This week in Film — TENET and two on TCM

Theaters are open and the long-awaited, multiply delayed Tenet is playing just about everywhere. It’s not a bad film, but in 2020, watching Tenet isn’t about what Tenet is about—or even how Tenet is about what its about—its about watching a movie in a public space. To paraphrase art critic John Berger, To talk only about the aesthetics of a piece of art is to ignore its social context.

Tenet is not relaxing. The world feels pretty chaotic these days. Here, it’s worse. From the opening siege to the climactic battle, with time moving forward and backward simultaneously, Tenet puts its foot on the gas and keeps it there. There are some meandering jet-setting moments, but the tension never lets up. It’s like a James Bond movie, without the silly parts, or a Batman movie sans brooding. The villain is a Russian arms dealer (Kenneth Branagh) who subscribes to the adage: If I can’t have you, no one can. A sentiment he extends to both his wife (Elizabeth Debicki) and the world. His plan for enforcing both is ridiculously complicated and childishly simple.

Boulder Weekly Vol. 28, No. 4, “You can’t always get what you want.”

And for those who aren’t yet ready to head out to the theaters, TCM continues its stellar 14-week Women Make Film series this Tuesday with two not to miss: Zero Motivation, from Israeli filmmaker Talya Lavie, and a nearly lost classic from the ’80s U.S. independent scene, Kathleen Collins’ Losing Ground:

Zero Motivation is Lavie’s debut feature. Even though it isn’t specifically about gender roles in the Israeli Army, she manages to emphasize it by photographing the male soldiers with their semi-automatic rifles slung around their bodies like dormant phalluses. The girls only get staple guns. Apparently, there isn’t much difference between a desert army base and a suburban office building.
Much like Daffi, Losing Ground’s Sara (Seret Scott), a black middle-class philosophy professor, is looking for something a little more ecstatic than what’s she got. Her husband, Victor (Bill Gunn), is a painter — not to mention a philanderer — who wants to relocate to a summerhouse for the season. Sara reluctantly goes with him and finds emotional experiences well beyond the logic of her profession.

Home viewing: ‘Zero Motivation’ and ‘Losing Ground’