Film review: Tenet

Hey everyone, it’s been a minute or 5 months since we had more than a handful of new films to talk about. I sure as hell wasn’t paying $25 for Bill and Ted 3, King of Staten Island, or the Mulan reboot. But thankfully, on 9/4, theaters in NJ reopened and I made sure I was at the earliest possible showing of Tenet so as to avoid large crowds of people that talk amongst themselves or spread contagion.

This was one of the films I had circled as Nolan ALWAYS gets my $15 but as we’ve said on http://www.guttingthesacredcow.com podcast (And for god sakes, go to the website to buy a shirt, bag, hat, etc as well as follow our articles every M-F. Shame on you if you’re missing out on the best movie podcast out there. And Kevin Israel and I have guested on enough to know we’re better than all of them.) that we were both worried about Tenet from the trailer.  Hell, even the actors in the film didn’t understand the story.  https://screenrant.com/tenet-movie-plot-time-travel-inversion-confused-actors/

I mean, that can’t be good but hell, that’s not stopping me.  And even Nolan’s last 3 films (we’ve done Interstellar and Inception on the podcast, make sure you give them a listen!) were beautifully shot but man, those story lines missed the mark.  So even with all the odds stacked against it, I anxiously awaited this along with the opportunities to eat overpriced pretzel bites with synthetic nacho cheese in a semi-reclining chair.  So what did I think?

So what is Tenet?  It’s a combination of time-reversal and inversion.  It’s kinda sorta like the Matrix where you can manipulate physics.  But unlike the Matrix, I can’t fully explain how Tenet works.  John David Washington (Denzel’s kid and boy, does he have the same voice as his old man) plays, “The Protagnosist” who passes a test to be recruited for the Tenet organization.  He needs to meet up with an arms dealer and is escorted by Robert Pattinson, without diamonds in his face for a change, to Mumbai.  Then they need to break into a holding area for an artwork at the Oslo airport but hell, let’s use an airplane crashing into said area as a diversion.  Huh?  Why?  

And then, this story becomes even more convoluted than Interstellar and Inception combined.  Then the Protagonist and Edward the vampire goes after Russian arms dealer because he found as a teenager in Russia a missing plutonium case placed back in time by the Tenet organization to create an algorithm to destroy the world? Yeah, that was a run on sentence as this whole plot is a complex, run-on MESS.  You know what else they don’t have in this film?  Character development.  Insanely little backstory regarding their arcs so you feel nothing for them or care about them in the least.  

 I’ve never walked out of a theater with more questions in my history as a film fan.  I must’ve said to myself, “huh, what, why” in that order at least 10 times throughout this film.  Nolan went ABOVE and BEYOND testing my patience with all of these subplots, backstory, and choices he made.  I’m not going to list all the questions I had because if you see this, you’ll have the same ones I did.  I think I’m a reasonably smart guy but I was lost from the end of the first act onward.  I picked up a few things here and there but the majority of this film, I spent trying to piece together the answers.  I suppose if I see this again, I’ll have a better understanding.  But EVEN with all of the answers, I highly doubt the payoff is worth it.  I looked at my watch at least 5 times through this 2.5 hour affair.  At least Inception and Interstellar had some very cool effects/scenes whereas this one doesn’t.  We’ve seen time reversal in Dr. Strange.  And notably absent from this film is Hans Zimmer as Zimmer chose to score the Dune reboot instead of this.  Not saying that Zimmer’s score would’ve saved this debacle by any stretch.  I promise you that the people who say they love this didn’t understand the process but want to seem intelligent to others by liking it.

I absolutely hated this film and wish my return to the theater would’ve been more enjoyable but hey, even Babe Ruth didn’t bath 1.000.  Let’s cross our fingers that the new Bond meets expectations.

I give this a 3/10, major disappointment and easily Nolan’s worst film to date.   Here’s hoping he breaks his 4 game losing streak with his next project.

Film Review: John Wick 3 Parabellum

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Everyone’s favorite unemotional, ass kicker, Keanu Reeves, is back.  Let’s face it, Keanu Reeves is like staring at your 4th cousin’s hot ass, a guilty pleasure.  And we all know he’s limited in his acting range.  But expecting more out of him is like complaining that Greyhound buses are filled with people who think cruise ships or Jimmy Buffet resorts are high end vacations.  You know what you’re getting into.  And I’m fully on board the USS Johnny Utah.  The Matrix.  Point Break.  And more recently, the John Wick series.  I didn’t see the first film until it went on video after many people saw it and said it’s not a dopey B film.  It was a new type of action film: continuous shooting with no edits during action scenes.  It also introduced us to a new term, gun-fu.  Gun-fu is defined as close quarters martial arts fights using guns instead of traditional weapons.  These films have also ushered in innovative ways of taking out bad guys, including using a pencil as a weapon.  In this latest edition, he uses a large book to take a bad guy in the library.  The only thing missing as he bashed his head in with the novel is a pithy sign off line like, “Reading is fundamental, BITCH!”  Again, this isn’t the Godfather but it sure as hell entertaining.

The film opens up moments after the 2nd film, where Winston (Ian McShane) has declared him ex-communcado.  Wick is racing against the clock before the hour he has been given by Winston is up and that’s when the contract on Wick’s life begins.  In the first 5 minutes, there is a spectacular knife fight in Chinatown.  And that’s why these films are great; they make no bones about these being high octane films with a surprising, above average plots.  Besides the hit men out for John Wick; the High Table has sent out the Adjudicator, (Asia Kate Dillon).  She is not happy with those who have provided Wick help, (the Bowery King (Laurence Fishburne) and Winston) when he broke the rules at the end of John Wick 2.  Which is  So Wick has to deal with assassins and the Adjudicator’s hit squad of sushi chefs who are also a vicious ninja hit squad.  Yep, imaginations must have run wild in the writer’s room.  But not as wild as Bill DeBlasio thinking he has a shot to win the Democratic presidential nomination.  HAHAHAHAHH  Sorry, I had to wipe tears of laughter from my eyes.

Wick uses his last ace in his sleeve when he visits Anjelica Huston at her school of ballerinas/assassins to get him out of the country and to Casablanca.  That’s where we meet Sofia (Halle Berry) and her 2 killer dogs.  BTW, let’s acknowledge that Halle Berry looks AMAZING at 50+ and she shows off her fighting chops quite nicely.  This film is just a treasure trove of fantastic action sequences: Wick chased on a bike by katana carrying bikers, Wick being chased while on a horse by attackers, and the final gunfight just to name a few.  And let’s not fail to mention Zero (Mark Dascascos), the leader of the aforementioned Adjudicator’s hit squad.  His fan boy crush on Wick while giving the fights of his life.  He brings a whole new class of “villain” that’s well received.  And the final battle between the two is fantastic, especially the way the scene was shot and lit.  It really makes one appreciate how filmmaking can continue to ascend; even in a wham-bam ass kicking film that’s more than a guilty pleasure.  If you like the first 2 JW films, there’s no doubt you’ll love the 3rd.  And yes, he even sneaks in a direct line from the Matrix.  This fan-boy had a big ‘ol smile on his face when that happened.

John Wick: Parabellum is an 8/10.

Films that need to be removed from AFI’s top film list and films that should be added.

So here are the films I think that should be removed on the AFI top 100. I’ve seen 54/100. Either they’re not good or don’t hold up. The link to the list I’m referring to is in the comments.

Keep in mind that some of these films may be very good, just not amazing in my eyes. Some just don’t hold the test of time. And just because some of them have social issues doesn’t mean they’re great. Also, you may have enjoyed some as a child/teenager and it doesn’t mean you still have to hold it in high regard now. Lastly, I’ll define something as great if you have seen the film at LEAST 3 times and/or own it.

Here are the ones that should be removed:
1. Casablanca-solid but doesn’t hold up.
3. Citizen Kane- see above.
8. Schindler’s List- It’s very good but c’mon, you’re not re-watching this film. 
15. 2001-Hated it. Never saw this on drugs and if you need to be high to see this, it’s not good.
17. The Graduate-Good but again, do any of you own it or have seen this multiple times?
31. Maltese Falcon-solid but does it hold up? No.
34. Snow White-definitely doesn’t hold up. Not in my Disney top 20 and this has nothing to do with the animation.
35. Annie Hall-I know I’m in the minority but I hate this film. Just not funny whatsoever.
36. Bridge over the River Kwai- Good but not top 100
39. Dr Strangelove-Ambien, Aziz Ansari, or this. You decide.
42. Bonnie and Clyde-Mediocre at best.
50. Lord of the Rings-enjoyed it but definitely not top 100.
51. West Side Story-nope, nope, and nope.
53. Deer Hunter-it’s fine and I think the Russian roulette scene is what put this film on the list. Otherwise, it’s nothing remarkable.
62. American Grafitti- absolutely boring, couldn’t finish this film. Put Diner in this same category except I finished Diner…begrudgingly.
64. Network-fine but not top 100. Social issue film
68. Unforgiven-very good but not top 100.
70. A Clockwork Orange-Just because it was off the wall for the time doesn’t mean it should remain on the list. It’s fine but not list worthy.
76. Forrest Gump-I’m just bitter that this film beat Shawshank and Pulp Fiction in 94. But this film is also fine, not list worthy.
81. Spartacus-Definitely doesn’t hold up, couldn’t finish during a recent rewatch.
83. Titanic-Get the fuck out of here.
84. Easy Rider-Insanely boring. Great soundtrack but a big collection of nothing. Social issue film.
89. 6th Sense-Please. I called this ending out in the theater when I saw it. You’re not rewatching this except one time after you want to see how he never directly talks to Willis. Overrated.
92. Goodfellas-Just kidding, this film is flawless.
96. Do the Right Thing-Very good but not top 100. Definitely a social issue film.
97. Blade Runner-The Emperor’s New Clothes, I just don’t see it.
100. Ben Hur-Also doesn’t hold up.

 

And now, films I believe should be on the AFI top 100. If you disagree with a selection, don’t be a queef and just say the pick sucks. Offer another film instead of the one.

1. Aladdin-Next to the Pixar films (toy story 1 is currently on the AFI list), this is the best Disney film, ever.
2. Alien/Aliens-I prefer Aliens but fully acknowledge the first was groundbreaking.
3. Back to the Future-Go ahead, find me ONE person that hates this film. Good luck.


4. Good Will Hunting-Won multiple awards and hits a ton of emotional points throughout the film.


5. Heat-First film with DeNiro and Pacino doing scenes together and it doesn’t disappoint. One of the best gun battle scenes in film history.


6. JFK-Plenty of awards and noms. And it also made America restart their curiosity of the JFK conspiracy.


7. LA Confidential-One of the best crime dramas and also scooped up a bunch of awards, including Basinger and screenplay.


8. Naked Gun/Airplane-I prefer Naked Gun ever so slightly and there needs to be comedies on this list. Those films have non stop LOL moments and these films are daily quoted.


9. Terminator 2-one of the few times the sequels is better than the first. Groundbreaking technology at the time and this story is fantastic. Again, find someone who hates this film. And if you don’t get a little teary eyed when he lowers himself into the molten steel, you’re not alive.


10. Usual Suspects-See LA Confidential and one of the best endings I’ve ever seen. Spacey and best screenplay winners


11. Untouchables-Connery wins best supporting in the tale of Al Capone. DeNiro as Capone, brilliant.


12. Bronx Tale-And for those of you that want social issues in films, here you go.


13. The Dark Knight-This film is an 7 by itself, Ledger makes it a 10. Even the biggest anti-superhero people admit this is the one which is the exception.


14. The Matrix-More revolutionary technology and what an insanely original story. This one sure makes you think..


15. Halloween-Best horror film ever that isn’t shock-centric and what a score. I daresay this is better than the Exorcist.


16. Whiplash-I think this the BEST film in the last 10 years. JK Simmons destroys as an asshole jazz teacher and he won for doing so. This script is magnificent and EASILY should’ve beaten Birdman.

Honorable mentions that I could make an argument for but I’m sure would get shot down:

1. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade- my favorite of the trio. And Raiders is on the AFI list so this isn’t a stretch.
2. Glengarry Glen Ross- If you like acting tour de forces, this film is for you. Take the names out of this film and you have a decent script. But Pacino, Lemmon, and obviously Baldwin chew up the scenery and make this fantastic.
3. Commando-Just kidding but goddamn, I love this film and have a huge soft spot for 80s/90s action films with a hint of cheesiness.
4. Die Hard- Find me someone who hates this film. Best Xmas film of all time!

5. Caddyshack- My favorite film and it is one of the most quoted films of all time.  Still holds up and is fucking hilarious.

 

Favorite sports films, let’s hear ’em!

Football – Any Given Sunday. Fuck you, this film is solid.
Basketball – Teen Wolf. I know everyone is supposed to put Hoosiers but I didn’t like it. Hell, I could even put in Space Jam here.
Baseball -Major League or Field of Dreams. Flip a coin
Hockey – Miracle. 2nd place: Goon. Slap Shot is overrated.
Boxing – Rocky 1-3. Cinderella Man is HORRIBLY underrated.
Gaming – Tron Legacy
Racing – Rush. Forgot about this one, good call JA and NC.
Martial Arts – Bloodsport. Any other answer is wrong.
Golf – Caddyshack!!!! Tin Cup is boring, don’t even think about it.
Murderball – Murderball
Professional Wrestling – The Wrestler
Horse Racing – Seabiscuit
Documentaries-King of Kong
Poker-Rounders
Pool-The Hustler and Poolhall Junkies