Saturday night at the movies.

The Odeon cinema complex in Hatfield has one major flaw, which is that it is in Hatfield. Put it almost anywhere else other than, say, Basra airport, and I’m sure the experience would be lifted. In fact that is an insult to Basra, its airport and its people because Hatfield does seem to attract some real pond life, the kind of pond life that would make most pond life up sticks and leave, even if it meant a very good chance of gasping their last on the grassy shores. Hatfield, in summary, does not have a whole lot going for it but it does have an Odeon complex and Screen 6 at the Odeon complex in Hatfield has a capacity of 166. 166 seats. 166 arses. You can even hire it out for events, provided you have 165 friends or more importantly 165 friends who are willing to go to Hatfield. This is what is called a tall order.

I have been looking forward to ‘Tenet’ for quite some time. Somehow I have managed to catch a grand total of zero Christopher Nolan films at the cinema and this made me all the more insistent that we go and see his latest at the big screen. This may give the impression that I am a Nolan nut but that is not true. He is not perfect, but his films are interesting and sometimes superb. ‘Memento’, ‘The Prestige’ and ‘Interstellar’ are all definitely worthy of that description. ‘Dunkirk’ is almost excellent and ‘Inception’ is very good to look at but I have still haven’t quite got my head round it. The weak link for me is the ‘Batman’ trilogy, which I find pretty murky and dull and somehow never quite delivers on its promise. Maybe I watched them through the wrong pair of eyes but until someone gives me an alternative pair I can’t do much about that. But even then they are event movies – they are meant to be absorbed and considered and thought about. They are clever films by a clever film maker and that should not be forgotten. Don’t let it go to your head, Christopher.

Of the 166 seats at Screen 6 of the Odeon complex in Hatfield only 7 were warmed by buttocks for the 3 hour show. Tenet is 150 minutes long but it is interesting that despite all the social distancing awareness cinemas still think it necessary to have 30 minutes of adverts and trailers to ensure your time shared in a room with strangers is extended further. 7 seats out of 166 is, as any half wit could tell you, not a lot. It’s not even 5% (I’m telling you that and I am a half wit). I looked at the website before we went and saw that the seats filled for the screenings either side of ours were only marginally more popular and this was simultaneously sad and scary. Quite why Odeon felt they should add so many screenings is a mystery; even is they had combined all eight for the day they would still have had adequate gaps for coughing and heavy petting in a single room. This time last year ‘Tenet’ would have made its money back without breaking sweat, now it looks like a dead duck.

Shame really, because it is a very fine dead duck indeed. Part Bond movie, part time travel mind warp, all good. I don’t know why the three tits sitting right at the back were sitting right at the back because even in the middle row I wanted to get closer to the action (I doubt anyone would have cared if we had moved seats during the film but it didn’t matter because our feet were glued to the floor by some strange sticky substance that could well have been laid down before lockdown). ‘Tenet’ isn’t perfect – some dialogue is hard to hear and the intricacies of the plot are a bit overcooked and hard to follow – but it looks good, flows well (in several competing directions), is nicely acted (Branagh chews, Pattinson charms) and ends with a ring of satisfaction; you don’t quite know what happened but you’re glad you watched it happening anyway. Not quite perfect, but still perfect cinema and pure escapism, which why we were there; the irony being that we had to go to Hatfield to escape the fact we had to go there in the first place. Do get your arse down to the cinema, there are plenty of spaces to put it and you’d miss the big screen if it went away and never came back. And ‘Tenet’ will look rubbish on a TV screen.

G B Hewitt. 06.09.2020

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