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Monday, October 19, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Back to the movies: Nolan’s ‘Tenet’ a perfect excuse to return to theaters even in another state

UPDATED: Fri., Sept. 18, 2020

By Paul Sell For The Spokesman-Review

While the cinematic experience has eluded movie lovers for the last six months, the opportunities to return have started to bloom with the beginning of the fall.

Even though movie theaters in Spokane cannot open until the county reaches Phase 3 of the state’s reopening process, and even then theaters would only be half capacity (drive-in theaters, however, have reportedly reopened), Idaho has had movie theaters open for the last few weeks.

Hayden Discount Cinema and the Regal Riverstone theater in Coeur d’Alene are open for business with certain pandemic restrictions in place.

At the Riverstone theater, patrons must wear masks in the lobby and restrooms, though it’s only recommended while in the theaters. Every other row in the auditoriums is blocked off, and it is required that you and your party be at least two seats away from any other party.

Concession stands are open with a limited menu and with no refills on popcorn and sodas regardless of the size.

At the Hayden cinemas, many of the same rules are in place. They even have drive-in options on the weekends, including “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” on Friday and “The Blind Side” on Saturday.

But the main draw of going to the movies now is these theaters are showing big blockbuster releases. Of the films supposed to be released this summer, Christopher Nolan’s “Tenet” promised to be one of the bigger, more innovative blockbusters, as Nolan’s films tend to be.

If there is any reason to go to the movies right now, it would be to watch a Nolan spectacle in HD with surround sound. So that’s exactly what I did last weekend.

While the theater was far from packed, only 10 people aside from myself and all in the same row, I could tell everyone was just as excited as I was to be back in the theater.

Excited chatter before the movie started, quiet whispering after trailers for movies with undefined release dates and dead silence during the movie as everyone was transfixed on the screen.

I haven’t been to a movie theater since mid-March, and I had forgotten about a few things. One of those is how the sound envelops you and makes you feel like there are bullets whizzing by your head or the soundtrack becomes the overpowering heartbeat of the movie.

The plot of “Tenet” revolves around John David Washington’s character being thrown into a mysterious world where bullets and assassins move backward in time as if the guns are simply catching the bullets.

Washington, a former spy, is recruited into a secret organization, Tenet, built to stop a temporal cold war before it begins. He quickly learns that bombs and devices are being sent from the future, which could stop the normal flow of time and erase the past.

“Tenet” is a spectacle in the truest sense of the word. It has more in common with “2001: A Space Odyssey” than “Inception.”

While the plot is a mess and head-scratching at times, with many time-travel shenanigans not making sense, Nolan hardly even stops to explain himself. Probably because he doesn’t owe the audience an explanation. He doesn’t hold our hands because it would get in the way of the pace.

The film trades in logic and common sense for breathtaking visuals that have never been seen before. Men bungee-jumping in reverse, a jet aircraft crashing into an airport and a highway crash scene where half of the cars are driving in reverse. And all these scenes are done without computer effects – they crashed an airplane into a building.

You might not always know why these characters are acting this way, but you won’t care because the set pieces are thrilling and beautifully captured. Half of the time, I didn’t know what the plot was, made a little worse by mumbling dialogue. But I’ve never been more pleased by a movie that didn’t tell me exactly what was happening.

If you’re a film lover or missed the theater experience, don’t wait for theaters to reopen in Washington. “Tenet” is exactly the kind of experience we needed to remind us why we went to the movies in the first place. It is unparalleled, and nothing you watch at home can quite match the theater adventure. It is certainly worth the drive to Coeur d’Alene to see movies again.

If you’re not interested in seeing “Tenet,” the Riverstone theater has you covered. Later this week, they’ll start airing some classic movies, including “Black Panther” this weekend, “The Breakfast Club” starting Sunday and “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” starting on Sept. 27.

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