T E N E T
December 19, 2019 12:12 PM   Subscribe

 
Sort of shocking that Nolan hasn't done time travel before this yet.
posted by octothorpe at 12:16 PM on December 19, 2019 [1 favorite]


2020 is looking good for movies.
posted by jquinby at 12:19 PM on December 19, 2019 [2 favorites]


Say what you want about Nolan's work, he's done a good job going from adapting an existing franchise to making his own big budget blockbusters based on original ideas (The Prestige, Inception, Interstellar). Feels like a real breath of fresh air amidst all of the adaptations, cinematic universes, reboots, remixes, prequels, sequels, and sidequels. Even the up-and-coming Villeneuve is known mostly for adaptations (Arrival, Blade Runner 2049, and now Dune).
posted by Apocryphon at 12:21 PM on December 19, 2019 [10 favorites]


The ambigram styling for the title is, I'm sure, not an accident.

Sort of shocking that Nolan hasn't done time travel before this yet.

I suppose that Memento was a time-travel movie of a sort.
posted by Johnny Assay at 12:22 PM on December 19, 2019 [6 favorites]


Sort of shocking that Nolan hasn't done time travel before this yet.

It's more of a conceit (and one that falls apart if you think too much about the logic of it), but I've always thought of Memento as a time-travel movie.

This looks interesting. I wonder if there are any fridged women, hard to tell based on the trailer, but I'm betting that the answer is probably yes.
posted by Fizz at 12:23 PM on December 19, 2019 [1 favorite]


The Prestige was actually an adaption of The Christopher Priest Novel
posted by gryftir at 12:24 PM on December 19, 2019 [7 favorites]


I suppose that Memento was a time-travel movie of a sort.

All of his non-batman movies deal with time in some way but none are explicit time travel films.
posted by octothorpe at 12:25 PM on December 19, 2019 [2 favorites]


It's hard to argue that Interstellar wasn't a time-travel film.
posted by sjswitzer at 12:37 PM on December 19, 2019 [15 favorites]


But, like, we're all time travellers, man... Zooming into the future at a rate of one second per second....

maybe my second isn't quite the same as your second, due to relativistic concerns like being inside a black hole, but whatevs.
posted by kaibutsu at 12:40 PM on December 19, 2019 [16 favorites]


I am 100% here for this.

After the car flipped over, I thought, "I'll bet it's going to ... yup, called it." So maybe I'm living Tenet.
posted by vverse23 at 12:41 PM on December 19, 2019 [1 favorite]


Any film set in a universe with faster-than-light travel is effectively a time travel story.
posted by LionIndex at 12:42 PM on December 19, 2019 [2 favorites]


I realize I'm in the minority, but I consider Nolan to be a very overrated director. Memento was an excellent film, however since then his work has continually diminished.
posted by fairmettle at 12:51 PM on December 19, 2019 [12 favorites]


these are also time travel stories.

I was about to say that!
posted by otherchaz at 12:54 PM on December 19, 2019


Well at least Batman never does any time-travelling nonsense.
posted by straight at 1:10 PM on December 19, 2019


Yeah, since Memento his films are very pretty but don't stand up to any thought at all.
posted by sjswitzer at 1:11 PM on December 19, 2019 [1 favorite]


Disagree. I thought Memento was pretty meh (really, I knew what was going on from the beginning, and wasn't very happy about it), but really enjoyed his later stuff (well, that 3rd batman needed some serious editing). Looking forward to this.
posted by evilDoug at 1:21 PM on December 19, 2019


It's been twenty years since Memento but I remember thinking that this Nolan fellow is a pretty interesting filmmaker.
posted by octothorpe at 1:30 PM on December 19, 2019 [2 favorites]


Can we at least agree that Interstellar was a great big mess?
posted by sjswitzer at 1:31 PM on December 19, 2019 [8 favorites]


My original post was about sci-fi/fantastical* movies, specifically. I'm struggling to think of any high-profile ones anchored by either major, or up-and-coming directors that weren't tied to preexisting IP. James Cameron made Avatar a decade ago, and that was better known for its special effects than story or worldbuilding. Neill Blomkamp likewise made District 9 that same year, and has since made a couple of movies with more or less similar themes and aesthetics. I'm not saying there hasn't been great movies in that genre since then (Annihilation comes to mind), but they always seem to be attached to a preexisting story or series!

*As opposed to fantasy. Are there even films set in original fantasy worlds being made anymore? Bright?
posted by Apocryphon at 1:32 PM on December 19, 2019


I mean, I really do see the appeal of Dunkirk, but something about it really bugged me. It was too "pretty." It's as if we're seeing Guernica as painted by Thomas Kinkade.
posted by sjswitzer at 1:38 PM on December 19, 2019 [9 favorites]


sjswitzer: Interstellar was a huge mess, as well as being -- to use a well-worn phrase -- highly problematic.
posted by Saxon Kane at 2:02 PM on December 19, 2019 [2 favorites]


In the future... everyone drives Audi SUV's apparently.
posted by helmutdog at 2:10 PM on December 19, 2019


> In the future... everyone drives Audi SUV's apparently.

Nothing but Audis going through an endless highway of Taco Bell drive-thrus. Forever.
posted by Godspeed.You!Black.Emperor.Penguin at 2:19 PM on December 19, 2019 [1 favorite]


Nolan is so weird, on the one hand he's got the controlling obsessiveness of Kubrick but invested almost entirely in the abstract shape of his movies and how the characters fit to some schematic formula he wants to impose on the film. While on the other hand he's like Ed Wood with multi-million dollar budgets, with some of the least human seeming people ever put on screen in a Major production and only scant concern for anything like lived experience or common sense. Tenet, I assume, will follow that pattern with Nolan doing something like trying to tell the story both front to back and back to front simultaneously, with the middle being the locus of import, or maybe even try somehow to make a movie sator square, with the information being able to be read multi-directionally and ending up the same in some fashion.

I personally can't stand most of his movies for seeming so removed from humanity that the people in them feel lessened to being akin to game pieces to move about. The Dark Knight Rises is quite likely the least competent major film in any fashion I can think of, but I somehow actually find Interstellar fascinating despite it being equally distant from normal human behavior because it somehow managed to push through the pain barrier of unwatchability and reach the far side of bizarrely compelling. Whatever else there is to say about him, there really isn't any one else like Nolan out there.
posted by gusottertrout at 2:21 PM on December 19, 2019 [17 favorites]


S A T O R
A R E P O
T E N E T
O P E R A
R O T A S
posted by JohnFromGR at 2:31 PM on December 19, 2019 [21 favorites]


One gets the sense that Nolan begrudgingly includes human beings to fill out his clockwork movies because it's a requirement of the medium. He'd make a decently interesting composer in another life, it's only a shame that we happened to be around for this incarnation instead.
posted by invitapriore at 2:43 PM on December 19, 2019 [2 favorites]


Yes yes, Interstellar, Memento: time travel movies. What I want to know is when does Nolan announce John Titor?

time travel can be discerned, squintingly, in The Prestige, Dunkirk (my actual fave), and each Batman flick. In The Prestige it’s inherent in the principle of the machine; in Batmens it’s embedded in the inclusion of Bruce Wayne’s wanderjahr to Far Tibet or wherever that lamasery is, and in Dunkirk, in the intersections of the plotted stories. I do grant that the time travel so descryed applies only to the audience, which is absolutely appropriate as it’s a trick, cf The Prestige.)
posted by mwhybark at 2:58 PM on December 19, 2019 [2 favorites]


I realize I'm in the minority, but I consider Nolan to be a very overrated director. Memento was an excellent film, however since then his work has continually diminished.

I completely agree. I remember when Inception came out how much Metafilter loved it and I thought it was complete garbage. I have not seen any Nolan films since then, and though this looks mildly interesting and I like that there is a POC protagonist, I doubt I'll watch it as I know it will just make me angry. :)
posted by dobbs at 2:59 PM on December 19, 2019 [2 favorites]


Oh -- I forgot about Dunkirk. Tried to watch that one. Shut it off after about 10 minutes. Illogical ca-ca.
posted by dobbs at 3:00 PM on December 19, 2019 [1 favorite]


I'm not saying there hasn't been great movies in that genre since then (Annihilation comes to mind), but they always seem to be attached to a preexisting story or series!

Possibly you should watch High Life. You might hate it; a prison ship on a one way mission looks like the interior of a low-rent office building. I’m all in favor of more lo-fi SF like this.
posted by mwhybark at 3:03 PM on December 19, 2019 [1 favorite]


Yeah, since Memento his films are very pretty but don't stand up to any thought at all.

To the extent that this means they have some gaps in their constituent conceits which deflate some of the artistic power, sure.

To the extent that this means some of his choices disengage or alienate a potential audience, OK.

To the extent that this means they don't provide worthwhile thought-provoking material.... nope.

I'd spend a few hours on Interstellar again just to for the value of playing with the two different readings of "the only way humans have ever figured out of getting somewhere is to leave something behind."
posted by wildblueyonder at 3:08 PM on December 19, 2019 [5 favorites]



The Prestige was actually an adaption of The Christopher Priest Novel

And it's really good. I liked the movie a lot, but the book was better.
posted by bongo_x at 3:16 PM on December 19, 2019 [1 favorite]


I'll be honest, the way I watched Prestige / Inception / Interstellar was to turn my brain off and enjoy the spectacle. I watched them in the theater and at home with family, but don't care to repeat. One the one hand, maybe all films don't need to be judged by the same criteria of empathically complex realism? That could be challenged for being a culturally constructed, Western-privileged values and criteria. On the other hand, maybe it's just Hollywood. Then again, the bit of film criticism I've read are not usually deterred by weaknesses in films in order to find something insightful to say about them re. the human condition.
posted by polymodus at 3:19 PM on December 19, 2019 [3 favorites]


One the one hand, maybe all films don't need to be judged by the same criteria of empathically complex realism? That could be challenged for being a culturally constructed, Western-privileged values and criteria.

That's true, maybe I'm not giving his movies enough of a chance by not evaluating them in the cultural context of the planet he comes from.
posted by invitapriore at 3:31 PM on December 19, 2019 [3 favorites]


Johnny Assay > The ambigram styling for the title is, I'm sure, not an accident.

Like a ticking clock, TENET should be alright twice a screening, or, depending on how well it does at the box office, a $225 million bomb. It’s a pity we can’t go into the future faster than 1 second per second.

More about TENET at WP, IMDB, and its website.
posted by cenoxo at 3:35 PM on December 19, 2019


That's true, maybe I'm not giving his movies enough of a chance by not evaluating them in the cultural context of the planet he comes from.

Which proves my point because pure hegemony takes the form of asserting that some culture applies to everyone because that culture is universal
posted by polymodus at 3:36 PM on December 19, 2019 [1 favorite]


S A T O R
A R E P O
T E N E T
O P E R A
R O T A S


Typing tenet into the YouTube layout on my tv is also quite satisfying

E F G
L M N
A T U
posted by biffa at 3:38 PM on December 19, 2019


To expand on my position, there's a saying that traditional Chinese painting tended to depict humans being a small part of natural scenes; does that suggest that Chinese artists were analogously treating humans like objectified "chess pieces"?

It is said that in Greek art, allegorical narratives tended to simplify characterizations, and some have argued that this is how to read characterization in Star Trek: The Next Generation in contrast to mainstream criticisms of the time that Starfleet officers tended to be unrealistic in their perfection and teamwork. So is such kinds of allegory flawed, by a demand that all stories contain realistic and deep emotional dramas?

Take Isaac Asimov's Foundation. Do you criticize the particular qualities of sparseness of the writing as a fatal flaw to the text, or do you choose to read it differently than you would read a work of classic literature? A professor argued that in Asimov's writing: "Except for two stories—"Liar!" and "Evidence"—they are not stories in which character plays a significant part".

So all I am saying is, the criteria by which we apply art criticism is also a set of choices, and one that is socially constructed, not justified a priori. Western culture being particularly dominant in contemporary media is specifically problematic in this area. Another way of summarizing the problem is that sometimes criticism is guilty of performing a category error, and maybe that's something that gets conflated with the genre as well.
posted by polymodus at 3:52 PM on December 19, 2019 [11 favorites]


The problem with Interstellar is that there's a core logic of patriarchal incest running through the entire film's narrative.

Note: I'm not saying that the film is literally "about" patriarchal incest, but that it provides the fantasy upon which the narrative is based.

A brief run-down (based on what I can remember from the last time I saw the film a couple of years ago):

Let's start with Murphy, the daughter -- a tomboy, given a traditionally "male" name. She gets the plot started: something strange is happening in her bedroom, but no one believes her. Who is visiting Murphy in her bedroom at night?

Eventually, of course, Cooper discovers the hidden message in the gravitational patterns that leads to his mission. Fast-forward over most of the rest of the plot until Cooper goes into the black hole, where he realizes that he was the "ghost" visiting his daughter's bedroom at night all along, sending himself messages from the tesseract-realm.

It's at this point that he also sends a message to the adult Murphy, who is home visiting her brother. Through the watch he left with her, he sends her the solution to the gravity equation, thus saving the people of earth. And it is only after this discovery that Murphy finally becomes a sexual being, embracing her love interest Dr. Getty/Topher Grace for the first (and only) time on screen.

Finally, Cooper awakes back in our solar system, still a young man while his daughter is old and on her deathbed. Her last act is to free him to go after the young female Dr. Brand and be ur-father to the new human colony.

So, Cooper essentially reproduces himself through his daughter, twice "impregnating" her with his knowledge and twice leaving her behind to pursue his own desires.

Again, it's not the only thing in the movie, but it's a creepy little substrate, IMHO.
posted by Saxon Kane at 4:19 PM on December 19, 2019 [3 favorites]


The problem with Interstellar is that there's a core logic of patriarchal incest running through the entire film's narrative.
That and the incessant cameos and the bad writing and the worse acting. I agree that it was a hot mess, and like Kill Bill it's one one of my litmus tests for someone whose tastes I probably won't share.

Say what you want about Nolan's work
I realize I'm in the minority, but I consider Nolan to be a very overrated director.

Agree, the Nolan brothers are pretty overrated and often Christopher relies on misdirection to make up for superficiality. I am cautiously optimistic about a time travel film though.
posted by aspersioncast at 4:35 PM on December 19, 2019 [1 favorite]


the incessant cameos

I don't know, Matt Damon as a craven, incompetent coward was pretty amusing :D
posted by Saxon Kane at 4:39 PM on December 19, 2019


This seems like a movie Duncan Jones would make, and I mean that as a compliment. The soundtrack is doing some heavy lifting in the trailer, I love it when that works.
posted by cali at 5:19 PM on December 19, 2019


I’m all in favor of more lo-fi SF like this.

I thought Prospect was pretty fun, though idk why Mal from Firefly is in it wearing Oberyn Martell's face.

Are there even films set in original fantasy worlds being made anymore? Bright?

Well there's Mandy. There's probably stuff for younger audiences going by below the radar, e.g. the HTTYD movies.
posted by fleacircus at 5:44 PM on December 19, 2019 [1 favorite]


Ten ET
posted by stevil at 5:45 PM on December 19, 2019 [4 favorites]



So all I am saying is, the criteria by which we apply art criticism is also a set of choices, and one that is socially constructed, not justified a priori. Western culture being particularly dominant in contemporary media is specifically problematic in this area. Another way of summarizing the problem is that sometimes criticism is guilty of performing a category error, and maybe that's something that gets conflated with the genre as well.


You got some good theorizing going on there. All I know is this 3:30 scene from The Dark Knight felt like an hour when I first saw it. I remember thinking "This is not how people talk in real life, an art movie, or an action movie." Then I fell asleep.
posted by jeremias at 6:18 PM on December 19, 2019 [1 favorite]


So all I am saying is, the criteria by which we apply art criticism is also a set of choices, and one that is socially constructed, not justified a priori. Western culture being particularly dominant in contemporary media is specifically problematic in this area. Another way of summarizing the problem is that sometimes criticism is guilty of performing a category error, and maybe that's something that gets conflated with the genre as well.

Right, and all I'm saying is that that's special pleading in light of the fact that Christopher Nolan makes Hollywood blockbusters: his movies imply in themselves the critical context they're meant to be evaluated in terms of. To then gesture at the notion that maybe his particularly wooden characters are being deployed as a genre fixture puts the burden of argumentation on the claimant to establish which genre, exactly, it is that is distinguished by such handling of its characters, and to argue for what function is fulfilled by that handling in whichever rubric you're using to evaluate the work.
posted by invitapriore at 6:45 PM on December 19, 2019 [2 favorites]


I bounce so hard off of Nolan. I've seen many of his films because they seem like the sort of thing that I would be into but they just leave me completely cold. I don't give a shit about any of the characters (except in the rare circumstance that the actor imbues them with an extratextual je ne sais quois, and mainly I'm thinking of Heath Ledger here).
posted by soren_lorensen at 7:01 PM on December 19, 2019 [1 favorite]


This trailer is already better than the whole of The Rise of Skywalker.
posted by Quasimike at 7:35 PM on December 19, 2019 [1 favorite]


Comparing Nolan to Kubrik is interesting. They both prefer overwhelming visual dazzles to human interactions. It's just a matter of getting the balance right.
posted by ovvl at 7:55 PM on December 19, 2019


Kubrick for Kids™
posted by fairmettle at 11:59 PM on December 19, 2019 [1 favorite]


I really like his movies (except Rises and Interstellar) but they are definitely more clever than they are intelligent. There's a technician's precision and extremely talented film maker's touch to all his movies.

I'm there for whatever he does as, while not entirely successful, he's not afraid of throwing some big ideas into big Hollywood style action movies. He also understands and clearly has control of the trailers for his movies; they capture and convey mood and themes, but rarely plot.

Just watch the latest Michael Bay movie to realign expectations.
posted by slimepuppy at 12:33 AM on December 20, 2019 [4 favorites]


So all I am saying is, the criteria by which we apply art criticism is also a set of choices, and one that is socially constructed, not justified a priori.

That's certainly a valuable thing to always keep in mind when looking at culture products like movies and other arts, but the complaint I have about Nolan doesn't, for me, quite fit that model very well. Nolan isn't minimizing human activity or values, he tends to put ethical/moral dilemmas at the center of the movies, but those dilemmas, like his characters, tend to ring false, not really touching life as we experience it, but as some sort of abstracted view of people that scarcely makes sense for lacking any real basis in life. He loves giving his character trolley cart like problems to solve, but as those problems themselves are already abstracted from lived decisions and his "solutions" to them move even further from how people actually seem to relate to the world, the centers of his films end up being virtually hollow, save perhaps for a pinwheel that is supposed to carry the weight of all the mechanical construction built around them.

The characters and situations in his films are only recognizable as human for being portrayed by actors, the choices they make and the worlds built around them make little sense on their own other than in our way of forcing narrative coherence on stories as a way to make some sense of them. It isn't like a reduction of human scale or use of stylized exaggerated effect to emphasize a particular point, but a manner of making the characters every bit as artificial in construct as the structures of his movies. We can follow it all, in a basic sort of way, and have some generalized sense of a plot and purpose for the characters, but there isn't much more to the movies than that general structure. Even within scenes and settings Nolan manages little coherence as his attention is primarily on the shell, not what it contains.

It may be that Nolan thinks he is saying something important with his movies, they certainly hold themselves as doing so at times, and its only that his view of the world is likewise abstracted to primarily thinking in mechanical terms, with humans being just fleshy puzzle pieces, that's not something I hold against him, but its a view that is inherently limiting and problematic as can be seen in how his ethical/moral dilemmas so often play out. If he believes people are just puzzle piece mechanisms the worlds he makes should more clearly emphasize that aspect and snap together in a much tighter fashion on the scene to scene, setting, and motivational level, but they don't really do that either, so if there is a meaningful set of criteria that can be applied to pull greater sense from his films, I don't know what it is. They are there own thing, so there's some odd value in that, but their relationship to the real is often seriously flawed in ways that leave relating to the works a likewise hollow experience.
posted by gusottertrout at 12:36 AM on December 20, 2019 [2 favorites]


Well at least Batman never does any time-travelling nonsense.

It's true, those movies found their own way not to make any sense.
posted by tillermo at 4:28 AM on December 20, 2019 [2 favorites]


Even the up-and-coming Villeneuve is known mostly for adaptations

This is... a bit Anglocentric. Although I think more of his films than not were adaptations of something (not sure if you consider adapting a stage play for film as an adaptation, as Incendies is), but there's also Polytechnique and Sicario. Most Canadians would likely laugh at your characterization of Villeneuve as an "up-and-coming" rather than an already-arrived, too.

posted by eviemath at 4:41 AM on December 20, 2019 [3 favorites]


I had the strangest experience with Inception. On my first viewing, I was dazzled by the concepts, the visual execution, and trying to follow the intricate plot. On my second, I was absolutely overwhelmed by the multiple tragedies that drive the narrative. There are so, so many -- the narrative is driven almost entirely by characters attempting to heal but only digging themselves in deeper or being manipulated by others into deeper trauma. And the final shot and the uncertainty associated with it just pushed me over the edge. I broke down just outside the theater and started sobbing.

Maybe I was just in a weird space that day or maybe it was DiCaprio giving a good performance, but I don't think it's fair to say that Nolan is necessarily detached from the human.
posted by treepour at 6:09 AM on December 20, 2019 [5 favorites]


It's true, those movies found their own way not to make any sense.

I think Reddit voted The Dark Night the greatest movie of all time. It's like the bro Citizen Kane..
posted by thelonius at 6:18 AM on December 20, 2019


I liked Momento a lot. Then I saw his movies that begin with the letter I (Inception, Intersteller, Insomnia) and wasn't impressed with those. I know I fell asleep in at least one and maybe two of them.

So this is a movie that I'll watch, but honestly my expectations are low. From the trailer, it looks like a movie where you can basically just float from action scene to action scene without having to worry about the plot too much, for better or worse.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:57 AM on December 20, 2019


Maybe I was just in a weird space that day or maybe it was DiCaprio giving a good performance, but I don't think it's fair to say that Nolan is necessarily detached from the human.

Oh, we can all have different reactions to what we see. I don't want to sound like I'm saying no one else should like his movies or anything, but I guess I would ask how much of the feeling one gets is coming from the work of the movie and how much from the viewer's own imagination or history. That's kinda what I was trying to suggest about viewers doing the work for Nolan in providing more depth or sense to characters and their actions than might be onscreen. It's not that he doesn't have the characters get caught up in events that the actors will then try to give life to, so there are loves and deaths and all that, which we might take to heart for our own reasons, but which I personally don't see the movies providing much real weight to or sense about on their own.

Take, for example, the big choice Batman has to make between saving Harvey Dent or Rachel. The fact that the movie creates a situation where that need for a choice is provided can lead one to take it to heart just for having it mentioned, but does the movie make much sense of all of it leading to the choice or is it more artificially imposed for the point of having it alone? Is the choice made a reasonable one for the character and how does that connect to any sense of our lived reality, is it just a Batman thing or does it have some extension to something more? And how does making the choice play out and does that find some purchase with our lived experience?

Just raising the possibility of that kind of choice having to be made is simple enough, but how the movie comes to that point and what it expresses about it is something a little different than what we might add in on our own. We all will have movies we react more or less strongly to than others, I have an abiding fondness for Darby O'Gill and the Little People for example, nothing wrong with that, but beyond it there is still some use in asking what it is the movie is saying or showing about its characters and events and how that reads back into the real world. None of that is meant to counter feelings on Inception, just explain where I'm coming from maybe a bit more clearly.
posted by gusottertrout at 7:31 AM on December 20, 2019


more clever than they are intelligent.
Perfectly stated.
posted by aspersioncast at 7:44 AM on December 20, 2019 [1 favorite]


Time manipulation is quite literally Nolan's entire bag of tricks, nonlinearity is his ultimate crutch. The moment I saw the title, I knew it would be yet another turn on that singular temporal gag. Very hard pass.
posted by dbiedny at 9:13 AM on December 20, 2019


Kubrick for Kids™

This, exactly. I remember liking Inception as a spectacle, until on rewatch it became glaringly clear that just about every scrap of dialogue was one character painstakingly explaining to another character what was going on and what they had to do next. Hardly a shred of non-expository dialogue. Interstellar was wretched with this - the entire film seemed like Nolan wanted to do a 2001, but was positive that the audience would be too stupid to 'get it' so he had to explain everything in excruciating detail. Even the first forty minutes seemed like a gruelingly overlong explanation as to why the main character was motivated to save the Earth, like that's a tough call to make or something. As the Tick perfectly summed up - "That's where I keep all my stuff!"
posted by FatherDagon at 10:37 AM on December 20, 2019 [1 favorite]


Just came to say that I have always had enormous respect for Nolan as a cinematic stylist and storyteller/entertainer. Not to mention as an innovator (use of IMAX for high impact scenes, for example) and one who goes out of his way to shoot effects mainly in camera rather than embracing CGI for his big effects, something I respect. But I understand why some people might find his style unsatisfying or superficial. His stories are usually WAY BIG, urban and architectural in scope, but with people as the little engines driving it all. They always require some effort to follow, and while the storylines sometimes do not bear up in the details, Nolan almost embraces this, as Kubrick did, alluding to the idea that the visual storytelling can sometimes be more important than the story itself. And this is what I love about filmmaking. About cinema as a whole. That it challenges the viewer to think and engage with a story as it's told, not as one wants it to be told. I would never demand that people like Nolan's films, but I personally take great pleasure in how audacious they try to be.
posted by buffalo at 11:48 AM on December 20, 2019 [1 favorite]


This is... a bit Anglocentric. Although I think more of his films than not were adaptations of something (not sure if you consider adapting a stage play for film as an adaptation, as Incendies is), but there's also Polytechnique and Sicario. Most Canadians would likely laugh at your characterization of Villeneuve as an "up-and-coming" rather than an already-arrived, too.
That's a fair take, but my main point was considering specifically how big budget Hollywood sci-fi these days tends to be geared towards works attached to preexisting IP. Villeneuve's works certainly imbue enough originality that they don't feel like adaptations. And by up-and-coming I meant that he's the current hot stuff (hopefully Dune will cement him as an established brand), in contrast to Nolan who is a brand. I'm reaching for examples at this point of big budget (and perhaps critically successful) sci-fi films, and perhaps Villeneuve wasn't the best choice to focus on.
Time manipulation is quite literally Nolan's entire bag of tricks, nonlinearity is his ultimate crutch. The moment I saw the title, I knew it would be yet another turn on that singular temporal gag.
The Nolans' tricks, perhaps- Westworld's whole shtick, besides updating nBSG's guess-the-Cylon game for a new decade, was the separate narrative timelines storytelling.
one who goes out of his way to shoot effects mainly in camera rather than embracing CGI for his big effects, something I respect
In terms of hype and media coverage, it felt like The Dark Knight revived practical effects as a Hollywood trend, for a while.
posted by Apocryphon at 11:55 AM on December 20, 2019


For me Villeneuve is at bat with with two strikes. Arrival was a big whiff on an easy pitch, and BR2049 was a long foul. Once upon a time I was excited that he was going to do scifi but I'm skeptical now. I look at the cast list of Dune and there's just too many pretty people, and in a vague way I think that's the problem with Villeneuve and maybe even Nolan has such a problem. Like... drawing from a limited set of human archetypes. Oh well maybe Villeneuve'll hit it into the lights anyway. (Though also Chalamet ugh.)

This Tenet preview doesn't look great. Whatever the gimmick is, they don't make it look interesting, or even like something that will impact a character's life outside of an action scene.
posted by fleacircus at 3:25 PM on December 20, 2019 [3 favorites]


I dunno. I watch movies to be entertained, not engage in sparring matches of mental masturbation. I liked Interstellar and pretty much most of what Nolan's put out. It's original and creative, and has interesting innovative elements. I can go through a lot of popcorn watching this stuff, come out thinking "that was interesting", and consider my money well spent. If that makes me a Philistine, honestly I couldn't care less.
posted by ephemerae at 6:56 PM on December 20, 2019 [1 favorite]


I hate movies and the people watch them.
posted by fleacircus at 10:46 PM on December 20, 2019 [1 favorite]


Went to see Rise of Skywalker at the Imax this evening and they prefaced it with 7 minutes of footage from Tenet, a couple from the trailer but also an extended sequence where an American team where infiltrated into a team of Russian special forces storming a hostage situation in a concert hall. Lacked some context but looked and sounded great and zipped along.

Seems to me to have a very Iain Banks feel to it. Larger powers at work sort of thing.
posted by biffa at 1:46 PM on December 23, 2019


Villeneuve's Arrival and BR2049 were ... not very good. He took Chiang's story in the former and turned it into a very high-budget timey-wimey episode of Doctor Who, and not it a good way. Plus there was the shoe-horned in subplot about the soldiers' trying to blow-up the project, which was just a rip-off from Contact. And Blade Runner... that was just fucking boring and lame.
posted by Saxon Kane at 5:27 PM on January 18 [1 favorite]


« Older “rough-around-the edges, yet refined”   |   Underpaying teen babysitters may contribute to the... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments