josiah’s review published on Letterboxd:
over the last few weeks leading up to the release of tenet, i've had a very strange and recurring contemplation—drake and christopher nolan are basically the same person at this point. an absurd and possibly sacrilegious statement, i know, but hear me out.
both drake and christopher nolan are icons of their respective industries, but in achieving such an iconic status in their mediums, a cynical disdain of both their work and any person who dares to call them "one of the best artists of this generation" has been slowly festering. i mean, think about it—if one were to say their favorite rapper was drake instead of duwap kaine or nas, they would be ridiculed and their opinion discredited because they listen to too much mainstream music and not enough of the "greats". in comparison, if that same person were to list christopher nolan as one of their favorite directors instead of say, tarkovsky or ozu, you would automatically consider them a normie who spends their time on works of lesser mastery than the high art often considered to be some of the greatest achievements in cinematic history. interestingly, if one were to defend their statement that either of the two are their favorite artists by listing some of their older, seminal works (drake's take care and nothing was the same and nolan's memento or the dark knight) as their best work, one would most likely be met with at the very least an "ohhhh, yeah those are really good." perhaps not total forgiveness, but often a positive reappraisal of their opinion. on the flip side, there are snobby fanboys of both drake and nolan, ones utterly consumed with the notion that each is instrumental to their medium in the fact that without them, the careers of other beloved rappers and directors could and would not exist had it not been for the work of the drake and christopher nolan. you know what i'm talking about—the people who unironically say "ting" or "waste yute" and the people that would murder you if you mention any other superhero movie being better than the dark knight or any sci-fi (besides 2001, of course) being better than interstellar. both even have a fascination with time and its inescapable passage (i mean just listen to do not disturb or time flies).
alas, i digress. how does this have anything to do with tenet, you might ask. well, establishing the relationship between drake and christopher nolan is paramount to understanding what tenet is, why it exists, and how we should receive it. firstly, what the fuck even is tenet? since i understood roughly 20% of it, i'm going to counter that question with another parallel to drake—tenet is nolan's laugh now, cry later. let's back up for a little bit. drake is a fairly prolific artist, releasing an album every year to year and a half and dropping a ton of singles and appearing as a feature in between each release. he's been in the game since the late 2000s, constantly outdoing himself with each release and the steady flow of music contributing to his cash flow. he's 33 and his net worth is already between $150-$180 million—for god's sake, the man has a cargo plane designed by virgil abloh as his private jet. basically what i'm saying is that drake has already made it—even if some of his new songs are misses, it's without a doubt inconsequential in the grand scheme of his career. so now let's return to laugh now, cry later—did drake really need to make a music video for it that was filmed at nike headquarters (and is basically just a nike ad) featuring lebron james and a jetski that's probably worth three mortgages and a bugatti? the answer is no, which begs the question then why, to which the answer is because he can. if the music video and the song were a complete flop, drake wouldn't trip—he's just making music for fun now. let's return to tenet. the answer to why it exists and what it is is the same as the reason why the laugh now, cry later music video exists—because christopher nolan's made it in the industry, and he can do whatever he wants at this point—dude could make an x-men movie and fanboys would still devour it. tenet is so deliberately confounding and chaotic there's almost no way to view it as anything more than nolan's greatest flex. it's almost just for him—for us to ponder and try to piece together but only for him to truly "get".
so now all i have to say is that both drake and christopher nolan are masters of serviceable works of art that add to the grandeur of their career just as much as they occasionally detract from it. neither is the best of their medium imo (but if you think they are, that's ok too!), but love or hate each new project they put out, the fact that you're talking about it so heatedly is proof that each has still got it—whether tenet is nolan's worst movie or best movie is entirely insignificant—dude made the loudest, boldest, most fucking inscrutable movie of the year and he did it for fun.