Here Christopher Nolan was, minding his own business, just trying to get a quick sprint in on the ol’ Peloton cycle when the instructor of his workout class suddenly popped off about how egregiously complicated his film Tenet was.
Nolan told this story on Thursday while accepting the Best Director award from the New York Film Critics Circle for his work on Oppenheimer. With all the Oscar buzz swirling around him, the raging success of his latest film ($954 million at the worldwide box office), and plenty more stories to tell in the coming years, there was no need for Nolan to be self-deprecating as to share this gem of a story. But off he went, as reported by Variety:
“Directors have a complex emotional relationship with critics and criticism… A question we’re always asked is: Do we read reviews? Let’s start with the fact that I’m British. A typical family gathering will involve relatives saying to me, ‘You know, Christopher. You probably shouldn’t open The Guardian today.’
“[…] I was on my Peloton. I’m dying. And the instructor started talking about one of my films and said, ‘Did anyone see this? That’s a couple hours of my life I’ll never get back again!'”
With a hat tip to 404media for the find, we now have access to the raw video footage of this woman roasting the ever-loving hell out of Tenet:
What sparked the rant was a song from the movie’s soundtrack that came on while she was in the middle of giving instructions. Rather than carry on the class like a consummate professional, the instructor went nuclear like the world would have if John David Washington’s “Protagonist” along with Robert Pattinson’s Neil didn’t save the day.
Tenet released theatrically right in the middle of the pandemic, which certainly hurt its box office and general buzz. It was strange to have a movie about an apocalyptic scenario release during the height of COVID. The reviews weren’t as strong as most of Nolan’s work, with many criticizing the obtuse plot. This charismatic Peloton detractor’s take isn’t totally out of left field, nor is it entirely off-base.
It took me until the second viewing to even begin to wrap my head around Tenet. I personally think it’s some of Nolan’s best, most ambitious work. If you’ve seen it more than once and are still hella confused, or saw it only once and didn’t want to revisit it because of how challenging it was to understand, New Rockstars’ Erik Voss kills it in this detailed-but-not-terribly-long-explanation video:
If Nolan ever does a sequel to anything outside of the Batman universe, I’d be most down to see one to Tenet or Interstellar. My guess is those won’t happen. Nolan is too invested in changing it up and telling original stories to engage in any sort of sequel-bait. It’ll probably be another big blockbuster or two from his own imagination before he and/or the James Bond producers cave and he gets the gig to direct a 007 flick.
Whatever he decides to do, Nolan is one of the few directors — maybe him, James Cameron, and Quentin Tarantino? — whose name alone can get butts in seats, no questions asked, for opening weekend at the movie theater. Sucks that Tarantino is about to direct his last movie. At least we get Nolan for much longer!
PS, the Travis Scott song “The Plan” can be heard in the final Tenet trailer. If you haven’t seen the trailer before, or the movie, and you’re now intrigued to do so, all I gotta say is, BUCKLE UP.