Last night, I was LUCKY enough to be able to catch “Tenet” at a drive-in theater in my hometown (you can catch my full non-spoiler review here). I’m using the word LUCKY in all caps because we’re living in a time where the film’s writer and director, Christopher Nolan, seems to have pushed Warner Bros’ decision to release his landmark film at a time where it has failed to capture its place in the cultural zeitgeist in the way that it should. Instead of people talking about the quality of the film, the conversation – at least from the media I’ve been exposed to – has been limited to performance at the severely diminished box office industry.
In the end, this is 2020 and we’re in the middle of a global pandemic, one of the most important elections in U.S. history, and deep worldwide social instability. Films like “The New Mutants”, “Mulan” or “I’m Thinking of Ending Things” seem to have failed to provide the cultural impact that they would’ve had at any other time, and while this could be acceptable for these films due to their quality or other factors, “Tenet” deserves a lot more.
I think “Tenet” is a film that needs to be seen, ideally on the biggest screen you can find, but it’s simply not possible for everyone to do so at this point. And it’s a shame, really, because we’re in a situation where the film’s artist has made it hard for audiences to appreciate his own art, and there’s really no one to blame except for Nolan himself and maybe a few cigar-smoking executives at Warner Bros.
If “Tenet” is not doing well, it should not be a reason for mockery to anyone (except, maybe, for rival studios). It should actually be a reason for concern for anyone who, like me, loves the theatrical window and wants to see it prosper, despite some heavy competition by direct-to-streaming films. If you’re a film lover, then it’s likely that you’re invested in movie theaters and they’re struggling right now. “Tenet,” partly due to people’s ego but also as an experiment to see how much people are willing to go to a theater at this point, took a gamble and it’s too soon to see if it will pay off. At this point, however, those of us that have been able to see the film can discuss and analyze it, and I look forward to doing that with everyone. Let’s focus on the positive side: we got a really great new Nolan movie; and not the negatives, which are not worth our time when everything around us seems to be negative anyway.