Christopher Nolan - Appreciation Thread

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  • RichardTheBruceRichardTheBruce I'm motivated by my Duty.
    Posts: 10,636
    Agree.
  • MakeshiftPythonMakeshiftPython Omaha, NE
    Posts: 6,540
    I’ve never walked out on a film until I saw TENET. What an unpleasant and frustrating experience, trying to understand dialogue about complex plot elements, the rushed pace, aggressive sound mix. Nolan wants audiences to feel immersed in his films but he only achieved the opposite for me. Halfway through I realized I no longer cared about trying to understand what the film was trying to convey because that’s how detached I felt.

    I’ll try to watch this at home with subtitles once it’s available for rental.
  • edited September 2020 Posts: 3,164


    @MakeshiftPython you didn’t by any chance spot a certain director...
  • MakeshiftPythonMakeshiftPython Omaha, NE
    Posts: 6,540
    antovolk wrote: »


    @MakeshiftPython you didn’t by any chance spot a certain director...

    That’s pretty hilarious. That explains why Regal executives had been hanging out at the front entrance when I arrived and left. I came in at 12pm, so either I passed by and didn’t notice he was among them or he had already left by the time I walked out in the middle of the film. I do wonder if he was given the disappointing news that that theater had their IMAX venue closed for a whole week. I had to get a refund for what would have been the 12pm showing for a RPX screening (which interestingly was presented in 1:90 aspect ratio).

    If I had been able to briefly speak with him at that time, I wish I could have told him my disappointment. As fun as it can be for filmmakers getting experimental with how you present a film, it’s too bad that what he tried with TENET just left me feeling cold and disinterested.
  • RichardTheBruceRichardTheBruce I'm motivated by my Duty.
    edited September 2020 Posts: 10,636
    For myself, the film really engaged me and keeps me coming back for more. Also a moment in time for me personally in my life and career, the way Casino Royale resonated with me 2006-2007.

    It just piles on that at this point in time, Nolan did it his way and is now doing what he can to reestablish theaters as really the first step in a risky, largely selfless way. Christopher Nolan deserves MUCH respect for these things. Beyond liking his film or not.

    Not just about him and his film's success, this is an important part of cinema history playing out for filmmakers and filmgoers.

    And separately, looking at box office through January 2020 specs is missing the point on many, many levels.


  • MakeshiftPythonMakeshiftPython Omaha, NE
    Posts: 6,540
    Frankly, I hope Nolan doesn’t get his way again.
  • RichardTheBruceRichardTheBruce I'm motivated by my Duty.
    Posts: 10,636
    Nice.
  • CraigMooreOHMSSCraigMooreOHMSS Dublin, Ireland
    Posts: 7,236
    I don't think Nolan had as much to do with the film's release as has been reported, personally. It's neither selfless nor selfish on his part.
  • DaltonCraig007DaltonCraig007 They say, "Evil prevails when good men fail to act." What they ought to say is, "Evil prevails."
    edited September 2020 Posts: 15,534
    Looking at the US box office only, Nolan has factually failed to reestablish theaters. Tenet is actually doing the opposite, and is killing theaters.

    In other countries however, his film did provide better numbers. But still not enough to earn its budget back.
  • MakeshiftPythonMakeshiftPython Omaha, NE
    Posts: 6,540
    I don't think Nolan had as much to do with the film's release as has been reported, personally. It's neither selfless nor selfish on his part.

    Whoever thought that THIS would be the movie that revitalizes cinema chains is delusional. It probably would have been smarter to bring out a more audience friendly movie like WONDER WOMAN 1984.
  • DaltonCraig007DaltonCraig007 They say, "Evil prevails when good men fail to act." What they ought to say is, "Evil prevails."
    edited September 2020 Posts: 15,534
    I don't think Nolan had as much to do with the film's release as has been reported, personally. It's neither selfless nor selfish on his part.

    Whoever thought that THIS would be the movie that revitalizes cinema chains is delusional. It probably would have been smarter to bring out a more audience friendly movie like WONDER WOMAN 1984.

    That, or Black Widow or NTTD. If major studios really were hellbent on releasing a big-budget blockbuster as soon as enough theaters were open, they should have picked a proven IP to help limit the uncertainty of the box office.
  • edited September 2020 Posts: 2,875
    The issues with Tenet is that Nolan indulges too much in the warped backward set pieces (as brilliant as they are), without really giving the audience a chance to catch up with what is really going on.

    The scene when Branagh is next door and they are looking at him through the glass, then suddenly he becomes 2, speaks backwards, etc. by that stage I am lost, I readily admit it. And the film doesn't allow its audience back in after that, it doesn't allow a catch up, leaving audiences feeling dumb, when really Nolan fails as a filmmaker for not explaining clearer what is happening. As a storyteller, he really fails in this one.

    Having said all that, the action scenes are just as good as anything seen in Inception, Batman or Interstellar. The build up with the 4 trucks on the freeway surrounding the car is very reminiscent to the truck scene in TDK with the Joker, and probably one of the best moments in the movie. It shows Nolan knows how to build up the action, even if he fails to explain what is happening with the story.
  • MakeshiftPythonMakeshiftPython Omaha, NE
    Posts: 6,540
    It shows Nolan knows how to build up the action, even if he fails to explain what is happening with the story.

    That was my biggest hurdle. Because the story was so poorly laid out, I honestly couldn't care about any of the action going forward because I didn't have any characters to care about or a plot that I understood because the soundtrack was obscuring key dialogue. In fact, I was looking at my phone during that whole truck chase just before I left the theater because that's how utterly detached I was with the film.

    If EON does offer Nolan a Bond film, I really hope they keep him on a tight leash. Have other script writers brought in to revise/rewrite to make plot elements and motivations more clear, don't allow him to have full control of the sound mixing, etc. Even then, I now don't want him to approach Bond if it's just going to be as cold, humorless, and sexless as TENET was.

    Supposedly Nolan's reasoning for obscuring dialogue is because he doesn't think it's important, that he lets other elements such as sound and music convey what's happening. That's a valid approach, and it worked fine in DUNKIRK because there was barely dialogue in that. But if that's the route you're going to take why would you even bother writing dialogue that doesn't even matter? There's a moment in the film where the wife looks at Kenneth Branagh and says something to him before cutting off his harness. I couldn't make out what she said. If that piece of dialogue wasn't important, why not just have her look at him with contempt but say nothing and then cut him off? If done like that, I wouldn't have a problem with the scene. But because she has muffled dialogue I then think to myself "wait, what did she say to him?" and for a moment am taken out of the film, being reminded this is just Nolan doing his sound mix gimmick, making it a frustrating experience. Not exactly how I want to have my first time returning to cinema after many long months of closure.

  • ThunderfingerThunderfinger we are in this together
    Posts: 44,865
    Sator is the best role I have ever seen Branagh in.
  • Posts: 1,309
    Sator is the best role I have ever seen Branagh in.

    He is genuinely menacing, but, for me, his Hamlet will always be hard to better.

  • ThunderfingerThunderfinger we are in this together
    Posts: 44,865
    ColonelSun wrote: »
    Sator is the best role I have ever seen Branagh in.

    He is genuinely menacing, but, for me, his Hamlet will always be hard to better.

    I haven t seen that one.
  • Posts: 1,309
    ColonelSun wrote: »
    Sator is the best role I have ever seen Branagh in.

    He is genuinely menacing, but, for me, his Hamlet will always be hard to better.

    I haven t seen that one.

    He directed it as well. For the first time ever on film, it's the full text (only ever done in the theatre up until then), so 4 hours long and shot 70mm. It's an impressive piece of work. Rory Kinnear's 2010 Hamlet at the National Theatre was also superb, and also the full 4 hour text.

  • ThunderfingerThunderfinger we are in this together
    Posts: 44,865
    ColonelSun wrote: »
    ColonelSun wrote: »
    Sator is the best role I have ever seen Branagh in.

    He is genuinely menacing, but, for me, his Hamlet will always be hard to better.

    I haven t seen that one.

    He directed it as well. For the first time ever on film, it's the full text (only ever done in the theatre up until then), so 4 hours long and shot 70mm. It's an impressive piece of work. Rory Kinnear's 2010 Hamlet at the National Theatre was also superb, and also the full 4 hour text.

    Thanks for the recommendation.
  • It shows Nolan knows how to build up the action, even if he fails to explain what is happening with the story.

    That was my biggest hurdle. Because the story was so poorly laid out, I honestly couldn't care about any of the action going forward because I didn't have any characters to care about or a plot that I understood because the soundtrack was obscuring key dialogue. In fact, I was looking at my phone during that whole truck chase just before I left the theater because that's how utterly detached I was with the film.

    If EON does offer Nolan a Bond film, I really hope they keep him on a tight leash. Have other script writers brought in to revise/rewrite to make plot elements and motivations more clear, don't allow him to have full control of the sound mixing, etc. Even then, I now don't want him to approach Bond if it's just going to be as cold, humorless, and sexless as TENET was.

    Supposedly Nolan's reasoning for obscuring dialogue is because he doesn't think it's important, that he lets other elements such as sound and music convey what's happening. That's a valid approach, and it worked fine in DUNKIRK because there was barely dialogue in that. But if that's the route you're going to take why would you even bother writing dialogue that doesn't even matter? There's a moment in the film where the wife looks at Kenneth Branagh and says something to him before cutting off his harness. I couldn't make out what she said. If that piece of dialogue wasn't important, why not just have her look at him with contempt but say nothing and then cut him off? If done like that, I wouldn't have a problem with the scene. But because she has muffled dialogue I then think to myself "wait, what did she say to him?" and for a moment am taken out of the film, being reminded this is just Nolan doing his sound mix gimmick, making it a frustrating experience. Not exactly how I want to have my first time returning to cinema after many long months of closure.

    Agree 100%
  • Posts: 40
    KB doing a remix of his Jack Ryan bad guy
  • KB doing a remix of his Jack Ryan bad guy

    ...and Debicki reprises her role from The Night Manager. Meanwhile, JDW is trying to channel his father and Pattinson is playing Eames from Inception. You can certainly not accuse Tenet of being original.

    I wonder if the impending lockdown in the UK will make it difficult to catch Tenet at cinemas for a third time. I'd be tempted to go perhaps in November (if its still playing...which I suspect it will be).

    Who else thought the film was weirdly chaste? The Protagonist seems intent on saving Kat, despite having no spark with her. Eventually she gives him a peck on the cheek before he risks everything to save the world. I mean...come on!

    It's a weird theme with Nolan's films. Whilst they are very sleek and polished, they don't really have a sexuality.

    Also, pretty good interview with Nolan and JDW:

  • MalloryMallory Do mosquitoes have friends?
    Posts: 1,741
    @Pierce2Daniel You’re not wrong regarding the weird sexlessness of Tenet. It is weird.
  • DenbighDenbigh UK
    Posts: 5,006
    I honestly don’t understand the praise for JDW, I thought his performance was extremely flat.
  • edited September 2020 Posts: 5,735
    ColonelSun wrote: »
    ColonelSun wrote: »
    Sator is the best role I have ever seen Branagh in.

    He is genuinely menacing, but, for me, his Hamlet will always be hard to better.

    I haven t seen that one.

    He directed it as well. For the first time ever on film, it's the full text (only ever done in the theatre up until then), so 4 hours long and shot 70mm. It's an impressive piece of work. Rory Kinnear's 2010 Hamlet at the National Theatre was also superb, and also the full 4 hour text.

    It's one of my favourite films. Top 20, probably. I remember the trailer coming out with John Williams Born on the 4th of July theme, and being mesmerised. The full film is brilliant and Branagh's best work, IMO. But, in all fairness, there have been better Hamlets (as in actors playing the character, I mean) in the theatre over the years. Nonetheless, an effort for the ages, a truly great piece of cinema and cinema history. I watch it once a year.
  • RichardTheBruceRichardTheBruce I'm motivated by my Duty.
    Posts: 10,636
    Who else thought the film was weirdly chaste? The Protagonist seems intent on saving Kat, despite having no spark with her. Eventually she gives him a peck on the cheek before he risks everything to save the world. I mean...come on!
    The Protagonist isn't about self-interests.

    Early in the film they establish knowing too much can be self-defeating. When The Protagonist is carefully being introduced to the time inversion concept, he makes clear "to do what I do in need to know a little more." He needs to know what he's fighting for, who he's saving. In the course of the film he aligns his focus in part on saving Kat and her son, that becomes key to his eventual success. In this story to me adding a romantic relationship would be unnecessary, a distraction, and counterproductive.

    A similar theme to why Bond does what he does, or why military or first responders do difficult things. It's called out for a moment in the dialogue of Quantum of Solace.
  • MakeshiftPythonMakeshiftPython Omaha, NE
    Posts: 6,540
    Denbigh wrote: »
    I honestly don’t understand the praise for JDW, I thought his performance was extremely flat.

    I feel the same about most of Nolan’s lead actors across all his films, except for perhaps McConaughey. Nolan seems to prefer having his actors give more understated performances. So much whispery dialogue. If you wanna see an excellent performance by JDW I’d point to BlacKkKlansman.
  • Creasy47Creasy47 In Cuba with Natalya.Moderator
    Posts: 37,423
    I thought JDW was really great in the opening but he felt extremely flat to me in several parts too. I'm still fairly surprised at how underwhelmed or disappointed I was with the film as a whole, I didn't expect that.
  • edited September 2020 Posts: 426
    Who else thought the film was weirdly chaste? The Protagonist seems intent on saving Kat, despite having no spark with her. Eventually she gives him a peck on the cheek before he risks everything to save the world. I mean...come on!
    The Protagonist isn't about self-interests.

    Early in the film they establish knowing too much can be self-defeating. When The Protagonist is carefully being introduced to the time inversion concept, he makes clear "to do what I do in need to know a little more." He needs to know what he's fighting for, who he's saving. In the course of the film he aligns his focus in part on saving Kat and her son, that becomes key to his eventual success. In this story to me adding a romantic relationship would be unnecessary, a distraction, and counterproductive.

    A similar theme to why Bond does what he does, or why military or first responders do difficult things. It's called out for a moment in the dialogue of Quantum of Solace.

    I guess my issue with that, though, is that if a protagonist has no interest in anything then why should I be interested in them?

    Bond doesn't just do his job and nothing else for the majority of the films' runtime. He drinks, he eats, he romances women, he investigates, he quips, he experiences emotion etc. In short, he is allowed to have a personality.

    JDW's character felt like, though no fault of his own, just a placeholder. A giant walking, talking "TBA" peppered throughout the script that Nolan never really bothered to actually get around to.
  • RichardTheBruceRichardTheBruce I'm motivated by my Duty.
    Posts: 10,636
    I guess my issue with that, though, is that if a protagonist has no interest in anything then why should I be interested in them?
    That's not what I suggested.

    And Bond has a similar motivation, even if he's set up to be simultaneously active with the ladies but mostly distant by design.

    I'm not saying anyone has to like the film as I do. But the character is set up to be understood.
  • edited September 2020 Posts: 426
    This movie is excellent proof that Nolan should not in any way be let near the Bond films unless he does not have total creative control.

    I didn't hate it by any means, but the colourless cinematography, bland dialogue, sexless characters, droning score, and horrific sound mixing are not elements I think the Bond franchise currently needs.
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