Following on from the relatively linear, and cold, “Dunkirk”, Christopher Nolan adds to his work with what is probably his second finest movie yet in “Tenet.”
The best one is “The Prestige”, and if you disagree with me, I am right and you are wrong.
But you probably want to know… should I go to the movies in the age of a pandemic? Is it worth sitting in a closed box with strangers, facemask or not?
I’ll be blunt. No. Don’t do it. It’s fucking risky, and I was stressed every second I was there because there were probably 15 strangers in a 600 seat theatre, and some of them didn’t have facemasks on.
And, even though Cineworld were keen on letting me know that there were less trailers and adverts, there was still 20 minutes of adverts and trailers. So I sat in what felt like a disease pit for an extra twenty minutes longer than I had to. I’m not necessarily going to the cinema again in a hurry, and to be honest, that 20 minutes is the reason. Exposure in enclosed spaces is risky, and I was borderline touch-and-go about going anyway, but assured that the trailers and adverts had been shortened. But taking 10 minutes out still exposes me to 20 unnecessary minutes of risk. If I expose myself to that degree of risk for a film, is it worth it? My conclusion at the end of it was no. Not for that extra 20 minutes. These are not usual times – and every extra minutes increases the risk.
Because there’s people there who don’t wear facemasks. People out there who think this all a conspiracy by Bill Gates to microchip us all. Caused by 5G phone masts and that we’re being cowed by dictact into becoming servile sheep and wearing muzzles. People who are prepared to risk my life for their bullshit. Science doesn’t care for what you think. Covid just sees you as a disease vector.
Hoenstly. Covid 19 doesn’t give a shit about that. All it wants to do is, at a basic, instinct level, is survive. That’s biology. All your triple think conspiracy bollocks is just that. I bet you haven’t had friends die because of Covid. I bet you haven’t had people you know commit suicide because of Covid. This is not a fucking giggle.
I’d wait if I were you until it hits Netflix and Blu Ray. There’s no normality anymore. This isn’t about “when it’s over.” Covid will never be over. There will only be pre-Covid, and post-Covid. And that is our history now. And it felt too risky to be there.
And now onto the film.
By now, you probably all know what Nolan does : epic setpieces, a high concept big idea with a side order of geeky obscure knowledge, and at least a couple of shots where you wonder why nobody thought of it sooner. These are big, long films, with epic visions, and at the same time, watching one is like solving the worlds biggest Rubiks cube. There’s an oddly hollow feeling at the end, that everything is always as it should be, but nothing was lost or gained, nothing was changed, and the world return to where it was at the beginning, mostly.
Nolan is one of the great filmmakers there is – a cinematic confidence trickster who makes you believe one thing, then turns it inside out whilst still remaining exactly the same ; and it’s been that way since day one. It’s assured and confident that rests on a curious conceit ; and it works best if you come to it with an open, working mind. The first half of the movie proceeds in a mostly linear fashion to an event, dropping breadcrumbs of information – and almost all of them become meaningful later. The film moves from setpiece to setpiece – from Kiev, to India, to Copenhagen airport, to Oslo, to the sea, to a desolate ruin in Russia, swiftly and breathlessly, and back again, showing that all is lost and won. Some of the setpieces – a vehicle chase that effortlessly eclipses anything I can think of since The French Connection, a bank heist with a stolen 747, glides across with the devil hidden in the details and the background that all, eventually makes some kind of sense. It’s a diverse cast, that reflects a diverse world, and a diverse way of thinking. It’s also – in the current age – a refreshing take on a protagonist that is chosen for his skill and an actor that can inhabit the role. It’s the first film in a while I’ve seen fronted by someone who isn’t a pale, stale, predictably straight white male, and I’m relieved that nobody draws any attention to that fact.
The characters seem slightly more rounded that some of his others which have occasionally been plot cyphers and meat robots, but the plot still relies on some deeply flawed stupidity for it to exist, though this is down to human pettiness and ego rather than anything more substantial. Nonetheless, as a demonstration of the medium, Tenet is a fascinating intellectual puzzle and a triumph of editing and story telling that rewards many, many repeated viewings.