13. See The Hill Town Plays
Small-town New England, all over the Village.
The full five-play cycle of Lucy Thurber’s Hill Town series, about a young woman escaping her desperate western-Massachusetts upbringing, is erupting in Off Broadway theaters across the West Village. I can’t vouch for any one play, but the multi-night event presents a matchless opportunity to lose oneself in an artist’s world. —Scott Brown
Full schedule at theatervillage.com.
14. Hear Haim
Valley girls made good.
Alana, Danielle, and Este Haim are the rare blogosphere darlings who merit the hype. Their harmony-rich indie-pop holds echoes of an earlier SoCal sister act, Wilson Phillips; there’s also, as admirers have suggested, some Fleetwood Mac in their burnished tunes. Haim plays Webster Hall a couple of weeks before the release of their long-awaited debut album. It’ll be an occasion. —J.R.
Webster Hall, September 3.
15. See Our Nixon
“People want to know whether their president is a crook.”
There’s never been a dull approach to Richard Nixon—the man was too twisted—but Penny Lane’s Our Nixon finds several especially compelling vantages. Here we see the president through the silent home-movie cameras of three associates: H.R. Haldeman, John Ehrlichman, and Dwight Chapin, who in 1969 set out to film daily life in the White House. There’s plenty of period film and interviews—and so much in the Oval Office tapes—to keep you thanking the gods of comedy (and grateful for checks and balances). —D.E.
IFC Center, starting August 30.
16. See The Public Theater’s The Tempest
Civic art at its most immersive.
For three nights, the Public is hosting a unique participatory conclave—a musical adaptation of The Tempest, starring Laura Benanti, Norm Lewis, and Jeff Hiller … along with members of local arts and community groups and the audience itself. I honestly have no idea what will happen in Prospero’s mosh pit, but I can’t wait to see it. —S.B.
Delacorte Theater, Central Park, September 6 to 8.
17. Read Enon
No sophomore slump here.
The 2010 fiction Pulitzer went to a dark horse: Paul Harding’s debut novel Tinkers, chronicling the deathbed memories of George Crosby, a clock repairman. In Enon, Harding picks up with the story of Charlie, George’s grandson, whose life is rent by tragedy. The novel is less perfectly wrought than its predecessor, but it is a startling portrait of how rapidly and absolutely trauma can unhook us from everyday life. Also, my God, the man can write sentences. —K.S.
Random House, September 10.
18. Watch Doctor Who, Seasons 12 Through 18
Don’t strangle us with your scarf.
Amid all the recent geekery about the casting of the twelfth Doctor, here’s what needs to be said: that the best one was Tom Baker, who played him from 1974 to 1981. Let the arguing commence!
On DVD and Blu-ray, and available through Netflix.
19. See Mohammed Fairouz
With heavenly strings.
The lyrically gifted young composer hosts an evening of recent works—his own and others’—centering on a string piece, The Named Angels, played by the Voxare String Quartet. —J.D.
(Le) Poisson Rouge, September 6.
20. See Short Term 12
Not a great title, but one of the year’s most gripping films.
That name comes from a facility for troubled teens with every kind of emotional problem. As counselors struggle to reach them with limited resources, you can’t believe how fraught it is, the frog-in-the-well progress: one foot up, two feet back; three feet up, one foot back … Written and directed by a former counselor, the film has a star-making performance by Brie Larson as a young woman still working through her own childhood. —D.E.
In theaters now.
21. Read Someone
Someone: That is the title of the new novel by Alice McDermott, winner of the National Book Award for Charming Billy. Like all of McDermott’s words, it is well chosen. This book is about a particular someone—Marie Commeford, whose terrible eyesight shapes her literal and figurative vision of the world. But it is also about someone-ness: about the complexity, specificity, and emotional intensity of ostensibly unremarkable lives. —K.S.
Farrar, Straus & Giroux, September 10.
22. See Contempt
Lush and romantic, stark and sardonic.
One of the last times anyone trusted Jean-Luc Godard with a fat budget and big stars was precisely 50 years ago. Jack Palance is the domineering film producer with designs (perhaps) on Brigitte Bardot, the wife of screenwriter Michel Piccoli. Think of it as the anti-Truffaut view of filmmaking: The film-within-a-film suggests a Studio of Babel that produces nothing but unease. —D.E.
Film Forum, September 6 to 19.
23. See American Modern: Hopper to O’Keeffe
The first act of art’s American century.
An enticing glimpse of MoMA’s holdings of American art from 1915 to 1950 without any of those pesky Abstract Abstractionists. There are big names like Stuart Davis, lesser-knowns like George Ault, and pure visionaries like Florine Stettheimer. MoMA doesn’t often let its early-American roots show, so let’s hope this is a taste of deeper things to come. A swell start. —Jerry Saltz
Museum of Modern Art, through January 26.
24. Watch Side by Side: The Science, Art, and Impact of Digital Cinema
A new way to see.
Keanu Reeves hosts this documentary by Chris Kenneally, which looks at how the end of analog film has changed how people tell stories with moving pictures. There’s a geek aspect to the piece—the comparisons of film and video images are eye-opening—but it’s breezy and informative. —M.Z.S.
PBS, August 30, 10:30 p.m.
25. Watch The U.S. Open
It’s a good year.
There are the usual semifinal-and-final matchup possibilities among the reigning Murray-Nadal-Djokovic trivalry, but the big hanging question is: Can Federer still play?
Arthur Ashe Stadium, through September 9.