What to Watch This Weekend When You’re Not Watching ‘Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour’

Culture
A comprehensive Taylor-themed survey of your non-Taylor filmed-entertainment options

Taylor Swift in 'Taylor Swift The Eras Tour'

Photograph: Getty Images; Collage: Gabe Conte

Have you heard? A little-known artist is releasing a small film this weekend. Just kidding: It’s time for Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour to hit screens across the country and for the Swifties in your life to absolutely lose their minds at the multiplex. Think the release of Barbie this summer yielded unprecedented levels of themed outfits in theaters? Eras is about to make that look pitiful. The concert film, directed by Sam Wrench, has already sold $100 million worth of advance tickets. It’s safe to say that Eras fever has arrived.

But what are you to do if you are not a Swiftie and are feeling left out while all your friends are making friendship bracelets? What if you still want to consume some culture this weekend, but don’t really want to deal with the theater-shaking enthusiasm the faithful will no doubt bring to Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour? We’ve rounded up a few intriguing alternate options. But since it’s Taylor’s weekend—and let’s face it, increasingly Taylor’s world that the rest of us are merely living in—we had to make it Taylor-themed, pegging each recommendation to a specific Swiftian era.

Taylor Swift Era: Taylor Swift

Alternate programming: Strange Way of Life

Remember when Taylor was a country music star? In tribute to those days, why not spend a half an hour with another artist trying on Western duds for size. The legendary Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodóvar’s short Strange Way of Life, a cowboy romance, is now playing in select theaters (and hits streaming on October 20.) It stars Ethan Hawke and Pedro Pascal as former lovers who reunite when the latter’s son is accused of murder. Put on your boots and spurs and head out to see a master’s latest.

Taylor Swift Era: Fearless

Alternate programming: Bottoms

Fearless is Taylor Swift’s most high school album, so it deserves a high-school-movie companion. The best one currently out is Bottoms, in which two lesbians (Rachel Sennott and Ayo Edebiri) start a fight club with the aim of kissing the hottest girls in school. Sennott and Edebiri literally sit on the bleachers while trying to figure out ways to hook up with the cheerleaders! It’s extremely “You Belong With Me” but gayer!

Taylor Swift Era: Speak Now

Alternate programming: Talk to Me

This A24 horror film is still in some theaters, but you can also rent it on demand. Sure, in the title track “Speak Now,” Taylor is referencing the moment in a wedding ceremony where the officiant gives objectors a chance to make themselves known, whereas the phrase “Talk to me” in the movie sends people to an underworld filled with terrifying demons stuck in limbo—but they both involve vocalizing, and therefore, I think the comparison works. Just know that while Speak Now is from one of Taylor’s most princess-y eras, Talk to Me is positively dripping in blood.

Taylor Swift Era: Red

Alternate programming: The Royal Hotel

I don’t know why exactly, but I just feel like Red-era Swift would really dig this thriller from director Kitty Green, about two young women (Julia Garner and Jessica Henwick) traveling in Australia who are forced to take a job at a remote bar when they run out of cash. The bar is full of drunken men who pose either literal or hypothetical threats to the pair, and the atmosphere of tension is almost overwhelming. It’s like the incarnation of “I Knew You Were Trouble.”

Taylor Swift Era: 1989

Alternate programming: Stop Making Sense

Look, there’s another concert film currently in theaters, and it’s from the ’80s, the decade that also gave us the year 1989! Stop Making Sense, directed by Jonathan Demme and starring Talking Heads, was originally released in 1984, but it’s back in theaters in a glorious 4K restoration. There’s a reason this is widely regarded as the best concert film of all time, and it’s not just for David Byrne’s big suit: It’s a pure encapsulation of what happens when musicianship and cinema collide.

Taylor Swift Era: Reputation

Alternate programming: Anatomy of a Fall

In the Reputation era, Swift was a woman defending herself against vicious rumors. This Palme d’Or–winning 2023 film from director Justine Triet is about a novelist, Sandra (Sandra Hüller), who is accused of murdering her husband after he falls from their chalet in the French Alps and dies. Sandra, like Taylor, is a writer who dabbles in autofiction, and her own prose is used against her during the trial. The film is also just simply a brilliant, tricky depiction of a woman whose personal life is dissected in the public eye. Sound familiar?

Taylor Swift Era: Lover

Alternate programming: Dicks: The Musical

Remember how Taylor Swift leaned into her LGBTQ+ ally status during the Lover era with the quasi-campy video for “You Need to Calm Down”? Why not seek out one of the most gloriously wild pieces of queer art currently playing in theaters? It’s Dicks: The Musical, and it features Bowen Yang—who once gave her awards for being Taylor Swift and Tayla Swiff—playing God. It also has sewer boys and twincest.

Taylor Swift Era: Folklore/Evermore.

Alternate programming: She Came to Me

This film from writer-director Rebecca Miller is an odd little gem. It stars Peter Dinklage as Steven, an opera composer who meets a tugboat captain with a love addiction, played by Marisa Tomei. Their brief tryst helps unlock Steven’s next work, but it also throws him into a different crisis, augmented by the fact that his therapist wife (Anne Hathaway) is considering becoming a nun. So what’s the Folklore/Evermore connection here, other than the fact that a tugboat seems somehow very in keeping with those albums? Well, She Came to Me is scored by Bryce Dessner of The National, who helped orchestrate Folklore and coproduced Evermore along with Aaron Dessner, his brother and bandmate.

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