1. Attend The Moth
Here’s a good story.
The little downtown writerklatch has turned into a storytelling juggernaut, with a Peabody-winning radio show and events all over the country. To open the season, the raconteurs will include old favorites Simon Doonan and Adam Gopnik and the excellent Kemp Powers and Sasha Chanoff. This session’s theme: “You Are Here: Stories of Rights and Lefts.”
Town Hall, September 6.
2. See The World’s End
Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg manage to top their excellent Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, distilling the entire child-man bromance genre into the first rambunctious 30 minutes and then taking off into the stratosphere. They’re not so much satirizing genres like horror and sci-fi—they’re using genre to tell us how we’re living (or spiritually dead) now. —David Edelstein
In theaters now.
3. Hear Beenie Man, Damian Marley, Stephen Marley, Cham, Konshens, Mavado, I-Octane, and Gyptian
All at once!
The music will be loud, the beats inventive, and the rhymes filthy when some of the leading names in Jamaican dancehall gather for this party. Beenie Man is a dependable headliner, and a great live performer when he puts his mind to it. But don’t miss the acts down the bill, including the marble-mouthed, dirty-minded Konshens, and the sleek Mavado, whose singsong vocals have made him a favorite guest star in American rap. —Jody Rosen
Hammerstein Ballroom, August 30.
4. See The Oddball Comedy & Curiosity Festival
Chappelle’s (live) show.
A long list of good comedy acts, including Flight of the Conchords—but the giant draw is Dave Chappelle, out of hiding and back onstage.
PNC Bank Arts Center, Holmdel, N.J., September 7.
5. Visit The Governors Island Art Fair
Yet another excuse to hop a ferry and meander among the barracks. Pack a lunch and a picnic blanket: Even if the art is uneven (as it was last year), the setting will carry the day.
Weekends, September 7 through 29; details at 4heads.org.
6. See Luther
Season three arrives.
“Idris Elba in everything” is what casting talk pretty much comes down to lately. The most dashing man alive returns to a signature role: troubled genius detective John Luther, who in season three is juggling conflicting murder investigations, an internal-affairs case against him, and a new love (Sienna Guillory of Love, Actually). —Matt Zoller Seitz
BBC America, September 3, 10 p.m.
7. See The Electric Zoo
Pack up your glow-stick necklaces.
The synths and laptops share billing with the artists at New York’s biggest electronic-dance-music festival—but really, so does the vista. A great three days of beeps, bloops, and views.
Randalls Island, August 30–September 1.
8. And Then Hear Depeche Mode
Music for the masses.
Once you’ve drenched yourself in the EDM scene, why not go hear where it came from?
Barclays Center, September 6.
9. See FitNation
Run, don’t walk.
To fend off that late-summer sloth, there are a few days left to stop by the Center for Architecture and catch the FitNation show, a collection of urban designs that encourage people to climb stairs, get sweaty, walk a block, play, garden, or otherwise get off their butts. —Justin Davidson
536 La Guardia Place, through September 7.
10. Take a Dip in McCarren Park Pool
It’s still hot out.
All our public outdoor pools close after Labor Day, and (owing to that cool stretch in the middle of August) you still haven’t been, right?
Last day September 2.
11. Read Five Days at Memorial
When Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans, some 2,000 people, including patients and medical personnel, were inside Memorial Medical Center. In the evacuation that followed, doctors decided to hold off removing those with Do Not Resuscitate orders, and to inject some critically ill patients with fatal doses of morphine. Five Days at Memorial, Sheri Fink’s account of the crisis, is a terrific investigation into the issues that arise during disasters. —Kathryn Schulz
Crown, September 10.
12. Sign Up For Exploring Beethoven’s Piano Sonatas
Opening up the conservatory to the world.
The hypertalented and literate pianist Jonathan Biss is democratizing the clubby model for the piano master class, teaching an online course on the Beethoven piano sonatas—a glimpse into the brain that moves the fingers. —J.D.
Details at www.coursera.org/course/beethovensonatas.
13. See The Hill Town Plays
Small-town New England, all over the Village.
The full five-play cycle of Lucy Thurber’s Hill Town series, about a young woman escaping her desperate western-Massachusetts upbringing, is erupting in Off Broadway theaters across the West Village. I can’t vouch for any one play, but the multi-night event presents a matchless opportunity to lose oneself in an artist’s world. —Scott Brown
Full schedule at theatervillage.com.
14. Hear Haim
Valley girls made good.
Alana, Danielle, and Este Haim are the rare blogosphere darlings who merit the hype. Their harmony-rich indie-pop holds echoes of an earlier SoCal sister act, Wilson Phillips; there’s also, as admirers have suggested, some Fleetwood Mac in their burnished tunes. Haim plays Webster Hall a couple of weeks before the release of their long-awaited debut album. It’ll be an occasion. —J.R.
Webster Hall, September 3.
15. See Our Nixon
“People want to know whether their president is a crook.”
There’s never been a dull approach to Richard Nixon—the man was too twisted—but Penny Lane’s Our Nixon finds several especially compelling vantages. Here we see the president through the silent home-movie cameras of three associates: H.R. Haldeman, John Ehrlichman, and Dwight Chapin, who in 1969 set out to film daily life in the White House. There’s plenty of period film and interviews—and so much in the Oval Office tapes—to keep you thanking the gods of comedy (and grateful for checks and balances). —D.E.
IFC Center, starting August 30.
16. See The Public Theater’s The Tempest
Civic art at its most immersive.
For three nights, the Public is hosting a unique participatory conclave—a musical adaptation of The Tempest, starring Laura Benanti, Norm Lewis, and Jeff Hiller … along with members of local arts and community groups and the audience itself. I honestly have no idea what will happen in Prospero’s mosh pit, but I can’t wait to see it. —S.B.
Delacorte Theater, Central Park, September 6 to 8.
17. Read Enon
No sophomore slump here.
The 2010 fiction Pulitzer went to a dark horse: Paul Harding’s debut novel Tinkers, chronicling the deathbed memories of George Crosby, a clock repairman. In Enon, Harding picks up with the story of Charlie, George’s grandson, whose life is rent by tragedy. The novel is less perfectly wrought than its predecessor, but it is a startling portrait of how rapidly and absolutely trauma can unhook us from everyday life. Also, my God, the man can write sentences. —K.S.
Random House, September 10.
18. Watch Doctor Who, Seasons 12 Through 18
Don’t strangle us with your scarf.
Amid all the recent geekery about the casting of the twelfth Doctor, here’s what needs to be said: that the best one was Tom Baker, who played him from 1974 to 1981. Let the arguing commence!
On DVD and Blu-ray, and available through Netflix.
19. See Mohammed Fairouz
With heavenly strings.
The lyrically gifted young composer hosts an evening of recent works—his own and others’—centering on a string piece, The Named Angels, played by the Voxare String Quartet. —J.D.
(Le) Poisson Rouge, September 6.
20. See Short Term 12
Not a great title, but one of the year’s most gripping films.
That name comes from a facility for troubled teens with every kind of emotional problem. As counselors struggle to reach them with limited resources, you can’t believe how fraught it is, the frog-in-the-well progress: one foot up, two feet back; three feet up, one foot back … Written and directed by a former counselor, the film has a star-making performance by Brie Larson as a young woman still working through her own childhood. —D.E.
In theaters now.
21. Read Someone
Someone: That is the title of the new novel by Alice McDermott, winner of the National Book Award for Charming Billy. Like all of McDermott’s words, it is well chosen. This book is about a particular someone—Marie Commeford, whose terrible eyesight shapes her literal and figurative vision of the world. But it is also about someone-ness: about the complexity, specificity, and emotional intensity of ostensibly unremarkable lives. —K.S.
Farrar, Straus & Giroux, September 10.
22. See Contempt
Lush and romantic, stark and sardonic.
One of the last times anyone trusted Jean-Luc Godard with a fat budget and big stars was precisely 50 years ago. Jack Palance is the domineering film producer with designs (perhaps) on Brigitte Bardot, the wife of screenwriter Michel Piccoli. Think of it as the anti-Truffaut view of filmmaking: The film-within-a-film suggests a Studio of Babel that produces nothing but unease. —D.E.
Film Forum, September 6 to 19.
23. See American Modern: Hopper to O’Keeffe
The first act of art’s American century.
An enticing glimpse of MoMA’s holdings of American art from 1915 to 1950 without any of those pesky Abstract Abstractionists. There are big names like Stuart Davis, lesser-knowns like George Ault, and pure visionaries like Florine Stettheimer. MoMA doesn’t often let its early-American roots show, so let’s hope this is a taste of deeper things to come. A swell start. —Jerry Saltz
Museum of Modern Art, through January 26.
24. Watch Side by Side: The Science, Art, and Impact of Digital Cinema
A new way to see.
Keanu Reeves hosts this documentary by Chris Kenneally, which looks at how the end of analog film has changed how people tell stories with moving pictures. There’s a geek aspect to the piece—the comparisons of film and video images are eye-opening—but it’s breezy and informative. —M.Z.S.
PBS, August 30, 10:30 p.m.
25. Watch The U.S. Open
It’s a good year.
There are the usual semifinal-and-final matchup possibilities among the reigning Murray-Nadal-Djokovic trivalry, but the big hanging question is: Can Federer still play?
Arthur Ashe Stadium, through September 9.