1. Watch The Leftovers
Finding its holy groove.
Very few TV series grab you from the opening seconds; it often takes several weeks for a show to figure out exactly what it is and produce a get-on-the-train episode. This third hour of the post-Rapture thriller The Leftovers is one of those episodes. It’s built almost entirely around Christopher Eccleston’s moralizing Matt Jamison, who puts out a newsletter and flyers indicating that a lot of those who vanished in the show’s mysterious event weren’t very good people and may have fallen prey to God’s judgment. I don’t want to give anything away; let’s just say that its mysterious intensity may remind viewers of the Coen brothers. —Matt Zoller Seitz
HBO, July 13, 10 p.m.
2. Hear First Aid Kit’s Stay Gold
Klara and Johanna Söderberg, in our heads.
It’s been out only a month, but we’ve pretty quickly discovered that this album by two folkie Swedish sisters has earworms to spare, especially when the swoopy Sgt. Pepper’s–style string arrangements kick in.
3. See Walter Robinson: Figure Studies
Is it the shoes?
One of the most respected and loved members of the New York art world, the artist and former editor of Artnet.com, Walter Robinson is also a fluid painter of the American scene. He pulls images from TV, film, and—in this lovely show—ads from newspapers, magazines, and department stores like JCPenney. In his pictures of happy shiny women modeling so-so clothes, his color is scrumptious, especially in the apple-red Lands’ End boots—a nod to Van Gogh’s existential painting of weathered shoes. —Jerry Saltz
Lynch Tham, through July 13.
4. Read The Actress
Sohn goes to Hollywood.
Amy Sohn’s novels are fast, entertaining reads that don’t quite let on how smart they are, dosing their sharp social observations in a casing of wisecracks and, sometimes, lousy sex. This time out, she’s added fame into that recipe: Her new novel is about a starlet who’s suddenly swept up and adopted by a megacelebrity, who makes her into both co-star and wife.
Simon & Schuster.
5. See Dangerous Acts Starring the Unstable Elements of Belarus
From Minsk with love.
Imagine a place where the theater speaks directly to the burning political issues of the day. Then imagine that those burning issues include ruthless censorship of the arts by Europe’s “last dictatorship.” The result is the precarious real-life drama of the Belarus Free Theater Company and the subject of an eye-opening, surprisingly emotional new documentary about its shaky (and necessary) survival. —Jesse Green
HBO, July 7.
6. Hear 1000 Forms of Fear
Sia’s sixth album.
“Chandelier,” the album’s single, is the song that Lena Dunham interpretive-danced to on Seth Meyers the other night. Consider that the music industry’s equivalent of a jacket blurb.
Monkey Puzzle/RCA, July 8.
7. See Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
An evolving series.
A tentative recommendation here—but the last remake, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, not only did not suck, it gave rise to the “Why Cookie Rocket?” internet meme. If the directors know what they’re doing, we foresee some deliberate sign-language Easter eggs this time.
8. Watch Extant
TV dramas burn through plot faster than ever these days, and this science-fiction mini-series is just one damned thing after another. Executive-produced by Steven Spielberg, the show stars Halle Berry as an astronaut who spends a year alone in space and returns to Earth pregnant. Who or what is the father? Why does her husband (Goran Visnjic) seem as smug as John Cassavetes in Rosemary’s Baby? How can the show possibly keep pulling a new rabbit out of its hat every ten minutes and still get through the rest of the summer? Stay tuned, as they say. —M.Z.S.
CBS, July 9, 9 p.m.
9. See The Lobby Project
In conjunction with its summer offerings, the Encores! Off-Center series offers preshow programs under the gorgeous ceiling of the Grand Tier lobby. If you missed the Sondheim Remix or Unknown Jonathan Larson evening (timed to Larson’s tick, tick … BOOM!), catch the offerings accompanying Pump Boys and Dinettes, including a jam session with the original cast, a discussion with the [title of show] creators, and—direct from Crown Heights—Shaina Taub’s A Living Room Concert. —J.G.
City Center, July 16 through 19.
10. See The Tsar’s Bride
Rimsky-Korsakov’s melodrama of political romance, love potions, jealousy, and poison is a rarity here (the Met, for one, has never touched it), but its tunes run in the Russian bloodstream. The Bolshoi’s classic production, full of carved logs, long beards, and sumptuous robes, is too massive to import for a two-day run, which is a shame; as a consolation prize, the company’s orchestra, chorus, and soloists will perform it in concert, conducted by Gennady Rozhdestvensky. —Justin Davidson
Avery Fisher Hall, July 12 and 13.