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    ‘Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour’ is one of the greatest concert films of all time
    • October 13, 2023

    Taylor Swift has triumphed yet again.

    Yet, she’s done so in a way that is different than ever before, delivering fans a career-spanning major theatrical release that ranks as nothing less than one of the greatest concert films ever made.

    The Sam Wrench-directed offering — which hit theaters this week and is expected to quickly set box office records as the top-grossing concert movie of all time — succeeds in numerous ways, magnifying the strengths of the blockbuster tour of the same name as it nicely translates the experience from cavernous football stadiums to movie houses.

    That’s not easy to do, but it certainly helps when the film crew is drawing from stellar source material — and “The Eras Tour” is indeed nothing short of brilliant. Yet, there’s more to do it than just that, given that the tour is designed in a way that makes sense for filming. The footage was shot during her first of three out of six total evenings at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood back in August.

    As the tour’s name implies, the production is organized by different eras (or, more specifically, albums) in Swift’s career, with the singer performing a batch of material from one album before moving onto the next disc. Each of these segments unfold onstage like individual chapters, with the star embracing different thematic stage settings/wardrobes/special effects that correspond to the specific albums. There are nine chapters in all — well, 10, if you count the “surprise songs” segment.

    On film, even more so than during the actual live show, these different chapters really break up the action into easily digestible bitesize pieces. You never have time to get tired of what you’re watching, because the next adventure awaits just around the corner.

    That’s incredibly important for a film that runs right around 2 hours and 50 minutes.

    But it’s an enormous amount for pretty much any concert film not named “Woodstock” and is roughly twice the length of the Talking Heads’ “Stop Making Sense,” the highly acclaimed rock doc from 1984 that recently found its way back to theaters.

    Yet, amazingly, “The Eras Tour” doesn’t feel overly long at all. Indeed, there will certainly be some Swifties who will complain about what was edited out of the show in order get it under the 3-hour mark. And I can’t be the only one who wishes Swift would have included one more Era in the mix and spotlighted her self-titled debut. (The movie does, however, include the first album’s “Our Song” in the “Surprise” song segment.)

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    Where to watch ‘Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour’ in Orange County

    Swift’s greatest strength — of many — is her ability to connect with the crowd. In 30 years of writing about concerts, I’ve never seen anybody do it better. She does it with big pop production numbers, which get everybody dancing and singing along at top volume to the music, and she does it even more convincingly with the most basic of body language, captivating crowds of 50,000-plus with the wink of an eye or a sideways glance.

    Wrench focuses the film on capturing that amazing trait, never letting the special effects, dance routines or other big production elements crowd out Swift’s sheer charisma. He’s always directing us back to her megawatt smile, overwhelming sense of joy onstage and connection with fans.

    That’s a very wise and, one assumes, deliberate decision, since it must have been very tempting to go the other direction and really let the magnitude of the occasion — multiple sold-out nights at the massive SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles — really dictate the direction. Yet, this film manages to feel very intimate, even in the midst of tens of thousands of people gathered together in the second largest city in the United States to witness one of the biggest pop stars of all time.

    Swift’s performances are simply magnetic, as she waltzes back through her 17-year recording career, stopping here and there to perform some of the very greatest songs of the 21st century. It’s simply can’t-miss viewing for all Swifties.

    Of course, the hallmark of any great concert film is its ability to appeal to non-fans. And I think the movie definitely checks that box as well.

    “Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour” is really for anybody who wants to not only experience but also more fully understand and appreciate an incredible artist who is accomplishing things that so few have ever done before.

    “Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour” concert film setlist:

    From the “Lover” Era: “Miss Americana & the Heartbreak Prince,” “Cruel Summer,” “The Man,” You Need to Calm Down” and “Lover.”

    From the “Fearless” Era: “Fearless,” ‘You Belong With Me” and “Love Story.”

    From the “Evermore” Era: “Willow,” “Marjorie,” “Champagne Problems” and “Tolerate It.”

    From the “Reputation” Era: “…Ready for It?,” “Delicate,” “Don’t Blame Me” and “Look What You Made Me Do.”

    From the “Speak Now” Era: “Enchanted.”

    From the “Red” Era: “22,” “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together,” “I Knew You Were Trouble” and “All Too Well (10 Minute Version).”

    From the “Folklore” Era: “The 1,” “Betty,” “the Last Great American Dynasty,” “August,” “Illicit Affairs” and “My Tears Ricochet.”

    From the “1989” Era: “Style,” “Blank Space,” Shake It Off,” “Wildest Dreams” and “Bad Blood.”

    Surprise songs from the tour: “Our Song” and “You’re on Your Own Kid.

    From the “Midnights” Era: “Lavender Haze,” “Anti-Hero,” “Midnight Rain,” “Vigilante (Stuff),” “Bejeweled,” “Mastermind” and “Karma.”

    ​ Orange County Register