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To Do: November 1–November 29, 2017

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


1. See Murder on the Orient Express
New strangers, old train.   
I’ve seen two fine adaptations of Agatha Christie’s famous Hercule Poirot mystery — one star-studded (Albert Finney, Ingrid Bergman), one more modest for TV — but I’ll eagerly show up for the third. This one’s directed by and stars Kenneth Branagh as the preening Belgian with the waxed mustache and suspects-victims Michelle Pfeiffer, Johnny Depp, Daisy Ridley, Judi Dench, and on it goes.   —David Edelstein
In theaters now.

2. Listen to Soul of a Woman
Celebrating life.
Not long before Sharon Jones died of cancer last November, she and her band, the Dap-Kings, spent upbeat days in their Bushwick studio workshopping material. This new album, the fruit of these efforts, showcases Jones’s unstoppable voice and mettle. —Craig Jenkins
Daptone Records, November 17.

3. Watch Queen Sugar
Unmistakably excellent. 
Ava DuVernay’s series about a Louisiana plantation has undergone one of those spectacular season-two creative growth spurts, deepening its writing, direction, and performances to become one of the best dramatic series on TV. The season finale runs 90 minutes. —Matt Zoller Seitz
OWN, November 15.

4. See Barbara Hammer: Truant: Photographs, 1970–1979
Reinventing her world. 
After she left her marriage in 1970 and came out as a lesbian, while making legendary experimental films like Dyketactics, artist-filmmaker Barbara Hammer made a ravishing series of intimate black-and-white photographs of herself, essentially being reborn as a gay woman. Here we see her exploring what it meant to be living a free life. —Jerry Saltz
Company Gallery, 88 Eldridge Street, through November 26.

5. See Peter Pan
Beware the crocodile … 
Eric Tucker’s company, Bedlam, has made a name for itself with its energetic, stripped-down, joyfully physical forays into classical storytelling, from Hamlet and Shaw’s Saint Joan to Austen’s Sense & Sensibility. Now six actors (including Tucker, who also directs) tackle the very big adventure of the boy who wouldn’t grow up. —Sara Holdren
The Duke on 42nd Street, through December 23.

6. Hear Barbara Hannigan
What can’t she do? 
With their sometimes-idiosyncratic ideas about rhythm and tempo, singers can drive conductors crazy. Barbara Hannigan solves that problem, Walter Mitty style, by being both. An uninhibited actress and contemporary-music virtuoso with a continental range, she brings only a selection of her talents to this pair of recitals. —Justin Davidson
Park Avenue Armory, November 16 and 18.

7. Hear Ivy Pochoda
Hot in the city. 
Novelist Ivy Pochoda (Visitation Street, The Art of Disappearing) launches her new novel, Wonder Valley, about a runaway teen in a shifty Los Angeles, in conversation with Edgar Award–winning author Megan Abbott.              
Books Are Magic, November 15.

8. See Thelma
Nordic state of mind. 
directed by the talented Norwegian Joachim Trier, is the art-house lesbian version of Carrie, starring the young Eili Harboe as the student with intimacy issues. She doesn’t fly off the handle. Other things do. It’s so starkly beautiful and creepily evocative that I forgave even its disappointingly pat finale. —D.E.
In theaters now.

9. See Duncan Hannah: Adrift in the 21st Century
Big moves in little paintings.
The skilled realist-dream painter Duncan Hannah, 65, steps away from the nostalgia that held his earlier work back. Here, we revel in his gentle, sure touch, soothing surfaces, and color, as he seems to alight on current pathos, passions, drives, and inner lives. In scenes taken from early films, Hannah knocks us down with his feathery, painterly intelligence and a newfound love of the present. —J.S.
Invisible-Exports, 89 Eldridge Street, through December 10.

10. Hear Circa Survive and Thrice
See it to believe it. 
The veteran post-hard-core bands team up this month for two nights of passionate, inventive guitar rock and soul-searching vocals just a quick NJ Transit ride from the city. —C.J.
Starland Ballroom, Sayreville, N.J., November 18 and 19.

11. Go to Eyeworks Festival of Experimental Animation
Outside the box.
This eighth annual festival celebrating unconventional and avant-garde animation touches down in Red Hook for two nights of screenings and special events including films by Barbara Hammer and Annapurna Kumar.
Pioneer Works, November 28 and 29.

12. See A Billion Nights on Earth
Find the stuffed whale! 
Director Thaddeus Phillips, installation artist Steven Dufala, and real-life father-and-son actors Michael and Winslow Fegley bring to life this weird and whimsical journey into the imagination. When a favorite stuffed animal goes missing, an alternate-universe-crossing, homeward-bound adventure begins. —S.H.
BAM, through November 18.

13. Hear Steve Mackey: Slide
The composer and electric guitarist Steve Mackey has always treated the borders between genres the way some drivers treat amber stoplights. In 2009, he crossed a guitar concerto with music theater to produce the unclassifiable Slide, written for the multitalented singer-actor-director-librettist Rinde Eckert. —J.D.
National Sawdust, November 17.

14. Watch Better Things
Easy does it.
Pamela Adlon’s great series about a single mother in Los Angeles captures that mysterious and primal contradiction of parenthood: At any given moment, you would lay down your life for your kids, but there are also times when you want to strangle them. The season finale is tonight; Adlon wrote and directed.  —M.Z.S.
FX, November 16.

15. Listen to Three Futures
Going deep.
Singer-songwriter Mackenzie Scott — who performs as Torres — cuts a masterful path through a minimal electronic landscape with lyrics as mesmerizing as her growl. The expansive track “Skim” stays with you long after you the album ends.         

16. Read Using Life
Voices of the resistance.
The authorities jailed the author of this wild Egyptian novel, Ahmed Naji, ostensibly for depicting a Cairo youth culture awash in sex and drugs. But the winner of last year’s PEN “Freedom to Write” award had given them plenty of reasons to suppress him. His dystopian story — translated by Benjamin Koerber and illustrated whimsically by Ayman Al Zorkany — follows a “professional kiss-ass” who ends up stumbling upon an architectural conspiracy. But the real secret is the cynicism and paralysis afflicting the narrator and his friends, victims of political and religious forces’ squandering of a great city’s creativity. —Boris Kachka
University of Texas Press.

17. Listen to Utopia
Looking forward.  
Icelandic singer-producer Björk’s last album, Vulnicura, touched on themes of loss after she divorced her husband of 13 years, but this November’s new Utopia pulls a U-turn and explores the dance-music pioneer’s dream of a hopeful future, with help from gifted young producers Arca and Rabit. —C.J.
One Little Indian, November 24.

18. See Marcel + The Art of Laughter
Send in the clowns.
The phenomenal Lecoq-trained clowns Marcello Magni and Jos Houben bring a sweet, virtuosic, and family friendly double act to TFANA. Marcel is all Buster Keaton–esque heart, while The Art of Laughter is a particularly delightful bit of brain candy. —S.H.
Theatre for a New Audience, through November 19.

19. Read It’s All Relative
Our zany Zeitgeist. 
Gonzo stunt writer A. J. Jacobs finds a meaty subject in our obsession with ancestry, focusing of course on the most obsessed: Mormons; unconventional-family support groups; and his central subject, a consortium of scientists and historians building the World Family Tree. —B.K.
Simon & Schuster.

20. Hear Verdi’s Requiem
Mourning in America.
James Levine resumes his conductor’s duties at the Met to lead four performances of Verdi’s massive, quasi-operatic Mass for the dead. The cast doesn’t kid around, but the orchestra and chorus may well upstage the stars. —J.D.
Metropolitan Opera, November 24 to December 2.

21. Hear Bleachers
It’ll be fun.
Jack Antonoff’s power-pop outfit plays in support of its new album, Gone Now, a collection of synth-heavy anthems with lots of ’80s flavor. A dollar from every ticket goes to the Ally Coalition, in support of LGBTQ equality. With Bishop Briggs and Amy Shark opening.
Brooklyn Steel, November 21.

22. Hear and See Amy Sherman-Palladino and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel  
A delicious holiday treat.
In advance of the premiere on Amazon, Amy Sherman-Palladino and Dan Palladino screen and discuss the pilot of their fantastic new series about a 1950s housewife who tries her hand at stand-up. In conversation with actress Sutton Foster.         
92Y, November 26.

23. Read Don’t Save Anything
An enduring legacy.
In the late James Salter’s cut-crystal sentences, portraits of everyone from Eisenhower to the designer of the artificial heart mingle with meditations on the changing military, the Hollywood adaptation machine, and the future of the novel (in his opinion, not bright). —B.K.

24. Hear Jonathan Richman
He’s in love with rock and roll, and he’ll be out all night. 
The perpetually adenoidal proto-punk boy wonder, founder of the Modern Lovers and strolling scene-stealer in There’s Something About Mary, takes the stage for a show of old and new favorites with longtime drummer Tommy Larkins.
The Kitchen, November 18 to 22.

25. See Roman J. Israel, Esq.
The defense rests.
Oscar-bait season hits full stride with Dan Gilroy’s ethical-dilemma melodrama, starring Denzel Washington as a social-activist lawyer on the spectrum. The plot is lumpy and the ending ludicrous, but Washington is magnetic — he holds you. —D.E.
In theaters November 17.


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