Wednesday, June 12, 2024

UPDATED Reviews for Christopher Nolan’s Hyped, Postponed “Tenet,” With Words Like “Jigsaw Puzzle,” “Magnificent,” and “Huh?”


UPDATE: The reviews came in at noon EST.  With 32 reviews in, which isn’t a lot, Rotten Tomatoes has “Tenet” at 88%. So far, so good. As I predicted, most talk about the convoluted plot vs. the great look and feel of the film. Leslie Felperin of the Hollywood Reporter says: “Altogether, it makes for a chilly, cerebral film – easy to admire, especially since it’s so rich in audacity and originality, but almost impossible to love, lacking as it is in a certain humanity.”

Variety:” a big, brashly beautiful, grandiosely enjoyable one that will provide succor to audiences long-starved for escapist spectacle on this beefy, made-for-Imax scale. The sheer meticulousness of Nolan’s grand-canvas action aesthetic is enthralling, as if to compensate for the stray loose threads and teasing paradoxes of his screenplay — or perhaps simply to underline that they don’t matter all that much. “Tenet” is no holy grail, but for all its stern, solemn posing, it’s dizzy, expensive, bang-up entertainment of both the old and new school. Right now, as it belatedly crashes a dormant global release calendar, it seems something of a time inversion in itself.”

NYTimes: “Tenet” dazzles the senses, but it does not move the heart — a criticism common to all of Nolan’s original films…But it’s not just lack of heart that holds “Tenet” back. Nolan imagines impossible technologies but won’t explore their deeper implications. ”

Me? I want to see it. If I can just figure out how.

EARLIER “Tenet” is not an easy word to remember, or say. It sounds like “tenant.” And no one knows what it means.

But that’s the title of Christopher Nolan’s new movie starring John David Washington, Robert Pattinson, Kenneth Branagh and Elizabeth Debicki. It’s been postponed several times because of the coronavirus. Nolan only wants it released in theatres, no streaming. But theaters are closed in much of the US, especially key movie going states like New York and California.

So “Tenet” — which will now open next week internationally and then September 3rd in the US– has been screened for press everywhere but here. Warner Bros. is almost giddily happy about that. The feeling is European reviewers, especially British ones, will be more enthusiastic than Americans. The former don’t mind lots of unexplained, dreamy stuff in their films. Americans like concrete answers to what the heck is going on.

The reviews will break today at noon eastern time. Early comments have ranged from magnificent to huh?

What I’ve been told is that it’s fairly important to re-watch Nolan’s 2010 dream-a-thon “Inception.” The new movie is not exactly a sequel, but according to spies, has motifs and themes that are connected to “Tenet.” So Warners is re-releasing “Inception” now, where it can, and encouraging audiences to get in those theaters.

We can’t do that either in New York so this weekend I’ll have a home “Inception” sit down. I want to be ready when “Tenet” arrives near me, if ever.

As for the noon reviews from across the Atlantic: beautiful cinematography, gorgeous set pieces. We’re going to see the words “jigsaw puzzle” a lot. The movie is apparently like one the audience has to assemble. I’ve also been told that upfront Washington — if you’re paying attention — explains. And the meaning of the movie is explained again toward the end. And Branagh is a bad guy.

Yes, we must pay attention. “You can’t fall asleep in this movie,” a spy joked.

The clock ticks toward noon.


Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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