1. See The Conjuring
Flawed, but scary as hell.
James Wan’s The Conjuring is packed with terrible stuff: Nearly everything here that features Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson as crucifix-bearing exorcists goes clunk in the night. But all the gothic bits—the long treks into dark rooms, the camera just over some poor sap’s shoulder—have almost never been done this well. How does Wan create menace with such hackneyed material? Watch and learn (and shriek). —David Edelstein
In theaters now.
Gossip and grandes pliés.
It’s not too late to jump in on season two of this reality show about Salt Lake City’s Ballet West company: In the first episode alone, precocious Beckanne gets drunk, fratty Ronnie deals with a gross foot infection, and pouty Allison considers quitting. Plus there’s dancing. —Rebecca Milzoff
CW, Mondays, 9 p.m. or at cwtv.com.
Sing along with Rob.
I plucked Rob Sheffield’s Turn Around Bright Eyes from the galley pile and started reading it because—oh, you know, you can take the girl out of the eighties, but you can’t … etc. Sheffield, a longtime contributor to Rolling Stone, has written a book that is part memoir and part anthropological study of America’s karaoke scene; it’s as much fun, and as strangely affecting, as a boozy night on the town with old friends and old standards. —Kathryn Schulz
Taking The Bachelor semi-seriously.
A lightweight, high-torque pop musical about the triumphant vulgarity of TV love competitions that showcases abundant wit from book writer and lyricist Itamar Moses, crisp direction from Michelle Tattenbaum, and an uproarious ensemble. —Scott Brown
Second Stage Theatre, through August 11.
David Lang is one of the founders of Bang on a Can, but despite the group’s name, in recent years he’s moved toward creating a serene hush. For the whisper opera, performed by the International Contemporary Ensemble, audience, singer, and players mingle so intimately that it’s hard to tell which is which. —Justin Davidson
Mostly Mozart Festival, Clark Studio Theater, August 10 through 13; schedule at mostlymozart.org.
Get there before the tide comes in.
Rockaway Beach needs every pick-me-up it can get, and who better than Creative Time, the group that places antic artworks in city parks? This Friday, it’s a cadre of artists building sand castles, and it should be a blast as long as they don’t try to, y’know, offer a commentary about the medium of sand. Local food vendors will be on hand.
Beach 86th Street Boardwalk, August 9, 2 p.m.
And even under Park Avenue.
The next mayor may not share the Bloombergian urge to let pedestrians get intimate with the city’s streets, so better take advantage now of the seven-mile carless Saturday, which includes a sound-and-light installation in the usually inaccessible Park Avenue Tunnel by artist Rafael Lozano-Hemmer. —J.D.
August 10 and 17, 7 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Crate-digging as art.
A great idea: As Cornell University catalogues Bambaataa’s record collection, the process itself is on exhibit. It’s an unmatched window into an artist-collector’s head—of a type that will be irreproducible in the digital-playlist era.
Gavin Brown’s Enterprise, through August 10.
In the harbor.
It’s the centennial year for Igor Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring, and the Rite of Summer Music Festival on Governors Island will pay homage as two irreverent new-music ensembles—Ljova and Friends, and the Fireworks Ensemble—unite to decompose the venerable old thing. —J.D.
August 10 (rain date August 11), 1 and 3 p.m.
Amusing the billions.
All sorts of activities from the Coney Island History Project (finally rebuilt, post-Sandy), presented jointly with Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park (ditto): There’ll be live old-timey music, organ grinders, sideshow acts, and much more. Most of it will play out at the Dreamland Pedestrian Plaza, in Wonder Wheel Park, and at the museum, all on or near West 12th Street near the Boardwalk.
August 10 (rain date August 11), 1 to 6 p.m.
A script with scrip.
The futures predictions look good for this evening of “economic vaudeville” at the Brick in Williamsburg. The show includes both written elements and games that require audience investment—and tokens! Don’t ever take a stock tip from a critic, but this one looks like a buy. —S.B.
August 7 through 11.
In from Hamburg.
Stefan Kozalla, who records and performs as DJ Koze, has been making clever dance music since the nineties. He started out doing left-of-center hip-hop; the rococo cut-and-paste miniatures on his excellent 2013 album Amygdala are sometimes called “experimental techno,” sometimes “microhouse.” Never mind the nomenclature: His music is heady but fun. —Jody Rosen
Output, August 10.
Ever since Henry James shipped Christopher Newman off to Europe in The American, our nation’s novelists have been sending their protagonists to the Old World to wise up. Now the literary critic Caleb Crain has gotten in on the tradition with Necessary Errors, the story of Jacob Putnam, a young gay man who moves to Prague in 1990 to teach English. Crain nicely captures the feel of two societies perched on the edge of becoming vastly more open—gay culture and the former Eastern Bloc—but where he really shines is in capturing the subtle, omnipresent disorientation of the expat experience. —K.S.