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The People Who Never Stopped Loving Tenet | Features




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Those who find the movie willfully baffling — impenetrable for impenetrable’s sake — will be hard to convince. (In Jessica Kiang’s positive New York Times review, she observed, “The film is undeniably enjoyable, but its giddy grandiosity only serves to highlight the brittleness of its purported braininess.”) But for some, like Chinapen, that denseness — and some people’s utter exasperation with it — is part of the fun.

Asked to describe a typical Tenet Head, he says, laughing, “A Tenet Head knows that everyone hates this movie, loves it unabashedly, thinks the inscrutableness is funny and gets a kick out of it and also agrees it’s genius. I think there’s a bit of irony to it as well — there’s a bit of self-aware, post-irony of just like, ‘Isn’t it funny that we love this movie, but also it’s amazing.’ We’re aware of how we sound when we say ‘Tenet’ is amazing, because we were there — we saw it for the first time and we were like, ‘What?!’ But now we’re past that. It’s kind of a joke, but a really sincere joke.”

Griffin Schiller, 28, went to the greatest lengths of anyone I spoke to in order to see “Tenet.” A video creator and film critic, he lives in North Hollywood but, as he puts it, because L.A. theaters weren’t yet open due to COVID, “I was the insane person who drove, I don’t know, three-and-a-half-hours, there and back, to go see it in Vegas for a press screening.” The long drive turned out to be only part of the ordeal, though: “The worst was that screening cut out right in the middle of the big action set piece. You’ve got the inverted army, you’ve got the regular army — it’s like this massive spectacle, it’s blowing your mind, ‘Holy shit, this is incredible!’ — and then, yeah, it just cuts out, and we’re sitting there for 15 minutes. They’re trying to fix it — they try and start it back over a couple of times, then they have to move us to another theater. The fact that the movie stayed with me — that I’ve loved it as much as I did — is a testament to just how great the film is, despite all of these horrible first-viewing things going on for me.”

Because Schiller follows the industry, he is not one to assume — unlike some “Tenet” fans online, jokingly or not — that the re-release is necessarily in response to the online fervor for the film. More likely, the decision by Warner Bros. is based on certain practicalities: An IMAX re-release will get people to the theater, where audiences can see a trailer for the studio’s next big IMAX spectacle, “Dune: Part 2,” which comes out next week. And, of course, Warner Bros. presumably wants to smooth things over with Nolan, who had made several films for the studio, including “Tenet,” but was so unhappy with the company’s strategy during the pandemic to release movies in theaters and on its streaming service simultaneously that he bolted for Universal, which put out his potentially Oscar-winning “Oppenheimer.” (In a statement in December 2020, Nolan famously declared of Warner Bros., “Some of our industry’s biggest filmmakers and most important movie stars went to bed the night before thinking they were working for the greatest movie studio and woke up to find out they were working for the worst streaming service.”)

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