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Christopher Nolan's Tenet - Espionage Movie


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I got it on iTunes, and watched it for my first time yesterday. Don’t know if the audios been changed, but I had absolutely no problem hearing all the dialogue. Was wearing headphones so I guess that helps. Really enjoyed the film, but going to give it another watch tomorrow to fully get my head around it.

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I think it's all spelled out pretty clearly, usually in a flashback, and/or in a really deadpan mundane way - that sort of delivery happens far too much in this film and, as a result, it feels very flat rather than the sort of laissez faire coolness that he was perhaps going for. They even use really obvious colour coding for forward and backwards stuff. Anyway, the basics from what I recall:

 

Spoiler

Russian dude got big pile of gold back in the day from the future people who want to kill the world but also that's fine because of the grandfather paradox don't think about it too much, started working for them through this forward normal timeline to help end the world, putting together a load of hidden macguffins that, when put together and switched on, will do just that. Going to end it all at the right time for him because of course he's dying for sure anyway, when he was happy on a boat with his family. Meanwhile, Protagonist sets up the counterforce in the future and gets stuck into it in the now without knowing the full story.

 

The only things that I find make Nolan's stuff difficult to follow have been shitty audio mixes and editing. The chase scene in the 2nd Batman movie will always get me with just how unnecessarily hard it was to follow for no reason other than shitty editing. And the 3rd film with the time jump cut. He's just the fucking worst at that sort of stuff and it really stands out when it comes about. (I bet @Pants McSkillwouldn't put up with that shit.)

 

I was underwhelmed in that same laissez faire cool way Nolan was going for but missed, although it makes me want to see a "The Adventures of Patters" film.

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Exactly. I should probably have clarified in my last post when I said I couldn't understand stuff, I was referring to the actual audio rather than the plot. First time around I got most of the plot but certain key details I missed because of the audio. Second viewing I cleared up nearly all the details I was unsure about because I was able to pay more attention to the dialogue (both viewings were at the cinema), but there was still some dialogue I couldn't make out (presumably intentionally so). 

 

A small bit of the film which I still found almost impossible to follow was the sequence of events around the car chase i.e.

Spoiler

when you take both the forward and backward time streams into account, which gets very confusing when you're watching the Protag doing it all in reverse. I looked it up on Reddit and people have attempted to do really complex timeline diagrams with images showing how the two timelines interact and it's insane. Although I still love the idea of it and I love that everything 'makes sense' and has been planned out from a continuity point of view by Nolan.

 

But even if you only get the main plot points first time round, it's kind of the intent for it to be deliberately confusing and hard to follow (not that I necessarily agree with that). Nolan's said as much in interviews and the woman even says at the start 'don't try to understand it, feel it' which kind of sums up the attitude Nolan was going for. Personally I enjoyed unravelling the details of the plot and I'm sure there are other little details I missed, not that its without holes. 

 

On 10/12/2020 at 01:22, Loik V credern said:

The plane crashing was probably the most expensive lamest stunt ever filmed.

 

:lol:  Gotta agree with that one! What an underwhelming set piece that was, there was way better crazy shit in the Batman films and Inception. I've seen all these people in media (including the cast) going on about how insane and awesome the plane crash is. I was like.... meh? It never even properly blew up. Nolan should have watched Die Hard 2, that did planes going kaboom right!

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On 10/12/2020 at 17:50, AfromB said:

I’m curious about this bit. Surely judging every film this way just leads to constant disappointment? Nothing ever lives up to its full potential. It sounds like a case of over thinking things instead of enjoying what is there in front of you. 

 

It does lead to disappointment yeah :lol:

 

Nah I think I expressed that wrong. I've accepted Nolan's style now, I hoped Inception would be more dreamlike and surreal but that's not what Nolan does. I didn't expect Bond and Call of Duty action scenes really. With the Dark Knight i was disappointed he filmed in Chicago and didn't bother with any dark gothic aesthetic of Begins. 

 

There's sometimes when I can't really go with what he's trying to do, character development and duration is important for me to be engaged in a war film so i didn't feel Dunkirk. 

 

I'm purely reacting to the big action scenes Nolan decides to demonstrate his idea with, not his now familiar stylistic choices. I like the music, the epicness, the physicality, I just think his action lacks personality and charm, they're not driven by strong characters but ciphers who are just there. Imagine the concept of Tenet being developed by [peak] James Cameron or John McTiernan, perhaps they don't flirt with arthouse like Nolan does but they know how to construct fun iconic action scenes. People reckon that Nolan does approach action creatively, citing the truck flip and plane hijacking in Batman, but I think they're just BIG. There's only a few moments I like and that's due to Ledger's performance; him sticking his head out the window feeling the breeze, his stumbling walk. 

 

The bigness is there in the plane crashing in Tenet. That whole sequence does not need to happen like that. How is he constructing that, what's he starting with where he's then working backwards. I think Nolan has more in common with Michael Bay than Kubrick, they're both driven by a recurring need for certain visuals, and there is a shared hard on for the military. What is behind his need to repeatedly film black clad men fighting in small spaces. The skyscraper bungie scene in Tenet is so Nolan, it's big again but like a similiar scene in the Dark Night it's kind of redundant. Nothing really rides on it, it's just there. It's not exciting or memorable. 

 

I sometimes read negative reviews on letterboxd where the person might say; this film was so stupid!! If it's Bill and Ted it's supposed to be. So I mean I want to accept a film on its own terms, so if a film like Bill and Ted is stupid be funny with it, push the craziness. I'd never seen any of them until a month ago, so I watched them all in order. I preferred 2 because the grim reaper and going to hell and the evil robot versions of them is exactly the kind of thing I want to see in a film like this. 

 

I watched Freaky the other day and it's predictable and has a low ceiling of expected quality, but I'm mainly thinking; it wants to be funny with Vince Vaughn acting as a teenage girl. Is it funny? Yeah. It wants to have warm likeable characters who are her mates. Are they likeable? Yeah. It wants to be charming and enjoyable and it succeeds. 

 

tldr I think he could have come up better sequences that demonstrate and play with his idea more. Write better characters that have more agency, maybe attempt suspense. I certainly didn't expect something different than what the film delivered because the trailer doesn't misrepresent the film. 

 

I think reading criticism as 'why do people want one of the few directors with a singular vision to be given big budgets to reign it in??' misses that I don't want that really. I don't want him to adapt a book any other director might eventually, or develop a script that's been around for ages that will reach the screen another way. But I would like someone, when Nolan shares his script, to say; could you not think of a better way to demonstrate this concept? Nolan thought about Tenet for more than a decade and spent 5 years writing the script. 

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On 15/12/2020 at 20:07, Poet said:

The chase scene in the 2nd Batman movie will always get me with just how unnecessarily hard it was to follow for no reason other than shitty editing.

 

In fairness to the editor - there's fuck all a editor can do if the footage isn't shot in a way that can be cut together, and that's Nolan's responsibility.

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Strange film. Complete lack of character development left it really unengaging for such a supposedly big action thriller. At least half an hour too long. Bizarre action scenes, had no idea what was going on in the finale. Felt a bit like a mission Impossible film with set piece, exposition, set piece format, but lacked the wow factor of Tom hanging onto a moving plan. Key central plot hole:

 

Spoiler

Wouldn't photons move backwards relative to anyone who'd gone through one of those time reversing gateways? In which case light would move away from the retina rather than towards it, leaving anyone in the wrong time frame completely blind.

 

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30 minutes ago, Eric86 said:

 

  Reveal hidden contents

Wouldn't photons move backwards relative to anyone who'd gone through one of those time reversing gateways? In which case light would move away from the retina rather than towards it, leaving anyone in the wrong time frame completely blind.

 


 

Spoiler

Yes! I thought this too (probably a bit too much). I reckon you would still be able to see from all the reflected light from other objects moving backwards, but looking at the sun it would probably be black?

 

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Just watched this and tbh i didn't think too much off it.  I do feel however you need to let people make films like this just so you can push ideas along.   This is crying out for someone to take the idea and make a properly fleshed out film.

 

Tenet is however a film of a few pretty poor tbh set pieces that doesn't tell you bits of information it absolutely should to make nolan feel like he's in on a big joke that is only his.  He believes his own hype. 

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Watched it. Didn't find it at all difficult to follow, it's all said up there on the screen, at length, multiple times.

 

Was boring in places. The 'twists' were guessable as the setup occured. The action is badly shot, in the main. The final act was desperately dull

Spoiler

That big battle, setup as temporal stuff going off all over the place, was some of the worst 'war' action committed to film. It was like a couple of groups of corporate paintball team building out on an industrial estate.

 

No sense of peril or threat, and the enemy were almost invisible. 

 

It wasn't utter dogshit, but I don't think I've seen a more disappointing film in a long time. It's so busy thinking it's clever it's irritating. 

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Just finished it. Really enjoyed it, although not without flaws. One thing puzzled me though...

 

Spoiler

Why was Branagh still looking at the helicopter through the binoculars when it had already landed ten feet away on his yacht?

 

The rest of the film made absolute sense.

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8 hours ago, Monkeyboy said:

Just finished it. Really enjoyed it, although not without flaws. One thing puzzled me though...

 

  Hide contents

Why was Branagh still looking at the helicopter through the binoculars when it had already landed ten feet away on his yacht?

 

The rest of the film made absolute sense.

 

Spoiler

Different Branagh init? The one with the Binos is 'past' Branagh, but the one on the boat is 'future' Branagh who's come back to die when he was most happy.

 

I'm basing this on memory from 2 cinema viewings, so it might be slightly wrong but there are definitely 2 Branaghs at the end.

 

Branagh.

 

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Apple TV purchase, the audio was fine, dialogue all audible.

 

I did really enjoy it, but as everyone else has said yeah there are a number of flaws. 
 

I think the editing issue seems to be that he makes 4 hour films that then have to be crushed down, some of the cutaways are ludicrously short, like shots in a 30second commercial.

 

Also yeah, that finale, who exactly where the two teams shooting at? 
 

I was expecting a twist regarding who Max the son was.

 

But yeah, it’s too much to take in on the fly and the consequences are often flipped so when something happens you’re like ‘wait, is that a bad thing, good thing, or does it not matter!?’

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16 hours ago, Cheeko said:

Apple TV purchase, the audio was fine, dialogue all audible.

 

I did really enjoy it, but as everyone else has said yeah there are a number of flaws. 
 

I think the editing issue seems to be that he 

But yeah, it’s too much to take in on the fly and the consequences are often flipped so when something happens you’re like ‘wait, is that a bad thing, good thing, or does it not matter!?’

 

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