Monday, September 21, 2020

Tenet (2020)

Tenet (2020)

Writer/Director: Christopher Nolan 


Cast: John David Washington, Robert Pattinson, Elizabeth Debicki, Kenneth Branagh


Christopher Nolan has always had this air of pretentiousness about him as a director. By that I mean that he makes movies that don’t spell things out to audiences and he makes no apologies about it. Either you are smart enough to “get it” or you’re a dumb fuck who has to play catch up with the rest of the smarties. I mean, all his movies are like this. Inception (2010), Interstellar (2014), hell, even his take on Batman had that air of smarty pants about it. Me? I always found his movies wanting to appear smart, but truthfully just hiding behind a lot of meaningless dialog disguised as intelligence. Okay, I’ll admit it, I’m not a Nolan fan. His movies feel like a giant asshole of a film snob made them, you know the kind that won’t talk to you because you don’t know who Jodorowsky or Kubrick is? You don’t deserve to “get it” if you’re not on his level, if your're not in ‘the know’. 

That’s how Tenet feels. It’s as if Nolan said I’m gonna brush up on my time travel and quantum physics and then I’m going to make everyone feel like an idiot for not getting it. This is his most pretentious one yet folks! His attempts at getting us to understand what the hell is going on in the film are feeble. I mean, how do you know this is a convoluted film? When a scientist whips out a white board to explain something to us that’s how. Last time I saw that was in Back to the Future II (1989), when Doc Brown attempts to explain alternate timelines. Tenet feels like this one time I took a university class, but the professor was a shitty professor who didn’t care if you understood what he was teaching or not. I remember raising my hand an asking “this is an introductory class?” I mean, I could attempt to explain to you what this three hour movie was about, but I tell ya, for most of its running time I had a sand grain of an idea of what this movie was about!

I had reached the hour and a half mark of the film (halfway through) and I was still screaming in my head “what the hell is this movie about?!” I was frustrated it. But then came an action scene and I was wowed. I mean, there’s no question about it. Nolan can orchestrate an impressive action set piece. And here I counted about three or four of them, and true they were amazing, but I didn’t really know what we were fighting for. Who where these guys working for? What are we doing here? Oh but it looks awesome, looky, everything goes in reverse! I’m not gonna lie, those time travel sequences, where things are going in reverse except the main characters were cool to look at. 

And I get it when directors don’t want to spell things out. It’s supposed to be a good thing. Because it means the filmmakers aren’t taking us for granted. I can accept this to a degree, but come on, any filmmaker must understand that you have to explain things in an understandable fashion to your audience so they can come along for the ride. So they can buy into your logic. This can be done without spoon feeding your audience. But Nolan’s way is no explanations given. About half way through you’ll be saying “dear god, I better start getting it soon because its been two freaking hours already!” Now here’s the deal with Tenet, even though I was frustrated as hell and I just wanted for everyone to stop talking all this white noise bullcrap, I stayed glued to it till the end. I didn’t get up and walk out, though the idea did pass through my mind. Did I get what the movie was about when it reached its end? Well, sort of. It was about girls right? Kidding.

Bottom line is, if you survive that boring ass first hour were people are endlessly talking about things you won’t understand and in various accents (I counted about 5 different accents) then maybe you will by the end of its running time have a mild inkling of an idea of what this film was about. Time travel, destroying the world….and that’s about it for me. Um, I don’t even know what ‘Tenet’ means! Here, here, I know what you’re thinking. This guys an idiot, he’s one of the ones who “don’t get it”. Well, anyone who knows me can tell you that I love dissecting movies and hidden meanings and symbolisms in films, which is precisely why I was so frustrated with this one. So to sum things up, this is not a bad movie, it has its extremely entertaining spots, but it certainly will defy you to understand it. It warrants more than one viewing. It reminded me of the first time I watched The Big Lebowski (1998) or Inherent Vice (2014), films that you’re not supposed to try and understand from a first viewing. Your supposed to enjoy the shenanigans, not the meaning. These are movies your meant to understand after seeing them for a tenth time. Who knows, maybe years down the line I’ll be like “what a bafoon I was, I totally get it now!” But upon my first viewing I have to say that Tenet was an extremely frustrating film that had some very entertaining and awesome action set pieces. Good luck ‘getting it’ my friends! 

Friday, August 28, 2020

Bill and Ted Face the Music (2020)

Bill and Ted Face the Music (2020)

Director: Dean Parisot


Cast: Keanu Reeves, Alex Winter, William Sadler, Kirsten Joy Schaal, Julian Belle, Samara Weaving and Brigette Lundy-Paine


In Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure (1989) and Bill and Teds Bogus Journey (1991), we were presented for the first time with Bill and Ted, best friends who are pretty much a pair of losers…with a heart of gold. Turns out in the future, they write this awesome song that’s supposed to bring humanity and the universe together as one. We always wondered what that song that Bill and Ted were destined to compose sounded like, and so, here finally, we get our chance to listen to it and rejoice with the rest of the universe as the third installment in the Bill and Ted franchise finally arrives! 

It should not be left unsaid that the current world pandemic completely destroyed any chances of us seeing Bill and Ted Face the Music theatrically. I mean, I hear it’s showing in about 700 theaters across the U.S., but there aren’t many people right now willing to risk getting the Corona virus to see a movie. So how does a film like this one, long awaited by fans around the world, survive? How does it make its money back? Well, thankfully Bill and Ted Face Music will have a chance to make its money through streaming services that are offering the film for 20 bucks to rent and 25 bucks to buy. And just like that the pandemic has changed our movie watching experience. Truth be told, I love going to the theater to see a movie, so that’s never gonna stop for me. But wow, it felt weird seeing a movie that was supposed to be released theatrically, right in the comfort of my living room. I wish them nothing but the best, and kudos to the producers for adapting so effectively to these world conditions, right now, it’s an adapt or die world out there.

So the question remains, was Bill and Ted Face the Music worth the wait? Hell yeah it was! This long gestating sequel didn’t dissapoint due the fact that it brought back the creative crew behind the first two films, writers Ed Solomon and Chris Matheson, by the way, try and catch their cameo, they have appeared in cameos in all three films! So, one of the best parts about this sequel is that it has a solid script, it doesn’t fall apart or feel sloppy, everything fits because Solomon and Matheson created Bill and Ted, they know these characters better then we do dude. This is a prime example of a film working because it had that essential blue print called ‘a good script’. The film does have elements and gags from previous films, like going to the afterlife and traveling through time to gather famous people, but it also adds a completely new dimension to the film, namely, Bill and Ted growing old. 

And this is something we see a lot in the film industry today, films pandering to nostalgia. We know it, but hell, we love it. We get to see our favorite movie characters grow old with us. Jay and Silent Bob Reboot and the Star Wars films come to mind. And I get it. Movies from e 80s and 90s where special, they were crazier. Zanier, which equals to a lot of fun. To quote an old man “They just don’t make them like that anymore”. I mean, seriously, try explaining the plot of Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey to someone and you’ll find out just how zany movies in the 80’s and 90’s were. I miss that zaniness in the cinema, which is why I enjoyed how in Bill and Ted’s Face the Music, the people behind it didn’t forget that. They go gonzo with this one once again and I loved it. 


Alex Winter and Keanu Reeves play the characters not missing a step, these guys are Bill and Ted again, they haven’t forgotten how to play these guys. It’s awesome to see them together again. To see them grow as characters, become parents. It was an awesome surprise to see William Sadler returning as Death. Speaking of funny, George Carlin as Rufus (Bill and Ted’s guide from the future in the previous films) was sorely missed, but at least his character is remembered in a cool way. We get interesting new additions to the cast in the form of Kirsten Joy Schaal and Julian Belle, which I love because, hello, let’s start casting actual comedians in comedy films thank you very much. And these girls got the funny bone, they deliver. Then we have Samara Weaving and Brigette Lundy-Paine playing Bill and Ted’s daughters. Some fans got the idea that maybe the movie would be more about the daughters and Bill and Ted would play sort of like a cameo, but no my friends, this movie integrates all characters and Bill and Ted are front and center, this movie is about Bill and Ted! And about their daughters! It’s about who they’d be when they are 50, it’s about achieving our true potential, it’s about family and true love and finally, it’s about uniting humanity in one big song of love, peace and unity and we all could use a little more of that in this crazy world we are currently living in. Movie got me chocked up in the end. Truth be told, I had a smirk on my face through out the whole film. It’s a feel good movie for many reasons. Don’t miss the closing credits were you get to see real Bill and Ted fans playing their air guitars and musical instruments. 

You might think that I got my nostalgia goggles on (and of course I do) but if this movie had sucked, trust me, I would have let you know. I got no problem in saying it like it is with any given movie, even when a film is from a beloved franchise. Terminator Dark Fate (2019) I’m looking at you kid. Bottom line my excellent friends, Bill and Ted Face the Music is a dignified sequel with great effects, awesome production values and Reeves and Winter in top form as Bill and Ted. It didn’t disappoint in the least. Stay all the way to the end of the credits for an extra treat you won’t want to miss. 


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