The whispers began almost immediately and quickly took on a life of its own, burning out of control like some freak brush fire, sending the internet and social media populace (naturally) into a feeding frenzy of indignant rage and head-shaking incredulity. Throughout the globe a million and one Twitter handles exploded in an ocean of criticisms and Facebook, never known for a rational and coolheaded approach to, well, almost anything, seemed to teeter precariously on the verge of a Chernobyl-like meltdown as confused patrons of live streaming, YouTube and Milli Vanilli (no, not really, just thought I’d see if you were paying attention out there and, by the way, just how cool were Rob and Fab anyway?) rose up in a single befuddled chorus and screamed at the heavens, “Why do we have to leave the comforts of our homes and our media devises to see the new trailer for Christopher Nolan’s upcoming blockbuster Tenet?!?”
So what the hell is Tenet and why is its director, Christopher Nolan (Memento, Following, Inception) so secretive about it that he will only show the first teaser trailer in an actual movie theater, eschewing the now very traditional debut on the aforementioned internet?
The teaser trailer for Tenet is currently running ahead of the movie Hobbs & Shaw at select theaters and is director Christopher Nolan’s anxiously awaited follow-up to his 2017 historical drama, Dunkirk. With a run time less than one minute long, the teaser debuts with the image of the remarkable actor John David Washington (Spike Lee’s brilliant BlackKklansman) in a room studying a window shattered by a bullet. A title card then pops up and tells us that it’s “Time for a new protagonist,” before returning to Washington who by now is actually touching the hole in the fractured window pane and then steps towards another nearly identical piece of glass. The key difference between the first and this one? The hole from the bullet appears slightly more pronounced. The old title card appears again, this time to inform us that it’s “time for a new kind of mission.” At this, Time seems to do the La Cucaracha and we get a series of quick cuts which showcases different iterations of the film’s title, Tenet, at one point swiveling like the hands of a grandfather clock. Amidst the surreal nature of this there are a number of quick vignettes that show Washington leading some sort of a military-like team, everyone wearing full face masks. The rollercoaster stops abruptly with a shot of Washington in a sterile room donning an oxygen mask. Looking ahead, he sees a door which slowly opens revealing…Well, what exactly? The teaser lives up to its name by cutting out at the last moment before we can ascertain just what in the world(s) we’re dealing with here. Time travel? Interdimensional shenanigans? Amway or Avon calling?
Tenet features an all-star cast comprised of John David Washington, Robert Pattinson, Michael Caine, Kenneth Branagh, Elizabeth Debicki and Clemence Poesy and is set to invade multiplexes the world over on July 17, 2020.
And that’s about all we rightly know at the moment.
It’s a rarity in this day and age of internet spoilers and endlessly dissected movie trailers with a running time nearly equal to the movies they’re promoting to be covered in such a veil of secrecy with less than a year until public release. And perhaps that is what is vexing the vast contingent of techno-cinephiles the world over about the refusal of Nolan to drop his trailer on the worldwide web. In an age where anything and everything is at our fingertips with just the simple pressing of a button (or keyboard), the fog of mystery which enshrouds Tenet is, well, untenable to an entire generation that has been weaned on cell phones and computers. To those of us whose memories extend further back than our oldest pair of socks however, it’s a curio of a throwback and a reminder of the magic that used to be inherent with almost any theatrical release.
The lack of an actual studio/Nolan sanctioned online trailer for Tenet might have tongues a-wagging and confused Millennials reluctantly putting aside their laptops to venture out to their nearby multiplex to see what all of the commotion is about, but to the old time fans who ply their wares in a nostalgia –rightly or wrongly – for a movie industry that went the way of iPhones and interactive video years ago, the answer to why Christopher Nolan has brought back a little of that old Hollywood charm and joie de vivre it originally made its bones on is simple enough and one Roman Polanski and Robert Towne made a denouement on at the close of their classic film noir, Chinatown way back in 1974: “Forget it Jake. It’s Chinatown.” Amen.
— Grigoriy (@hotgun_rus) August 28, 2019