Fall can’t help but get everyone excited. The air is crisp, New Yorkers walk even faster than usual, and it feels like change is everywhere. No wonder this is high season for culture. Artists thrive on the impulse to begin again: A rough draft can be scrapped, a canvas painted over, even a shaky career (or, say, a few flops) can be just another chance to go back to square one. In art, if not always in life, we can always start fresh.
Take movies. Few would deny this has been a mediocre summer, full of soggy blockbusters and ambitious misfires. But get ready to reverse course: This fall, cinema snaps back, with smart literary adaptations (Everything Is Illuminated), smart biographies (Capote), even smart space Westerns (Serenity, a flop TV series reworked as an action movie). Our cover girl, Gwyneth Paltrow, may be wildly successful, but she’s performing her own version of a comeback—retreating from Hollywood and recommitting to challenging independent roles like her searing turn in Proof.
Meanwhile, Off Broadway, Mia Farrow returns to the stage after years out of the public eye. In the art world, a Robert Smithson project on the back burner for 30 years revives in dramatic fashion, long after the artist’s death (look out for a chunk of Central Park towed around the island by a tugboat). Novelist Zadie Smith emerges from academe with a lively new book, set among scholars. Rockers Nada Surf come back after a long break with new depth. And all over the city, there’s a wave of reinventions: A Little Prince opera with a boldly populist score; a startling, stripped-down Sweeney Todd revival; Italian food reimagined from every angle; and on television, Anthony Bourdain fictionalized as the star of a manic farce.
So take a deep breath and prepare for the season of the do-over. And over. And over. And over again.
The 86-Day Cultural Calendar