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Christopher Nolan's Tenet - Espionage Movie


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There's a comment I liked on the Guardian article about this: 

 

Quote

I have worked as a sound recordist and also a dubbing mixer for much of my working life on both television dramas and film, so I do have some experience of how this can happen and how it can be avoided.

It’s not a technical problem, it’s a people problem. Essentially the director is overly familiar with the dialogue. They have worked on the script for months, rehearsed extensively and shot multiple takes. They have heard every line hundreds of times and can pick out the words even if they are indistinct. If a sound mixer points out that the dialogue is not sufficiently clear, either because it was mumbled or because clear pickup was not possible, the director invariably asks to hear a replay and is likely to insist that they heard every word.

Similarly in post production, everybody involved would have read the script and heard every line dozens of times. They too are totally familiar with the dialogue and will be able to make out the words even when they are being obscured by music or sound effects.

I would expect the sound department both on location and in post production to alert the director when dialogue is in sufficiently clear. If they don’t, then they have to accept the responsibility. On the other hand, if they point out problems and the director disregards them, then it’s down to the director.

The viewer does not have the benefit of the script, nor have they heard the rehearsals and previous takes. They only get the one opportunity to hear those words, in real time and have to do so even if other sounds are fighting for attention.

When I mixed the completed sound track, I generally erred on the side of preserving the clarity of the dialogue, but often had to fight my corner when working with a director who had different priorities. There was frequently some sort of compromise, but not too much of a compromise.

Some people try to blame deteriorating hearing or modern television sets/cinemas, but if an old movie is screened and heard to be satisfactory, the explanation has to lie elsewhere.

In some cases budget constraints pressurise directors to rush on location and then sort any problems out in post production. In other cases a director might be somewhat inexperienced or not very sympathetic towards the needs of the sound dept, but whatever the real reason, it remains a people problem, not a technical problem.

 

https://www.theguardian.com/film/2020/sep/03/tenet-dialogue-christopher-nolan-sound-technology#comment-143448743

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27 minutes ago, Moz said:

Weird thing is, a colleague of mine watched a shitty rip (around a gigabyte) last night on laptop speakers and had no problem. There's something off with the dynamic range which might actually be exacerbated by having a sub.

 

Yeah that's interesting, I watched a 4gb 1080p rip too and I didn't have any noticeable issues except that one moment I mentioned. I'm going to buy it when it comes out on Prime, will be interesting to see if that's a different story.

 

And yeah the soundtrack is great. The 747 tune is fucking wicked, proper goosebumps when the brass comes in.

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On 07/12/2020 at 19:18, IcEBuRN said:

Nolan does the sound shit on purpose doesn't he. Just like interstellar. Some of the dialogue is supposed to be difficult to hear, as there's loud shit going on, like it would in real life. Unless there's some specific error in Tenet?

 

Yes, he does. And just like in real life it's a pain in the fucking hole.

 

The stupidest shit I've ever heard in my life is this absolute cuntery.

 

There's no fucking light half the time in the real world, so why bother use lighting Nolan you dipshit? Or why not have the characters and audience blinded in winter sun scenes? It's realistic, after all.

 

Smacks of a man trying to find a 'thing'.

 

Maybe he should practice directing action that makes fucking sense instead.

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On 07/12/2020 at 15:02, Moz said:

 

NAILED IT.

 

Animation suffers a little from this too, as animators see what they're working on so much that they can't help but add detail but it affects the clarity of the shot and every shot ends up with just too much shit going on.

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1 hour ago, Festoon said:

 

NAILED IT.

 

Animation suffers a little from this too, as animators see what they're working on so much that they can't help but add detail but it affects the clarity of the shot and every shot ends up with just too much shit going on.

Nah. That imples  it's more of an accident. Nolan does because of his vision! He is very much aware. 

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The audio was a legitimate problem at the cinema, I probably missed at least a quarter of the dialogue. Creative choice fair enough but not in a plot that is so complex. I went to watch it a second time and caught a lot of the bits I'd missed but there were still bits I couldn't understand. It didn't ruin the film for me but it did make it even harder to understand than it already is. I did get more out of the plot on the second viewing but I wouldn't say it's essential, it was just nice to understand some of it better and also go in with the foresight of what's going to happen to pay attention to smaller details.

 

I love the film though, the central conceit is so cool, the visuals are amazing and I had a bunch of goosebump moments, Nolan and co are so good at that (massive spoilers):

Spoiler

 

- When they go into the airport room with the bullet holes and you realise along with the characters that some crazy fight is about to happen.

- When the protag is fighting himself for the first time and his opponent is acting so inhuman, scrabbling on the floor, its so cool and kind of scary

- My favourite moment that really gave me chills, the moments I love cinema for; when they're on the highway just after the heist and you know it was all too easy, then you see the car going backwards up ahead, the music starts kicking in and you know shit is going to kick off big time!

 

 

I think the critisms are valid, the plot is a bit of a mess, the characters don't get any time to shine apart from Branagah, *that* audio mix, the finale is weaker than the earlier action scenes and its confusing in general. But as a cinema spectacle its awesome and its so creative from an ideas and visuals point of view. Not my favourite Nolan film (that's tied between Dark Knight, Inception and Memento) but comes close.

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Regarding the finale:

 

Spoiler

I think it would have worked much better if it had been on a smaller scale, with two smaller groups assaulting a skyscraper or some sort of warehouse-sized facility. The time-pincer attack is a great idea, but it was a waste to spend it on hundreds of indistinct soldiers running around what looked like a gigantic paintball arena.

 

I really like the time travel concept in the film though. I loved the moment when you realise that the bullet is travelling backwards through time even as it's just sat on the table in front of them.

 

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I literally didn't understand the finale. Didn't know why they were there, crucially by that point didn't care why they were there, didn't understand what was happening or how most of the backwards stuff was effecting what our characters were actually doing. The film just left me completely cold and I would put Dunkirk at the BFI Imax as probably my top cinema experience ever. Dunkirk felt like it was supposed to be confusing, that action was supposed to be all over the place and that we shouldn't get too long with any of the soldier characters because it was making a point about the nature of war. This felt more like it had many of the same attributes but to make a point about how clever Christopher Nolan is.

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This left me absolutely cold. I got the central gimmick just fine, if anything I'd like to shave seen go crazier with it. To describe the characters as one dimensional would be giving them too much credit. The main bloke could have been replaced with a ball on a stick for most of his scenes and don't get me started on the female lead who was the worst example of giving someone an object they care about in lieu of any actual characterisation I've seen. In fairness the Force Ghost of young Marlon Brando would struggle to breath much life into most of the scenes in this, fair play Robert Pattinson tries his best with what little he's given. I thought the finale was utterly inept from an action filmmaking perspective, it was all the bad things about the awful snowy mountain section of Inception amped up to 11.

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I watched this and quite enjoyed it, I think expecting it to have revived movie theaters was foolish - I think it would have a disappointing box office even in a regular year - it's a nerdy as fuck blockbuster that clearly tries to meet a general audience halfway with all of the glamorous spy stuff in the first couple of acts, but there's a reason 'blockbuster' is usually synonymous with 'dumb', whereas this requires you to comprehend some pretty cerebral stuff (I also lost track of what was happening in the finale).

 

It's very Nolan of course, the minimal use of digital effects, the dry sexless presentation, the grand ideas that have implications beyond the running time of the film itself. It reminds me of Death Stranding a bit, both absolute passion projects that ask a lot of their audience, but caught a bit of backlash for their unconventionality, and are secretly rather good, if uneven.

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I really can't fathom how anyone thinks this is a complicated film ?  The moment Paterson tells the protagonist what drink he likes its all obvious isn't it !

 

He's going forward, he's River Song going backwards and Kenneth is a nutty Russian.  We get to the end and he's off to keep some promises. 

 

I really didn't struggle with the plot, and to me the sound was perfect, i don't need to hear the fluff, I want the key information. If i missed a lines it's because it wasn't important. 

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On 07/12/2020 at 15:02, Moz said:

 

 

This happens with the picture as well. It's a particular nightmare if they've cut the film in log and become attached to the offline 'look'.

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1 hour ago, CarloOos said:

 

 

This happens with the picture as well. It's a particular nightmare if they've cut the film in log and become attached to the offline 'look'.

Dude. That link is literally about 6 posts up:lol:

 

Anyway, I watched it again in 4k today (paying attention this time!) and about 79 minutes of it was filmed in imax, and those parts look incredible, as they do in his other films. 

 

I had zero trouble hearing any of the speach. Apart from literally a couple of lines that were almost drowned out, when R Patz was being shown the storage facility. 

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I'm struggling less with the film and more whether the positive responses are in reaction to the idea or its execution. The set pieces chosen to exhibit characters going forwards/backwards (as I'll describe it) are rubbish, however much Nolan tries his best to excite. There's a much much better film that has 3 action sequences far more gripping than what we got; our leads having slow corridor fights, a car flipping over backwards, and paintball call of duty mixed with that middle action scene in The World Is Not Enough. 

 

I didn't find mystery in the film, I wasn't enthralled to find out what will happen next. Nolan doesn't do mystery well at all, not that he's trying, but it might work better with his approach to plot. David Lynch doesn't have characters cropping up every 15 minutes to explain things, he works on moods. Nolan is too literal for that. His films lack flavour and often personality, the characters mere ciphers. Unless you're in awe of the headfuck there's not that much to take away. There aren't many outstanding individual scenes. 

 

The plane crashing was probably the most expensive lamest stunt ever filmed. I agree the music is pulsating throughout, but it's wasted on action I didn't find thrilling, characters I wasn't invested in, situations with no jeopardy or suspense. 

 

Kenneth Branagh was laughable, the character, the accent, John David Washington's apparent desire to save Kat not remotely believable. I find the whole concept of the film an extremely hard sell*. Russian oligarch, plutonium, algorithm, bad guy with terminal cancer wanting to end the world with his death of course he does. It's just terrible. It doesn't evoke anything. It's not grounded in anything real. 

 

*Not in a marketing to a mainstream audience sense because the marvel films have proved you can throw nonsense at people and they won't care as long as it's wrapped well. 

 

I watched Doctor Sleep recently and it got me thinking about how no big modern directors known for working in various genres over a decade or two suddenly do a horror film like Kubrick did, because the polarising reactions to The Shining beyond just 'he seemed crazy at the beginning' continue to this day. 'It's a b movie!' isn't something i considered before. The symmetry and chilling horror elevate it perhaps. That's my memory of it, not telepathy and special individuals being able to 'shine' as Doctor Sleep focusses on.

 

Kubrick instinctively knew the enduring power of iconography in cinema. I'm not his biggest fan or anything. Que 'oh Nolan isn't Kubrick who knew'. I just mean big ships on oceans shown backwards with brooding music isn't captivating cinema, and Nolan insisting in the end of the world vibe just did not work at all for me. 

 

I thought the trailer was more average tv show than cinema and the film didn't disprove that. I didn't find the sound any worse than other films but I watch everything with subtitles anyway. If I don't read dialogue I can't digest it. I get too distracted by the visuals or just daydream too easily. 

 

I try to rate every film based on it being as good as it can be in terms of its premise. There's a much better film that could have been made with the budget, cast and 2 hours 30 minutes run time. 

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14 minutes ago, Steve McQueef said:

It was the same with Inception, which tells you everything you need to know. 

 

I'm not saying that people are dumb as fuck... but, people really are dumb as fuck. 

A majority of the audience struggled with it. Not in a cerebral "I don't get the concepts they're going for here" but in a basic I don't know why what is happening is happening. If you can sit there and honestly say you knew exactly why the main character was where he was and what he was actually doing in that finale at the first time of asking then well done you, but all I got for pretty much the entire movie was;

 

EXT. ROAD - DAY

Two characters are in a car wearing masks that cover their faces. LOUD THINGS ARE HAPPENING EVERYWHERE. 

 

Protagonist: "mpphmpphmhhmhmpphhmm"

Twilight: "mmphhmm backwards mmpphm"

Protagonist: "TIME. TIME MPPHMMHM!"

A car does a sort of backwards flip. It's... okay? It's just a car doing it on a road and it sort of brings to mind that brilliantly lit enormous truck flip from The Dark Knight but here it's just normal car on a normal day doing it at a slightly weird angle because it's backwards. 

Cut to John David Washington looking shocked, but not too shocked because he's a cool James Bond guy. This is why we can't have people explain too much to him because he has to seem cool and on top of things throughout like James Bond does.

 

Protagonist: "What's happening?"
Cedric Diggory: "Mppphm mpphm time going mpphm we have to mpph forwards now!"

 

The car does the flip forwards which is like before but even less impressive for obvious reasons. 

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16 hours ago, Loik V credern said:

 

 

I try to rate every film based on it being as good as it can be in terms of its premise. There's a much better film that could have been made with the budget, cast and 2 hours 30 minutes run time. 


I’m curious about this bit. Surely judging every film this way just leads to constant disappointment? Nothing ever lives up to its full potential. It sounds like a case of over thinking things instead of enjoying what is there in front of you. 

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Tried watching this the other night but only lasted 15-20mins, mainly because it was hard to hear what people were saying. Will try and download another copy again later and give it another go but I wasn't enjoying those 15-20mins that I was watching. Seemed pretty generic, tired and flat.

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My m8 watched a 700MB DivX on his phone on the tube and had no problem hearing the dialogue so ur wrong m8.

 

But genuinely, part of the problem with the dialogue is that it doesn’t allow any time for it to sink in before it moves on to some other crucial part of the plot that you’ll probably miss.

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12 hours ago, Eric86 said:

I don't know, are you? When is it out to rent anyway?

 

No idea, just checking online at the different versions across platforms.

Only Google Play, Apple & Rakuten have the 4K version & Google are the cheapest at £12.99

 

I'll wait got enough on my watchlists to still enjoy.

 

 

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