The Weird Experience of Seeing Christopher Nolan’s “Tenet”

I saw an early screening of Tenet, the new film written and directed by Christopher Nolan. Once again, Nolan left me on my heels as I had to process the experience of seeing something I would call art in a multiplex.

After years of the milquetoast television-as-blockbuster-as-television fare of the MCU, Dunkirk left me in the same spot. I actually called a friend and said it was weird to experience something that was both a big-budget action movie and something I’d call art.

Regardless of what you think of it once you see it, I can promise you two things: It was made for the big screen and you have to respect the pure dedication to craft that Nolan has. I’m not sure I can be anything but a Christopher Nolan “fanboy,” because every time I see his movies I am filled with a sense of wonder and delight at what magic tricks he’s going to pull off next.

He’s made a career of making a thinking person’s entertainments, exploring big ideas and experimenting with film storytelling while delivering big screen spectacle and action set pieces that raise the bar.

I was once again unsure of how I felt at first, because I had to adjust my thinking. This wasn’t some vapid entry in the endless log of “latest episodes.” This was art.

That wasn’t the weird part.

The weird part was that, before the feature, I saw the trailer for the trailer for Denis Villenueve’s adaptation of Dune. Sure, the visuals were great.

But I was in a theater, watching…a trailer for a trailer.

Denis Villanueve Dune 2020 | kessel korner
I mean, this beautiful shot wasn’t even in the teaser for the trailer, but was in a magazine.

Different Than a Regular Teaser

Mind you, it wasn’t a teaser. Teasers are time-honored at this point. I still remember the teaser for Star Wars: Episode II: Attack of the Clones. It was brief, it had only Vader’s infamous breathing over the images as they faded in and out, and it effectively charged me up for the film. It was about the film. We went a bit before a real trailer dropped for that, but we had the teaser.

This was a teaser that, at one point, said that I should be on the lookout on September 9 for a trailer. At that point, it stops being a teaser for the film and instead becomes a trailer for the trailer.

I’ve made fun of this before – we all have! – when I’ve seen it online. I still remember making fun of the fact that Spectre had a teaser image for a teaser, and then had a trailer. It felt like self-parody.

To be sitting in a movie theater seeing a teaser that was specifically about promoting a trailer…just release it as a teaser, man. This “teaser for a trailer” business is like talking about what you’re going to do for foreplay, to get someone ready for foreplay. It’s a bit of an unnecessary step.

In the End

Can I change it? No. Will it keep me from seeing the movie? No.

Will I comment on how silly and weird it is to see a teaser for a trailer in front of a movie?

Yes.

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