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The TENET film and Aesthetic Dissonance

Discussion in 'Bad Dog Cafe' started by THX1123, May 2, 2021.

  1. THX1123

    THX1123 Tele-Meister

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    I remember a discussion with a friend, a brilliant research Ph.D. named Mike. He saw a painting on a field trip in high school. It was just an entire canvas painted black. It made him furious. He said it was stupid, it wasn't art. I asked him if he remembered any other pieces of art from that day all those years ago. He couldn't. So, for him, that piece of art was arguably the most impactful and effective work of art he experienced. He stopped seeing it as stupid...because it was him, not the underlying concept and structure of the piece that was perhaps missing the point of what art is, and can be.

    TENET debuted on HBO last night. It isn't perfect, or my new favorite movie, but I quite enjoyed it. I will enjoy subsequent viewings. Creating a cinematic experience based on a palindromic M.C. Escher-type structure and underlying concept is interesting to me.

    I can almost guarantee my best friend Steve will not like TENET. Steve thought Joker was a terrible film. He has little patience for, and little experience with appreciating subversive or novel artistic concepts. His problems with Joker centered on the fact that it didn't meet or resolve any of his preconceptions, much like the all-black painting in the example above. That's fine, he is entitled to his views. We discussed my views on the film, and the ideas below. He didn't budge.

    I also enjoyed the bad reviews on Amazon. I knew while watching this film that it would be polarizing.

    Over in the Amazon review section there are people who do not enjoy being challenged by ideas that are not completely linear and structured to be easily understood and consumed. They also seem compelled to share this with others.

    Not everyone enjoys art that exists outside one's own preconceptions on consuming art itself. That arguably takes experience and work. That kind of experience perhaps requires some reflection, and the ability to embrace the sense of uncertainty and enjoy the experience.

    Or you can call just it stupid and a piece of garbage. There are plenty of Transformers and Fast and Furious and Will Ferrell movies.

    But there's a difference between needing art to conform to your preferences and just calling it bad, no? This is essentially why critical thinking isn't easy, and takes practice, and maybe why many people nowadays are hostile to it. It seems like many modern people seem to believe that critical thinking is either undesirable, or unnecessary, or even somehow bad or threatening.

    Making art that initially creates doubt or confusion as part of the intent and experience isn't pleasant for everyone. This can be hard for some folks, and worse if it never resolves. David Lynch films, for example. Or Matthew Barney's films. The first time hearing My Bloody Valentine's Loveless album. Time running forward and backward at the same time would be very disorienting. Things would be very hard to wrap your head around. TENET often communicates these feelings well.

    I think Beefheart's Trout Mask Replica is brilliant; many people find the lack of familiar structure and melody to be unpleasant and nonsensical. Does this make it "crap" or "bad" or does it mean the listener is unequipped and finds the aesthetic challenges difficult, and therefore unpleasant? The first time I heard TMR I was thoroughly confused and intrigued by the feelings I was experiencing. But I enjoyed that experience of something genuinely unique, new, and subversive. It challenged what I understood about music. The bottom line is that it took ME some effort to appreciate.

    Humans did not get where we are today by relying on the convenience of subjectivity as an all-purpose escape hatch, or excuse, as an actual and viable position in a debate or discussion, let alone as a justification for value judgments. The fact that so many are using the amazing tools we've created to plow headlong in this direction seems like a terrible gift to give to the future. Maybe that's what the people in the future in the TENET universe wanted to obliterate...
     
  2. Torren61

    Torren61 Poster Extraordinaire Gold Supporter

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    Ooooor... it could just be a bad film. Like Joker.
     
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  3. backporchmusic

    backporchmusic Poster Extraordinaire

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    I haven't seen it so I can't say if it's bad or good, but I appreciated your OP and agree with what it was saying.

    The only 'bad' films are the ones that don't achieve what they set out to do. So yes, Citizen Kane is a good film, but so is Ace Ventura Pet Detective, as they both achieve the goals they had and manage to do so with a distinctive style.
     
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  4. 2HBStrat

    2HBStrat Tele-Afflicted

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    I planned to, and tried to, watch Tenet last night but it lost me pretty quickly and I switched over to PBS to watch an episode of Ken Burns' "Baseball."

    I might try again. The concept interested me.
     
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  5. catdaddy

    catdaddy Tele-Afflicted

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    I confess to being more often in the state of mind to watch The Princess Bride than Eraserhead, but I'm glad both exist. Nice dissertation, by the way. Might give Tenet a try as a result.
     
  6. Mad Kiwi

    Mad Kiwi Friend of Leo's

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    Tenet is a great movie. The Joker, not so much. imo.
     
  7. Bryan A

    Bryan A Tele-Meister

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    I agree with your original friend...a canvas painted black isn’t art whether it’s memorable for its infuriating quality or not. Something so easily replicated isn’t art.

    that, I think, is why a lot of people hate Nirvana. They view it as simple music that anybody can play. And yes, my 15 year old daughter decided she wanted to play guitar and within 2 days had already learned 2 Nirvana song. But while it may seem overly simple, the impossible part is to REPLICATE that simplicity while ACHIEVING similar results...75 million albums sold, or millions influenced, etc. that’s the “art” of it. There is no art in painting a canvas black when anybody from a 3 year old to a 103 year old can do it and it will be exactly the same and achieve the exact result or response. So Kurt Cobain...artistic genius. Guy who paints a canvas black... um, not.

    As far as the movie you’re talking about, I have no opinion because I haven’t seen it.
     
  8. Buzzgrowl

    Buzzgrowl Tele-Meister

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    Horrible acting, crappy dialogues and the Russian is the bad guy (again). Casting is crap. All in all, dreadful. The story line is OK (I am a scifi geek), but the story does not make any strong points (moral, philosophical, political, humanist...). Oh yes, it has a car chase (yawn), half of it is backwards - is that supposed to be relatable?

    I loved Following, Memento and Prestige. I liked Inception and Interstellar. Dunkirk? It's a war movie, not my thing. Tenet is not well crafted, unlike his other films, including Dunkirk. Nolan is on the slide, as far as I can tell.

    I have yet to watch Insomnia.
     
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  9. scottser

    scottser Friend of Leo's

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    I saw tenet in the movies. I enjoyed it but felt that I might have missed something. Its the kind of movie you want to go straight back in and watch it again.
     
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  10. tanplastic

    tanplastic Tele-Afflicted

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    Ease of replication has nothing to do with art.
    What is difficult may seem easy to you, what is simple may impress you.
    Art is defined by intention, and a "black" canvas in a gallery (what size, medium, year, artist, movement, etc.?) is obviously intended as art.
     
  11. Phrygian77

    Phrygian77 Friend of Leo's Gold Supporter

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    I assume we're not talking about the 1976 film.

    Just the word "art" made me think "art film." I personally see movies like Brazil or Dead Man as art, but I don't know that you could label them as "art films," not like Eraserhead or Paris, Texas.
     
  12. THX1123

    THX1123 Tele-Meister

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    Whether TENET or Joker are good films or not really isn't the point. Neither is the all-black painting's value, really.

    The point is that an unexamined world view or opinion is a huge weakness. Modern people cover this weakness through immediately becoming hostile. It is easier to attack ideas or other people and other opinions than it is to be self-reflective about why you like what you like, or why you think what you think. Anyone can go online and type abuse. It seems people feel this is an entitlement. Not everyone is capable of critical thinking, or perhaps many are just unwilling to think critically, but just about everyone can type words online and use the magical trap-door statement that "everything is subjective."

    Art provokes reactions. Absolute meaning is optional. Art, like the universe, does not conform to every individual's predisposed ideas about the world, or their desires. If art doesn't resonate with an individual, or it creates some dissonance, or if a person fails to understand the intent or concept, why is the modern knee-jerk reaction that it is "bad?" That's just hubris, a lazy position to start from. Is it because people are compelled to type words online so that they feel some kind of relevance, no matter how poorly reasoned or considered those words are?

    There's a very real distinction between "Like/Dislike" and "Good/Bad." It seems many persons I interact with cannot (or will not) make this distinction. This distinction is pretty important. Basing an opinion or premise on some recursive argument that starts and ends with subjectivity makes every opinion equally meaningless, and discussions futile.

    How can we solve the problems of the future together like that? We send stuff back from the future to destroy the culture that created it LOL





     
  13. Telecaster88

    Telecaster88 Tele-Afflicted

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    I once sat in the Art Institute of Chicago on a bench watching an "all black" Ad Reinhardt painting. As time passed and my eyes grew more sensitive to the nuances of the painting, a cross appeared in it, a black cross on a black background, which completely took me by surprise. And then, as I sat further, the cross dissolved into a pattern of multiple squares in a grid. I wasn't hallucinating, this was the care and craft with which the painting was made. The whole experience nearly brought me to tears, it was so beautiful, and so moving in an inexpressible way beyond words.

    The fact is many people only see the surface details of a piece of art. Many works require patience, some intuition, a willingness to go beyond one's comfort zone. Lots of people are unwilling to make that effort. I was going to say unable, but I don't believe that's true. We all have the ability to push beyond our preconceived limits and prejudices. But it can take work.
     
    Last edited: May 2, 2021
  14. Fendereedo

    Fendereedo Poster Extraordinaire

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    Loved Joker, haven't seen TENET. As for art, it is whatever it means to the individual/s to be honest. Same as music, some play standard tuning on guitar, others find their niche by experimenting with tunings i.e Thurston Moore. There is something for everyone in life's crazy unbalanced world.
     
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  15. maxvintage

    maxvintage Poster Extraordinaire

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    Trailer seems to show the usual sort of shootings, cars crashing, stuff blowing up, dudes hitting each other, with an overlay of time travel stuff that probably won’t make sense as it never does.
     
  16. TokyoPortrait

    TokyoPortrait Friend of Leo's

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    Hi.

    Never heard of Tenet until now. I tend to miss out on stuff a lot.

    Happily, I see it’s on Amazon Prime here.

    I loved that Joker movie, for what it’s worth. First time in ages I felt compelled to think during / after watching something.

    Also for what it’s worth, I’m with the OP on this one.

    Wasn’t a Hotere was it? His weren’t usually totally black though.

    ADA805E0-1896-4C5D-835D-80D07017ACB1.jpeg

    Pax/
    Dean
     
  17. Torren61

    Torren61 Poster Extraordinaire Gold Supporter

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    I did watch Tenet and I thought it was interesting. It was a bit cheesy at some points but it pretty much stayed on course unlike "Joker" which completely lost the plot at the talk show part.
     
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  18. That Cal Webway

    That Cal Webway Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    but Capt. Beefheart copied Howlin Wolf's vocalizations.
    Im perplexed.
     
  19. thesamhill

    thesamhill Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

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    Can't comment on the movies but...

    ... Nope! Retreat into relativism is not slipping the punch, it's tapping out. Be graceful in victory :D
     
  20. thunderbyrd

    thunderbyrd Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    i haven't seen tenet yet, but will soon.

    i am one of those that hated joker and i just figured out why. you take a man who is pretty near down and out, and then you beat him down, and beat him down, and beat him down...the end. he doesn't even get the grace of the fantasy endings of Taxi Driver and King of Comedy.

    i do understand that in art, there must be the painted black canvas. it says something that the human creature must inevitably express at some point. in film art, there must be a film where a near nothing is beaten down and down etc, just as somebody somewhere just has to paint a canvas black.

    neither of these artistic endeavors "do anything" for me. i want to see how a beat-down person can prevail in some way beyond self destruction. and as for painting, i think i much prefer representational art.

    i guess i'm more of a mechanic than i am intellectual when it comes to art. but i do love TMR much - it is not abstract to me.
     
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