In our next segment of the piece; we watch "The Reeling." Or we watch Sadie Sink (God I love that name!) as HER/TAYLOR SWIFT being directed by HER, herself: Taylor Swift. HER is shown from above, rolling around in bed-sheets from J.C. Penney in the cramped bedroom of what appears to be a house of modest means. I mean, at that point in her career, Taylor probably could've bought a new house with her paycheck from Valentine's Day; or at least upgraded to Ralph Lauren bedding. "The Reeling" should've been called "The Rolling"; as HER does a lot of rolling in that bed and some more sobbing. "The Reeling," I can happily report, is rather raced through and we quickly cut to "The Remembering." In this sequence we watch as HIM purposefully strides down an urban, nighttime street as HER sings about HER scarf that HIM still has because it reminds HIM of HER. And again, how could she possibly know this if he dumped her so casually and emphatically? Is SHE still in touch with HIM'S sister? And if she is, isn't that a little weird? At one point in the song, Taylor/HER refers to herself as "unneedy." I'm not so sure. Based on the behavior of HER in All Too Well - The Short Film, I'd say she's kinda like, in need of therapy, needy.
So we cross cut between shots of Mr. O'Brien striding and more footage from "The Upstate Escape" scenes: including; but not limited to: fireside dancing, fireside card playing, fireside making out, leisurely car rides, lakeside smooching, more crying, more dancing, more smooching, more crying and sitting on the floor of a cramped bedroom on what appears to be a pile of dirty laundry. Hmmmm. Now, cutting from Dylan to these shots, according to my knowledge of cinematic grammar, implies that it is HIM who is doing the remembering; which, if you ask me, is tad presumptuous on Ms. Taylor's part. Maybe Jake was even more of a bounder than she realized: never giving Ms. Swift another thought. It's a cold world Taylor; better take a sweater. Oh wait, you already have one at your online store. Do you get a discount?
So, we're now reaching the denouement of the short film. We see an elegantly coiffed female from behind, reaching for earrings and putting them on. The title of this section: "Thirteen Years Gone." There's that number again. It's her lucky number; Taylor Swift, that is. Her birthday is December 13th; and that would be a very Sagittarian thing to do: have a lucky number. And she's certainly had a lot of luck in Show Business. But apparently not love; or you wouldn't be reading this.
So, the earring goes on and the camera pans to the left, lingering on some framed photographs on the wall. One is of a body of water shot from a deck of some kind. Is this the lake from The Upstate Escape? And if it is, why does she have it on the wall? She really can't or won't let it go, will she?
Next we see HER LATER ON leaving her swanky new digs and heading out to a bookstore to give a reading. We see copies of her book All Too Well, on a table with a huge poster of the cover. The audience seems to hang on her every word: some appearing teary eyed at what they're hearing. But again, we don't hear what they're hearing. The song is playing over what we're seeing. I, for one, really wanted to hear some of the text from the novel within the short film. Taylor as HER LATER ON, seems to be giving a super-serious oration. Somber. Funereal even. Because you just know that All Too Well, the novel, is like some super-serious, high-falutin' literature. Some serious shit. Like, Joyce Carol Oates level. Pulitzer Prize Winner. Short listed for the Booker Prize (because she wrote it in London). Fast tracked for the Nobel Prize in Literature. More copies sold than Harry Potter and the Sex Assigned at Birth Muggles!
The camera pulls back from the podium and up into the rafters. The poster's graphics are a bit hard to make out; but you can read what we're to assume is a quote pull or a jacket blurb that reads (I'm pretty sure) "A STUNNING DEBUT NOVEL!" I think one thing we can all agree on is Ms. Swift's confidence in HER own abilities. I wanna read this novel now. Come on Taylor. You know you wanna write it. And it'd probably be pretty good!
EASTER EGG BREAK!
The camera, now static, continues showing us the door as the snow falls and then we cut to the credits. THE END. Or is it??!!
So, before I tell you my opinion of this short film; my take on All Too Well- The Short Film as a filmic piece of art (or not); let me just reassure Ms. Swift that it was not her fault. It just wasn't in the stars. The numbers just didn't add up. Particularly #19, which is the number of the day in December 1980 when Jake arrived in the world. As did I, in 1965. Here's a thumbnail take on December 19thers:
I'm just gonna leave that right there.
So, here's my official report card on All Too Well - The Short Film:
As a series of images, I think All Too Well holds up. There is some lovely cinematography (for example, the ending shot, which reminded me quite a lot of the final scene of The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, which I consider the best ending ever filmed):
Let's just break it down:
CINEMATOGRAPHY: Excellent. As they say in the trades: "Tech elements were top notch"
LIGHTING: A+ Very evocative.
DIALOGUE: Not bad. Nicely acted. And it's hard to act: "You didn't hold my hand at dinner, you meanie!" Way too many "fucks" from Mr. O'Brien. Saying "fuck" is just lazy. Grading on a curve: solid B.
MISE EN SCENE: Excellent. If you're borrowing from Kubrick, Lynch, De Palma and Jacques Demy, you've got taste.
DIRECTION: See "mise en scene."
COSTUMES: Adequate. And that includes the red scarf.
ACTING: I think Ms. Sink overdoes the naif routine a bit and goes a little over the top with the sobbing. Mr. O'Brien captures the arrogance and somewhat false Mr. Nice Guy elements of whoever it is he really is playing. But again, relies on the F word too much.
I am not even going to try and analyze Ms. Swift's performance as HER LATER ON. Putting on earrings, walking slowly to a podium and pretending to read is not acting, it's just doing things. Now, if she had let me hear her narration of "ALL TOO WELL" the Novel; that would've been different. And she owes me $9.50 for going to see CATS at the movies.