1. See The Conjuring
Flawed, but scary as hell.
James Wan’s The Conjuring is packed with terrible stuff: Nearly everything here that features Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson as crucifix-bearing exorcists goes clunk in the night. But all the gothic bits—the long treks into dark rooms, the camera just over some poor sap’s shoulder—have almost never been done this well. How does Wan create menace with such hackneyed material? Watch and learn (and shriek). —David Edelstein
In theaters now.
2. Watch Breaking Pointe
Gossip and grandes pliés.
It’s not too late to jump in on season two of this reality show about Salt Lake City’s Ballet West company: In the first episode alone, precocious Beckanne gets drunk, fratty Ronnie deals with a gross foot infection, and pouty Allison considers quitting. Plus there’s dancing. —Rebecca Milzoff
CW, Mondays, 9 p.m. or at cwtv.com.
3. Read Turn Around Bright Eyes
Sing along with Rob.
I plucked Rob Sheffield’s Turn Around Bright Eyes from the galley pile and started reading it because—oh, you know, you can take the girl out of the eighties, but you can’t … etc. Sheffield, a longtime contributor to Rolling Stone, has written a book that is part memoir and part anthropological study of America’s karaoke scene; it’s as much fun, and as strangely affecting, as a boozy night on the town with old friends and old standards. —Kathryn Schulz
4. See Nobody Loves You
Taking The Bachelor semi-seriously.
A lightweight, high-torque pop musical about the triumphant vulgarity of TV love competitions that showcases abundant wit from book writer and lyricist Itamar Moses, crisp direction from Michelle Tattenbaum, and an uproarious ensemble. —Scott Brown
Second Stage Theatre, through August 11.
5. Hear the whisper opera
David Lang is one of the founders of Bang on a Can, but despite the group’s name, in recent years he’s moved toward creating a serene hush. For the whisper opera, performed by the International Contemporary Ensemble, audience, singer, and players mingle so intimately that it’s hard to tell which is which. —Justin Davidson
Mostly Mozart Festival, Clark Studio Theater, August 10 through 13; schedule at mostlymozart.org.
6. Attend The Artist Sandcastle Competition
Get there before the tide comes in.
Rockaway Beach needs every pick-me-up it can get, and who better than Creative Time, the group that places antic artworks in city parks? This Friday, it’s a cadre of artists building sand castles, and it should be a blast as long as they don’t try to, y’know, offer a commentary about the medium of sand. Local food vendors will be on hand.
Beach 86th Street Boardwalk, August 9, 2 p.m.
7. Walk Summer Streets
And even under Park Avenue.
The next mayor may not share the Bloombergian urge to let pedestrians get intimate with the city’s streets, so better take advantage now of the seven-mile carless Saturday, which includes a sound-and-light installation in the usually inaccessible Park Avenue Tunnel by artist Rafael Lozano-Hemmer. —J.D.
August 10 and 17, 7 a.m. to 1 p.m.
8. See The Afrika Bambaataa Master of Records Open Archive
Crate-digging as art.
A great idea: As Cornell University catalogues Bambaataa’s record collection, the process itself is on exhibit. It’s an unmatched window into an artist-collector’s head—of a type that will be irreproducible in the digital-playlist era.
Gavin Brown’s Enterprise, through August 10.
9. Hear The Rite of Spring
In the harbor.
It’s the centennial year for Igor Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring, and the Rite of Summer Music Festival on Governors Island will pay homage as two irreverent new-music ensembles—Ljova and Friends, and the Fireworks Ensemble—unite to decompose the venerable old thing. —J.D.
August 10 (rain date August 11), 1 and 3 p.m.
10. Visit Coney Island’s Third Annual History Day
Amusing the billions.
All sorts of activities from the Coney Island History Project (finally rebuilt, post-Sandy), presented jointly with Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park (ditto): There’ll be live old-timey music, organ grinders, sideshow acts, and much more. Most of it will play out at the Dreamland Pedestrian Plaza, in Wonder Wheel Park, and at the museum, all on or near West 12th Street near the Boardwalk.
August 10 (rain date August 11), 1 to 6 p.m.
11. See Money Lab
A script with scrip.
The futures predictions look good for this evening of “economic vaudeville” at the Brick in Williamsburg. The show includes both written elements and games that require audience investment—and tokens! Don’t ever take a stock tip from a critic, but this one looks like a buy. —S.B.
August 7 through 11.
12. Hear DJ Koze
In from Hamburg.
Stefan Kozalla, who records and performs as DJ Koze, has been making clever dance music since the nineties. He started out doing left-of-center hip-hop; the rococo cut-and-paste miniatures on his excellent 2013 album Amygdala are sometimes called “experimental techno,” sometimes “microhouse.” Never mind the nomenclature: His music is heady but fun. —Jody Rosen
Output, August 10.
13. Read Necessary Errors
Ever since Henry James shipped Christopher Newman off to Europe in The American, our nation’s novelists have been sending their protagonists to the Old World to wise up. Now the literary critic Caleb Crain has gotten in on the tradition with Necessary Errors, the story of Jacob Putnam, a young gay man who moves to Prague in 1990 to teach English. Crain nicely captures the feel of two societies perched on the edge of becoming vastly more open—gay culture and the former Eastern Bloc—but where he really shines is in capturing the subtle, omnipresent disorientation of the expat experience. —K.S.
14. Read The Measures Between Us
Ethan Hauser’s first book.
A polished, beautifully written campus novel by a writer you’ve probably read without realizing it (by day, he’s an editor at the Times.)
15. See The Spectacular Now
Exhilarating and bleak.
Amid the superhero spectacles at the multiplex is the kind of teen romance we used to long for in the days when every other movie was a dumb teen pic. James Ponsoldt’s The Spectacular Now centers on a fast-talking high-school party animal (Miles Teller—terrific) who boasts of living for today rather than the future—but does said living with big bottles of 7UP laced with whiskey. Shailene Woodley is exquisitely vulnerable as the non–party girl he takes up with. This movie is best at its most untranscendent—when it most evokes that period when we never knew what we were supposed to do with the pain. —D.E.
In theaters now.
16. Attend The Breaking Bad Viewing Party
Go out, watch TV.
Because if—as everyone says—cable drama is better than most movies, why not kick off the tag end of season five in a big room with strangers?
Union Hall, August 11, 9 p.m. (doors at 8:30), free.
17. Or Watch Talking Bad
Stay in, see people talk about TV.
Is there such a thing as too much Breaking Bad talk? We’ll find out: AMC had such a big success with its post–Walking Dead chatfest that it decided to expand the franchise and commission a weekly postshow wrap-up. Talking Dead’s Chris Hardwick will host again. —Matt Zoller Seitz
AMC, August 11, 11 p.m.
18. Hear They Might Be Giants
O Brooklyn pioneers.
Another fine Celebrate Brooklyn! show, this one starring the band that satisfies precocious Park Slope kids and their nerd-rockin’ parents. They’ll be joined onstage by Moon Hooch, a sax-heavy outfit that was discovered and signed while busking in the subway.
Prospect Park Bandshell, August 10, 7:30 p.m.
19. Meet James Franco
There will be a lot of cute young women in line.
The actor-professor-artist-Yalie has added “memoirist” to his high-piled résumé with A California Childhood. There are no tickets per se for this evening: You buy your book or gift card through strandbooks.com to reserve a seat and a signature, and you’d better do it early.
Strand Book Store, August 9, 7 p.m.
20. See Beasts of the Southern Wild
At Celebrate Brooklyn!, with a live score.
Benh Zeitlin (director of BotSW) and Dan Romer (its composer) are teaming with the Wordless Music Orchestra to reperform the movie’s soundtrack, accompanying a special print of the film with the music stripped out. Stick around to hear the brass funk of Slavic Soul Party.
Prospect Park Bandshell, August 8, 8 p.m.
21. Try Out SailNYC
Riv vu, no wait.
For years, Chicago has capitalized on its architecture by floating tourists down its rivers to gawk. Now the local chapter of the American Institute of Architects is trying to do the same for New York, not with volunteer docents and chugging ferries but with expert guides, sleek twenties-style yachts, and free Champagne. —J.D.
Tours depart most days from Chelsea Piers; details, booking, and schedule at zerve.com/sailnyc.
22. See Fasten Your Seatbelts (Part 2)
Celebrating the great days of 20th Century Fox.
The Film Society of Lincoln Center’s festival is movie-movie heaven: three-quarters of a century of Fox favorites, from classics like Laura to skeevy counterculture fare like Dirty Mary Crazy Larry and the wonderfully trashy Valley of the Dolls. There’s a rare showing of Michael Mann’s director’s cut of The Last of the Mohicans and, best of all, Jerry Schatzberg’s NYC junkie drama Panic in Needle Park—with Schatzberg in attendance! —D.E.
August 9–15; details at filmlinc.org.
23. Hear Chuck Klosterman and Sloane Crosley
We were told there’d be Cocoa Puffs.
Two funny writers, one lunchtime reading.
Bryant Park, August 7, 12:30 p.m., free.
24. See Blood
Brit noir, steeped in woe.
See it for Paul Bettany (as a cop in search of a child murderer), Stephen Graham as his sad-sack cop brother, and Brian Cox as their poetically semi-demented ex-cop dad. It’s grim as all get-out, but anti-vigilante pictures should have a place of honor in the trigger-happy medium of movies. —D.E.
In theaters August 9.
25. Watch The White Queen,
Based on Philippa Gregory’s best-selling novels, this epic drama about England’s War of the Roses evokes Showtime’s The Tudors and The Borgias, but with a difference—it’s the rare bloody, sexy historical soap that’s strongly focused on women. It’s driven by three ruthless aspirants to the throne of England: Elizabeth Woodville (the White Queen), Margaret Beaufort (the Red Queen), and Anne Neville (the Kingmaker’s Daughter). Addictive. —M.Z.S.
Starz, August 10, 8 p.m.