Monday, April 19, 2021
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Sundance Review: The Witch


Expelled by choice from a Puritan plantation for his hubristic insistence that his own preaching is the one right way to God, William and his family—wife Catherine, daughter Thomasin, son Caleb, twins Mercy and Jonas, and a suckling baby—go singing through the palisade’s gate and beyond the pale to establish their own farmstead in the New England wilderness, near to a stream and a dark and ancient wood. The wood, issuing ominous cracks, groans, and whooshes (and for our private pleasure a madly dissonant, crescendoing, Kubrickian chorus), may or may not be inhabited by a red-cloaked witch, a half-seen hag whose need for fresh baby’s blood initiates a season of bedevilment that drives the family to grief, near-starvation, and all manner of strife.

“We will conquer this wilderness,” William insists, meaning equally that, guided by their idiosyncratic, relentlessly self-punishing fundamentalism, they will conquer themselves and each other as their collective fortunes decline. Thomasin (Anya Taylor-Joy), wide- and wet-eyed during The Witch‘s opening trial scene as she watches three male judges pass the family’s sentence, provides the first and lasting image of their collective fear of a lawgiving God. But this fear can’t hold off the realities of their human needs and desires, evidence, for them, of sin and witchery, though we understand them as the internal emotional conflicts essential to the human experience. Thomasin and Caleb (Harvey Scrimshaw) are old enough to understand the sensual attractions of other bodies, which become even more fraught because options for partners have dwindled to family. William (Ralph Ineson with an exquisitely sonorous, Old Testament voice) is prepared to dissemble for a time in order to get the family fed without upsetting his wife (Kate Dickie), and the twins (Ellie Grainger and Lucas Dawson), too young to know better and too free-spirited to honor distinctions between their fictions and reality, can, as an instinctual team, turn any accusation of wrongdoing into truth for their paranoid audience. Are they witches in league with their favorite playmate, the family’s he-goat, Black Philip? Or is Thomasin the source of their ills, the teenager, the young woman, a potential sexual rival of her mother’s or a perfect mate for Old Scratch? Though her parents may be convinced her behavior is alien and evil, we recognize her response to this suffocating environment as perfectly natural.

Which is to say that The Witch of this stunning film’s title may be more an idea, more a suspicion, more an accusation than the actual figure we glimpse through the trees. But we can never be certain as director Robert Eggers expertly produces, through rich image and provocative editing, a frighteningly closed vision of 17th century America, a beautifully raw and insecure place in the eyes and ears of these desperate and isolated European immigrants (the family’s English accents mark them as still-recent arrivals). The Witch is a period film whose authenticity is one of mind, then, rather than objective fact, and these minds’ paranoia, faith in a punishing God, and inherent will to survive at any cost produce a deeply authentic, spellbinding, and rewarding experience.

You know it's spring in Utah when cherry blossoms are in full bloom at the @utstatecapitol ⁠🌸😍⁠

Photo by @gravesstuart

Inspired by @oldsaltlake, we're celebrating #throwbackthursday with a favorite snapshot of early 20th century Salt Lake City. 🏖️⁠

Photos shared by @oldsaltlake are inspiring millennials and zoomers decades later with visions of a different city: one with easily accessible public transportation, walkable streets, local businesses (open late) and distinctive architecture.⁠

See more photos at the link in our bio. ⁠

Pictured: Women relax at what is believed to be Saltair Beach, date unknown

Why did Utah's only Titanic passenger not survive her journey?⁠

The descendants of Irene Corbett believe that the 30-year-old teacher sacrificed her life to save others. It's one of the many ways this remarkable figure bucked tradition and forged her own trail.⁠

Read more about Irene at the link in our bio!

One year ago today: a Salt Lake earthquake that even shook Moroni 👼⁠

Photo by @gravesstuart

"We must have done something right, cause you guys kept coming back."⁠

@bluepelatedinerslc, one of Salt Lake's signature spots for everyone from hungover college kids to vegan food lovers, will be closing its doors this May after more than two decades of service. It's the latest casualty in a brutal year for the restaurant industry. ⁠

Head to the link in our bio for a tribute to Blue Plate Diner. (And keep supporting your favorite local restaurants. ❤️)

Tony Caputo, a food evangelist and founding father of today’s SLC food community, passed away last night.⁠

Tony started @caputosmarket in 1997, bringing his passion for the cuisine of his heritage to Utah tables. Most days during the lunch rush you’d find Tony behind the counter slicing meat and cheeses and then, after it wound down, holding court out front. He’d often rush back behind the counter and holler over his shoulder, “you have to try this!" only to return with a sample bite of veiny cheese, a paper-thin leaf of prosciutto or a perfectly crisp amaretti cookie that he’d recently added to his menagerie of taste. For his many contributions to Salt Lake City, we awarded Tony with a Lifetime Achievement Dining Award in 2007.⁠

Today, we're sending love to @caputosmarket and the many people whose lives were touched by Tony. A full tribute is on our website now. ❤️

Why is the Pleasant Grove theme park Evermore suing one of the most powerful women in music? Long story short: a playground for those who would choose lore over folklore is taking on Taylor Swift over the name of her most recent album. Both parties have their reputation on the line in a battle of undercover Swifties and novelty mug disputes. Will Evermore hit the gold rush? Or did they cross the wrong mad woman? The full story is at the link in our bio. ...

Even in the exploration boom of the 1800s, nobody dared to explore the terrain flowing through the Green and the Colorado Rivers.⁠

That is, nobody until Major John W. Powell said the 19th Century equivalent of “Hey man, hold my beer while I try this.”⁠

Read more about his dangerous expedition at the link in our bio!⁠

Photo of Powell’s expedition courtesy Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division⁠

A brand new issue of Salt Lake magazine is coming your way! ⁠

We can't wait to share these stories with you. This issue includes our annual Blue Plate Awards celebrating those surviving and thriving in the restaurant biz. Plus, we take a road trip to Wyoming and ask why the only Utah passenger on the Titanic didn’t survive her journey.⁠

A note from our editor Jeremy Pugh, including beautiful tributes to Mary Brown Malouf from our friends in the community, is online now. Read more at the link in our bio ❤️⁠

Subscribers: Look for this issue in your mailbox soon. The magazine will be on newsstands March 1! 📬

Today, we are thrilled to announce the winners of the 2021 Blue Plate Awards! ⁠🎉⁠

These prizes honor the growers, food evangelists, grocers, servers, bakers, chefs, bartenders and restaurateurs who do more than put good food on the table—they make our community a better place to live. This year, just surviving as a local business deserves an award, but each of our Blue Plate winners did more than that. They made us grateful for every person involved in the essential act of feeding us.⁠ 🍽⁠

At the link in our bio, we have the full list of winners, a celebration of feats of COVID creativity and a tribute to restaurants we lost this year. If you’re hungry for more, pick up a copy on newsstands March 1! Plus, check out our Instagram for spotlights on some of the Blue Plate winners. ⁠

This year’s Blue Plate Awards are the first without our beloved Executive Editor Mary Brown Malouf. We dedicate them to her, our town’s biggest food fan, critic and champion. xoxomm⁠ 💙

2021 Blue Plate Award winner: @ricobrandut for Staying in Beansness⁠

Last summer, it seemed that Rico would be another victim of rapid gentrification in Salt Lake. Luckily, Rico was able to find a new home in Poplar Grove and now plans to add even more employees. It’s a last-minute happy ending for a community leader who literally wears his mission on his sleeve, courtesy a tattoo in bright red block letters: “pay it forward.” 💙⁠

2021 Blue Plate Award Winner: @spicekitchenincubator for Keeping the Spice Flowing⁠

This year Spice Kitchen Incubator, already an essential resource for refugees, became, well, even more essential. 💙⁠

2021 Blue Plate Award winner: @thestore_utah for Special Deliveries ⁠

As grocery delivery becomes the new norm, The Store offers a personal touch that only an independent grocer can provide. Last March, high-risk and elderly customers began calling in their grocery lists over the phone, and The Store’s general managers personally delivered food to their homes. 💙⁠

2021 Blue Plate Award winner: @cucinaslc for Preserving Neighborhood Connection⁠

Cucina’s outdoor spaces became a place where the neighborhood could gather safely. Owner Dean Pierose offered free coffee in the mornings and encouraged his regulars to linger and commiserate together, preserving a semblance of society during a socially distanced time. 💙⁠