1. See Defiance
Where video games and drama meet to make out.
If you follow both science fiction and video games, you already know about this Syfy series, which concerns displaced extraterrestrials colonizing Earth in a discriminatory, District 9–style arrangement. The show promises to develop its story line in tandem with the gaming world to create an organic, constantly unfolding universe. Yes, it’s thoroughly overhyped, but it does sound cool—an attempt to formalize what science-fiction movies and games have already been doing unofficially for years. —Matt Zoller Seitz
Syfy, premieres April 15, 9 p.m.
2. See The General
Keaton’s best movie, with a new score played live.
Most silent films are, let’s face it, homework: You should see them, but they’re really slow going. The General is an exception: totally watchable today, and Buster Keaton’s deadpan reactions are still funny. At this screening, a good, clean print is paired with a new score by Kathy Corecig, played by the Australian ensemble Viola Dana.
Museum of the Moving Image, April 14, 4 p.m.
3. Read The Interestings
A slice of seventies teenhood by Meg Wolitzer.
“This was the world they were meant to enter: a world of fuckers.” The fuckers in question are Nixon and his enablers, “they” are a group of teenagers who meet at a summer camp in New England, and the line is from Meg Wolitzer’s The Interestings, which traces those teenagers’ rises, falls, and flatlines from adolescence to middle age. As a nice bonus for New Yorkers, the book also captures the demographic topography of the city and its dramatic change since the seventies. —Kathryn Schulz
4. Play Ridiculous Fishing: A Tale of Redemption
Go angling, miss your subway stop.
First, drop your lure and catch as many fish as you can; then reel them back up and blast them out of the sky with a bazooka. This delightfully stupid iPhone game won’t teach you anything about real fishing, but it will exercise the same finger muscles as Doodle Jump and Fruit Ninja in half the time. The 8-bit soundtrack’s great, too.
In Apple’s iTunes App Store, $2.99.
5. Read Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal
Mary Roach’s delicious science.
The writer Mary Roach knows that the best way to handle potentially leaden science is with wit, especially a good dollop of gross-out humor. Her previous book Stiff was all about what happens to dead people; this one’s about what happens to everything you eat. Guess how it ends.
6. See Withnail and I
In memory of Richard Griffiths.
Most of the world knows Griffiths as Uncle Vernon from the Harry Potter movies. But his breakout moment probably came in 1987, in this British cult comedy about two actors whose restorative vacation goes all wrong—a film that helped get the indie movement going in America. (And after you’ve seen this, proceed to his performance in the 2006 film of The History Boys.)
Criterion Collection DVD, $49.49 at Amazon.com; standard download, $14.99.
7. See David et Jonathas
A 1688 work arrives in the New World.
Every time you think that William Christie and his group Les Arts Florissants must finally have emptied the big trunkful of great-but-forgotten French Baroque operas, along comes another fresh and stately spectacle. This time it’s Marc-Antoine Charpentier’s David et Jonathas, originally a set of musical interludes for a lost biblical play but now dusted off, reconstructed, and staged. —Justin Davidson
BAM, April 17.
8. See The Borgias
It’s unfair to compare The Borgias to HBO’s Game of Thrones, considering that one’s based on real life and the other has dragons and zombies and such; the former has its own pleasures, chiefly Jeremy Irons’s performance as Rodrigo Borgia, a.k.a. Pope Alexander VI, and the Godfather III–in–a–time–machine atmosphere, all faux-Vatican interiors and furtive whispering in candlelit hallways. It’s always frustratingly not quite great, yet never less than engrossing. —M.Z.S.
Showtime, April 14, 10 p.m.
9. See MoMA’s Art Labs
Your kid really could do that.
An underpublicized nook of MoMA allows little kids to make their own art and partake of interactive play to learn about what they’re seeing. The current “show”—up through August—is devoted to the ways artists represent the human form.
Museum of Modern Art’s Cullman Building, first floor.
Every Form of Media There Is
10, 11, & 12. Read, Hear, and See Marc Maron
The man is beyond ubiquitous.
Maron nearly washed out as a comic in the mid-aughts, after years of promise (and drugs)—and then his little podcast series, “WTF,” made in his garage, blew up. With a memoir and a TV series out this spring, he’ll be taping a new stand-up special at (Le) Poisson Rouge this week; the show’s sold out, but Stubhub will provide, at a price.
Attempting Normal, out April 30 from Spiegel & Grau; “WTF” podcast taping at (Le) Poisson Rouge, April 15; TV series premieres May 3, IFC.
13. Hear Ne-Yo
Even his name is more than half New York.
His sales have slipped in the past few years, but Ne-Yo has continued to make good records—and sign good artists, too, in his gig as an A&R man for Motown. He’ll be in town this week (on the same bill as Chris Brown, but don’t let that deter you).
Hammerstein Ballroom, April 16.
14. See Then She Fell
A haunted-house experience that gets complicated.
When this immersion-theater piece in the vein of Sleep No More opened last year, New York’s critic Scott Brown remarked, “I haven’t hit my limit on these. Keep ’em coming.” Well, they did: The show is back, this time in an open run, in Williamsburg at the Kingsland Ward at St. Johns.
Details at thenshefell.com.
15. See Ed Ruscha’s Books & Co.
Starting with the Sunset Strip.
Ed Ruscha is the living Andy Warhol, an artist so influential you almost can’t see his influences anymore. A fantastic Gagosian show of his many artist books, and dozens of others inspired by him, immerses you in Ruscha’s foxy genius. His name should be carved into the façade of the new Whitney. Or at least hidden there. —Jerry Saltz
Through April 27, Gagosian Gallery, 980 Madison Ave.
16. Hear Rodriguez
Sugar Man found.
You may know the story: Sixties folksinger from Detroit fades into obscurity by the early eighties, catches a burst of interest in South Africa, begins to gain momentum, then becomes the subject of a documentary, Searching for Sugar Man, which goes on to win an Oscar. The happy result: Rodriguez is back to making music for a living, and comes to Town Hall this week.
Town Hall, April 10.
17. See Mental
Toni Collette as a crazed nanny: yes.
Sure, it’s broad. But P. J. Hogan’s film is an exhilarating original: The Sound of Music knocked sideways by a truly, madly, deeply unstable governess and a clan of misfit female kids. Toni Collette is the Maria-cum-Mame: No other actress could be so militantly zany—and scarily nuts. Liev Schreiber is the febrile Aussie shark hunter, Anthony LaPaglia the perfect weak-willed philandering patriarch, and young Lily Sullivan the tremulously beautiful misfit teen. Go Mental, already! —David Edelstein
In theaters now.
18. Hear Jessie Ware’s Devotion
The Brit soul phenom finally crosses the ocean.
Her album, released months ago in the U.K., has curiously been kept at arm’s length from American audiences till now, but it’s here and it’s big and lush and boomy and romantic.
Cherrytree/Interscope, April 16.
19. See Kinky Boots
Especially for Annaleigh Ashford.
Really good Cyndi Lauper songs, high-energy drag performances, the insane wardrobe you’d expect to go with them, factory set full of nifty conveyor belts: It all adds up to a successful, entertaining big-Broadway mix. And an extra-pleasant surprise lies within: the huge comedy chops of Annaleigh Ashford, who plays Lauren, the factory girl with a bent-up East Midlands accent that completely wins over the house.
At the Al Hirschfeld Theatre.
20. See No Place on Earth
Jews who went literally underground to hide.
The “longest recorded underground survival” wasn’t by a spelunker. It was discovered by a New Yorker who a few years back ventured into two ancient Ukrainian caves and found traces of not prehistoric people but Jewish families hiding from the Nazis. Janet Tobias’s documentary No Place on Earth tells the story (with reenactments and interviews with survivors) of the heartbreaking huddle in that dark place as more than a million Jews were wiped out aboveground. It’s a wrenching film, but hushed. It respects the magnitude of the horror. —D.E.
At the Angelika and at Lincoln Center’s Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center.
21. Hear Fiona Maazel, Sam Lipsyte, and Jim Shepard
They’ll talk about writing the funny.
If you’re itching to get out but have trouble spending money the same week you file your taxes, the Center for Fiction puts on terrific and (usually) completely free events. This week, it’s playing host to three very funny writers—Fiona Maazel (Woke Up Lonely), Sam Lipsyte (The Fun Parts), and Jim Shepard (You Think That’s Bad)—who will talk about the uses of comedy in fiction. —K.S.
Center for Fiction, 17 E. 47th St., April 11, 7:30 p.m.
22. Read Tom Stoppard’s The Invention of Love
“Kissing girls is not like science, nor is it like sport. It is the third thing when you thought there were only two.” Thus wrote Tom Stoppard in The Invention of Love, a play I like to reread in the spring—a good time to remember about kissing girls et al. In related news, the story broke last week that Sir Tom has written a radio play about, of all things, Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon. It’ll be on BBC Radio 2 August 26. —K.S.
23. See CFA Masters: Mary Higgins Clark
And ask her how she keeps people up nights.
She’s at a remove from the literary-prestige world, but get over your snobbery: Mary Higgins Clark really knows how to make a suspense novel tick along and has proved it in a pile of best sellers as tall as your kitchen table. She’ll be the latest speaker in the Center for Fiction’s Crime Fiction Academy lineup, coaching aspirants as they each try to find their inner ending-twister.
Center for Fiction, 17 E. 47th St., April 17, 7 p.m.
24. See Naked Lunch
David Cronenberg’s creepfest, now extra-vivid!
Not a lot of people could get William Burroughs’s oozing abscess of a junkie novel on film—but somehow, Cronenberg matched him paranoid bug hallucination for paranoid bug hallucination. And now all those slimy roaches are in terrifyingly crisp Blu-ray. Don’t plan to eat in front of the TV.
Criterion Blu-ray edition, $31.96 at Criterion.com.
25. See John Dies at the End
Or does he?
In January, when Don Coscarelli’s rollicking horror film came through New York, New York’s David Edelstein called it “ramshackle, seemingly free-associational, rich in hard-boiled narration … and absurdly fun.” You probably missed it, too, because it came and went so fast; time to catch up.
$12.99 on DVD, $16.99 on Blu-ray at Amazon.com.