Tenet: Thoughts On Reviewing A  Christopher Nolan Film After Watching A Pirated Copy, Film Companion

When one can push the date of a big film’s release and wait to make maximum profit, here are a filmmaker and a film studio making sure cinema theaters can open up and, hopefully, recover from the humongous loss that the Covid-19 pandemic has brought on. 

I admire Warner Brothers and filmmaker Christopher Nolan for trying to release the film almost worldover, so that people have a reason to watch films again, and the wonderful culture of watching movies in the cinemas can be a tradition we can carry forward. 

When someone is trying hard to do this and keep it alive, here is a channel Tamil Talkies that puts up a review after watching the film illegally via torrent. I don’t know what’s worse — this, or that people are watching the review and actually engaging with it. Maran, who hosts the show, has the audacity to announce that he has seen it via torrent and thinks that reviewing a film seen thus is acceptable. Is this why we are so substandard, creatively? 

Downloading torrents is a part of India’s consumption of foreign films, and there’s nothing that can justify the reason; neither can you avoid it. But putting out a review by just watching a pirated illegal theater-recorded version with probably a very shoddy image and sound, and claiming to have fully gotten the experience of the film and what the filmmaker intended is probably the lowest level one can stoop to. What’s even worse is that a number of people  are sharing this review without an iota of shame. Is this okay? 

We seem to accept everything. If we screw up, it’s okay. If we are taken for a ride, it’s okay. We are so steeped into mediocrity that the best of our worst is good enough. Is there no importance for credibility? Are we as people so shallow? 

Forget the budget, money, profit, ethics, forget all the supposedly irrelevant things to us as consumers; we haven’t invested in it, why the &%$ should we care about whether it makes any money or not? But for a YouTube channel that makes money by reviewing the very films that so many people spend their lives making, shouldn’t respecting the very same art form be even more important than taking advantage and reviewing the film by watching an illegal theatre recorded print, just to make money? 

That’s the thing, we as the audience and, more so, as people are okay with this. We unfortunately need such low-level content to get through our morose lives. Why do we care about what it means to respect people who have spent a lifetime making the film. After all, we never asked them to.

Is it asking too much to show a little respect to the art form of watching movies, the way the filmmakers intended it to be seen? Take Tenet. Why would a filmmaker and a studio shoot sequences in IMAX? That it isn’t a gimmick is  pretty clear, considering what Christopher Nolan has put on celluloid in all his previous films. I understand people who watch cinema as a banal activity, but for someone who claims to know how films are made, and who calls himself a reviewer and makes money from the very films that others make, is it too much to expect these simple, ethical things? 

You like the film, you hate the film, that’s your choice and you have every right to it. But putting out a review watching an illegal theater-recorded print is hitting a new low. And, the saddest part is that we don’t care. We are immune.

This is an industry that helped us through this pandemic, and we are yet to understand the value of the arts and films. If you get curious and see the video, it shows you’ve failed miserably and have done your part to kill cinema.

“Do not go gentle into that good night,

Old age should burn and rave at close of day;

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Do not go gentle into that good night!”

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