same when they are inverted and go back to normal, so the reveal at the end of who created the Tenet organization shows along with everything preceding that reveal shows time is set within this universe which kinda removes the tension of the villains plot. It's not my favorite Nolan film but it isn't my least as well.

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11 hours ago, RyanSz said:

I enjoyed it when  I saw it Labor Day weekend despite there being a lot of plot holes in regards to the mechanics of the inversion of time, which I assume was a studio addition of the line about "don't think about it just move by instinct and you're good." Nolan again shows he's the master of set pieces in movies because the big action sections were fantastic, especially the final act which I'm wondering how they did it given Nolan's preference for practical effects. After I got done I knew it wouldn't be everyone's cup of tea with the attempts to come off as heady while simplistic. There's always going to be logic/continuity issues in time loop/multiple plane films because they never seem to follow their own rules in order to try and be approachable to as big an audience as possible. They tried to instill an idea that the future is not set and can change but at the same time work so hard at keeping it the same when they are inverted and go back to normal, so the reveal at the end of who created the Tenet organization shows along with everything preceding that reveal shows time is set within this universe which kinda removes the tension of the villains plot. It's not my favorite Nolan film but it isn't my least as well.

You followed it better than I did. Honestly, I started fast-forwarding it to the action sequences after 45 minutes just to get through it, so I didn’t grab the plot’s nuances.

what’s your least favorite Nolan? My previous one was Interstellar. Since the hook of his movies are often based around their rewatchability and close study, these two are the ones I found I had no desire to rewatch.

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7 hours ago, GrahamS. said:

You followed it better than I did. Honestly, I started fast-forwarding it to the action sequences after 45 minutes just to get through it, so I didn’t grab the plot’s nuances.

what’s your least favorite Nolan? My previous one was Interstellar. Since the hook of his movies are often based around their rewatchability and close study, these two are the ones I found I had no desire to rewatch.

I would say Interstellar because I just now remembered that was his movie after you mentioned it. It had a nice build and did well in building the science of it all (albeit stealing the wormhole description scene almost shot for shot from Event Horizon), but I figured out the twist less than halfway in and it killed the momentum for me, along with its How I Met Your Mother-esque ending where what we thought was the whole reason the main character was going through the whole movie was not in fact his real endgame of getting back to his daughter and instead just go back to Anne Hathaway, just made it very ho-hum for me.

For this movie one another huge thing I noticed is how much John Washington is altering his acting style to mimic his dad's, especially in comparison to BlacKkKlansman and it's night and day. From his mannerism to how he talks I would have almost thought it was Denzel in this movie if I closed my eyes.

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It's pretty but vacuous. I liked it fine, but have no desire to see it again, and found it really surprising that people kept saying that you needed to see it several times to Get It. I think I got it. Eh.

It's definitely not as bad as Interstellar though, which made me groan out loud in the theater with the whole love thing 🤮 I had really been enjoying it up to that point, and boy did it go downhill fast after that. I don't think I've been so upset about a ( normal, not HDTGM-type ) film ever since.

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I kind of enjoyed watching it because of Nolan's filmmaking technique making the individual sequences compelling, but as a story it didn't make me feel anything. There's just no grounding for anything that's happening for the bulk of the running time, because the film is deliberately trying to hide information from you. I don't know why characters are doing things or what they want, so I don't care that much. Does it eventually come together? Yes, I suppose so. But that's a long time for a movie to keep you in the dark.

In general I like Nolan, but I think he has his little tics and flaws that are starting to become more obvious as his movies get bigger and more intricate in their plotting. For me he still hasn't topped Memento, where the small scale forces him to actually spend time with the characters and give you something to care about. I also thought his approach worked pretty well in Dunkirk, because the stakes are already pre-set (it's a war and the soldiers need to be rescued from the beach), so I don't need to know much more.

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I was fortunate enough to see it on the big screen here in Thailand. My first movie in a theatre in over a year! 

As an added bonus, I had NO idea what the premise was even about, as is often the case -- unless I'm going out of my way to pay attention, information about movies isn't as saturated over here. I only get enough information like titles and filmmakers and it's always a wonderful surprise to see a movie unfold fresh.

In terms of spectacle, it didn't disappoint. The sound, the effects, the action. I was on edge, although that was likely just as much to the fact that the movie's plot demands your attention. I love time travel and philosophical mind trips, so I was all in, and pleasantly along for the ride. I anticipated a few of the "twists" of the conceit, but that didn't make it feel cheap; again, I was delighted when they happened.  

So as far as that goes, I liked it, but I can't say the enjoyment was very deep. Even if I was delighted, it was mentally taxing to watch the film, as any drop of attention threatened your entire comprehension. There wasn't much to grab onto beyond the spectacle, and the time travel/physics was both too strict and too loose at the same time. And people better than me have already analyzed to death the lack of characterization and the excess of, well, pretty much everything else. Someone said something something about a tale full of sound and fury? Oh, right. Ultimately it's signifying nothing. 

To have the fate entire film industry of 2020 riding on the reception of this movie was poorly chosen. 

 

 

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6 hours ago, DannytheWall said:

To have the fate entire film industry of 2020 riding on the reception of this movie was poorly chosen. 

 

 

Yeah I get the reason for choosing this as the tentpole film to re-energize the theater industry, but the problem in the states was that it wasn't a shared consensus of theaters being open as each state was having different levels of opening  and in some cases the counties were different within the state. On top of that even if an area was open, the theater might have chose to remain closed. When I saw it in theaters, I had to drive 45 minutes to a Regal theater that was open because the ones closer to me had not reopened yet, so with that I decided since I was driving so far I would see two movies and chose this and The New Mutants because they were the two newest. So with limited options on multiple fronts, it wasn't surprising that a movie like this wasn't the industry savior people were saying it was going to be.

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15 hours ago, RyanSz said:

but the problem in the states was that it wasn't a shared consensus of theaters being open

  Absolutely agree. In retrospect, the best word to describe any industry, especially Hollywood, would be "floundering." 

The bigger problem, however, is the movie is too obtuse to the point of turning people off. You'd need excitement and buzz for a true tentpole feature, and Tenet just doesn't engender that. 
Crossreference it with Inception, which could be argued as having a similarly obstuse plot point, lingering questions to the viewer, etc. On the face of it, though, it's "simpler." Like the old tenet (ahem, sorry) about writing science fiction-- "you get one thing." Inception's one thing is--  you can travel through layers of dreams. In Tenet, you start with one thing-- traveling "invertedly"/backwards through time, but then there's another thing with a war in the future, then another thing with arms dealers and artefacts, then another with who's leading the organization...  What happened to saving something for a sequel ?  The risk of trying to be so twisty is that your audience will turn around, then walk away

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11 hours ago, DannytheWall said:

  Absolutely agree. In retrospect, the best word to describe any industry, especially Hollywood, would be "floundering." 

The bigger problem, however, is the movie is too obtuse to the point of turning people off. You'd need excitement and buzz for a true tentpole feature, and Tenet just doesn't engender that. 
Crossreference it with Inception, which could be argued as having a similarly obstuse plot point, lingering questions to the viewer, etc. On the face of it, though, it's "simpler." Like the old tenet (ahem, sorry) about writing science fiction-- "you get one thing." Inception's one thing is--  you can travel through layers of dreams. In Tenet, you start with one thing-- traveling "invertedly"/backwards through time, but then there's another thing with a war in the future, then another thing with arms dealers and artefacts, then another with who's leading the organization...  What happened to saving something for a sequel ?  The risk of trying to be so twisty is that your audience will turn around, then walk away

I’ll also argue that Inception-to me, at least—had a a melancholy, character driven center that was a successful thematic link to Memento. I know some people felt Inception was too schematically written, but I felt the performances really filled in what was needed emotionally.

Tenet didn’t feel like it was character-driven at all and as a result just felt really empty. As a result, Nolan could have blown up ten 747s and I would not have cared. 

Bottom-line, I feel like Nolan’s recent films (barring Dunkirk) have done a 180 from his older work. He used to have a clear eye for where his characters were but not be great at shooting action/spectacle. Now he’s great at shooting action:/spectacle but has lost sight of his characters.

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10 minutes ago, GrahamS. said:

Tenet didn’t feel like it was character-driven at all and as a result just felt really empty.

I can't believe that you are accusing a film whose main character is named only as "The Protagonist" as being not character-driven. ::Rolls eyes::  

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This video has a good explanation of the issues I'm seeing pop up in later Nolan work (and why Dunkirk is a bit different).

 

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