1. See Fast & Furious 6
This is not a misprint.
Don’t turn up your nose. This installment in the popular daredevil racer series is a brilliant example of new-style syncopated action cinema. In this one, the fourth directed by Justin Lin, our multiracial family of outlaw heroes—led by Vin Diesel and Paul Walker—go to work for the law (Dwayne Johnson—so muscled he makes Diesel look like Pee-wee Herman) to catch a terrorist-thief and find the once presumed dead Michelle Rodriguez. The setup is functional, but the movie builds to a near-hallucinatory string of crash-and-burn car chases and high-impact martial arts. —David Edelstein
In theaters now.
2. Read The Shining Girls
I’m going to break critical form and recommend a violent and scary-ass novel by the South African writer Lauren Beukes. Why? First, because Beukes (best known in the U.S. for Zoo City) is a complex, interesting writer, always frying bigger things than you think. Second, four words: time-traveling serial killer. —Kathryn Schulz
Mulholland Books, June 4.
3. Hear Toad the Wet Sprocket
Sans electric triangle.
Since their nineties heyday, the Santa Barbara alt-rockers have broken up and reunited, and are again making new tunes. If it’s anything like their Bowl show last summer, expect teary fans who still know every word and a band that sounds eerily like its younger self.
Brooklyn Bowl, June 8.
4. See Rebecca Naomi Jones in Murder Ballad
And watch out—she may hop on your table.
A tireless cast of Broadway regulars cannonballs through the musical Murder Ballad, but Jones (who’s rocked out before in Passing Strange and American Idiot) as the narrator nearly steals the show: She’s a Greek chorus in hot pants.
Union Square Theatre.
5. See Arne Svenson’s The Neighbors
No, really: See his neighbors.
For two years, Svenson photographed his Tribeca neighbors through their windows. The results—all faces are obscured—are intimate but not spylike, alarming but not creepy, intrusive yet respectful. (But we’re still relieved not to be living next door.)
Julie Saul Gallery, through June 29.
6. See Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812
It’s not perfect, by any means: There’s a frustrating detachment, achieved through irony and anachronism, to this musical slice of War and Peace staged in a tent near the foot of the High Line. But as it proceeds, the sarcastic veneer begins to delaminate, and the core material is allowed to shine honestly. By the end, co-star and playwright Dave Malloy even pulls out a gorgeous anthem about the title comet as it passes over a city soon to be burned. —Jesse Green
At Kazino through September 1.
7. Hear Cibo Matto
Still working for vacation.
The Japanese duo with the Italian name play the town that made them famous. Will sometime member Sean Lennon join them onstage?
Littlefield, May 30 and 31.
8. Board The AIA’s “Around Manhattan” Tour
O’er land, by sea.
As New York development has reached out to the waterfront, it’s gotten so that the water is the only place where you can step back far enough to get a full picture of the city’s constant change. The New York chapter of the American Institute of Architects runs almost daily tours from Chelsea Piers aboard the yacht Manhattan, featuring architect as guides to the parks and spires that have replaced steamships and stevedores. —Justin Davidson
Reserve at zerve.com.
9. Hear The National
Yeah, yeah, we know.
Okay, maybe they come off as McIndie Band by now. That’s the price of success: backlash. Set it aside and listen to them like it’s the first time.
Barclays Center, June 5.
10. Hear Simone Dinnerstein
Something about the Goldberg Variations—maybe the combination of methodical obsessiveness and lyrical tenderness—attracts pianists who like to think through a score from scratch. Dinnerstein, who worked her way to the head of the piano pack not by winning flashy competitions but with serious, questing interpretations of Bach, brings the work back to her native habitat, (Le) Poisson Rouge. —J.D.
(Le) Poisson Rouge, June 9.
11. See Laurel Nakadate: Strangers and Relations
Winding her way back via the double helix.
Haunting portraits of Nakadate’s distant relatives, found via DNA searches, reveal a new American family. These photographs—shot at night with a flashlight—immediately take their place in the pantheon of people who need to be seen by people who need to see. The ghosts of August Sander and Mike Disfarmer stir anew. —Jerry Saltz
Leslie Tonkonow Artworks + Projects, 535 West 22ndStreet, through June 29.
12. See BAMcinématek’s Russian Cinema Now
BAMcinematek’s celebration features a 30th-anniversary salute to Andrei Tarkovsky’s Nostalghia—see it here, starting on May 31, not only for its melancholy grandeur but because Tarkovsky’s poetic longueurs tend to induce narcolepsy on TV. Opening the festival is the documentary The Russian Winter, which tracks Fugees co-producer John Forté on a concert tour via the Trans-Siberian Railway. The parable My Joy has been called “Ukraine’s answer to Deliverance.” Sooey! —D.E.
June 7 through 13.
13. See Tommy Tune’s Steps in Time
“A Broadway Biography in Song and Dance.”
Anyone who loves musical theater has to have a soft spot for Tommy Tune, and this autobiographical revue—which he’s performed on the road for years—is landing on its ideal home turf, backed up by the Manhattan Rhythm Kings.
The Town Hall, June 1, 8 p.m.
14. See The Last Cyclist
From the darkest place in history, a few laughs.
Written in 1944 in the Terezín ghetto by a Czech named Karel Švenk (who died the next year), this play has been excavated and reimagined by Naomi Patz for its first New York staging. Implausibly—impossibly—it’s a comedy, and a funny one at that.
May 25 through June 9 at the Church of St. Paul and St. Andrew, 263 West 86th Street.
15. Read You Are One of Them
Deep cover during the Cold War.
If, like me, you are a child of the eighties, you could read Elliott Holt’s You Are One of Them just for the flashbacks: Benetton sweaters, friendship pins, Casey Kasem, the whole shebang. Ultimately, though, all that is just mise-en-scène. Around it, Holt builds a story about Russia, the United States, friendship, identity, defection, and deception that is smart, startling, and worth reading regardless of when you were born. —K.S.
Penguin Press, May 30.
16. See Ugo Rondinone: Soul
See it here; it may not appear this way again.
Rondinone’s simply piled, varyingly scaled stone figures cast a Neolithic sculptural spell, silencing visitors and taking us all back to cave existences long left, and sights not seen for millennia. Worth a wander, pondering. I wonder if this installation can be kept together so it will work more long-distance magic. Alone, one piece at a time, I’m not sure. You tell me. —J.S.
Gladstone Gallery, 530 West 21st Street, through July 3.
17. Experience The Governors Ball Music Festival
It was pretty great last year, too.
This time out, the big-ticket acts are Kanye West and Guns N’ Roses. Who will go on latest?
Randalls Island; June 7, 8, and 9.
18. Watch Mistresses
Sex and the City—with four Samanthas?
This drama about four girlfriends aims to hit that network-cable sweet spot: adult but not too smutty, serious but fun. Alyssa Milano plays a married lawyer who is stymied by fertility issues and becomes attracted to one of her hunky partners. Her best friends include April (Rochelle Aytes), a recent widow; Karen (Yunjin Kim), a therapist who slept with a wealthy, married patient; and Josslyn (Jes Macallan), a real-estate agent with no interest in settling down. Based on the same-named, popular U.K. series; executive producers include Rina Mimoun (Privileged, Gilmore Girls) and K. J. Steinberg (Gossip Girl). —Matt Zoller Seitz
ABC, June 3, 10 p.m.
19. See A Beautiful Way to Go: New York’s Green-Wood Cemetery
At the Museum of the City of New York.
A celebration of Brooklyn’s bucolic, amazingly unmorbid burial grounds.
Through October 13.
20. See Shostakovich Trilogy
Russian classics, twisted.
Alexei Ratmansky’s ballets are often worth seeing twice, as they reveal little stories within abstraction, complexity within apparently simple arrangements. He matches wits with another Russian subverter of expectations, Dmitri Shostakovich, in a trio of new pieces—Symphony No. 9, Chamber Symphony, and Piano Concerto No. 1—that also show off ABT’s best dancers. —Rebecca Milzoff
Premieres May 31 at American Ballet Theatre.
21. Read Charles Moore’s Margaret Thatcher: The Authorized Biography From Grantham to the Falklands
Things left unsaid.
Authorized, yes, but full of extraordinary detail, from the gossipy (Denis had a first wife who was absolutely never mentioned) to the revelatory (her admiration for the IRA’s tougher members, and her secret negotiations with them).
22. Attend An Evening With Joss Whedon
Ask him if there’s a musical sequel to come.
At BAM’s screening of the Buffy director’s adaptation of Much Ado About Nothing (see David Edelstein’s review), Whedon himself will hold a Q&A session with Choire Sicha, editor of The Awl. Sold out, of course, but try Craigslist.
Brooklyn Academy of Music Rose Cinemas, May 30, 7 p.m.
23. Visit Bushwick Open Studios
Good art, good time.
An excellent way to spend a leisurely afternoon—and even if what you see isn’t your kind of art, watching how the stuff gets made can be utterly compelling.
May 31 through June 2; details at artsinbushwick.org.
24. Support the Innocence Project
Funny people, serious cause.
“John Mulaney and Friends” is how this benefit is billed, and the friends are hilarious ones, including Eugene Mirman and Paul F. Tompkins. You’ll be backing an unimpeachable cause, too: people in prison who shouldn’t be.
The Bell House, June 6.
25. Watch Woody Guthrie at 100! Live at the Kennedy Center
Made for you and me.
The singer-songwriter-activist’s centennial was marked last fall with this bash; on the telecast, Guthrie’s songs are performed by John Mellencamp, Ani DiFranco, Rosanne Cash, Jackson Browne, and—as they used to say on the old K-tel ads—many, many more. He’s still the man. —M.Z.S.
WLIW 21, June 1, 9:30 p.m.