Thursday, December 2, 2021

One of the Best Music Videos Ever Made – All Too Well (Ten Minute Version) (Taylor’s Version) (From The Vault): The Short Film (2021)

Sadie Sink and Dylan O'Brien in All Too Well: The Short Film (2021), directed by Taylor Swift.

That’s right – despite its name, All Too Well (Ten Minute Version) (Taylor’s Version) (From The Vault): The Short Film (2021) belongs squarely in the genre of the music video. But that the level of craftsmanship and resources on display is on par with that of short films just serves to emphasize the significance of its achievement. In this sense, it’s a perfect synecdoche of Taylor Swift, the song’s singer and co-writer, and the music video’s writer-director and one of its actors.

Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Remembering Sondheim

Stephen Sondheim, New York, July 10, 1961. (Photo: Richard Avedon)

Stephen Sondheim was ninety-one when he died on the day after Thanksgiving, yet it was a shock. Unreasonably, I thought he would live forever. For nearly three decades he’d been the sole surviving legendary songwriter from the golden age of musical theatre (Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe left us in 1986 and 1988 respectively; Irving Berlin in 1989; Jule Styne in 1994) – for he was still in his twenties when he collaborated with Leonard Bernstein on West Side Story and with Styne on Gypsy. He was all of thirty-five when he worked with Richard Rodgers on Do I Hear a Waltz? (Arthur Laurents, who departed ten years ago, wrote the books for all three shows.) Sondheim hadn’t written a new musical since Road Show in 2003, though he was toiling for years on an adaptation of Luis Buñuel’s two final movies. But there were countless major revivals of his work – Company, with a female Bobby, is on Broadway at present – and he generally showed up for them. Revue after revue was constructed around his songs, and every milestone birthday prompted a star-studded event, all of them except his Covid-shrouded ninetieth televised on PBS. Movies were still being made of his musicals; still more are promised, even though none of them has been any good. (I haven’t seen Steven Spielberg’s remake of West Side Story, which is about to be released.) Sondheim was continually, tirelessly present, so who could ever imagine him gone?