Tenet

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Warner;
Action;
Box Office $57.9 million;
$28.98 DVD, $35.99 Blu-ray, $44.95 UHD BD;
Rated ‘PG-13’ for intense sequences of violence and action, some suggestive references and brief strong language.
Stars John David Washington, Robert Pattinson, Elizabeth Debicki, Dimple Kapadia, Martin Donovan, Clémence Poésy, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Michael Caine, Kenneth Branagh.

Christopher Nolan’s films often employ time-shifting narrative techniques that challenge the viewer to pay attention in order to be rewarded with a compelling entertainment experience.

With Tenet, is it possible that Nolan has crafted such a bizarre premise that even his smartest fans will have trouble wrapping their heads around it?

If there were a movie or TV show in which the characters were watching a “Christopher Nolan-style” movie, and then the makers of that program had to create a fake film to both represent and satirize a Nolan movie, something like Tenet is probably what they would come up with.

The story involves a CIA agent (John David Washington) who finds himself caught up with a super-secret organization on a mission to stop World War III from being started by enemies from the future who are able to invert the entropy of objects so that the travel backwards in time. The main enemy in the present is a Russian oligarch (Kenneth Branagh) who wants to assemble a device that will wipe out time itself, causing a paradox.

A common trait to Nolan’s films is how much they seem to be meta-commentaries on the art of filmmaking, and Tenet is no exception. In addition to the editing techniques that alter the flow of time much like the way a viewer can jump around a movie using a home video player, Washington’s character is referred to only as “The Protagonist,” a word that literally the word that means the main character of a story.

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At its simplest level, the film could be described as a time travel spy thriller, but that does little to convey just what a viewer is in for. Characters fight other characters who move backwards through the scene, then discover inversion machines that allow them to revisit earlier scenes, forcing characters in two different time frames to interact with each other, culminating in one of the most cinematically engaging, if utterly nonsensical, battles one is likely to witness.

Unlike Nolan’s earlier movies, such as Memento, Inception or Interstellar, where the time-shifting techniques have a certain logic to them, the exposition in Tenet would seem to defy all sense of rationality, yet they still work within the confines of the story as long as one doesn’t think about it too hard.

When a scientist character in the film trying to explain inverted time tells the hero, “Don’t try to understand it … just feel it,” she’s basically giving instructions to the audience, too.

And that’s pretty much the only way a viewer can make sense of what’s going on — by not trying to. Just enjoy the film in the moment, accept the notion that the characters have a handle on it, and take it in as an expression of pure cinema.

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There have been some grumblings about the sound mix favoring background noise and music to the point of making the dialogue hard to hear, and requiring subtitles, but I was able to make out what the characters were saying just fine. Perhaps it’s just a factor of getting used to it after multiple viewings.

The Blu-ray includes a comprehensive, multi-part behind-the-scenes documentary that runs about an hour and 15 minutes and covers the production from Nolan’s conception of it, to casting it, to crafting the action scenes, to post-production, editing and music. Viewers who’ve just watched the film and are still trying to make sense of it can take some satisfaction in seeing the stunt coordinator breaking his brain trying to conceive of how to depict a fight between two characters moving in opposite directions through time, and know they aren’t alone.

‘Tenet’ Arrives on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, DVD; Other New Home Releases Include ‘War With Grandpa,’ ‘Echo Boomers,’ ‘Infidel’

Warner Bros.’ Tenet, the closest thing to a theatrical blockbuster  since the start of the coronavirus pandemic in March, becomes available on Blu-ray Disc, 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray and DVD Dec. 15.

Despite the raging virus, the film was released theatrically over the Labor Day weekend and wound up generating around $50 million in domestic ticket sales, a far cry from what had been expected for the high-profile  espionage thriller from The Dark Knight director Christopher Nolan.

Also newly available for home viewing is the Universal Pictures comedy The War With Grandpa, starring Robert De Niro, which becomes available Dec. 15 through digital retailers such as FandangoNow, Redbox On Demand, Google Play and Microsoft a week ahead of its Dec. 22 disc debut.

Tenet stars John David Washington as a secret agent, known as “the Protagonist,” who manipulates the flow of time to stop a third World War. The film’s international ensemble cast also includes Robert Pattinson, Elizabeth Debicki, Dimple Kapadia, and Martin Donovan, with Michael Caine and Kenneth Branagh.

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The War With Grandpa stars De Niro as a grandfather who tangles with his grandson over rights to the young boy’s room after he moves in with his family. The film also was released theatrically amid widespread closures and restrictions and pulled in around $18 million in the United States and Canada.

The week’s slate of new home releases also includes Warner’s The Wolf of Snow Hollow, on DVD and Blu-ray Disc (with digital code); Paramount’s Echo Boomers (DVD + digital); and Universal Pictures’ Infidel (DVD and Blu-ray Disc).

Written and directed by, and starring, Jim Cummings, The Wolf of Snow Hollow is a reimagining of the werewolf legend about a small-town sheriff who, while struggling with family problems and a lackluster department, is tasked with solving a series of brutal murders that are occurring on the full moon. The cast also includes Riki Lindhome, Jimmy Tatro, Marshall Allman, Chloe East, Annie Hamilton and the late Robert Forster in one of his final roles. The Blu-ray and DVD include the featurette “The Story and the Genre.” The Blu-ray also has the featurettes “The Impetus,” “Working With Jim Cummings” and “The Design of the Werewolf.”

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Echo Boomers is a crime thriller about a recent college graduate (Patrick Schwarzenegger) who leaves school in debt and is pulled into a criminal underground operation with a group of modern-day Robin Hoods who steal from the rich and give to themselves.

Infidel is a thriller about an American journalist (Doug Rawlins) who is kidnapped while attending a religious conference in the Middle East and held hostage by the Iranian regime, which accuses him of espionage. His wife (Claudia Karvan) takes matters into her own hands and tries to find her husband and bring him back home.

‘Tenet’ to Debut on Digital and Disc — Including 4K — Dec. 15

Christopher Nolan’s Tenet will arrive on 4K, Blu-ray, DVD and digital Dec. 15 from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment.

Written, directed and produced by Nolan (Inception, Dunkirk), Tenet opened globally in August 2020 and has grossed $350 million to date, with anticipated theatrical openings in the major markets of New York and Los Angeles still to come. Tenet will be available to preorder from digital and physical retailers beginning Nov. 10.

In the film, armed with only one word — Tenet — and fighting for the survival of the entire world, the Protagonist (John David Washington) journeys through a twilight world of international espionage on a mission that will unfold in something beyond real time — not time travel, inversion.

Tenet features an international ensemble cast led by Washington (BlacKkKlansman, TV’s “Ballers”). The film also stars Robert Pattinson (the “Twilight” films, The Lighthouse, upcoming The Batman), Elizabeth Debicki (Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, The Great Gatsby), Dimple Kapadia (Angrezi Medium), Martin Donovan (Ant-Man, Fahrenheit 451), Fiona Dourif (Cult of Chucky), Yuri Kolokolnikov (The Hitman’s Bodyguard), Himesh Patel (Yesterday), Clémence Poésy (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows), Aaron Taylor-Johnson (The Avengers: Age of Ultron), with Michael Caine (Inception, The Cider House Rules, The Dark Knight) and Kenneth Branagh (Dunkirk, Murder on the Orient Express).

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Extras include“Looking at the World in a New Way: The Making of Tenet,” an hour-long exploration of the development and production of the film as told by the cast and crew.

‘The Lighthouse’ Comes Ashore on Digital Dec. 20, Disc Jan. 7

The Lighthouse arrives on digital Dec. 20  and on demand, Blu-ray (plus digital) and DVD Jan. 7 from Lionsgate.

Directed by Robert Eggers (The Witch), The Lighthouse stars Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson in a hallucinatory tale of two lighthouse keepers on a remote and mysterious New England island in the 1890s. As an approaching storm threatens to sweep them from the rock and strange apparitions emerge from the fog, each man begins to suspect that the other has become dangerously unmoored.

The film made $10.2 million in domestic theaters.

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Special features include an audio commentary with the co-writer and director Eggers, a making-of featurette, and deleted scenes.

High Life

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Street Date 7/9/19;
Lionsgate;
Sci-Fi;
Box Office $1.23 million;
$19.98 DVD, $24.98 Blu-ray;
Rated ‘R’ for disturbing sexual and violent content including sexual assault, graphic nudity, and for language.
Stars Robert Pattinson, Juliette Binoche, André Benjamin, Mia Goth. 

With a title more evocative of a stoner comedy than a ponderous science-fiction film, the unconventional High Life explores the existential crisis of a spaceship crew on a seemingly hopeless voyage.

Robert Pattinson gives a restrained yet effecting performance as Monte, a man raising a baby alone on a ship in deep space. The rest of the crew has already died during the long voyage.

Through flashbacks, we learn of the ship’s mission. With Earth in the midst of an energy crisis, it recruits a crew of prisoners to journey to a distant black hole in an experiment to harness its power. But with the ship traveling at near the speed of light, hundreds of years will pass on Earth during the mission, meaning the crew will never see their families again.

To ensure obedience, the ship’s computer is programmed to shut down life support every day unless it receives a report detailing a set of required tasks and maintenance has been completed.

The ship’s doctor, Dibs (Juliette Binoche) is obsessed with using artificial insemination to impregnate one of the female crewmembers, but background radiation prevents the fetuses from developing.

With the crew forbidden from engaging in sexual contact with other crewmembers, their primary means of combating ennui is a sex room with an elaborate machine to satiate their desires.

Monte, however, refuses to partake in any sexual activities, a decision that likely explains how he ends up the last crewmember alive.

Over time, we learn how the crew’s numbers dwindle as a result of their desperation and criminal natures, and how Monte ends up with a daughter to give him a modicum of purpose to carry on a seemingly pointless daily routine.

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Director Claire Denis has crafted a film that is visually striking but viscerally unnerving, thanks to a constant sense of dread and discomfort as it explores the baser nature of humanity. The film is practically an ode to bodily fluids of all kinds.

The visual effects seem to stem from a practicality that helps serve the premise. The ship is stark and utilitarian, essentially a giant box in space, a starkly efficient design for what is essentially a prison barge.

In the void of space, High Life finds not the profundity of 2001: A Space Odyssey or the optimism of Interstellar, but a sense of resignation to the inevitable. And in doing so, it redirects its basic questions about the nature of existence back upon the audience.

The Blu-ray includes two decent featurettes that run about a half-hour in total.

The 19-minute “Audacious, Passionate, and Dangerous: Making High Life” is a general behind-the-scenes piece about the production, featuring interviews with the cast and filmmakers discussing the project and their interpretations of it.

The 11-minute “Visualizing the Abyss: The Look of High Life” deals more with the design of the spaceship and the sets, and depicting the science of flying at lightspeed toward a black hole.

‘Twilight’ Coming on 4K Ultra HD From Lionsgate

To celebrate the 10th anniversary of Twilight’s theatrical debut, Lionsgate’s Summit Entertainment will  release the film on 4K Ultra HD Combo Pack (plus Blu-ray and digital) and all five of “The Twilight Saga” films on Blu-ray Combo Pack (two Blu-rays, one DVD, plus digital) and digital 4K Ultra HD on Oct. 23.

Fathom Events will also celebrate the anniversary with a two-day movie event on Oct. 21 and 23 on approximately 450 screens nationwide. Fathom will give away mini-posters (while supplies last) to fans and will treat them to an introduction from director Catherine Hardwicke and an exclusive sneak peek of a brand-new special feature.

Based on the book series by Stephenie Meyer, Twilight stars Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart as the star-crossed lovers Edward and Bella alongside Taylor Lautner, Anna Kendrick, Billy Burke, Peter Facinelli, Nikki Reed, Jackson Rathbone and Kellan Lutz.  Bella Swan (Stewart) doesn’t expect much when she moves to the small town of Forks, until she meets the mysterious and handsome Edward Cullen (Pattinson) — a boy who’s hiding a dark secret: he’s a vampire.

The Twilight 4K Ultra HD Combo Pack ($22.99) includes hours of special features and a new, never-before-seen featurette, “Twilight Tour…10 Years Later,” which follows director Hardwick and actor Rathbone through memorable sets from the film.

The 4K releases include Dolby Vision HDR and Dolby Atmos audio.

All five of the Blu-ray Combo Packs ($14.99 each) feature new box art designs from renowned illustrator Justin Erikson. The combo packs include special features such as deleted scenes, character featurettes, cast interviews, and music videos. TwilightNew MoonEclipse, and Breaking Dawn – Part 1 also include both the theatrical and the extended versions of the film.