Five of the best ... films
(Mike Leigh, 2018, UK) 154 mins
Mike Leigh’s 19th-century epic shines a spotlight on one of British history’s more shameful episodes: a military attack on unarmed civilians at a political rally in St Peter’s Field in Manchester. It’s by no means a light watch, but Leigh lets the facts speak for themselves in a story that conjures the spectre of Brexit Britain.
(Steve McQueen, UK/US, 2018) 130 mins
After his harrowing Oscar–winner 12 Years a Slave, director Steve McQueen’s next movie turns out to be his most purely enjoyable yet. Although there are clearly political overtones in the transferral of Lynda La Plante’s 1980s ITV series to modern Chicago, this nearly all-female heist flick is a pulp thriller with heart and soul.
Out from Tuesday
The Guilty (15)
(Gustav Möller, 2018, Den) 85 mins
One-location calling-card movies don’t get better than this. Suspended from his duties for a serious infraction, Danish beat cop Asger Holm (Jakob Cedergren) is put to work in a police call centre. A disturbing phone call from a woman in peril is the start of a tense thriller as Holm tries to ensure her safety, little knowing that the truth is not as clear as it seems.
Some Like It Hot (12)
(Billy Wilder, 1959, US) 116 mins
Now nearing its 60th birthday, Billy Wilder’s effortless comedy hasn’t aged a whit, with Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis as witnesses to a mob hit who go undercover in an all-female jazz band. As a conceit it would be hard to replicate now, but so would Wilder’s mastery – his comic sleight of hand often hidden by Marilyn Monroe’s possibly career-best performance as the duo’s love interest, Sugar Kane.
(Mamoru Hosoda, 2018, Jap) 98 mins
The acclaimed director of The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, and much-mooted successor to Studio Ghibli’s Hayao Miyazaki, Mamoru Hosoda returns with a slice of sophisticated animation for kids. When his childhood idyll is disturbed by the arrival of a kid sister, four-year-old Kun finds a portal in the garden that takes him on an adventure through time with members of his family past and present.
Five of the best ... rock & pop
This summer’s excellently titled So Sad So Sexy album marked a slight sonic shift for Sweden’s favourite doom-pop exponent. While its lyrics still focused on desolate heartache, musically the sadness was buffeted by trap-adjacent beats, bubbling electro and, on the closing track, Utopia, a hint of folky warmth. Bring tissues, this could get emotional.
O2 Academy Brixton, SW9, Sunday 4 November
It has been two long years since Louis Celestin, AKA DJ and producer Kaytranada, released his award-winning debut album, 99.9%. Since then he’s continued to finesse his hybrid of alternative R&B, dance and hip-hop via production and remix work for the likes of Mary J Blige, Kelela and Southampton’s finest, Craig David. If you’re doubting his live credentials, think on: he supported Madonna on her Rebel Heart tour.
KOKO, NW1, Monday 5 November
The winner of the BBC Sound of 2018 poll approaches the year’s end with a Top 10 single under her high-waisted belt (the effervescent Strangers) and a debut album on the horizon. Her biggest headline tour to date is accompanied by a new single, electropop stomper Sucker Punch, which in turn has been remixed by – sound the positioning klaxon! – Four Tet.
Birmingham, Sunday 4; Dublin, Monday 5; Glasgow, Wednesday 7; Manchester, Thursday 8; touring to 12 November
UK dance pop multidisciplinarian Jax Jones (pictured below) has spent the last few years alternating with Clean Bandit as radio’s space filler when they’re not playing Drake. His huge recent singles – You Don’t Know Me, Instruction, Breathe and Ring Ring – have been collected together on the Snacks EP, giving this tour a greatest hits feel.
Academy 2, Manchester, Thursday 8; Stylus, Leeds, Friday 9; touring to 17 November
Many fine musicians, worldwide and genre-wide, paid tribute to pioneering sax giant John Coltrane on the 50th anniversary of his death last year. Scottish saxophonist Tommy Smith, inspired just about equally by Coltrane and Jan Garbarek, paid especially moving respects with his Embodying the Light album, currently being toured by his fine-tuned quartet.
Dorking, Tuesday 6; Nottingham, Thursday 8; Ambleside, Friday 9; touring to 28 November
Three of the best ... classical concerts
It seems likely that Vladimir Jurowski will step down as the London Philharmonic’s principal conductor in 2021. He’ll be a hard act to follow, for his LPO concerts over the last decade have consistently been the most imaginative of any orchestra in Britain. His latest programmes illustrate that perfectly: a concert performance of Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress on Saturday is followed on Wednesday by an all-Czech lineup that ends with a favourite, Janáček’s Sinfonietta, but also includes works by Gideon Klein, Erwin Schulhoff and Bohuslav Martinů.
Royal Festival Hall, SE1, Saturday 3 & Wednesday 7 November
Although there are plenty of other highlights on offer, the Bristol keyboard festival has landed a real coup with this recital by Eric Lu. It will be the first the American has given in the UK since he won the Leeds piano competition in September. Chopin features prominently, with the Fourth Ballade and the Second Sonata; those works are prefaced by Schubert’s Four Impromptus D899 and Mozart’s sublime A Minor Rondo K511.
St George’s, Bristol, Tuesday 6 November
Mark-Anthony Turnage’s new commission for the Bournemouth Symphony is very consciously linked with Kirill Karabits, the orchestra’s principal conductor, and with Karabits’s homeland, Ukraine. The country’s history suggested a work woven round the themes of displacement and oppression, and led Turnage to select Ukrainian poems on the subject, which he has set as a song-cycle for soprano and orchestra. Natalya Romaniw is the soloist for the premiere.
Lighthouse, Poole, Wednesday 7 November
Five of the best ... exhibitions
The intimate and beguiling portraits of this Renaissance artist are among the most haunting ever painted. Lotto’s people have the rich, full reality of Shakespeare’s characters. He gives them a dramatic heroism that makes them glow with life and his wide canvas gives the individual a space to exist. This should be a magical encounter.
National Gallery, WC2, Monday 5 November to 10 February
I Am Ashurbanipal
Assyrian art is as fierce as the lions and winged monsters it portrays. Square and muscular, it rejects subtlety for might. The British Museum has one of the world’s greatest collections of this characterful art, and here it brings it to life in a new way, taking us up close to Ashurbanipal, ruler of an empire that shook the ancient world.
British Museum, WC1, Thursday 8 to 24 February
The end of the Austro-Hungarian empire was its most creative era. While Freud rethought human sexuality, Gustav Klimt celebrated the power of desire. Klimt’s sensuality is joyous but his protege Egon Schiele (work pictured) had a less romantic eye. His drawings are among the most erotic yet uneasy masterpieces of modern art, where sex is not so much an escape as a theatre of existential loneliness.
Royal Academy of Arts, W1, Sunday 4 November to 3 February
The art of Edouard Vuillard is a refined study of middle-class pleasures in Paris at the dawn of the 20th century. His sensitive eye for everyday life in parks and drawing rooms evokes the same civilised world that Proust wrote about. This exhibition reveals his lifelong dedication to his mother. She supported his artistic ambitions and he portrayed her repeatedly. An unusual feminist take on art history.
Barber Institute, Birmingham, to 20 January
By concentrating on folds and swags of pale drapery, Watts creates haunting still lifes that have the mystery of abstract art and yet are recognisable depictions of reality. These cool and enigmatic renditions of the material world suggest a spiritual one beyond; Watt paints in the tradition of the Spanish artist Zurbarán, for whom a cup could be a message from heaven.
Abbot Hall Art Gallery, Kendal, to 2 February
Five of the best ... theatre shows
It is possibly the National’s biggest hit and money-spinner, having played in 11 countries to more than seven million people. Now, Marianne Elliott and Tom Morris’s production, based on Michael Morpurgo’s tale of a boy and his horse separated during the first world war, returns to the venue 11 years after its debut. A Christmas treat.
National Theatre: Lyttelton, SE1, Thursday 8 November to 5 January
The small Norfolk town of Fakenham receives around 110,000 visitors annually for this seasonal institution, which has been running for 42 years. Even the royal family have come to the show, which has 65 musical numbers and glittering costumes featuring 2,000 pom-poms, 1.5m rhinestones and 100 metres of feathers.
Thursford Collection, Fakenham, Tuesday 6 November to 23 December
The trend for gender-swapping roles continues with Stephen Sondheim’s updated 1970 musical, in which the central singleton Bobby – turning 35 and at an emotional crossroads – becomes the female Bobbie. It works. There’s a shrewd and funny performance from Rosalie Craig in the lead, and showstoppers from Patti LuPone and Jonathan Bailey among a fine ensemble. Marianne Elliott directs with her customary imagination and elan.
Gielgud Theatre, W1, to 30 March
There have been a couple of versions of the Scottish Play this year and they’ve not met with resounding acclaim. The Globe hopes for a better opening for its winter season, in which artistic director Michelle Terry and her husband Paul Ready play the Macbeths. The rest of the season includes Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus, with Pauline McLynn as Mephistopheles, and a cast of women of colour in Richard II.
Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre: Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, SE1, Wednesday 7 November to 2 February
Troilus and Cressida
To paraphrase Polonius in Hamlet, the production of this “problem” play is comical-historical, tragical-sexual and more in Gregory Doran’s new RSC staging. Evelyn Glennie provides a percussive score to the protagonist couple’s tale, played out against the Trojan war, and there is even the first deaf actor in a mainstream RSC role, Charlotte Arrowsmith, signing her lines as the doomsayer Cassandra.
Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon, to 17 November
Three of the best ... dance shows
Lost Dog: Juliet & Romeo
Ben Duke’s funny, heartbreaking, all-too-real show asks what if Romeo and Juliet hadn’t died in a Veronese tomb but had made it as far as a stale, middle-aged marriage instead. Some dates are part of the Rural Touring Dance Initiative, bringing five-star shows to a village hall near you.
Taunton, Saturday 3; Marlborough, Sunday 4; Coventry, Wednesday 7 & Thursday 8; Liverpool, Friday 9 November
Rosie Kay Dance Company: MK Ultra
Exciting but flawed when it premiered last year, Rosie Kay’s collaboration with documentary-maker Adam Curtis has now been reworked. It’s all about the Illuminati wielding its influence through pop stars. And if that means nothing to you, well, go and see the show.
Queen Elizabeth Hall, SE1, Thursday 8 November
LEAP dance festival
Liverpool’s LEAP contemporary dance festival takes suffrage as its theme this year, and the lineup is full of strong women doing their thing (plus a few token blokes). Choreographers include Gaby Agis, Jo Fong, Laila Diallo, Liz Roche and Vicki Igbokwe.
Various venues, Liverpool, to 12 November
Main comp image: John McKenzie; Brendan Walter; Brinkhoff/Moegenburg; Simon Mein/Courtesy of Amazon Studios; Tristram Kenton/The Guardian