Tenet User Reviews/Reactions [Possible SPOILERS]

An original action espionage film releasing in IMAX on August 12, 2020
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Haven't seen ton of writing about what the movie is actually doing, particularly in its formal interests and how Nolan has been slowly streamlining certain methods since Inception. I gather there will be more interesting writing once more people see it but i stumbled upon this on letterboxd piece by Neil Bahadur. Some great thoughts here
More like first impressions: while skimming the films Wikipedia page as I waited for the movie to start, I was delighted to discover that Nolan had again consulted with the physicist Kip Thorne for this film, whose theories make up for the brunt of Interstellar, my favorite of Nolan's works. On the surface this appears almost a mashup of the last several Nolan films - the genre co-opting of Inception, the bonkers narrative structure of Dark Knight Rises, the time-looping of Interstellar and the stripped-down construction of Dunkirk - but even with the first half's 60s Bond playtime extravaganza, it's the space travel film that this resembles the most, as Thorne's involvement implies.

I'll try to be as tactful as I can: thinking back to the long-needed dumb grin on my face as I left the theatre makes me think this is one of the movies I'd least like to spoil. But it's not plot or character relationships, or narrative contrivances that are in danger of being spoiled - in fact I can think of relatively few films where such things matter less. It doesn't become apparent until reflection (more on that below), at least in my experience, but complete narrative arcs and even whole characters are established before being completely abandoned upon reaching a point where it can only be surmised that Nolan himself no longer has any use for them. Nolan does have a tendency towards a certain clumsiness in conventional storytelling terms, rather placing all his attention towards information and structure - most of his films actually tend to have glaring plot holes before being wholly upended by (and in favour of) the eventual cumulative effect of the film as a whole. In Tenet, a literal multitude of characters introduced in the films first 45 minutes are abandoned with absolutely no sign of what happens to them, and at times even his most ridiculous plot holes - how does Washington get back from the inverted Oslo car chase to in the room with Pattinson and Debecki? For better or worse, I expect a lot of viewers to say this is Nolan's best and worst tendencies at an extreme, and they're not wrong. Personally, I'm not complaining - as Nolan's storytelling "deficiencies" (for lack of better wording) are magnified, so too is the impact of the films cumulative effect, and the things that Nolan actually cares about - which happens to also be the subject of Inception, Interstellar and Dunkirk, here brought to perhaps its fullest expression: how our experience of time shapes our reality. No "how, when, and where" could possibly match - all movies are movies before they are stories. This is why people go see them.

I can easily see this becoming my favorite of Nolan's works, but both in the spirit of not spoiling the movie as much as I can and also that given these are first impressions, I can only go so far, especially based on a single viewing. This is partially because (and like all my favorite cineastes) Tenet doesn't just encourage repeat viewings, it might just be the only way to make sense of the film - as implied earlier, certain aspects aren't apparent until reflection, but as I write I'm realizing it is impossible to explain why I like this movie so much without spoiling it, so I will notify when I do so. Before I get to that, here's some neat details - it is very impressive in how Nolan has developed how he handles exposition: it remains to be seen how this goes down with the mass public (and it seems to be doing relatively well already though critics seem to be put off by it) but I personally find it hard not to be in awe in how Nolan has streamlined his "game-plan, sequence, repeat" to a point where these dynamics are worked into the action itself while limiting the amount of information we're handed to essentials - I find this flatly more effective in its immediacy (this is also easily Nolan's fastest paced movie) while still encouraging further study and revisiting. It's not nearly as sparse as Dunkirk, but you can quite clearly see the lessons he learnt from making that film. Nolan has also (to my eyes) improved the way he shoots dialogue - using Washington/Debicki's first scene as an example, I recall before thinking that one of Nolan's limitations was that although he has clearly studied the silent masters to a tee, he never figured out how to shoot dialogue with those same techniques, so he tends to shoot dialogue in the most plain way possible. But here, and in this sequence in particular, Nolan reverts to a deceptively simple shot-reverse shot mechanic - deceptively in that between shots, focal lengths change, or the angle is positioned just *slightly* differently as to provide subtle emphasis towards new, important information or a key character peculiarity. This is exactly what I've been dying to see/do and it functions in a manner as to gain entry into a level of character subjectivity that Nolan tends to avoid, shifting his presentational style towards a more precisely controlled and designed emotional/tonal manner of processing information.

Perhaps it helps that I have watched Interstellar excessively, but I don't think you need to have a background in quantum physics to understand what's going on in the film, as some critics seem to believe. That is where the filmmaker comes in. Now it's time for the spoiler warning, so if you want to save the surprise of seeing these mechanics in action for when you watch the movie yourself, don't read onward. In something like Inception, the deluge of exposition (not a criticism, I like how Kristen Thompson termed it - "continuous exposition" as a new form of narrative)
results in a sharp separation between "information" and "sequence" wherein the viewer has the option of actually not using the exposition for an understanding for the rules of an action sequence, allowing them to still lean into each action sequence on its merits alone and experience the sequence as though it's any other movie - such a freedom sounds liberating on paper but it's exactly the reason why we see so many people complain about Nolan's handling of exposition today. Because of Nolan's pairing down of how much expositional information is imparted to the viewer (and partly because of the accelerated pacing as well) we as the viewer can intuitively understand how the film works by watching those mechanics in action, rather than having them too blatantly spelled out for us - I gasped when the car flipped in the inverted Oslo chase, because it's the moment the movie finally clicks. It feels unseemly to refer to the concepts of time inversion and time looping as a theme - frankly it remains unclear if there even is one here other than in the broadest sense - rather it seems more fitting to say that Nolan has at last mastered the process of turning a concept into a mechanic. It's not just theoretical clarity, it's also precision in execution: that's why even with the glaring plot hole of Washington's arrival back to wherever Pattinson and Debecki are doesn't fully register initially - because Pattinson's claim that excessive heat would have caused hypothermia rather than burns in a state of inversion distracts us. Tenet is tantamount to an experience of not being given the rules prior to seeing how dynamics play out as mentioned earlier, but rather passing you the tools to examine a sequence while heightening the subjective experience of the material itself - in other words, it's manages one of the most challenging things to achieve in a film, which is to manage both subjectivity and objectivity at the same time. This is where repeat viewings come in, because once the time inversions become more clearly established I could already see my initial misgivings about the films first half dissipating - though naturally I should have expected this to be more than a goofy 60s Bond knockoff. The ending for me is Nolan's finest, with Pattinson basically standing for Nolan himself, succinctly summing up not just the film but Nolan's entire career with the discussion of free will, mechanics and reality - brief and succinctly, Dunkirk style: again, the contextualization is just enough for the viewer to make the connection immediately. But there's more: with knowledge of the ending, we become aware that Pattinson is aware of the whole thing, and on a revisit, that would re-contextualize the entire first half if not the entire film. This is to say, the film itself becomes the same time loop that is being explored through its mechanics, as well as being expressly about it. I saw a charming review earlier today: "Nolan is a genius because his business plan is making films so complicated that you have to see them twice." They're not wrong. Obviously there's more I could go on and on about - I can't believe I got this far and didn't once bring up the crosscutting in the films finale: an Inversion war, where one group moves forward in time to the blast zone and another group moves backwards, essentially making the cross-cut have physical properties since they are functioning in different, shall we say, "crunches" of time (at last we've moved on from Griffith!) cut together with Debicki and Branagh on the yacht, both moving in inverted time but neither aware that the other is, and trying to one up each other - so while we see only two spaces, we essentially get four "sequences". This is obviously jaw-dropping to watch on IMAX because we get the films biggest set-piece intercut with basically a chamber drama though I suspect it will hold up on a smaller screen as well. Loads and loads I can go on about though I'd better save it for the actual second viewing, like the character dynamics themselves - far more detailed than Nolan usually is - Branagh's Russian oligarch is actually the most interesting character here, which is not atypical for Nolan's villains, and that Debecki is ultimately the hero of the film is interesting in that she is the one that ends up not following the plan and gives in to personal feelings. In the end - for today at least - it's hard not to want to continue playing with the ideas in your head: this isn't because of any misstep but rather because, again, these mechanics work so precisely. How could one not linger on the image in the last third of Washington doing pull-ups on the inverted boat (you can see this shot briefly in the trailer) - a simple, perfectly precise summation of the film as mere optical illusion: by doing pull-ups, one would be making the same motion whether by linear or inverted time.

Random Note: I thought it was neat how tall Elizabeth Debicki was in comparison to her co-stars. Not that there's anything exceptional in merely being tall, but it served to remind me of how rarely we see a woman in a secondary role (much less semi-love interest) tower over the male leads.

Other random note: Tenet I think gave me a bit more insight into Nolan's own process, in that he basically takes concepts he's interested in from within philosophy or physics and simply places them in a genre framework and develops them from there. One can say this is just so Nolan can play with his ideas and still make money, but it also shows us just how malleable genre can be, and also how to translate difficult concepts to a broad audience.
Last edited by Sky007 on September 7th, 2020, 1:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Sky007 wrote:
September 6th, 2020, 9:29 pm
Haven't seen ton of writing about what the movie actually doing, particularly in its formal interests and how Nolan has been slowly streamlining certain methods since Inception. I gather there will be more interesting writing once more people see it but i stumbled upon this on letterboxd piece by Neil Bahadur. Some great thoughts here
More like first impressions: while skimming the films Wikipedia page as I waited for the movie to start, I was delighted to discover that Nolan had again consulted with the physicist Kip Thorne for this film, whose theories make up for the brunt of Interstellar, my favorite of Nolan's works. On the surface this appears almost a mashup of the last several Nolan films - the genre co-opting of Inception, the bonkers narrative structure of Dark Knight Rises, the time-looping of Interstellar and the stripped-down construction of Dunkirk - but even with the first half's 60s Bond playtime extravaganza, it's the space travel film that this resembles the most, as Thorne's involvement implies.

I'll try to be as tactful as I can: thinking back to the long-needed dumb grin on my face as I left the theatre makes me think this is one of the movies I'd least like to spoil. But it's not plot or character relationships, or narrative contrivances that are in danger of being spoiled - in fact I can think of relatively few films where such things matter less. It doesn't become apparent until reflection (more on that below), at least in my experience, but complete narrative arcs and even whole characters are established before being completely abandoned upon reaching a point where it can only be surmised that Nolan himself no longer has any use for them. Nolan does have a tendency towards a certain clumsiness in conventional storytelling terms, rather placing all his attention towards information and structure - most of his films actually tend to have glaring plot holes before being wholly upended by (and in favour of) the eventual cumulative effect of the film as a whole. In Tenet, a literal multitude of characters introduced in the films first 45 minutes are abandoned with absolutely no sign of what happens to them, and at times even his most ridiculous plot holes - how does Washington get back from the inverted Oslo car chase to in the room with Pattinson and Debecki? For better or worse, I expect a lot of viewers to say this is Nolan's best and worst tendencies at an extreme, and they're not wrong. Personally, I'm not complaining - as Nolan's storytelling "deficiencies" (for lack of better wording) are magnified, so too is the impact of the films cumulative effect, and the things that Nolan actually cares about - which happens to also be the subject of Inception, Interstellar and Dunkirk, here brought to perhaps its fullest expression: how our experience of time shapes our reality. No "how, when, and where" could possibly match - all movies are movies before they are stories. This is why people go see them.

I can easily see this becoming my favorite of Nolan's works, but both in the spirit of not spoiling the movie as much as I can and also that given these are first impressions, I can only go so far, especially based on a single viewing. This is partially because (and like all my favorite cineastes) Tenet doesn't just encourage repeat viewings, it might just be the only way to make sense of the film - as implied earlier, certain aspects aren't apparent until reflection, but as I write I'm realizing it is impossible to explain why I like this movie so much without spoiling it, so I will notify when I do so. Before I get to that, here's some neat details - it is very impressive in how Nolan has developed how he handles exposition: it remains to be seen how this goes down with the mass public (and it seems to be doing relatively well already though critics seem to be put off by it) but I personally find it hard not to be in awe in how Nolan has streamlined his "game-plan, sequence, repeat" to a point where these dynamics are worked into the action itself while limiting the amount of information we're handed to essentials - I find this flatly more effective in its immediacy (this is also easily Nolan's fastest paced movie) while still encouraging further study and revisiting. It's not nearly as sparse as Dunkirk, but you can quite clearly see the lessons he learnt from making that film. Nolan has also (to my eyes) improved the way he shoots dialogue - using Washington/Debicki's first scene as an example, I recall before thinking that one of Nolan's limitations was that although he has clearly studied the silent masters to a tee, he never figured out how to shoot dialogue with those same techniques, so he tends to shoot dialogue in the most plain way possible. But here, and in this sequence in particular, Nolan reverts to a deceptively simple shot-reverse shot mechanic - deceptively in that between shots, focal lengths change, or the angle is positioned just *slightly* differently as to provide subtle emphasis towards new, important information or a key character peculiarity. This is exactly what I've been dying to see/do and it functions in a manner as to gain entry into a level of character subjectivity that Nolan tends to avoid, shifting his presentational style towards a more precisely controlled and designed emotional/tonal manner of processing information.

Perhaps it helps that I have watched Interstellar excessively, but I don't think you need to have a background in quantum physics to understand what's going on in the film, as some critics seem to believe. That is where the filmmaker comes in. Now it's time for the spoiler warning, so if you want to save the surprise of seeing these mechanics in action for when you watch the movie yourself, don't read onward. In something like Inception, the deluge of exposition (not a criticism, I like how Kristen Thompson termed it - "continuous exposition" as a new form of narrative)
results in a sharp separation between "information" and "sequence" wherein the viewer has the option of actually not using the exposition for an understanding for the rules of an action sequence, allowing them to still lean into each action sequence on its merits alone and experience the sequence as though it's any other movie - such a freedom sounds liberating on paper but it's exactly the reason why we see so many people complain about Nolan's handling of exposition today. Because of Nolan's pairing down of how much expositional information is imparted to the viewer (and partly because of the accelerated pacing as well) we as the viewer can intuitively understand how the film works by watching those mechanics in action, rather than having them too blatantly spelled out for us - I gasped when the car flipped in the inverted Oslo chase, because it's the moment the movie finally clicks. It feels unseemly to refer to the concepts of time inversion and time looping as a theme - frankly it remains unclear if there even is one here other than in the broadest sense - rather it seems more fitting to say that Nolan has at last mastered the process of turning a concept into a mechanic. It's not just theoretical clarity, it's also precision in execution: that's why even with the glaring plot hole of Washington's arrival back to wherever Pattinson and Debecki are doesn't fully register initially - because Pattinson's claim that excessive heat would have caused hypothermia rather than burns in a state of inversion distracts us. Tenet is tantamount to an experience of not being given the rules prior to seeing how dynamics play out as mentioned earlier, but rather passing you the tools to examine a sequence while heightening the subjective experience of the material itself - in other words, it's manages one of the most challenging things to achieve in a film, which is to manage both subjectivity and objectivity at the same time. This is where repeat viewings come in, because once the time inversions become more clearly established I could already see my initial misgivings about the films first half dissipating - though naturally I should have expected this to be more than a goofy 60s Bond knockoff. The ending for me is Nolan's finest, with Pattinson basically standing for Nolan himself, succinctly summing up not just the film but Nolan's entire career with the discussion of free will, mechanics and reality - brief and succinctly, Dunkirk style: again, the contextualization is just enough for the viewer to make the connection immediately. But there's more: with knowledge of the ending, we become aware that Pattinson is aware of the whole thing, and on a revisit, that would re-contextualize the entire first half if not the entire film. This is to say, the film itself becomes the same time loop that is being explored through its mechanics, as well as being expressly about it. I saw a charming review earlier today: "Nolan is a genius because his business plan is making films so complicated that you have to see them twice." They're not wrong. Obviously there's more I could go on and on about - I can't believe I got this far and didn't once bring up the crosscutting in the films finale: an Inversion war, where one group moves forward in time to the blast zone and another group moves backwards, essentially making the cross-cut have physical properties since they are functioning in different, shall we say, "crunches" of time (at last we've moved on from Griffith!) cut together with Debicki and Branagh on the yacht, both moving in inverted time but neither aware that the other is, and trying to one up each other - so while we see only two spaces, we essentially get four "sequences". This is obviously jaw-dropping to watch on IMAX because we get the films biggest set-piece intercut with basically a chamber drama though I suspect it will hold up on a smaller screen as well. Loads and loads I can go on about though I'd better save it for the actual second viewing, like the character dynamics themselves - far more detailed than Nolan usually is - Branagh's Russian oligarch is actually the most interesting character here, which is not atypical for Nolan's villains, and that Debecki is ultimately the hero of the film is interesting in that she is the one that ends up not following the plan and gives in to personal feelings. In the end - for today at least - it's hard not to want to continue playing with the ideas in your head: this isn't because of any misstep but rather because, again, these mechanics work so precisely. How could one not linger on the image in the last third of Washington doing pull-ups on the inverted boat (you can see this shot briefly in the trailer) - a simple, perfectly precise summation of the film as mere optical illusion: by doing pull-ups, one would be making the same motion whether by linear or inverted time.

Random Note: I thought it was neat how tall Elizabeth Debicki was in comparison to her co-stars. Not that there's anything exceptional in merely being tall, but it served to remind me of how rarely we see a woman in a secondary role (much less semi-love interest) tower over the male leads.

Other random note: Tenet I think gave me a bit more insight into Nolan's own process, in that he basically takes concepts he's interested in from within philosophy or physics and simply places them in a genre framework and develops them from there. One can say this is just so Nolan can play with his ideas and still make money, but it also shows us just how malleable genre can be, and also how to translate difficult concepts to a broad audience.
Oh wow. This was great. Thanks for sharing!

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Sky007 wrote:
September 6th, 2020, 9:29 pm
Haven't seen ton of writing about what the movie actually doing, particularly in its formal interests and how Nolan has been slowly streamlining certain methods since Inception. I gather there will be more interesting writing once more people see it but i stumbled upon this on letterboxd piece by Neil Bahadur. Some great thoughts here
More like first impressions: while skimming the films Wikipedia page as I waited for the movie to start, I was delighted to discover that Nolan had again consulted with the physicist Kip Thorne for this film, whose theories make up for the brunt of Interstellar, my favorite of Nolan's works. On the surface this appears almost a mashup of the last several Nolan films - the genre co-opting of Inception, the bonkers narrative structure of Dark Knight Rises, the time-looping of Interstellar and the stripped-down construction of Dunkirk - but even with the first half's 60s Bond playtime extravaganza, it's the space travel film that this resembles the most, as Thorne's involvement implies.

I'll try to be as tactful as I can: thinking back to the long-needed dumb grin on my face as I left the theatre makes me think this is one of the movies I'd least like to spoil. But it's not plot or character relationships, or narrative contrivances that are in danger of being spoiled - in fact I can think of relatively few films where such things matter less. It doesn't become apparent until reflection (more on that below), at least in my experience, but complete narrative arcs and even whole characters are established before being completely abandoned upon reaching a point where it can only be surmised that Nolan himself no longer has any use for them. Nolan does have a tendency towards a certain clumsiness in conventional storytelling terms, rather placing all his attention towards information and structure - most of his films actually tend to have glaring plot holes before being wholly upended by (and in favour of) the eventual cumulative effect of the film as a whole. In Tenet, a literal multitude of characters introduced in the films first 45 minutes are abandoned with absolutely no sign of what happens to them, and at times even his most ridiculous plot holes - how does Washington get back from the inverted Oslo car chase to in the room with Pattinson and Debecki? For better or worse, I expect a lot of viewers to say this is Nolan's best and worst tendencies at an extreme, and they're not wrong. Personally, I'm not complaining - as Nolan's storytelling "deficiencies" (for lack of better wording) are magnified, so too is the impact of the films cumulative effect, and the things that Nolan actually cares about - which happens to also be the subject of Inception, Interstellar and Dunkirk, here brought to perhaps its fullest expression: how our experience of time shapes our reality. No "how, when, and where" could possibly match - all movies are movies before they are stories. This is why people go see them.

I can easily see this becoming my favorite of Nolan's works, but both in the spirit of not spoiling the movie as much as I can and also that given these are first impressions, I can only go so far, especially based on a single viewing. This is partially because (and like all my favorite cineastes) Tenet doesn't just encourage repeat viewings, it might just be the only way to make sense of the film - as implied earlier, certain aspects aren't apparent until reflection, but as I write I'm realizing it is impossible to explain why I like this movie so much without spoiling it, so I will notify when I do so. Before I get to that, here's some neat details - it is very impressive in how Nolan has developed how he handles exposition: it remains to be seen how this goes down with the mass public (and it seems to be doing relatively well already though critics seem to be put off by it) but I personally find it hard not to be in awe in how Nolan has streamlined his "game-plan, sequence, repeat" to a point where these dynamics are worked into the action itself while limiting the amount of information we're handed to essentials - I find this flatly more effective in its immediacy (this is also easily Nolan's fastest paced movie) while still encouraging further study and revisiting. It's not nearly as sparse as Dunkirk, but you can quite clearly see the lessons he learnt from making that film. Nolan has also (to my eyes) improved the way he shoots dialogue - using Washington/Debicki's first scene as an example, I recall before thinking that one of Nolan's limitations was that although he has clearly studied the silent masters to a tee, he never figured out how to shoot dialogue with those same techniques, so he tends to shoot dialogue in the most plain way possible. But here, and in this sequence in particular, Nolan reverts to a deceptively simple shot-reverse shot mechanic - deceptively in that between shots, focal lengths change, or the angle is positioned just *slightly* differently as to provide subtle emphasis towards new, important information or a key character peculiarity. This is exactly what I've been dying to see/do and it functions in a manner as to gain entry into a level of character subjectivity that Nolan tends to avoid, shifting his presentational style towards a more precisely controlled and designed emotional/tonal manner of processing information.

Perhaps it helps that I have watched Interstellar excessively, but I don't think you need to have a background in quantum physics to understand what's going on in the film, as some critics seem to believe. That is where the filmmaker comes in. Now it's time for the spoiler warning, so if you want to save the surprise of seeing these mechanics in action for when you watch the movie yourself, don't read onward. In something like Inception, the deluge of exposition (not a criticism, I like how Kristen Thompson termed it - "continuous exposition" as a new form of narrative)
results in a sharp separation between "information" and "sequence" wherein the viewer has the option of actually not using the exposition for an understanding for the rules of an action sequence, allowing them to still lean into each action sequence on its merits alone and experience the sequence as though it's any other movie - such a freedom sounds liberating on paper but it's exactly the reason why we see so many people complain about Nolan's handling of exposition today. Because of Nolan's pairing down of how much expositional information is imparted to the viewer (and partly because of the accelerated pacing as well) we as the viewer can intuitively understand how the film works by watching those mechanics in action, rather than having them too blatantly spelled out for us - I gasped when the car flipped in the inverted Oslo chase, because it's the moment the movie finally clicks. It feels unseemly to refer to the concepts of time inversion and time looping as a theme - frankly it remains unclear if there even is one here other than in the broadest sense - rather it seems more fitting to say that Nolan has at last mastered the process of turning a concept into a mechanic. It's not just theoretical clarity, it's also precision in execution: that's why even with the glaring plot hole of Washington's arrival back to wherever Pattinson and Debecki are doesn't fully register initially - because Pattinson's claim that excessive heat would have caused hypothermia rather than burns in a state of inversion distracts us. Tenet is tantamount to an experience of not being given the rules prior to seeing how dynamics play out as mentioned earlier, but rather passing you the tools to examine a sequence while heightening the subjective experience of the material itself - in other words, it's manages one of the most challenging things to achieve in a film, which is to manage both subjectivity and objectivity at the same time. This is where repeat viewings come in, because once the time inversions become more clearly established I could already see my initial misgivings about the films first half dissipating - though naturally I should have expected this to be more than a goofy 60s Bond knockoff. The ending for me is Nolan's finest, with Pattinson basically standing for Nolan himself, succinctly summing up not just the film but Nolan's entire career with the discussion of free will, mechanics and reality - brief and succinctly, Dunkirk style: again, the contextualization is just enough for the viewer to make the connection immediately. But there's more: with knowledge of the ending, we become aware that Pattinson is aware of the whole thing, and on a revisit, that would re-contextualize the entire first half if not the entire film. This is to say, the film itself becomes the same time loop that is being explored through its mechanics, as well as being expressly about it. I saw a charming review earlier today: "Nolan is a genius because his business plan is making films so complicated that you have to see them twice." They're not wrong. Obviously there's more I could go on and on about - I can't believe I got this far and didn't once bring up the crosscutting in the films finale: an Inversion war, where one group moves forward in time to the blast zone and another group moves backwards, essentially making the cross-cut have physical properties since they are functioning in different, shall we say, "crunches" of time (at last we've moved on from Griffith!) cut together with Debicki and Branagh on the yacht, both moving in inverted time but neither aware that the other is, and trying to one up each other - so while we see only two spaces, we essentially get four "sequences". This is obviously jaw-dropping to watch on IMAX because we get the films biggest set-piece intercut with basically a chamber drama though I suspect it will hold up on a smaller screen as well. Loads and loads I can go on about though I'd better save it for the actual second viewing, like the character dynamics themselves - far more detailed than Nolan usually is - Branagh's Russian oligarch is actually the most interesting character here, which is not atypical for Nolan's villains, and that Debecki is ultimately the hero of the film is interesting in that she is the one that ends up not following the plan and gives in to personal feelings. In the end - for today at least - it's hard not to want to continue playing with the ideas in your head: this isn't because of any misstep but rather because, again, these mechanics work so precisely. How could one not linger on the image in the last third of Washington doing pull-ups on the inverted boat (you can see this shot briefly in the trailer) - a simple, perfectly precise summation of the film as mere optical illusion: by doing pull-ups, one would be making the same motion whether by linear or inverted time.

Random Note: I thought it was neat how tall Elizabeth Debicki was in comparison to her co-stars. Not that there's anything exceptional in merely being tall, but it served to remind me of how rarely we see a woman in a secondary role (much less semi-love interest) tower over the male leads.

Other random note: Tenet I think gave me a bit more insight into Nolan's own process, in that he basically takes concepts he's interested in from within philosophy or physics and simply places them in a genre framework and develops them from there. One can say this is just so Nolan can play with his ideas and still make money, but it also shows us just how malleable genre can be, and also how to translate difficult concepts to a broad audience.
Really enjoyed this read, great insight

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Wow that was written well. Thanks for linking Sky

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Saw it in IMAX finally, so here it goes...
I want to start by saying I felt pretty safe in the theater with protocols in place.
I did NOT appreciate the behind the scenes featurette about the film that played....I went this whole time avoiding all trailers (and this forum unfortunately) just to have THAT shoved in my face right before the film started....okay, end rant.

Just a few initial thoughts/ramblings:

Overall, I found the film to be extremely enjoyable. Felt like a Nolan film, which is obviously what I was looking for. I enjoyed the concept, and other than some buried dialogue, was able to follow along pretty well. Kenneth Branagh stole the show for me. He was like a great Bond villain, but less over the top than many of them. That being said, I enjoyed all of the performances. I was worried about the score without Hans Zimmer, but was pleasantly surprised. I'm very much looking forward to more viewings, which will hopefully help pick up some dialogue I missed. Not sure it tops Inception (my favorite film), but it still gets an "A" from me.

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Oldfriend wrote:
September 6th, 2020, 11:53 pm
Saw it in IMAX finally, so here it goes...
I want to start by saying I felt pretty safe in the theater with protocols in place.
I did NOT appreciate the behind the scenes featurette about the film that played....I went this whole time avoiding all trailers (and this forum unfortunately) just to have THAT shoved in my face right before the film started....okay, end rant.
That SUCKS! I would have left the theater if I saw that happening, and jumped back in when the movie starts.

When I went to see a pre-screening for the movie Searching, I knew nothing about it entering. Then in comes the director on screen saying: "This movie takes place entirely on computer and cell phone screens," and I was like "DON'T GIVE THAT AWAY!" I loathe that.

On another bit that's somewhat unrelated, I went to see a double-feature of The Gift and Sinister 2 (just by showtimes they ran back-to-back so I legally hopped to the next screen), but before The Gift there was a freakin' trailer for Sinister 2! I thought they only did it for movies that were coming out, not for movies that are already out.

I always play this game where I don't see trailers for movies I already know I want to see, so it bugs me when things like this happen. I'm so sorry that happened to you, man. I would have lost it.


Oldfriend wrote:
September 6th, 2020, 11:53 pm
Kenneth Branagh stole the show for me. He was like a great Bond villain, but less over the top than many of them.
I don't disagree here, but this is where I messed myself up.

By knowing that Branagh isn't really Russian, my impression of him needing to act that way was that he was over the top. However, if I didn't know who the actor was and just played it out as is, then I'd agree that he wasn't actually over the top. I just have to ignore the fact that I know who the actor is, I guess.

My mom had been recently watching Sons of Anarchy and I revealed to her that Charlie Hunnam is actually British when she was questioning why he said some words strangely. When she asked how he really sounds, I said: "Go watch an interview on YouTube," and she said she'd rather not until she's finished with the show as to not destroy the illusion of the character who is on screen. I get what she means by that completely.
Last edited by MuffinMcFluffin on September 7th, 2020, 3:19 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Sky007 wrote:
September 6th, 2020, 9:29 pm
Haven't seen ton of writing about what the movie actually doing, particularly in its formal interests and how Nolan has been slowly streamlining certain methods since Inception. I gather there will be more interesting writing once more people see it but i stumbled upon this on letterboxd piece by Neil Bahadur. Some great thoughts here
More like first impressions: while skimming the films Wikipedia page as I waited for the movie to start, I was delighted to discover that Nolan had again consulted with the physicist Kip Thorne for this film, whose theories make up for the brunt of Interstellar, my favorite of Nolan's works. On the surface this appears almost a mashup of the last several Nolan films - the genre co-opting of Inception, the bonkers narrative structure of Dark Knight Rises, the time-looping of Interstellar and the stripped-down construction of Dunkirk - but even with the first half's 60s Bond playtime extravaganza, it's the space travel film that this resembles the most, as Thorne's involvement implies.

I'll try to be as tactful as I can: thinking back to the long-needed dumb grin on my face as I left the theatre makes me think this is one of the movies I'd least like to spoil. But it's not plot or character relationships, or narrative contrivances that are in danger of being spoiled - in fact I can think of relatively few films where such things matter less. It doesn't become apparent until reflection (more on that below), at least in my experience, but complete narrative arcs and even whole characters are established before being completely abandoned upon reaching a point where it can only be surmised that Nolan himself no longer has any use for them. Nolan does have a tendency towards a certain clumsiness in conventional storytelling terms, rather placing all his attention towards information and structure - most of his films actually tend to have glaring plot holes before being wholly upended by (and in favour of) the eventual cumulative effect of the film as a whole. In Tenet, a literal multitude of characters introduced in the films first 45 minutes are abandoned with absolutely no sign of what happens to them, and at times even his most ridiculous plot holes - how does Washington get back from the inverted Oslo car chase to in the room with Pattinson and Debecki? For better or worse, I expect a lot of viewers to say this is Nolan's best and worst tendencies at an extreme, and they're not wrong. Personally, I'm not complaining - as Nolan's storytelling "deficiencies" (for lack of better wording) are magnified, so too is the impact of the films cumulative effect, and the things that Nolan actually cares about - which happens to also be the subject of Inception, Interstellar and Dunkirk, here brought to perhaps its fullest expression: how our experience of time shapes our reality. No "how, when, and where" could possibly match - all movies are movies before they are stories. This is why people go see them.

I can easily see this becoming my favorite of Nolan's works, but both in the spirit of not spoiling the movie as much as I can and also that given these are first impressions, I can only go so far, especially based on a single viewing. This is partially because (and like all my favorite cineastes) Tenet doesn't just encourage repeat viewings, it might just be the only way to make sense of the film - as implied earlier, certain aspects aren't apparent until reflection, but as I write I'm realizing it is impossible to explain why I like this movie so much without spoiling it, so I will notify when I do so. Before I get to that, here's some neat details - it is very impressive in how Nolan has developed how he handles exposition: it remains to be seen how this goes down with the mass public (and it seems to be doing relatively well already though critics seem to be put off by it) but I personally find it hard not to be in awe in how Nolan has streamlined his "game-plan, sequence, repeat" to a point where these dynamics are worked into the action itself while limiting the amount of information we're handed to essentials - I find this flatly more effective in its immediacy (this is also easily Nolan's fastest paced movie) while still encouraging further study and revisiting. It's not nearly as sparse as Dunkirk, but you can quite clearly see the lessons he learnt from making that film. Nolan has also (to my eyes) improved the way he shoots dialogue - using Washington/Debicki's first scene as an example, I recall before thinking that one of Nolan's limitations was that although he has clearly studied the silent masters to a tee, he never figured out how to shoot dialogue with those same techniques, so he tends to shoot dialogue in the most plain way possible. But here, and in this sequence in particular, Nolan reverts to a deceptively simple shot-reverse shot mechanic - deceptively in that between shots, focal lengths change, or the angle is positioned just *slightly* differently as to provide subtle emphasis towards new, important information or a key character peculiarity. This is exactly what I've been dying to see/do and it functions in a manner as to gain entry into a level of character subjectivity that Nolan tends to avoid, shifting his presentational style towards a more precisely controlled and designed emotional/tonal manner of processing information.

Perhaps it helps that I have watched Interstellar excessively, but I don't think you need to have a background in quantum physics to understand what's going on in the film, as some critics seem to believe. That is where the filmmaker comes in. Now it's time for the spoiler warning, so if you want to save the surprise of seeing these mechanics in action for when you watch the movie yourself, don't read onward. In something like Inception, the deluge of exposition (not a criticism, I like how Kristen Thompson termed it - "continuous exposition" as a new form of narrative)
results in a sharp separation between "information" and "sequence" wherein the viewer has the option of actually not using the exposition for an understanding for the rules of an action sequence, allowing them to still lean into each action sequence on its merits alone and experience the sequence as though it's any other movie - such a freedom sounds liberating on paper but it's exactly the reason why we see so many people complain about Nolan's handling of exposition today. Because of Nolan's pairing down of how much expositional information is imparted to the viewer (and partly because of the accelerated pacing as well) we as the viewer can intuitively understand how the film works by watching those mechanics in action, rather than having them too blatantly spelled out for us - I gasped when the car flipped in the inverted Oslo chase, because it's the moment the movie finally clicks. It feels unseemly to refer to the concepts of time inversion and time looping as a theme - frankly it remains unclear if there even is one here other than in the broadest sense - rather it seems more fitting to say that Nolan has at last mastered the process of turning a concept into a mechanic. It's not just theoretical clarity, it's also precision in execution: that's why even with the glaring plot hole of Washington's arrival back to wherever Pattinson and Debecki are doesn't fully register initially - because Pattinson's claim that excessive heat would have caused hypothermia rather than burns in a state of inversion distracts us. Tenet is tantamount to an experience of not being given the rules prior to seeing how dynamics play out as mentioned earlier, but rather passing you the tools to examine a sequence while heightening the subjective experience of the material itself - in other words, it's manages one of the most challenging things to achieve in a film, which is to manage both subjectivity and objectivity at the same time. This is where repeat viewings come in, because once the time inversions become more clearly established I could already see my initial misgivings about the films first half dissipating - though naturally I should have expected this to be more than a goofy 60s Bond knockoff. The ending for me is Nolan's finest, with Pattinson basically standing for Nolan himself, succinctly summing up not just the film but Nolan's entire career with the discussion of free will, mechanics and reality - brief and succinctly, Dunkirk style: again, the contextualization is just enough for the viewer to make the connection immediately. But there's more: with knowledge of the ending, we become aware that Pattinson is aware of the whole thing, and on a revisit, that would re-contextualize the entire first half if not the entire film. This is to say, the film itself becomes the same time loop that is being explored through its mechanics, as well as being expressly about it. I saw a charming review earlier today: "Nolan is a genius because his business plan is making films so complicated that you have to see them twice." They're not wrong. Obviously there's more I could go on and on about - I can't believe I got this far and didn't once bring up the crosscutting in the films finale: an Inversion war, where one group moves forward in time to the blast zone and another group moves backwards, essentially making the cross-cut have physical properties since they are functioning in different, shall we say, "crunches" of time (at last we've moved on from Griffith!) cut together with Debicki and Branagh on the yacht, both moving in inverted time but neither aware that the other is, and trying to one up each other - so while we see only two spaces, we essentially get four "sequences". This is obviously jaw-dropping to watch on IMAX because we get the films biggest set-piece intercut with basically a chamber drama though I suspect it will hold up on a smaller screen as well. Loads and loads I can go on about though I'd better save it for the actual second viewing, like the character dynamics themselves - far more detailed than Nolan usually is - Branagh's Russian oligarch is actually the most interesting character here, which is not atypical for Nolan's villains, and that Debecki is ultimately the hero of the film is interesting in that she is the one that ends up not following the plan and gives in to personal feelings. In the end - for today at least - it's hard not to want to continue playing with the ideas in your head: this isn't because of any misstep but rather because, again, these mechanics work so precisely. How could one not linger on the image in the last third of Washington doing pull-ups on the inverted boat (you can see this shot briefly in the trailer) - a simple, perfectly precise summation of the film as mere optical illusion: by doing pull-ups, one would be making the same motion whether by linear or inverted time.

Random Note: I thought it was neat how tall Elizabeth Debicki was in comparison to her co-stars. Not that there's anything exceptional in merely being tall, but it served to remind me of how rarely we see a woman in a secondary role (much less semi-love interest) tower over the male leads.

Other random note: Tenet I think gave me a bit more insight into Nolan's own process, in that he basically takes concepts he's interested in from within philosophy or physics and simply places them in a genre framework and develops them from there. One can say this is just so Nolan can play with his ideas and still make money, but it also shows us just how malleable genre can be, and also how to translate difficult concepts to a broad audience.
yeah that is by far the best rave I have seen on the film so far

I find some of the LetterBoxd people to be the best writers on cinema in general tbh

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Sky007 wrote:
September 6th, 2020, 9:29 pm
Haven't seen ton of writing about what the movie actually doing, particularly in its formal interests and how Nolan has been slowly streamlining certain methods since Inception. I gather there will be more interesting writing once more people see it but i stumbled upon this on letterboxd piece by Neil Bahadur. Some great thoughts here
More like first impressions: while skimming the films Wikipedia page as I waited for the movie to start, I was delighted to discover that Nolan had again consulted with the physicist Kip Thorne for this film, whose theories make up for the brunt of Interstellar, my favorite of Nolan's works. On the surface this appears almost a mashup of the last several Nolan films - the genre co-opting of Inception, the bonkers narrative structure of Dark Knight Rises, the time-looping of Interstellar and the stripped-down construction of Dunkirk - but even with the first half's 60s Bond playtime extravaganza, it's the space travel film that this resembles the most, as Thorne's involvement implies.

I'll try to be as tactful as I can: thinking back to the long-needed dumb grin on my face as I left the theatre makes me think this is one of the movies I'd least like to spoil. But it's not plot or character relationships, or narrative contrivances that are in danger of being spoiled - in fact I can think of relatively few films where such things matter less. It doesn't become apparent until reflection (more on that below), at least in my experience, but complete narrative arcs and even whole characters are established before being completely abandoned upon reaching a point where it can only be surmised that Nolan himself no longer has any use for them. Nolan does have a tendency towards a certain clumsiness in conventional storytelling terms, rather placing all his attention towards information and structure - most of his films actually tend to have glaring plot holes before being wholly upended by (and in favour of) the eventual cumulative effect of the film as a whole. In Tenet, a literal multitude of characters introduced in the films first 45 minutes are abandoned with absolutely no sign of what happens to them, and at times even his most ridiculous plot holes - how does Washington get back from the inverted Oslo car chase to in the room with Pattinson and Debecki? For better or worse, I expect a lot of viewers to say this is Nolan's best and worst tendencies at an extreme, and they're not wrong. Personally, I'm not complaining - as Nolan's storytelling "deficiencies" (for lack of better wording) are magnified, so too is the impact of the films cumulative effect, and the things that Nolan actually cares about - which happens to also be the subject of Inception, Interstellar and Dunkirk, here brought to perhaps its fullest expression: how our experience of time shapes our reality. No "how, when, and where" could possibly match - all movies are movies before they are stories. This is why people go see them.

I can easily see this becoming my favorite of Nolan's works, but both in the spirit of not spoiling the movie as much as I can and also that given these are first impressions, I can only go so far, especially based on a single viewing. This is partially because (and like all my favorite cineastes) Tenet doesn't just encourage repeat viewings, it might just be the only way to make sense of the film - as implied earlier, certain aspects aren't apparent until reflection, but as I write I'm realizing it is impossible to explain why I like this movie so much without spoiling it, so I will notify when I do so. Before I get to that, here's some neat details - it is very impressive in how Nolan has developed how he handles exposition: it remains to be seen how this goes down with the mass public (and it seems to be doing relatively well already though critics seem to be put off by it) but I personally find it hard not to be in awe in how Nolan has streamlined his "game-plan, sequence, repeat" to a point where these dynamics are worked into the action itself while limiting the amount of information we're handed to essentials - I find this flatly more effective in its immediacy (this is also easily Nolan's fastest paced movie) while still encouraging further study and revisiting. It's not nearly as sparse as Dunkirk, but you can quite clearly see the lessons he learnt from making that film. Nolan has also (to my eyes) improved the way he shoots dialogue - using Washington/Debicki's first scene as an example, I recall before thinking that one of Nolan's limitations was that although he has clearly studied the silent masters to a tee, he never figured out how to shoot dialogue with those same techniques, so he tends to shoot dialogue in the most plain way possible. But here, and in this sequence in particular, Nolan reverts to a deceptively simple shot-reverse shot mechanic - deceptively in that between shots, focal lengths change, or the angle is positioned just *slightly* differently as to provide subtle emphasis towards new, important information or a key character peculiarity. This is exactly what I've been dying to see/do and it functions in a manner as to gain entry into a level of character subjectivity that Nolan tends to avoid, shifting his presentational style towards a more precisely controlled and designed emotional/tonal manner of processing information.

Perhaps it helps that I have watched Interstellar excessively, but I don't think you need to have a background in quantum physics to understand what's going on in the film, as some critics seem to believe. That is where the filmmaker comes in. Now it's time for the spoiler warning, so if you want to save the surprise of seeing these mechanics in action for when you watch the movie yourself, don't read onward. In something like Inception, the deluge of exposition (not a criticism, I like how Kristen Thompson termed it - "continuous exposition" as a new form of narrative)
results in a sharp separation between "information" and "sequence" wherein the viewer has the option of actually not using the exposition for an understanding for the rules of an action sequence, allowing them to still lean into each action sequence on its merits alone and experience the sequence as though it's any other movie - such a freedom sounds liberating on paper but it's exactly the reason why we see so many people complain about Nolan's handling of exposition today. Because of Nolan's pairing down of how much expositional information is imparted to the viewer (and partly because of the accelerated pacing as well) we as the viewer can intuitively understand how the film works by watching those mechanics in action, rather than having them too blatantly spelled out for us - I gasped when the car flipped in the inverted Oslo chase, because it's the moment the movie finally clicks. It feels unseemly to refer to the concepts of time inversion and time looping as a theme - frankly it remains unclear if there even is one here other than in the broadest sense - rather it seems more fitting to say that Nolan has at last mastered the process of turning a concept into a mechanic. It's not just theoretical clarity, it's also precision in execution: that's why even with the glaring plot hole of Washington's arrival back to wherever Pattinson and Debecki are doesn't fully register initially - because Pattinson's claim that excessive heat would have caused hypothermia rather than burns in a state of inversion distracts us. Tenet is tantamount to an experience of not being given the rules prior to seeing how dynamics play out as mentioned earlier, but rather passing you the tools to examine a sequence while heightening the subjective experience of the material itself - in other words, it's manages one of the most challenging things to achieve in a film, which is to manage both subjectivity and objectivity at the same time. This is where repeat viewings come in, because once the time inversions become more clearly established I could already see my initial misgivings about the films first half dissipating - though naturally I should have expected this to be more than a goofy 60s Bond knockoff. The ending for me is Nolan's finest, with Pattinson basically standing for Nolan himself, succinctly summing up not just the film but Nolan's entire career with the discussion of free will, mechanics and reality - brief and succinctly, Dunkirk style: again, the contextualization is just enough for the viewer to make the connection immediately. But there's more: with knowledge of the ending, we become aware that Pattinson is aware of the whole thing, and on a revisit, that would re-contextualize the entire first half if not the entire film. This is to say, the film itself becomes the same time loop that is being explored through its mechanics, as well as being expressly about it. I saw a charming review earlier today: "Nolan is a genius because his business plan is making films so complicated that you have to see them twice." They're not wrong. Obviously there's more I could go on and on about - I can't believe I got this far and didn't once bring up the crosscutting in the films finale: an Inversion war, where one group moves forward in time to the blast zone and another group moves backwards, essentially making the cross-cut have physical properties since they are functioning in different, shall we say, "crunches" of time (at last we've moved on from Griffith!) cut together with Debicki and Branagh on the yacht, both moving in inverted time but neither aware that the other is, and trying to one up each other - so while we see only two spaces, we essentially get four "sequences". This is obviously jaw-dropping to watch on IMAX because we get the films biggest set-piece intercut with basically a chamber drama though I suspect it will hold up on a smaller screen as well. Loads and loads I can go on about though I'd better save it for the actual second viewing, like the character dynamics themselves - far more detailed than Nolan usually is - Branagh's Russian oligarch is actually the most interesting character here, which is not atypical for Nolan's villains, and that Debecki is ultimately the hero of the film is interesting in that she is the one that ends up not following the plan and gives in to personal feelings. In the end - for today at least - it's hard not to want to continue playing with the ideas in your head: this isn't because of any misstep but rather because, again, these mechanics work so precisely. How could one not linger on the image in the last third of Washington doing pull-ups on the inverted boat (you can see this shot briefly in the trailer) - a simple, perfectly precise summation of the film as mere optical illusion: by doing pull-ups, one would be making the same motion whether by linear or inverted time.

Random Note: I thought it was neat how tall Elizabeth Debicki was in comparison to her co-stars. Not that there's anything exceptional in merely being tall, but it served to remind me of how rarely we see a woman in a secondary role (much less semi-love interest) tower over the male leads.

Other random note: Tenet I think gave me a bit more insight into Nolan's own process, in that he basically takes concepts he's interested in from within philosophy or physics and simply places them in a genre framework and develops them from there. One can say this is just so Nolan can play with his ideas and still make money, but it also shows us just how malleable genre can be, and also how to translate difficult concepts to a broad audience.
Thanks for sharing this, a lot of keen insights throughout. That said, a lot is mostly just editorializing their own subjective experience and not robust analysis, but then it is a review.

Interesting he cites Thompson, since I think she and Bordwell might hate this.


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Alright, I love Christopher Nolan still, but I‘m going to talk about the main reason, for me, why the story of Tenet fundamentally doesn’t work for me.

Image

Think about the protagonists of all of Nolan’s previous films. All of these characters have deep conflict within them and we also know clearly what their goals are. Leonard Shelby (Memento) wants to avenge the rape and murder of his wife while suffering from a severe memory loss problem. Bruce Wayne as Batman is driven by his desire to bring justice and devoting himself to an ideal to become a legend. Robert Angier (The Prestige) wants to beat Alfred Borden at magic and will go to extreme lengths to do it, driven by sheer obsession. Cobb (Inception) wants to get back to his kids in America and he has to take on this one last job to make that happen, while being deeply conflicted over what happened with his wife. In Dark Knight Rises Bruce rises above his pain and his trauma and lets himself live a happy life. Cooper (Interstellar) wants to save the world and get back to his son and daughter, knowing that decades will go by for them while he experiences months or years.

Now consider The Protagonist, the protagonist of Tenet. The protagonist’s whole journey is driven by...this.

Image
There’s no deep conflict at the heart of The Protagonist’s journey, and he doesn’t have a clear goal aside from seeing where this one word will take him. Yes, he feels bad for Kat and he doesn’t want her to die because of him using her, but that’s an added complication. His journey is basically driven by the need to unlock a mystery box, to solve a puzzle. Which ends with him realizing that he was the one in the future to set events in motion and started Tenet. Basically...his character arc concludes in learning about learning a future plot development.
A story needs to have clear character motivations and goals set up early on in the first arc not only for it to be good but for it to work. Instead, Tenet seems to think its premise is good enough and gets lost and caught up in plotting and keeps adding new idea after new idea. Sure, Inception is complicated too, but it’s very simple and easy to follow at its core.

Additionally, structurally, the prologue showing the Protagonist doing his job works fine, but we are not given nearly enough to actually empathize with him following this. Our takeaway from his torture and passing the test is, he’s a good guy and a good soldier. But we’re not supposed to sympathize with him throughout the film for having to endure such ordeals in the name of service. He’s a pretty chill dude consistently making jobs.

Again, compare this to All of Nolan’s other films. The Prestige almost immediately makes us sympathize with its protagonist when his wife tragically dies during a magic trick because of an accident by Bale’s character. Inception gives us a similar opening prologue to Tenet with the protagonist living his “day to day life” doing his job, but this prologue and the scene that follow generate empathy for him as we learn that he can’t go home and be with his kids, which is what he wants the most. We see his memory of his kids. “When are you coming home, dad?” In the same scene, we also learn that he’s feeling pain over the death of his wife (“Mommy’s not here anymore”) and that he has self doubt in his grasp of reality, pointing a gun to his head while watching the totem spin.

And there’s a good amount of clunkiness to the plotting, but I think I should review the film some more to talk about that. Inception really was a masterwork in storytelling and this movie sadly failed in so many fundamental ways that Inception succeeded in.
Last edited by Drewton on September 7th, 2020, 4:23 am, edited 1 time in total.

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^
It really seems more like this is Kat's story with The Protagonist driving the narrative. Or if you buy into the idea that Neil is an adult version of Kat's son Max (which evidence points to be much more than coincidental), then one could argue this is Neil's story. Those still aren't as deep as any of the other aforementioned Nolan protagonists, but I thought I'd point that out.

You're right that this film asks that you go along for the ride and let it reveal things as you go, and I don't necessarily think that's an impossible want from a film. Heck, too many TV shows now have to show way too much in the first two episodes just to entice people to keep watching down the line, instead of building a relationship of trust that they'll get there over time.

No, the Protagonist doesn't have much character. Clearly that is intentional by the meta naming of his character. I'm not saying this is a good or bad thing, but this isn't an unintended consequence of the script at play, and was very much a design choice by Nolan from the beginning.

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