Tenet [2020]

“We live in a twilight world. There are no friends at dusk.”


This is one of those films where if you blink you can miss something important in the plot. It’s ever moving, ever changing, plodding forward to a focal point that you don’t see until you get right to the end of the film, at which you have already passed it.

The film follows ‘The Protagonist’ played by John David Washington and flanked by his sidekick played by Robert Pattinson. Washington is an espionage/CIA agent tasked with finding some mysterious artefact on a mission he knows nothing about. At the beginning of the film, he infiltrates a building dressed as some sort of Ukranian tactical police and is saved by a mysterious fellow who ‘un-fires’ a bullet past him. He is then taken hostage by some unknown enemy and takes cyanide only to wake from what he planned to be his imminent death. Impressed with his candour in the face of danger, the powers that be grant him deeper access to the inner fold of ‘Tenet’ and show him a secret hand signal that will take him deeper still into a rabbit hole. He discovers that time travel/time manipulation is real, that it has been weaponised and that a baddie called Sator wants to take the world hostage with this invention.

So! I thought this Christopher Nolan film was fast-paced and exciting and just what we have come to expect of Nolan TBH. He really doesn’t make it easy for us does he?! I’ve heard many people say that this film was James Bond meets science fiction, and I would have to agree. Also, it felt like I was witnessing a really good Washington/Bond audition video.. HINT HINT. Put Washington in, M! Come on! DO IT FOR QUEEN AND COUNTRY!

The concept was a pretty original one and another thought-provoking Nolan film. The more details you learn about the film – which I explored after I finished watching – the more impressive this offering is. I feel like it’s a shame that the film came out during the pandemic because the epicness of the film really would have lended itself to the big screen. Unfortunately, we all had to watch it on our TVs and computers so the reception was not as explosive as I think the film deserved.

I really really like that it was unlike any time travel film I’ve seen before. Most time travel films have a machine that you step into; the reaction is fast and it takes you to anywhere you want to go in a millisecond. But with this film, time travel is slow. You’re advised to wait to enter until you see yourself exit on the other side of the glass before you go in. It’s about as exciting as stepping into a lift, AND in order to travel back, you have to live all those moments in reverse breathing from an oxygen tank trying not to bump into yourself. Imagine how tedious it must be to go back in time in this version of time travel. I know most people would find that really dull but I enjoyed how deliberate and slow the pacing was of the tech. It made it feel fragile, even. Like it could break at any moment.

I have a few criticisms for the film. First was that it was visually confusing in the later epic fight scenes. I had heard lots of people were confused about the plot generally, but that wasn’t it for me because the speeches the characters repeated throughout told you contextually everything you needed to know. From the “we live in a twilight world” to “what’s happened, happened”… The characters even went so far to refer to and explain the ‘Grandfather paradox’, explaining the theory behind it and – SPOILER ALERT – setting up a later scene which ended up being a near paradox! It’s the fight scenes which ended up being the most confusing to me, in part due to the nature of the film i.e. much of the fight scenes were shot in reverse, but it’s the final fight scene where this gets spectacularly muddy. Despite the ‘good guys’ wearing coloured armbands, when the fighting began it was really hard to see where one person began and another ended. There were also surprise cast inclusions, with Aaron Taylor-Johnson turning up three quarters of the way through the film to join the fight, only for us to later find out that he’s not a bit-part but actually an extremely integral part of the plot. Where was he hiding this whole time? And lastly, the damsel-in-distress storyline was a bit much… The Protagonist uses this woman and preys on her fear for Sator by promising to help her only to kinda double cross her. It felt a little like sensationalising an abusive asshole by putting him on this pedastal albeit – SPOILER – he ended up meeting his match. That said, fair play to the lead female actress Elizabeth Debicki. There’s lots of good moments but the most subtle look she gives at one point of the film is really well done, and arguably with the emotional content she had to take on, Debicki’s storyline was by far the hardest. I thought she did a great job despite not having that much to work with compared to her co-stars.

So in conclusion, I really enjoyed watching this. The plot was audacious, epic and original, and invites further watching. Washington was DA MAN in this and his peripheral cast had great chemistry with him. I wasn’t sure Pattinson could pull it off because I see him as a child-actor but I believed him as an agent in this and I guess that reassured me for what will be his later transformation into Batman… Still, don’t fuck it up Pattinson… Some muddy bits but this film kept me thinking about it for a while after. I know many critics have seen this and gone all Avril Lavigne on Nolan (WHY YOU GOTTA GO AND MAKE THINGS SO COMPLICATED?!) but Nolan makes an entertaining film so I can’t hate on him. Go check it out!

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Interstellar [2014]

“Do not go gentle into that good night. Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”


This film (written and directed by Christopher Nolan) follows engineer and pilot, Cooper (played by Matthew McConaughey who I thought was an excellent choice… the lofty way he moves and talks makes it seem like he has no gravity in his body so was totally believable as a spaceman) in a time not too far in the future. Humans have ravaged the earth and along with food shortages, all their fun times are being broken up by damn dust storms. DAMN YOU DUST STORMS! These shortages have necessitated people to concentrate on survival which seems to impact all areas in life, including what pathway kids take in school. NASA has all been shut down but are operating in secret to think of ways to save humanity. Inexplicably, Cooper’s path crosses with NASA and they send him on a journey to save everyone.

The rest, as they say, is history. OR IS IT?

Okay, so I really enjoyed this movie. I thought it was really engaging, the CGI and acting was excellent. It was beautiful and had me on the edge of my seat, and I’m guaranteed to enjoy ANY film that has a robot in it… Apart from Prometheus which I thought was a bag of dicks…

Anywho… the problem I had with it is that I had trouble suspending my disbelief throughout because of certain parts of the storyline. SPOILERSSSS!

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Why would NASA be shut down as being too frivolous and expensive if their aim was to save humanity? Why would educators change the history books and teach children that space exploration was faked and didn’t happen? Wouldn’t they want, if anything, to get the best scientific minds on the planet working out how to save everyone which if anything would mean putting MORE resources into science? It seemed like the problem fell solely on Michael Caine’s character’s shoulders…

The blight has destroyed all but corn, apparently, but they still have beer. Is it corn beer? Is everything they’re eating just corn? Is the only reason it is surviving because it’s Monsanto GMO corn?

Anne Hathaway’s character tells her crew that LOVE IS THE ANSWER when asked to make a major decision which impacts literally humanity’s survival. Like, dude, you’re a scientist. But screw all your stats and figures and equations, amirightladiessss. She did end up being correct though, and this spirituality of love saving the world really echoed the film Contact, which also suggested that love was the one thing through the darkness and expanse of the universe that connected us all. This felt like an epic eye-roll moment, but maybe I’m just a cynic…

We know that time is of the essence in this film. Like Michael Caine’s character says: “I’m not afraid of death, I’m an old physicist. I’m afraid of time.” It feels like Nolan is also afraid of time, and indeed the film really wastes no time; not even to flesh out some of the major characters that appear later in the film after Cooper goes to interstellar space…

I have many more questions than answers with this film but when all is said and done, I thought it was really enjoyable.

The soundscape of the film did an excellent job of making it pretty tense and accentuating key moments, to the point where it felt like a real kick in the chest.

The science of the film was sound, i.e. how wormholes sort of work (nice paper explanation of how they work, which I remember seeing explained the same way in Event Horizon), the idea of time swelling or changing relative to black hole proximity and the multi-dimensional theory was also sound. Albert Einstein once said “People like us, who believe in physics, know that the distinction between past, present and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion.” Interstellar did an excellent, creative job of showing what that might look like and how time could be manipulated. That if humans were able to perceive more than the three dimensions we currently can, that we might perceive the past, present and future all at once! Though I sincerely don’t believe he would have survived travelling through a singularity…

The presence of scifi/horror elements in the film personally made me feel uneasy and my impending doom-ometer was going wild. I really don’t know if it was intentional, but the aforementioned Event Horizon bit… the presence of cornfields… a robot in space who I suspected any minute would turn on the crew whilst they were in stasis… all of these elements added up to create a pretty tense film.

But what I loved the most was that Interstellar prompted really deep questions in my mind about the universe and reality and time.

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So in conclusion, I think it’s an insanely epic undertaking of a film. Some say that Nolan shot for the stars and missed with this film and that it was overly ambitious. Despite its flaws, I think it was wondiferous and imperfect all at once and I would definitely recommend this thought-provoking film.

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