1. Watch Hard Out Here
Lily Allen’s newest: Love it or loathe it?
The lyrics of Allen’s first single in four years cackle at the culture of body-snarking, and the video completely takes the piss out of “Blurred Lines.” Or: The whole thing is lame and obvious, shamelessly crafted for linkbait and glib praise. Either way, it’s four minutes out of your day: Go watch it and make up your mind.
2. See Miriam Cahn at Elizabeth Dee
Forgotten Swiss artist returns.
Once upon a time in the eighties, Cahn’s bold drawings of warships and fighter jets were shown with the work of guys like Anselm Kiefer and Jörg Immendorff. Some of them became art stars. She faded. Here, she blazes forth in glowing paintings of hovering ghostlike apparitions. The most startling wears a veil and is otherwise naked to the world. Welcome back to the fold. —Jerry Saltz
545 West 20th Street, through January 11.
3. Watch The Getaway
Dream tour guides, Bourdain style.
Imagine a travel show with the on-the-ground spirit of Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations and advice you can actually use. That’s The Getaway in a nutshell: The hosts wander around cities they actually know, which means Joel McHale discovering the best hangover cure in Belfast and Aziz Ansari finding Happy Foot Spa, a massage spot for resting your toes after canvassing Hong Kong.
Esquire Network, Wednesdays at 9 p.m.
4.–7. See City Lights, Nashville, Tokyo Story, and The World Cinema Project
Criterion’s holiday feast.
The Criterion Collection has a batch of new Blu-rays for the holidays, and among them are some of the most celebrated and controversial films ever made. What to choose, what to choose … I can think of few gifts to a young person more precious than Charlie Chaplin’s sentimental masterpiece City Lights, the one with the Little Tramp and the blind girl. Robert Altman’s panoramic Nashville looms large—his widest canvas, his deepest emotions. Yasujiro Ozu’s Tokyo Story and a Martin Scorsese–curated selection of six little-known features from seven countries (The World Cinema Project) round out a gorgeous package.—David Edelstein
Details at criterion.com.
8. Read William R. Corliss
While you’re thinking about the typhoon.
William Corliss (1926–2011) was a fringe figure: curious, obsessive, part scientific, part crackpotic. He dedicated his life to collecting information that did not seem to fit inside reigning scientific paradigms, then organizing it into books—more than two dozen of them, all wonderfully illustrated, from Biological Anomalies: Mammals (Parts I & II) and Biological Anomalies: Humans (Parts I, II, and III) to Rare Halos, Mirages, Anomalous Rainbows, and Related Electromagnetic Phenomena and Tornados, Dark Days, Anomalous Precipitation, and Related Weather Phenomena. Don’t ask how many of them I own. They’re good to look at when you or the cat or the world or the weather is behaving madly; or, conversely, when life seems mundane and you want to be reminded of its mysteries. —Kathryn Schulz
Bibliography (and more) at science-frontiers.com.
9. See Ballet Hispanico
Showtime, without the amateurs.
Three premieres performed by this ever-vibrant company, all by Latino choreographers, including one with live, original music by the infectiously exuberant Ljova and the Kontraband. —Rebecca Milzoff
Apollo Theater, November 23, 7:30 p.m.
10. See 21c Liederabend
In the third installment of an every-few-years tradition, 23 composers contribute a bushel of fresh art songs, opera scenes, and choral numbers, spread out over two evenings. You couldn’t ask for a better one-stop survey of what’s happening in new music now. —Justin Davidson
Brooklyn Academy of Music, November 22 and 23.
11. Watch Moonlighting
Because you once liked Bruce Willis, and it’s free.
The late-eighties show that made Willis’s career and revived Cybill Shepherd’s—and set the standard for rom-com prime-time flirting—is surprisingly present on YouTube, copyrights be damned. A very pleasant, quippy way to spend a couple of weeks’ lunch hours.
12. Argue Over Blue Is the Warmest Color
Hot or not?
Lots of lesbians have been weighing in on the long, graphic sex scene in the French sensation Blue Is the Warmest Color, and the consensus is that it’s not how they do it. The best rejoinder is that it’s less a film about being gay than about finding one’s identity via first love—and about the devastation (and loss of identity) that comes when that love is lost. See it and decide how it fits into your romantic life.—D.E.
13. Watch Maria Bamford
If you missed her show, see her onscreen.
If you’re like me and can’t get enough of Maria Bamford (or haven’t yet joined her cult), there are firm steps you can take. Her sold-out show at the Skirball Center for the New York Comedy Festival—where she was billed mysteriously far down—is over, but you can download The Special Special Special, her live performance for her parents in their living room. She bends low over the mike and talks in a tiny, tremulous voice—the voice of fear and of depression (serious depression)—and then comes out with uncannily robust impersonations of more confident souls. She’s transcendent. —D.E.
14. See Mark Morris Dance Group
Landmark piece, justly revived.
It’s difficult to describe Morris’s evening-length L’Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato; it’s really more about getting the ecstatic shivers as you watch. In short, it’s the kind of dance piece that offers something new with every viewing, and happily, though Morris made it way back in his wunderkind days, the White Light Festival has brought it back. —R.M.
David H. Koch Theater, November 21 through 23.
15. See Peter Grimes
In a concert performance.
One of the major events of Benjamin Britten’s centennial year is a performance of his mournful opera of coastal village life, conducted by David Robertson. Anthony Dean Griffey, who sings the role of the fisherman-pariah, usually makes it seem as if it had been written for him. —J.D.
Carnegie Hall, November 22.
16. Watch JFK: The Lost Tapes
One more look.
Just when you thought the events of November 22, 1963, could not possibly be recounted in a fresh way, along comes Discovery to retell them using only preexisting imagery (still photographs, newsreel footage) and audio (rare audiotape from Air Force One and by cops and reporters on the scene at Dealey Plaza).—Matt Zoller Seitz
Discovery, November 21, 7 p.m.
17. Welcome Rough Trade
High Fidelity guys: This is your moment.
Our record-store culture is down to its embers—there’s Other Music, and the secondhand shops, and barely anything else—so it’s great to hear that Rough Trade, the punk-era retailer that’s still going strong in London, is opening a U.S. flagship that will (the company’s website says) include a “healthy-sized place to hang out.” Funk master Charles Bradley will play at the opening. And you can buy these old-style circular silver things that contain music, too.
64 North 9th Street, Williamsburg, November 25.
18. Watch The Doctors Revisited
No TARDIS required.
sends off the eleventh doctor, Matt Smith, with a look back at his run, followed by the two-parter “The Impossible Astronaut” and “Day of the Moon,” the first of the show’s episodes to shoot in the U.S. The twelfth Doctor, Peter Capaldi, will take over in a Christmas special. —M.Z.S.
BBC America, November 24, 8 p.m..
19. Celebrate Bruce Weber
At Film Forum.
It’s a long-overdue retrospective of the films (short and feature length) of the fashion photographer Bruce Weber, and they are transporting works—free-spirited, catch-as-catch-can, held together by cheerful rapture. The Chet Baker portrait Let’s Get Lost (“One of the most suggestive documentaries ever made” —Pauline Kael) is treasured, but try to catch his marvelous hodgepodge Chop Suey, a rambling ode to subjects as various as Robert Mitchum and Frances Faye. It’s hard to believe that the eroticism (largely homo-) of Weber’s photos once put people off—the culture has caught up with him. —D.E.
Through November 21, schedule at filmforum.org.
20. Hear So Percussion
With Bryce Dessner and Matmos.
Percussionists are used to scavenged and invented instruments, and the music on this program involves clapping mallets on electric guitar strings, tapping tuned flower pots, and threading natural noises through a digital tapestry. —J.D.
Zankel Hall at Carnegie Hall, November 23.
21. Read Battleborn
Short stories from the rural West.
Earlier this month, Claire Vaye Watkins’s collection Battleborn won the 2013 Dylan Thomas Prize, a prestigious £30,000 award given to the best work in the English language by a writer under 30. By coincidence, I’d just finished Battleborn, and given it my own private Hot Damn prize. Watkins works in a narrow geographical range—Nevada and rural desert California—but an expansive topical and tonal one, moving with remarkable control from intimacy to violence, the past to the present, youth to old age. I’m usually averse to the love-child model of literary criticism, but if this book were a person, it would look a lot like the improbable kid of Lena Dunham and Wyatt Earp. —K.S.
22. Attend Living Legend: Alice Herz-Sommer
She saw it all.
Herz-Sommer, the oldest living Holocaust survivor—on November 26, she’ll turn 110—was born in Prague, knew the Kafkas, and played the piano at Theresienstadt, the concentration camp where inmates coped by cultivating a vibrant artistic life. This tribute evening gives a little gift back to her from afar, with performances by pianist Orli Shaham and the Amphion String Quartet. —R.M.
Museum of Jewish Heritage, November 20, 7 p.m.
23. Listen to Rutherford Chang’s White Album
Revolution No. 100.
Earlier this year, the artist Rutherford Chang put up a deceptively simple installation at Recess gallery: hundreds of LPs of The Beatles, some pristine, some loved to death, all obsessively catalogued. In the show’s aftermath, he’s pressed his own album: the sounds of 100 of those copies, all layered and superimposed into one mass of sound, and it’ll be released on the 45th anniversary (You say it’s yer birthday?) of the release of the White Album itself.
Launching at the WFMU Record Fair, 125 West 18th Street, November 22 through 24.
24. Hear Sleigh Bells
Infinity guitars onstage.
A hometown show by the duo—he a hard-core guitar guy, she a glossy teen-pop singer, and their band a tasty chocolate-and-peanut-butter combination of the two.
Terminal 5, November 22 and 23.
25. Hear Joey Bada$$ and Ab-Soul
Internet hip-hop heroes.
The rap cognoscenti will be out in force, backpacks hitched tight, for this one. The brightest light on the undercard is Ab-Soul, Kendrick Lamar’s homeboy, who has wit and flow worthy of that distinction. Headliner Joey Bada$$ is far too young to remember the nineties—he was born in 1995—which is probably why his revivalism steers clear of sodden nostalgia and is so much fun. —Jody Rosen
Best Buy Theater, November 27.