Tenet

A palindrome is a word or phrase that reads the same backward as forward. “Tenet” is a palindrome. There are entire scenes within this movie that are palindrome-ish. The movie is utterly confusing and exhausting to decipher for the entirety of its two and a half hours. It is also brilliantly written, if complexity gets credit, and the editor(s) of this beast should win an Oscar.

I could tell you the entire plot and key scenes of this film without spoiling it. I love good time travel movies, but they are simple by comparison to this looping, parallel timeline action film in which John David Washington, known as “The Protagonist” and his strangely familiar partner Neil, played by Robert Pattinson, set out to save the world from something they don’t understand. Washington recently starred in BlacKkKlansman, which was a walk in the park compared to this very physical role as a CIA type who has been tested for inclusion in a secret organization that operates outside of time and national interests. Michael Caine makes a brief appearance as Crosby, an elite conduit to forged art and the world of uber-wealthy arms dealers.

If you’re familiar with the Manhattan Project that developed the atomic bomb during the 1940s, lead scientist Robert Oppenheimer has an analogous team leader hundreds of years in the future. That female scientist is working on a project so dangerous to the existence of everything that she hides nine components back in time and kills herself to prevent her knowledge from being known. The project is called Tenet and it has fallen into the hands of Andrei Sator, a crazed Russian oligarch suffering from a terminal illness. He plans the annihilation of the entire history of the human species rather than die and leave the world to continue in his absence. As with his estranged wife, if he can’t have her no one can.

“What’s happened has happened” is repeated frequently throughout the film. People and things are “inverted” through time turnstyles, machines that act as portals to a backward running parallel dimension. This results in fights, battles and chases being run simultaneously in positive and negative time, bullets being caught by guns and characters coming dangerously close to their alter-selves, sometimes without even being aware. The climactic James Bond-like battle scene is filmed with red and blue teams of soldiers running against ten-minute countdown and count-up clocks toward the same zero point. One’s knowledge of the other’s actions contributes to confusing reversals within the action and results in unexplainable paradoxes that defy logic and physics. Buildings are simultaneously blown up and reconstructed as timelines cross. The sometimes overly ominous musical score has snippets of backward sounds, and some dialogue is played both forward and reversed.

It’s no surprise that Christopher Nolan wrote and directed this mind bender. He is also responsible for MementoInception and Interstellar, all cerebral and non-linear productions, but not to this level.

I recommend being well rested before seeing this movie. It’s worth seeing, perhaps more than once if you really want to understand what’s happening. But that might require using the turnstyle to run a temporal pincer operation in order to give future information to your past self. Yeah, it’s that complicated.

Tenet (2020) runs 2 hours, 30 minutes and is rated PG-13

 

The Broken Hearts Gallery

On our latest outing to the “new normal” intensive care unit known as going to the movies in the year 2020 I wanted to see Tenet but it wasn’t my turn to choose. That’s ok, since a steady diet of Netflix eventually grows tiresome and just isn’t the cure for cabin fever or whatever we now call being trapped by an invisible enemy. We needed to get out of the house.

Something light hearted actually sounded appealing, and a Rom Com is about the lightest level movies can attain, short of Blazing Saddles or Superbad. But be clear, this is a chick flick, fulfilling all criteria of that species – catering to a youthful, female demographic on topics of love and romance. But this is not The Big Sick or When Harry Met Sally. It’s cute, but not even close.

The only familiar actor in this film is 72 year old Bernadette Peters who is not only still living but has retained that pinched, cute little face and voice that plays well in drama or comedy. She is an insanely talented singer who branched off into comic roles thanks to Mel Brooks and alongside one time partner Steve Martin. She even appeared on Carol Burnett and with The Muppets where she fit right in.

A diverse and heavily female cast of twenty-somethings over shares just within the bounds of the PG-13 rating, threatening each other with vibrators and talking obsessively about penises and vaginas. Lucy, played by an energized but frequently depressed Geraldine Viswanathan is a collector of memorabilia. She is clearly a hoarder living in an apartment-sized museum of reminders, the most recent of which is a tie from the artist she just broke up with. That tie becomes the inspiration, hung from a nail on a wall, for a gallery of memorabilia. The idea is a surprisingly huge hit among fellow New Yorkers who share a similarly unhealthy tendency to wallow in past relationship souvenirs. Nick, played by Dacre Montgomery, Lucy’s eventual love interest is rehabbing a building that becomes the Broken Hearts Gallery. He plays the part with sweet and sincere detached strength and vulnerability. You know, kind of a Rom Com Everyman. Prior to this he appeared in Stranger Things and as Jason, the red Power Ranger.

The dialogue in Broken Hearts Gallery often becomes that machine gun spray of impossibly cohesive and funny lines that perhaps only Robin Williams was actually capable of delivering. But there are quite a few laughs and if you can look past the unrealistic delivery, the lines are quite good. Director Natalie Krinsky also wrote the screenplay which may explain this stuffing of large words into small spaces.


The Broken Hearts Gallery (2020) runs 1 hour, 48 minutes and is rated PG-13.

No Time to Die

We saw the long-awaited James Bond film recently. And not surprisingly, I began this review with the wrong title, not that it matters. The f...