Thursday, November 9, 2023

Are You Ready For It?

Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour 
Director: Sam Wrench
Released: October 12, 2023
Viewed in theaters: October 20, 2023

Since I'm deprived and Taylor Swift didn't bring her Eras Tour to my city, I had to settle for going to her concert movie. But that's okay because I hate crowds and even if I did get tickets to her show, I would be in the nosebleed section. That's what I keep telling myself! I felt like everybody in my theater had already been to her concert. Now, I don't have any proof of that, but it just felt like everybody knew all the little inside moments. Most likely they could have just seen these moments on Instagram or Tik Tok. 

I do know that a lot of people who did go to the (actual live) concert did appreciate the concert movie, because, depending on where you're sitting, you're not always seeing everything and with the movie you are able to see these details much better. 

So, for some idiotic reason, I was thinking the concert movie was spliced together with the different cities she visited. I thought they would do that so it would be "fair"; surely they wouldn't just film the movie at one concert. In my mind, they would show a different era from a different city. But when I saw the movie, it appeared to be filmed on one night towards the end of her U.S. tour when she performed at SoFi Stadium in L.A. Then I saw an Instagram video of someone who was at her concert when the movie was being filmed and you could see some guy on stage with her, following her with a camera. Haha, that sounds so stalkerish and weird, like some guy just jumped on stage and started following her with a camera (like they would let that happen!) No, this guy is clearly supposed to be there and he's obviously filming her for the movie. That's when I realized....duh, of course. The way the movie was filmed, OF COURSE there was someone on stage with her with some of the way the angles were shot. There's no way they could have filmed the movie the way they did if they just stuck a few stationery cameras around the stage. Let me give you a few examples of what I mean: 1) When she's performing "The Man" and she's at the top of that scaffolding prop they use for that song, there's a close up of her looking into the camera; 2) there's a 360 degree shot at one point. Unfortunately, I cannot remember what song this is during, but I love a good 360 degree shot. It's just so cinematic and epic! 

I was listening to the podcast Every Single Album: Taylor Swift (the best TS podcast in an ocean of TS podcasts, IMO!) where the two hosts were talking about the movie and from them I learned that movie was filmed at SoFi more than one night and that there were cameras everywhere. (At least one of them was at one of those shows!) We do get some audience reactions during the movie and while that would be cool to be immortalized in the Taylor Swift Eras Concert movie, I do have to wonder how distracting that would be. Not just with all the cameras around, but also with the cameras that are on stage with her at all times too. I wonder if your experience is diminished in anyway. Not that I would know! So I looked up online to see when the concert was filmed (which is what I should have done in the first place instead of just assuming!) and found out they were filming the first three days of the six days she performed there. So they must have just used the best footage they had from each of those three concert and spliced that together. 

Okay, enough of this boring technical stuff! Let's talk about the good stuff: the music and the fashion! 

So as you may or may not know, the concert is divided into her different eras (i.e. albums) and she sings about 3-5 songs from each era. Yes, this is why it's called the Eras Tour! She does not perform each era in chronological order (because that would be boring!) No, I'm sure there's a logistical reason for the way the show is structured the way it is. This is the order she performs each album:

1. Lover
2. Fearless
3. Evermore
4. Reputation 
5. Speak Now
6. Red
7. Folklore
8. 1989
(secret songs)
9. Midnights

Now, you may notice that her debut self-titled album is missing and, honestly, that's fine with me. There are a few songs I like from that album, but I hardly ever listen to it. Technically she does sing a song from it during her secret songs and I think they did that at least to have one song from her debut album in the movie. At least, that's my theory! I'll explain more when I talk about that part of the concert/movie.

Starting with Lover makes sense because that was what should have been her previous concert, but was cancelled because of Covid. Just think, if Covid never existed, neither would have Folklore or Evermore and this would have been the Midnights Tour. That seems like such an odd alternate universe!  

Okay, you know how when you're eating dinner at a fancy restaurant and they serve you a palate cleanser between courses to get you ready for the next course? (BTW, I've only had this experience once: at a restaurant when I was in NYC a million years ago). I kinda feel like the Evermore and Folklore sections are the palate cleansers of this concert. I don't know if that's even a great anaglogy and it sounds like I'm dissing those two albums and I'm not because I love those albums. I even ranked Folklore as my favorite TS album. I did love the performances from these two sister albums, but it is my theory that she strategically placed them where they are in the setlist so people could sit back and relax. Hell, I've ever heard jokes that people used that time to go to the bathroom. (This is during the four hour live concert, not the two and a half hour movie!) I feel like I got major whiplash from going from "Tolerate It" (was that the last song in her Evermore set?), then pretty much going straight into her Reputation set with the booming bass sounds from "...Ready For It?" 

I remember listening to the Every Single Album: TS right after she announced she was going on tour and the hosts were speculating on what she would perform. They thought she might do her huge pop hits in the massive arenas and her stuff from Folklore and Evermore in smaller venues. While I feel like that would make more sense, logistically it just wouldn't work, and besides, it is called the ERAS tour and not having two of her albums (and one that won a Grammy) would be blasphemy. Like, people can live without her debut album, but NOT the sister albums! 

When she performed "Tolerate It" from the Evermore set, I felt like I was watching a play with the table and one of her male dancers "acting" in it. I really liked it, but I have a feeling this worked much better being filmed for a movie than watching it at a live concert. "The Last Great American Dynasty" from her Folklore set also had a theatrical play element to it. I liked that one of her dancers played Rebekah Harkness and that moment where she and Taylor exchange a knowing glance when Taylor sings "and then it was bought by me." Again, this probably shows up better for the movie than a live show. I know a lot of people thought it didn't make sense that "Cardigan" was cut (about five or six songs were cut from the movie), especially since she sang "Betty" and "August" and they thought "TLGAD" should have been cut, but I am so glad that they did not cut it because, hot take, that might be a top five Taylor song for me and "Cardigan" is just okay to me.

My favorite set was the Reputation Era. It just got you so pumped, which was why it gave me major whiplash coming after the more subdued Evermore set. I personally would have swapped the Reputation and Red sets. They are only separated by her one song from the Speak Now era, but it would make more sense for Reputation to come a little bit later. I wonder if the ten minute "All Too Well" is exactly at the halfway mark of the concert and that's why they had it that way. The only thing that would have made the Reputation set complete perfection is if she had sung "Getaway Car". I have a hard time trying to figure out which song from the Reputation setlist I would swap out for that one, so in my mind, I would cut "Lavender Haze" from her Midnights set, but only because that's a song I'm pretty meh on. Like, give me "Getaway Car" over that song any day! 

The Red set was a lot of fun too. She sang "22", "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together", "I Knew You Were Trouble", and, of course, "All Too Well." If she had swapped "IKYWT" for "Starlight", she would have sung all my favorite songs from that album. During "22" she gives the hat she's wearing to someone her mom has picked out from the audience (usually a little kid, but sometimes it's someone older.) When I saw the very young girl who received the hat in the movie, I knew it was Kobe Bryant's daughter. I only knew this because I had read that Taylor gave her hat to her at one of her concerts at SoFi. I did double check to make sure I was right and I was. She is only six years old! She is so young! I think showing this little girl who tragically lost her famous father and older sister at such young ages receive the hat makes more sense than showing a random kid receiving it. You see Taylor talking to her and give her a big hug after she gives her the hat. When I saw her give the little girl a hug, I had a feeling it was Kobe Bryant's daughter because I don't know if she gives all the other hat recipients hugs, but maybe she does. It is a very sweet moment and just seeing the joy on that little girl's face almost brought a tear to my eye. 

She sings her "secret songs" after the 1989 set. These are two songs from her catalog that she sings that aren't part of the show. In the movie, she sings "Our Song" followed by "You're On Your Own Kid." I think that was strategic because with "Our Song" you're getting at least one song from all her albums, so all her eras are truly represented in the movie. "YOYOK" is immediately followed by her last set, the Midnights era, so it easily falls into the right set and this is the song with the "make the friendship bracelets" line and Taylor knows about the exchanging of friendship bracelets at her concerts. Having this song be in the movie was no coincidence, especially with the dedication/thank you to her fans at the end being in the style of beaded friendship bracelets. 

Speaking of which, the friend I saw this movie with invited me over to make bracelets and it was simultaneously fun and a pain in the ass. One bracelet in particular I had to do four times because I dropped all the beads twice, I had a letter backwards, and I had too many beads between letters. I made three: "Wildest Dreams" (ironically, that was my nightmare bracelet!), "Delicate", and "Bejeweled". Here is a photo of them:

This is a movie where it was encouraged to sing and dance along, so on a scale of one to ten with one being nobody singing or dancing and ten being over the top chaos, I would say my theater was about a 4.5. There were people singing along to some of the songs, but it wasn't so obnoxious or overly loud that you couldn't hear Taylor (though the movie was pretty loud). Nobody was dancing in the aisles, but a lot of young kids were dancing at the front of the theater and they were throwing and waving their little light-up batons. They were even dancing to the Evermore set...which was weird. This one little girl was singing her little heart out  along to "August" which was hilarious and adorable. 

I was singing along too...internally! 

Now for fashion corner because she never goes out of style (ha, ha, ha). I loved most of her ensembles; my favorite being the sequined t-shirt dress she wears when she performs "Lavender Haze" and "Anti-Hero." There was one particular dress I did not love, but everybody seems to go gaga over: the humungous lilac gown she wears when she performs "Enchanted". I hate this dress! She looks like a freaking wedding cake! Yes, I realize it's supposed to be like that, but it's just too much for me. I've seen the other ballgowns she's worn while performing this and I like all the others so much better. Also, I chose that moment to use the bathroom, heh! I'm sure people were judging me for leaving during this song.

She also has each nail painted a different color and I'm not sure if she did this for every concert or only for when the movie was being filmed because it would translate better on screen. Each of her albums represents a different color. She has ten albums and she has ten fingernails, so therefore this was the perfect time to do this! Some of her album/color combinations are pretty obvious, like the color for Red is, wait for and indigo blue for Midnights. Usually the color for the album is whatever color dress/outfit she's wearing on the album cover: yellow for Fearless, purple for Speak Now. She's going to be running out of colors pretty soon (she has orange and white left for the basic colors) and will have to pick colors like fuchsia or chartreuse or persimmon. She better get the Pantone site open! 

Overall, it's a fun movie to watch if you didn't get to see the concert. I have no doubt it doesn't even come close to seeing it live. I do wish she had just released it to Netflix instead of making it a theatrical release, but I get she wanted to make it an "experience" so people could dance and sing. Maybe it will be released to Netflix in the future and it will include the deleted songs. 

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