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To Do: July 30–August 12, 2014

Twenty-five things to see, hear, watch, and read.


1. Watch The Knick
Medicine before science.
Great material—life in a New York hospital circa 1900, with near-medieval medical practices on view—directed by Steven Soderbergh and starring Clive Owen. Let the bleeding begin!
Cinemax, premiering August 8, 10 p.m.

2. See The Strange Little Cat
A good little movie.
After a long film-festival life, Ramon Zürcher’s The Strange Little Cat settles into a one-week run at Lincoln Center to remind us how delightfully a director can in an instant transform the mundane into the surreal and back. Three generations of a middle-class Berlin family gather in one room—an endlessly discombobulated ecosystem seen from every which way, enough to make Jacques Tati sit up in his grave and salute. —David Edelstein
Film Society of Lincoln Center, August 1 through 7.

3. See Displayed
Singular group show.
“Displayed” alights on the mind like a strange no-brainer, getting you to think about something you didn’t know you needed to think about: that photos of objects or even paintings are like shelves full of stuff, platforms for reframing thought. Nancy Shaver’s gendered T-shirts on a table let you know sexism starts scary young; Margaret Lee places orchids in a ceramic platter in front of a polka-dot painting; Chris Martin hangs two paintings on the outside of the building. The whole show contains such clever multitudes. —Jerry Saltz
Anton Kern Gallery, through August 22.

Pop Music
4. Listen to Becky G’s Shower
Good clean fun.
It’s been around for a couple of months, but it’s maybe still a song-of-summer contender: Becky G’s big single has a hook that catches and clings, and production reminiscent of Katy Perry’s. Plus it is about singing in the shower.
Kemosabe Records.

5. Watch Garfunkel and Oates
They got a TV show.
The sweet-voiced duo, known for their punchy songs (e.g., “Pregnant Women Are Smug”) and steady A-list presence on the New York comedy scene, make the leap to TV.
IFC, premiering August 7, 10 p.m.

6. & 7. See Violet and Rocky
Last-chance musicals.
Despite the stagecraft of its title bout, Rocky was successful as a drama only in its early scenes, when it dwelt on what it meant to be a loser. But the little scrapper Violet figured out how to pull musical triumph from all sorts of unprepossession. Still, both are worth seeing once before the bell. —Jesse Green
Violet: at the American Airlines Theatre through August 10; Rocky: at the Winter Garden Theatre through August 17.

8. See Step Up All In
Yes, there is a dance-movie franchise.
The fifth (!) installment in this series that, way back when in its 2006 debut, delivered unto us Channing Tatum.
Opens August 8.

9. Read Factory Man
“How One Furniture Maker Battled Offshoring, Stayed Local—and Helped Save An American Town.”
Beth Macy’s first book, ostensibly the story of John D. Bassett III—furniture heir, Virginia good ol’ boy, and unlikely savior of domestic manufacturing—is better thought of as an Appalachian Random Family. In the course of narrating his efforts to fight China’s underhanded underpricing, Macy digs in all directions, visiting company towns without companies, unearthing family secrets, and explaining the economic forces that determine our lives. —Boris Kachka
Little, Brown.

10. & 11. Watch Company: Original Cast Album and Elaine Stritch At Liberty
Here’s to you-know-who.
Given that her career was mostly onstage, it’s hard to curate a tribute to the late Elaine Stritch, but she did commit two indelible performances to film: In D. A. Pennebaker’s documentary Company: Original Cast Album, we see her trying furiously to get her performance in Stephen Sondheim’s breakthrough 1970 show onto LP. (It takes punishing self-criticism and fury, and a couple of days.) And then there’s her career recap At Liberty, produced on Broadway and then filmed for HBO, which pretty much sets the standard for onstage confessionals: brittle and brutal, ornery and open, witty and winning.
On YouTube and Netflix.

12. Watch The Honorable Woman
Neo–Emma Peel.
Extremely promising, breathlessly reviewed BBC export about a secret agent, starring Maggie Gyllenhaal.
Sundance Channel.

13. Read Last Stories and Other Stories
William T. Vollmann’s final book (except not).
Don’t be afraid of the bricklike mass of this collection, or of Vollmann’s forbidding reputation. Fear only the specters and vampires that invest these 32 stories—which range from six sentences to 90 pages and from Bosnian killing fields to an American cemetery—with highbrow goth. —B.K.

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