1. Read The Great War
Watch the story unfold.
Books are not usually measured by physical length, but Joe Sacco’s is: 24 feet of panorama, to be precise. Sacco, the winner of the two Eisner Awards (the Pulitzers of comic books and graphic novels), has previously used his immense talent to depict the toll of violence in Gaza and Bosnia. Here, he turns to the events of July 1, 1916, one of the deadliest days of the Battle of the Somme. The format lends the book temporal as well as physical scale; set against it, the depiction of human action—from towing howitzers into position to carrying casualties off the field—is simple, precise, and aptly small. I found it deeply absorbing, and borderline unbearable. —Kathryn Schulz
W. W. Norton.
2. See Julius Caesar
I come to praise.
The orderly hellaciousness of Phyllida Lloyd’s punk-rock Julius Caesar (imported from London’s Donmar Warehouse) is set in a women’s prison, where even the bloodiest power struggles are just for show, and the ultimate authority is never questioned. It’s Shakespeare for Britain’s ring-of-steel era, and even the daffier, sillier stuff packs a wallop. —Scott Brown
St. Ann’s Warehouse, through November 3.
3. Visit WFMU’s Radiovision
Old medium, still sounding fresh.
Everyone loves WFMU, one of the (pretty rare) bright spots in New York’s airspace. At this event, public-radio and podcasting luminaries will come together to discuss the medium’s new life in the era of the Internet. You’ll be best off in the less industry-focused afternoon sessions, where Tom Scharpling and Vulture’s own Julie Klausner will talk about comedy podcasting and Laurie Anderson delivers the keynote address.
October 19; locations and schedule at radiovision.wfmu.org.
4. Watch Queer Eye Reunion: 10 Years Later
The other Carson show.
Incredible as it might seem, the Queer Eye team first advised clueless straight men about dress, grooming, and attitude in 2003. The Fab Five—Ted Allen, Kyan Douglas, Thom Filicia, Carson Kressley, and Jai Rodriguez—reunite in this one-nighter, joining Andy Cohen for a look back. No makeovers, just memories. —Matt Zoller Seitz
Bravo, October 20, 9 p.m.
5. See William Pope.L’s Colored Waiting Room
Heat and light from a grim place.
Few American phrases conjure worse vibes than the title of William Pope.L’s current hyperjazzed, excellently cagey show “Colored Waiting Room.” The titular tip-off sets us up for inaccessible drinking cups mounted on a shelf, pointed drawings that say things like negro idea #414, severed black heads, and the namesake waiting room painted coats of many colors. It’s segregated America as a Technicolor trial by political fire and optically aggressive brimstone. This is Pope.L’s best gallery show. —Jerry Saltz
Mitchell-Innes & Nash, through October 26
6. See Karen Black
No horror, just voluptuous.
Oh, Karen Black. After Airport 1975, we had some laughs at your expense, but you were at the center of so many momentous films. And BAM has them: Five Easy Pieces, Cisco Pike, Nashville, Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean (your best work—as a transsexual?), and that underrated gothic, Burnt Offerings. —David Edelstein
BAMcinématek, October 18 to 24.
7. Hear Franz Ferdinand
Nine years ago, these Glaswegians were the hottest little rock band on the planet. Their fourth album, Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action, is as packed with pleasures—seamless fusions of disco, classic rock, and Highland wit—as any of the previous, but they’ve slipped off the hipster radar. What better time to catch them live? —Jody Rosen
Hammerstein Ballroom, October 22.
8. Celebrate Archtober
Awkward to spell, easy to like.
October is architecture month, and the city is alive with symposia, walking tours, home visits, boat trips, screenings, and lectures aimed at everyone from novices to wonks. —Justin Davidson
Full list of activities at archtober.org.
9. Hear Silk Road Ensemble
Sounds from afar.
The international peace-through-music project that Yo-Yo Ma began in 1998—before 9/11, Iraq, Afghanistan, Chechen bombers in Boston, or the Arab Spring—marks its fifteenth birthday with new music from three continents. —J.D.
October 16, Carnegie Hall.
10. See Muscle Shoals
First there was 20 Feet From Stardom, and now there’s another thrilling music doc: Muscle Shoals, which centers on the Alabama studio that gave us some of the most thrilling bluesy rock ever made: Aretha, Percy, etc. It was run by Rick Hall, who’s white—as was his rhythm section. Who’da thunk it? Mick, Keef, Bono, and Aretha are all on hand to sing its praises. —D.E.
In theaters and on iTunes now.
11. See Gravity in a Theater
Do not try this at home.
Astrophysicists have raised objections to Sandra Bullock and George Clooney’s problems in Alfonso Cuarón’s smash, the summit of Motion-Sick Cinema. Based on my own superior calculations, I believe it’s—a whole lot of fun, particularly when Sandy collides with some object and you rock back in your seat from the impact! Don’t wait to see it on your iPhone. —D.E.
In theaters now.
12. See Matthew Bourne’s Sleeping Beauty
This time with more eyeliner.
The British choreographer known for his inventive, popular reimaginings of the classics (in Swan Lake, the men dance en pointe) goths up the typically tutu’d warhorse. The result is darkly romantic, Tim Burton–esque ballet. —Rebecca Milzoff
City Center, October 23 through November 3.