The Jason Hahn Files: Should I Watch Tenet In A Cinema?

Cinema-going can be a pain in the butt these days.

This won’t come as news to anyone, but this world has really gone to the dogs. And not in a warm fuzzy Cesar Millan kind of way.

I know this because just the other day, Saffy looked up from her iPad and announced that if this world was like the train in Snowpiercer (now streaming on a Netflix account near you or, at the very least, an alternative, possibly illegal, channel), she’d like to get off at the very next station, please.

“I’ve stopped reading the news!” she told me, her formidable bosom trembling slightly at the gravity of the announcement. “I just read the headlines, and even those give me heart palpitations till bedtime.”

“I don’t even read those,” I said. “I don’t see the point.”

Saffy looked dissatisfied. “Well, I would stop completely, but apparently, being in HR means you’re supposed to be well-informed! Dumbest thing I ever heard in my life!” she mumbled.

Just then a message pinged on both our phones. It was Amanda attaching a story about John Boyega’s moan about his bad experience working on the Star Wars movies.

Saffy’s breasts inflated. “There, that just proves my point! Even Finn is unhappy in the Star Wars universe! And that movie has a happy ending! What hope is there for the rest of us?”

As I later pointed out in private to Amanda, something is completely out of kilter with the natural order when someone like Saffy hits you with an existential question that is also incredibly meta.

“Speaking of,” my flatmate said, “I wanna watch Tenet. Are you up for it this weekend?”

I paused and frowned. “What…you mean at the cinema?”

Amanda hesitated. “Uhm…yes, at the cinema.”

“But are we ready to watch a movie at the cinema?”

​​​​​​​While our friends seem to have dived right back into their lives the minute the lockdown lifted, we’ve been slowly and nervously inching our way out the front door like virgins on a first date.

Crowds make us nervous. We take Grab everywhere and if we eat out, it’s always at a hawker centre as near to an overhead fan as possible. Although, a few days ago, Saffy’s urgent craving for a Shake Shack frozen custard overrode her natural paranoia and she and Sharyn joined the hour-long queue at the new Orchard Road outlet. 

She put a second mask on top of her existing one, and gently steamed and suffocated under her face shield. By the time it was her turn, she had almost passed out and could only order a Coke while she watched Sharyn inhale a Shark Attack Concrete all by herself.

“An hour!” she later shouted at home. “I waited in the [bleep]-ing hot sun with fifty million other human viral incubators for an hour for a [bleep]-ing Coke! And can someone tell me what’s the deal with that takeaway stand?” she went on, barely drawing breath, though second grade music students would have recognised that her voice had registered two key changes. “What am I going to do with a takeaway Concrete that I can’t eat till I get home? Hmmm? Can someone please explain that to me?!”

As I now explained to Amanda, surely she could understand my hesitation about bringing Saffy along to watch Tenet in an enclosed space. “She’s already always on the edge!”

“But it won’t be any different from being in an MRT!” she protested. “Everyone will be wearing masks.”

“Well, first of all,” I began, “you literally have not been in an MRT since your imaginary husband, Lee Hsien Loong, had black hair, so how would you even know what it’s like?”

“I’ve seen pix on Instagram!” Amanda said stoutly.

“Secondly,” I went on, “Saffy hated Inception, remember? She didn’t understand the plot. Those twisting buildings gave her a headache, and she watched it only because Tom Hardy was in it. Is Tom Hardy in Tenet?”

Amanda pursed her lips as she thought. “Also,” I added, “I’ve read the reviews and not a single one of those smart movie reviewers understand the plot! It’s a twisty plot. Saffy hates movies that have even simple plots. That’s why she loved all the Scary Movies!”

“And Hobbs and Shaw,” Amanda said.

And Hobbs and Shaw’,” I agreed.

Amanda sighed. “God, does that mean we’re never ever going to be able to go to the cinema again? I miss watching movies on the big screen!”

I told her to try again when Wonder Woman 1984 comes out. “Saffy might risk death for Gal Gadot.”

Amanda brightened. “Oooh, yes, I forgot about that one! Oh, I can’t wait!”

Saffy says she’ll go to Wonder Woman 1984, but that she’ll be buying two Shake Shack concretes to bring with her into the theatre. “And their cheese fries. I love their crinkle-cut fries. They go so well with ice-cream. I don’t care if I die of diabetic shock. At least, I’ll die happy!”

“And you might even make the news!” Amanda told her.










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