1. Hear Danny Brown’s Old
The party rapper returns.
With his 2011 album XXX—named for his 30th year—and now this, Brown may be trying to say that he’s aged out of relevance. But there’s still enough playfulness among these twenty tracks (see “Smokin & Drinkin” and “Kush Coma”) to go around.
Fool’s Gold Records.
2. Reconsider All Is Lost
Robert Redford needs you.
All Is Lost opened soft, probably because young folks don’t think spending two hours with 77-year-old Robert Redford sounds like much of a party. But it’s a treat to watch him all by himself in J. C. Chandor’s terrific survival-at-sea drama. (Maybe I should have blurbed it better: “Found: An Oscar for Redford in All Is Lost.” “All Is Lost—except Oscar!”) Also, there’s much behind Redford: The film boasts the most creative editing and sound design—boat creaks, splashes, low doomy strings—of the year. —David Edelstein
In theaters now.
3. See Steve Mumford at Postmasters Gallery
Back from a tough situation.
Yay! Postmasters has reopened after losing its Chelsea location to an astronomical rent spike. The gallery’s back in form in Tribeca with a charged show of detailed ink-and-wash paintings made on-site at Guantánamo Bay’s naval base by Steve Mumford, who has previously done similar work in Iraq. We see abandoned interrogation huts, guards reading, barbed wire, and artist notations that read “classified area” or “secret.” This is the perfect first show. —Jerry Saltz
54 Franklin Street, through November 23.
4. Make Contact!
Early look at the Philbiennial.
The New York Philharmonic is expanding its new-music purview with a blowout biennial next spring. As a teaser, this downtown excursion by the orchestra features chamber music by Esa-Pekka Salonen, who’s evolved from composer to celebrity conductor and back again. —Justin Davidson
SubCulture, 45 Bleecker Street, November 4.
5. See The Junket
Mike Albo’s monologue about journo-life.
Albo—a really funny writer, sometimes for New York—is doing just six performances of The Junket, his eviscerating, hilarious thinly veiled roman à clef about the freelance-writing life.
Dixon Place, November 1 through 16.
6. See Lincoln Center’s Scary Movies Festival
The selection is so vast that it’s … monstrous. The seventh edition of the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s Scary Movies festival begins on Halloween and carries the tricks and treats well into November. There are nine premieres and a bevy of classics like Michele Soavi’s impudently ghoulish Cemetery Man (Dellamorte Dellamore) and John D. Hancock’s moody Let’s Scare Jessica to Death. Don’t miss Clive Barker’s 144-minute cut of his 1990 flop Nightbreed—a dark ode to mutants of all stripes—that’s now a cult classic despite its being panned by just about every critic (except me, in the New York Post). —D.E.
Full schedule at filmlinc.org.
7. Hear Ned Is Ninety
Rorem, roaring along.
The New York Festival of Song might exist even if Ned Rorem had never lived, but it’s unlikely. You might say the same for the American art song as a genre. All three will come together for an elegant, tuneful birthday party. —J.D.
Merkin Hall/Kaufman Music Center, November 5.
8. See Philip-Lorca diCorcia’s Hustlers
Last chance before closing time.
A truly great photographer’s breakthrough work, reshown on the twentieth anniversary of its exhibition at MoMA: young male prostitutes in L.A., posing in exchange for their standard fee. Still vivid and unnervingly edgy, especially given that he paid them with National Endowment for the Arts money (during the Jesse Helms era!).
David Zwirner, through November 2.
9. Read I’m a Frog!
Gerald and Piggie are back.
I’m a Frog! is the latest in Mo Willems’s “Gerald and Piggie” series of witty bunny-slope titles for small children. (This one’s ostensibly for ages 6 to 8, though a bright 4-year-old can appreciate it.) They’re the “I Can Read” books for our time, and as a bonus, they are—and parents who have to plow through several books per evening will understand what we mean here—blessedly short.
10. Watch city.ballet
NYCB and SJP.
As the CW’s ballet reality series Breaking Pointe has pushed actual dancing to the side in favor of backstage drama, this new web series based at New York City Ballet—produced and narrated by NYCB fanatic Sarah Jessica Parker—puts artistry at the fore, exposing the nuts and bolts of how a world-class ballet troupe operates, from casting to breaking in pointe shoes. Of course, there are backstage confessionals, pretty faces, and hot bodies on display, too. —Rebecca Milzoff
AOL On, starts November 4.
11. Read The Isle of Youth
Short stories that zing.
My current favorite short-story-writer-too-few-people-have-heard-of is Laura van den Berg, whose new collection, The Isle of Youth, is a smart, fun, noir-y treasure map of where families hide their secrets and lost souls hide themselves. Van den Berg somehow packs a duffel bag of plot into carry-on-size stories. She also has the right kind of range: from brutal to moving to funny, South America to Paris to Antarctica, really great to freaking outstanding. —Kathryn Schulz
FSG Originals, November 5.
12. See Fun Home
Characters well drawn.
To turn Alison Bechdel’s memoir-in-graphic-novel-form into a musical, playwright Lisa Kron and composer Jeanine Tesori threw out the musical-theater rule book. The result: A new kind of story (lesbian daughter discovers her dad is gay) gets a thrillingly new kind of treatment. Sam Gold directs; Michael Cerveris delivers a spectacular wallop of sadness as the father. —Jesse Green
Public Theater, through December 1.
13. See Venetian Glass by Carlo Scarpa
At the Metropolitan Museum.
Yummy, bright handblown glass by a mid-century master, made for the Venini company between 1932 and 1947. The sort of show that makes you want to go home and hit eBay.
Opens November 5.
14. Revisit The War Room
It’s the anniversary, stupid.
Exactly twenty years ago, D. A. Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus released the fast, funny, on-the-fly account of the Bill Clinton campaign that made stars of James Carville and George Stephanopoulos. You can relive the glory days with Pennebaker and Hegedus in person November 1 at the Maysles. And since we’re about to choose a new mayor, check out the Maysles’s Election Week calendar for more politics docs—including Robert Downey Jr.’s gonzo political travelogue, The Last Party. —D.E.
Maysles Documentary Center.
15. Hear French Montana, Juelz Santana, and Jadakiss
Catch up with the recent past.
There will be a few specters—the Ghosts of New York City Rap Past, circa 2002—knocking around the Hammerstein this Halloween. The crowd will come out for the headliner French Montana, a desultory but inescapable fixture of current hip-hop radio. But the word-drunk veterans Juelz Santana and Jadakiss are the real stars on this bill: the latter loose, funny, a bit gonzo, the former brusque and staccato. Both are commanding live performers. —Jody Rosen
Hammerstein Ballroom, October 31.
16. Read On Monsters
Truly, who wouldn’t read a chapter called “Hermaphrodites and Man-Headed Oxen”? The book in question is Stephen Asma’s history of terrifying beasts and our perverse attraction to them, from Gog and Magog to cyborgs, terrorists, torturers, and zombies. On Monsters is a few years old, but it’s timely: You won’t find Sexy Whatever in there, but it’s otherwise a terrific sourcebook for Halloween costumes. Or you could just wear the wonderful illustrations. —K.S.
Oxford University Press.
17. See American Ballet Theatre
The best season for ABT begins.
This week, ABT jetés across the plaza from its summer Met home, with a season chock-full of premieres and repertory works. Highlights: artist-in-residence Alexei Ratmansky’s new The Tempest, plus revival premieres of Mark Morris’s Gong, last performed nearly ten years ago, and Twyla Tharp’s exquisite Bach Partita. —R.M.
David H. Koch Theater, October 30 to November 10.
18. Meet Amy Tan
Amy Tan has her first new novel out since 2005’s Saving Fish From Drowning. Like much of her work, The Valley of Amazement concerns the relationship between mothers and daughters, not to mention other clashing cultures—themes that play out, in this case, through the relationship between the madam of a house of courtesans in 1912 Shanghai and her half-white, half-Chinese daughter. —K.S.
92nd Street Y, November 6.
19. See Dark Universe
Take that, Sandra Bullock!
The Hayden Planetarium’s new show is a swoopy travelogue of the universe, narrated by the excellent Neil deGrasse Tyson—who put it best when he remarked on Twitter that real space travel ought to get us at least as excited as Gravity does.
American Museum of Natural History, starts November 2, airing every half-hour.
20. Hear James Blake
Synths with soul.
At his best, the English singer and producer James Blake is a spellbinder: a maker of bewitchingly blurry little symphonies, spangled with electronics, that cast an entrancing glow. His latest album, Overgrown, has more actual songwriting than his acclaimed 2011 debut, mostly focused on doomed romance. He’s a 21st-century torch balladeer; he doesn’t quite have the voice to support his soul-singer ambitions, but the beautiful music closes the deal. —J.R.
Terminal 5, November 6.
21. Read Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy
Yes, your reflex is to roll your eyes at the return of Bridget Jones—but Helen Fielding is wry and observant and much better than the chick-lit detractors would have you believe. And Bridget has aged into our time: She’s in her fifties now, drunk-texting through her evenings, exactly as you would fear/hope/appreciate.
22. See The Frick’s Vermeer, Rembrandt, and Hals
With a movie-star special guest.
Fifteen paintings by the three Dutch Old Masters are on loan from the Mauritshuis while its building’s under renovation. The draw is Vermeer’s Girl With a Pearl Earring, which is unlikely to be traveling again soon: See her now, or you’ll have to book a plane to The Hague.
Through January 19.
23. See the Voluptuous Horror of Karen Black
Its namesake actress died in August. But this glam-punk band fronted by Kembra Pfahler—around since 1990!—carries on with a Halloween Eve show just down the block from the lost world of CBGB, where TVHOKB played some of its first gigs.
Bowery Electric, October 30.
24. Hear Hilary Hahn
She’s no diva.
Hahn regularly skips the floor-length gowns and engages face-to-face with her public. Case in point: her “In 27 Pieces: The Hilary Hahn Encores” project, for which she commissioned new takes on that staid ovation-magnet from 27 living composers. She’ll play all of them, and host “Ask the Composer” sessions with the likes of Nico Muhly and Jennifer Higdon, at this cozy daylong event.
Greenwich House Music School, November 3.
25. Visit Times Scare
The name is dorky; the locale is a slog of tourists. But Times Scare is actually a weirdly cool haunted house—one that serves absinthe cocktails and is, reportedly, in a building that was once a crematorium.
669 Eighth Avenue, between 42nd and 43rd Streets.