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To Do: February 11–February 25, 2015

Twenty-five things to see, hear, watch, and read.

Saturday Night Live’s 40th anniversary, The Last Five Years Off Broadway, and more New York events.  

1. Listen to Björk
Still your favorite Icelandic imp.
The brand-new Vulnicura—which Björk describes as her “complete heartbreak album”—is an emotionally harrowing chronicle of a relationship’s slow dissolution. Songs like the achingly gorgeous “Stonemilker” and ten-minute centerpiece “Black Lake” make it her most affecting work in more than a decade. —Lindsay Zoladz
One Little Indian.

2. See the Foreign Oscar Entries
Four out of five are here now.
The Oscars might be b.s., but if they compel large numbers of people to seek out five obscure non-English films, c’est super! (The only nominee not yet released here is the acclaimed Estonian war drama Tangerines.) The Polish female coming-of-age story Ida is a grimly potent portrait of repression. The Russian Leviathan is a long, upsetting fish-rots-from-the-head saga. Mauritania’s Timbuktu suggests that Islamists hate their militant fanatics as much as we do. And Argentina’s Wild Tales is a quasi–love story depicting how the civilized can become the barbarous in a heartbeat. See ’em all. —David Edelstein
In theaters.

3. See Looking Back
Everything’s gonna be all right.

This packed Wunderkammer of a show tells us that if one keeps one’s eyes open and isn’t guided by agendas, there are choice diamonds spread throughout the rough of the galleries. In the ninth installment of this annual survey, curators from the excellent collective Cleopatra’s give us much that belies the doomsaying of moralizers and Chicken Littles. —Jerry Saltz
White Columns, through February 21.

4. Watch Saturday Night Live
Guess who’s turning 40?

Lorne Michaels’s wildly inconsistent, incredibly durable, undeniably important sketch series celebrates its 40th anniversary of catchphrase-coining at 8 p.m. with a three-hour tribute; it’s preceded by an hour-long red-carpet special. —Matt Zoller Seitz
NBC, February 15 starting at 7 p.m.

Classical Music
5. Hear Silk Road Ensemble
With the New York Philharmonic.
In 2000, the super-cellist Yo-Yo Ma founded the Silk Road Ensemble to explore ancient musical trade routes and cultivate new hybrid styles. The group celebrates its 15th anniversary with a program of world-spanning eclecticism. —Justin Davidson
Avery Fisher Hall, February 19 through 21.

6. & 7. Listen to and Then See The Last Five Years
Scenes from a marriage.

Anna Kendrick doesn’t quite offer the bravura daredeviltry of Sherie Rene Scott on the original Off Broadway cast album, and Jeremy Jordan’s voice is a tad pretty, but they’re more than good enough to take Jason Robert Brown’s astonishing score—beautifully preserved on the soundtrack of the faithful new film—out for a thrill ride. —Jesse Green
Sh-K-Boom Records, February 10; in theaters February 13.

8. Listen to Lil Wayne’s Sorry 4 the Wait 2
It’ll tide you over.

The prolific rapper was supposed to release his final Tha Carter album in October, but delays begot this mix tape’s release. With standout tracks like “Trap House” and “Dreams and Nightmares,” this recording is a reminder of why Wayne was the most exciting rapper of the aughts.

9. Read Etta and Otto and Russell and James
Hyped with good reason.

In Emma Hooper’s first novel, shifting time lines, plots, and registers contrast starkly with the unchanging main setting: the featureless prairie of Saskatchewan. Hooper handles the tonal changes, narrative leaps, and gorgeous landscapes with an assurance beyond her years. —Boris Kachka
Simon & Schuster.

10. See Tony Danza in Honeymoon in Vegas
A lovably low-key crooner.

Danza is known as a people-pleaser, but he’s dialing back the aw-shucks Brooklynese charm nicely here, adding layers of sadness and regret to a character with sketchy motives. And he tap-dances!
Nederlander Theatre.

11. See Pam Tanowitz
With composer comrades.
David Lang’s evocative soundscapes have often proved ideal canvases for movement. For “Works & Process,” he’s invited Ted Hearne, Caroline Shaw, and Hannah Lash to join him in creating music for choreographer Tanowitz, who will intertwine their pieces to accompany her own premiere. —Rebecca Milzoff
Guggenheim Museum, February 22 and 23.

12. See Boorman
A warts-and-all retrospective.
John Boorman is one of the great unsung filmmakers of his generation, partly on account of his making whoopee-cushion-terrible films like Exorcist II: The Heretic. But even when he’s bad, he’s visionary. This tribute, on the occasion of the release of Queen and Country, is a chance to savor his poetically savage Deliverance, his loopy Camelot saga Excalibur, and even the unspeakable Zardoz. —D.E.
Film Forum, February 11 through 17.

13. See Employee of the Month
Workin’ it.

If Chelsea Handler and Studs Terkel ever collaborated, they might produce something like Catie Lazarus’s hilarious “live talk show” about the extraordinary things people do for a living. The first episode of Lazarus’s spring residency at the Public includes interviews with Jon Stewart and Natasha Lyonne. —J.G.
Joe’s Pub, February 19.

New Music
14. Hear Theatre of Voices
And enter an alternate universe.
Listening to Stockhausen’s Stimmung is like walking into a world where tones have been retuned, phonemes reconfigured, voices bent, and phrases stretched beyond recognition. It takes only six singers and some electronics to create this masterwork of weirdness, and this ensemble has it down. —J.D.
Zankel Hall, February 21.

15. See EMA’s I Wanna Destroy
The future is now.

Last year, Erika M. Anderson—an incisive and intermittently fearless songwriter who records as EMA—released The Future’s Void, a collection of songs that deftly critiqued digital culture while celebrating our cyberpunk present. Working with developer Zach Krausnick, she’s designed and scored a 3-D, virtual-reality multimedia performance that she’ll perform for the first time as part of PS1’s Sunday Sessions. —L.Z.
MoMA PS1, February 15.

16. See Dan Walsh
Follow the dots.
Walsh’s wobbly grids of squat, semi-transparent lozenge-and-pill shapes can initially seem boring: just another handsome geometric abstraction. But these works quickly transform into mesmerizing mandalas of process, allowing the viewer to get lost in piecing everything together. —J.S.
Paula Cooper Gallery, through February 14.

17. Read Kim Gordon’s Girl in a Band
Come for the gossip, stay for the insight.
For a generation weaned on chunky, distorted riffs, the marriage between Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore and Kim Gordon felt like a cooler and more egalitarian version of the Kennedys. Gordon has processed its dissolution with a balance of bitterness and introspection, rawness and eloquence, and emerges with something at once deeply personal and broadly instructive on the sexism that still roils rock. —B.K.
Dey Street Books, February 24.

18. See Carmen de Lavallade
Still a queen.
At 83, de Lavallade is as regal and magnetic a stage presence as ever. She’ll dance and recount tales of her career—which has included work with Alvin Ailey, Lester Horton, and Lena Horne, among others—in As I Remember It. —R.M.
Baryshnikov Arts Center, February 19 through 25.

19. Watch Stevie Wonder: Songs in the Key of Life
That’s what friends are for.
We’re overjoyed by Wonder’s innervisions, we groove to his jungle fever, we feel the fire of the traveling man on the lonesome road. He gets some love from Janelle Monáe, Usher, Ed Sheeran, and more in this tribute concert. —M.Z.S.
CBS, February 16 at 9 p.m.

20. Watch Framework
Hands-on reality.

Framework is to furniture design what Top Chef is to cooking, complete with eviscerating judges, tetchy cross-talk, imaginative challenges—and fascinating artistry and skill. As if welding and woodworking weren’t cool enough already. —Margaret Lyons
Spike, Tuesdays at 10 p.m.

21. See Katsu’s Remember the Future
More than ha-ha funny.

A solo exhibition that’s a giddy fun house of feckless techno-nihilist jokes, from the shredded rubber “gravel” covering the floor to the “selfie” portraits of the Terminator glowering in front of (for example) the Great Pyramids.
The Hole, through February 22.

22. See A Broadway Romance
The air is humming.

New York Philharmonic crossover galas can be ponderous affairs, but this one looks different: The utterly charming Laura Osnes and Santino Fontana sing Broadway songs, from “Something’s Coming” to “Come Rain or Come Shine,” programmed as a single romantic narrative by guest conductor Ted Sperling. —J.G.
Avery Fisher Hall, February 14.

23. See Ann Toebbe’s Remarried
A young sensation returns.
In 2004, a group of canvases by Yale painter Ann Toebbe blew my socks off. She’s faded from view while teaching and raising a family in Chicago, but Toebbe’s second solo show at this gallery finds her in fussy-sublime form, exploring a fabulous domestic world almost Proustian in its attention to detail. —J.S.
Monya Rowe Gallery, through February 22.

Classical Music
24. Hear Novus NY
Two monsters on the same night.
Ives’s Fourth Symphony is a polytentacled, rarely spotted beast of a piece, but it’s apparently a fuzzball compared with Alberto Ginastera’s choral collossus Turbae ad Passionem Gregorianam. Unbelievably, Trinity Wall Street’s intrepid Julian Wachner has assembled a fistful of ensembles to perform both works. —J.D.
Carnegie Hall, February 21.

25. Read Get in Trouble: Stories
A safe bet.

Kelly Link’s first collection in a decade is a haunted house built of blunt sentences, dark shadows, stun-grenades of humor and sadness, and many secret doors. Fear not: Link is always in exquisite control—a committed emotional realist with a bottomless bag of surprises. —B.K.
Random House.