Tenet

Tenet

I sort of think the single greatest parody of exposition-heavy genre sludge is the South Park episode about Towelie, a sentient towel whose two interests are extolling the virtues of towels — they help you get dry after swimming, lest you catch a cold; they’ll wipe sweat off your face when you're playing baseball — and getting high. A series of monologues reveal aliens have made this thing to conquer Earth, a violent espionage mission ensues, the four boys don’t care and only want to play video games.

Tenet’s opening shot — camera moves back on people walking forward in circular motion as spherical door lowers around them — is a remarkable evocation of its time-travel concept. I held out hope this was a bellwether; I got Towelie.

I know issuing complaint about Tenet's sound mix inducts me into the Bourgeois Critic Class — Film Twitter is on its, I think, third consensus about Nolan in the past six years; the narrative now is that he’s good and misunderstood, or at least not understood in the way his high Rotten Tomatoes batting average implies he’s understood — but inaudibility, reams of exposition, and complex conceit mechanics rendered nil whatever else I appreciated and / or mentally drafted while watching this. (IMAX footage looks lovely and made me wish I could’ve been disappointed on the massive Lincoln Square screen.) A handsome, sometimes fairly expressive who-cares I'd rather never hear compared to Blackhat, an actual renegade studio release that moves at the speed of thought circa our digital age, not at the mercy of however much its actors can dispense over a walk-and-talk.

P.S. There has never been and will never be a more irritating form of dialogue than time-travel speak. “You did. Only not when you thought. You have a future in the past. Years ago for me; years from now for you.” Jesus Christ SHUT THE FUCK UP.

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