Five of the best ... films
Pet Sematary (15)
(Kevin Kölsch and Dennis Widmyer, 2019, US) 101 mins
After the unexpected box-office success of killer-clown horror It, the next Stephen King remake was always going to arrive fast. Pet Sematary is the jolly little tale of an animal graveyard that turns pets into zombies – and may have the same effect on humans. This new version, starring Jason Clarke, doesn’t reinvent the wheel – but it works.
Happy As Lazzaro (12A)
(Alice Rohrwacher, 2018, It/Swi/Fr/Ger) 127 mins
The Italian film-maker’s follow-up to The Wonders is another Cannes prize winner. The tale of a teen who, befriended by the son of the local aristocrat, helps him fake a kidnapping, it taps into Italy’s history of neorealist cinema. Rohrwacher creates a magical-realist fairytale with intelligence.
The Sisters Brothers (15)
(Jacques Audiard, 2018, Fr/Spa/ Rom/Bel/US) 122 mins
After a string of impressive French crime dramas, Jacques Audiard has made an English-language debut with this comedy western, starring Joaquin Phoenix and John C Reilly. The brothers, whose last name is Sisters, are a pair of killers sent to California to take out Riz Ahmed’s prospector, with Jake Gyllenhaal on hand as a well-spoken lawman. Reilly in particular gets plenty of good lines in this genre homage.
(Jordan Peele, 2019, US) 116 mins
Jordan Peele’s follow-up to Get Out has got everyone talking about doppelgangers, those creepy replicas who haven’t been fashionable since Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. They are the basis of Peele’s chiller about a family on a holiday trip, whose mirror-humans are the manifestation of an underlying social paranoia that has led to lots of talk about “imposter syndrome”. Plus, of course, it’s scaring the hell out of everybody.
A Clockwork Orange (18)
(Stanley Kubrick, 1971, UK/US) 136 mins
Kubrick’s inspired fable of social control is back, although its wider message has perhaps been overlooked. It is a film about how control and deterrence is a political choice, determined by headlines as much as by questionable methodology. The supporting cast are brilliant, too.
Five of the best ... rock & pop
Sweden’s premier sad-banger practitioner Robyn finally brings her Honey album to the UK (well, London). Recent US shows have typically ended with drunken group singalongs of her modern classic Dancing on My Own on public transport, so please do keep an eye out for that. Otherwise, expect to cry, randomly hug strangers and feel an odd mix of sad and sexy.
Alexandra Palace, N22, Friday 12 & 13 April
After usurping Justin Bieber as Canada’s resident pop heartthrob, 20-year-old Shawn Mendes has been steadily inching towards tabloid notoriety since February’s Calvin Klein underwear advert broke, if not the internet, then Instagram. Stitches is a banger, too.
Glasgow, Saturday 6; Manchester, Sunday 7; Birmingham, Tuesday 9; Leeds, Wednesday 10; touring to 19 April
These New Puritans
Perhaps the line that best sums up the strange duality These New Puritans’ music can be found on A-R-P, the highlight of their fourth album, Inside the Rose. “Let this music be a kind of paradise, a kind of nightmare,” croons Jack Barnett over a musical backing that does indeed sound – as Beyoncé once said – like a beautiful nightmare.
Manchester, Wednesday 10; Glasgow, Thursday 11; Leeds, Friday 12; touring to 19 April
January’s Assume Form, Blake’s highest-charting album in both the UK and US, re-asserted his status as downbeat pop and R&B’s poster boy. Only, well, this time Blake wasn’t quite as sad, with the majority of the album’s best songs, including the Rosalía-assisted Barefoot in the Garden, focusing on his relationship with Jameela Jamil.
Manchester, Sunday 7; Bristol, Tuesday 9 & Wednesday 10; touring to 18 April
Que Vola?, Oumou Sangaré, Gerald Toto
Que Vola?, a sizzling mix of a French jazz septet and a Cuban percussion trio, were formed when Havana-visiting Paris trombonist Fidel Fourneyron dreamed of blending Cuba’s ritual musics and John Coltrane’s impassioned jazz. They join Malian vocal star Oumou Sangaré and French singer-songwriter Gerald Toto in celebrating the eclectic Paris label Nø Førmat.
EartH: Theatre, N16, Wednesday 10 April
Three of the best ... classical concerts
Total Immersion: Lili and Nadia Boulanger
The centenary of Lili Boulanger’s death last year was marked by UK performances of almost all her music. In the BBC Symphony Orchestra’s day of films, talks and concerts, some of those pieces will be heard alongside works by her elder sister Nadia, one of the most influential composition teachers of the 20th century. There are lunchtime chamber music and early evening choral works, while the main evening concert includes some of Lili’s psalm settings and Nadia’s Fantaisie Variée for piano and orchestra.
Barbican Hall, St Giles Cripplegate Church & Milton Court, EC2, Saturday 6 April
Focus on Harrison Birtwistle
Concerts devoted to contemporary British music, usually including at least one premiere, have become an annual feature of the Nash Ensemble’s Wigmore season, and music by Harrison Birtwistle has regularly been featured. This year, though, the whole evening is built around Birtwistle, who turns 85 this July. Five of his works, including a brand new duo for viola and cello, are interleaved with pieces by Elliott Carter and Oliver Knussen; Stefan Asbury conducts.
Wigmore Hall, W1, Friday 12 April
Elliott Carter Quartets
Not so long ago, the idea of one group performing all five of Elliott Carter’s supremely challenging string quartets in a single day would have seemed impossibly ambitious. But such music holds few terrors for performers now, and the JACK Quartet are by no means the first group to take on the daunting challenge. They begin at lunchtime with the first and last of the series, combining the remaining three into a single evening programme.
Wigmore Hall, W1, Saturday 6 April
Five of the best ... exhibitions
The art of Edvard Munch is a visceral dive into the darkness of the human soul, which works by creating symbols of psychic states such as anxiety, loneliness and despair. This exhibition of Munch’s prints shows him at his most messianic, sending images such as The Scream deep into the modern mind by mechanical reproduction.
British Museum, WC1, Thursday 11 April to 21 July
Visions of the Self: Rembrandt and Now
English Heritage has lent Rembrandt’s great Self-Portrait with Two Circles to this provocative commemoration of the 350th anniversary of his death. The modern artists showing Rembrandt’s influence is alive include Picasso, Freud, Cindy Sherman and Jenny Saville.
Gagosian Gallery, Grosvenor Hill, W1, Friday 12 April to 18 May
The apparently simple paintings of Alex Katz are decisive miracles of clarity that convey the essence of a face, a beach or a tree in bold yet exquisitely well-chosen colours. Although Katz is acclaimed by the art world, his paintings have a direct human touch that is irresistible. He has something in common with Warhol and Hockney as a keen observer of modern life. Don’t miss this urbane American master.
Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery, Carlisle, to 16 June
Soane’s Museum is one of the most atmospheric places in Britain, the masterpiece of the great Georgian architect Sir John Soane. The whole place asserts the poetic nature of architecture, and this show by a contemporary architect who places drawing at the heart of his work shows that Soane’s creative ethos lives on. Parry’s projects include the Holburne Museum in Bath and St Martin-in-the-Fields in London.
Sir John Soane’s Museum, WC2, to 27 May
Katie Paterson & JMW Turner
Turner’s art is full of science. His paintings of swirling seas and vaporous skies not only reveal an intuitive understanding of natural forces but he shared ideas with the scientist Michael Faraday. Here, his art is juxtaposed with contemporary pieces by Paterson, who has worked with Nasa and created meteorite sculptures to pursue a personal fascination with space.
Turner Contemporary, Margate, to 6 May
Five of the best ... theatre shows
Here is a show bursting with female talent. Cordelia Lynn’s adaptation of Anton Chekhov’s classic will jump between Moscow 1901 and London 2019, as three sisters yearn for their “real” lives to begin. The production will be directed by Rebecca Frecknall and star Patsy Ferran, both of whom worked so brilliantly together on Summer and Smoke at the same venue last year.
Almeida Theatre, N1, Saturday 6 April to 1 June
West Side Story
This new take on West Side Story promises to focus on the gang culture of the Sharks and Jets, and will feature choreography from Aletta Collins. Outgoing artistic director Sarah Frankcom, who has a reputation for re-shining American classics, should bring fresh eyes to Leonard Bernstein’s heart-breaking musical.
Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester, Saturday 6 April to 25 May
Acts of Resistance
This is one of those plays that sounds worthy but could be really interesting. Acts of Resistance is a response from Headlong Theatre company following the 2016 EU referendum. Over the last two years, playwright Stef Smith has been spending time with four communities across England, speaking to participants and asking them to answer the question: “What is the nature of people power?” Here’s what they had to say.
Bristol Old Vic, Sunday 7 & Monday 8 April
This will be artistic director Josie Rourke’s final show at the Donmar before Michael Longhurst takes over – and she has assembled quite the company for her swansong. Cy Coleman’s hit musical explores the romantic ups and downs of a dancer-for-hire and will star Anne-Marie Duff as Charity Hope Valentine. Choreographer Wayne McGregor will be working on the show and adding a little extra swagger to hit songs including Big Spender and The Rhythm of Life.
Donmar Warehouse, WC2, Sat to 8 June
A German Life
Maggie Smith is back in the theatre after a long hiatus, and she is not going for a soft option. Smith will star in a one-woman show, written by Christopher Hampton, about Brunhilde Pomsel, a German secretary who worked for Joseph Goebbels and claimed to have little idea of the true brutality of the Nazi regime. After the war, Pomsel was jailed for five years. This is her story.
Bridge Theatre, SE1, Saturday 6 April to 11 May
Three of the best ... dance shows
Gravity & Other Myths: A Simple Space
A stripped-back circus show that focuses on the amazing abilities of the human body and the personalities and connections between the seven acrobats in this Australian company. It’s an intimate set-up, where the audience are close enough to really feel the trust, effort and risk in front of them, and hear the sounds of the body, breath and voices.
Underbelly festival, SE1, to 5 May
Against the Stream
Masterminded by former Royal Ballet principal Ivan Putrov, this ballet gala features extracts from choreographers who pushed the art form forward (Balanchine, Robbins, MacMillan), danced by principals from top companies including the Paris Opera Ballet and Royal Swedish Ballet.
London Coliseum, WC2, Sunday 7 April
Aljaž Škorjanec & Janette Manrara: Remembering the Movies
One of a torrent of shows from Strictly pros: a cheesy but slick spectacle recreating famous cinematic dance scenes.
Glasgow, Sunday 7; Gateshead, Monday 8; York, Tuesday 9; Sheffield, Wednesday 10; Scunthorpe, Thursday 11; Leicester, Friday 12 April; touring to 9 May