Five of the best ... films
(László Nemes, 2018, Hun/Fra) 142 mins
László Nemes made his feature debut with Son of Saul, which took viewers into the killing ground of Auschwitz. His second is set in 1913, just before the first world war. A young woman arrives in Budapest to apply for a job at the hat store her late parents once owned. As she tries to understand what happened to her family, the menace is palpable as a new, violent age emerges.
(Tate Taylor, 2019, US) 99 mins
Octavia Spencer has made her name in earnest dramas such as The Help and Hidden Figures, so this creepy-basement horror marks a real change of pace. Directed by The Help’s Tate Taylor, this has Spencer as an apparently withdrawn woman who grudgingly agrees to buy booze for underage kids, then lets them party in her house. Just don’t go back upstairs …
(Olivia Wilde, 2019, US) 102 mins
More evidence that the teen movie is having a resurgence: after Lady Bird and Eighth Grade, here is another niftily conceived comedy-drama excavating the complicated emotions of kids who are still (just about) at school. Beanie Feldstein, Saoirse Ronan’s pal in Lady Bird, is the bookish square who decides – as she is about to leave school – to break the rules she’s faithfully kept for years.
Godzilla: King of the Monsters (12A)
(Michael Dougherty, 2019, US/Jap) 131 mins
Legendary’s Godzilla/King Kong “MonsterVerse” is one of the more baffling – and frankly impact-light – attempts to emulate the endlessly spinning-out cash machine that is the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It all seems unnecessary: the giant Japanese monster had an illustrious lineage well before Hollywood got involved. This one is a follow-up (if we’re excepting Kong: Skull Island) to 2014’s Godzilla. Expect the usual mayhem and appearances from Rodan, Mothra and King Ghidorah.
The Blue Angel (PG)
(Josef Von Sternberg, 1930, Ger) 99 mins
This is the film that made Marlene Dietrich an international star, prancing around in ruffled knickers and bewitching stuffed-shirt professor Emil Jannings. It was also Germany’s first talkie and it shows: there’s
a bit of silent-pic mugging going on. But it’s a magical relic of its time.
Five of the best ... rock & pop
Short on time? Why not try Philadelphia rapper Tierra Whack’s 2018 debut album, Whack World, which is made up of 15 songs and clocks in at just 15 minutes (its videos were premiered on Instagram). Don’t worry, this gig will be longer: she’s spent most of the early part of 2019 releasing a single a week including Unemployed, which came with a video featuring a talking potato.
Village Underground, EC2, Monday 3 June
Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds
“Me growing my hair long is more exciting than anything noel gallghers high flying pretend spaced out pancakes will ever do,” mused Liam Gallagher on Twitter the other day, so don’t expect him to show up at this homecoming. Do expect disco-tinged rock, singalong choruses and scissors.
Heaton Park, Manchester, Friday 7; touring to 30 June
For the second year in a row, London’s premier new music festival has switched venue, this time to a series of linked warehouses near the Ikea in Tottenham. The lineup is typically varied, with Friday offering up the likes of Skepta (pictured), Death Grips and Deerhunter; the following day is headlined by Jorja Smith.
The Drumsheds, N8, Friday 7 to 8 June
Nineteen-year-old Lindsey Jordan AKA Snail Mail’s 2018 debut Lush – all 90s grunge and Taylor Swift-esque lyrical attention to detail – became a slowburn success, hovering round the top of many critics’ best-of lists. Hence another run of UK appearances, before work starts on album two.
All Points East, E3, Sunday 2; Hare & Hounds, Birmingham, Monday 3; Gorilla, Manchester, Tuesday 4 June
London Catalan festival
Ibiza-born trumpeter-composer Pere Navarro, one of the brightest young talents in Spanish jazz, brings his blend of postbop fluency, romantic warmth and contemporary rhythmic inventiveness to the second London Catalan festival weekender. Other highlights include jazz, rap and electronics composer Clara Peya, flamenco-inspired pianist Mélodie Gimard, and Maurice Ravel reinventer Marco Mezquida.
PizzaExpress Jazz Club Soho, W1, Saturday 1 & Sunday 2 June
Three of the best ... classical concerts
The Hunting Gun
Austrian composer Thomas Larcher is one of the featured artists at 2019’s Aldeburgh festival. The British premiere of his first opera, directed by Karl Markovics, kicks off proceedings. The Hunting Gun is based upon a novella by Yasushi Inoue which tells the story of a clandestine love affair through the letters sent by three women to the hunter at the centre of the tale.
Snape Maltings Concert Hall, Snape, Friday 7 to 9 June
Stockhausen: Cosmic Prophet
The second part of the Southbank Centre’s Stockhausen focus is a weekend devoted to the works of the 1950s and 60s that established him at the forefront of European contemporary music. Pierre-Laurent Aimard begins with the first 11 of Stockhausen’s piano pieces. Later on Saturday there’s the hypnotic masterpiece Stimmung. Sunday’s main event is Aimard and Tamara Stefanovich’s performance of Mantra, as well as the solo percussion showpiece Zyklus, played by Dirk Rothbrust.
Queen Elizabeth Hall & Purcell Room, SE1, Saturday 1 & Sunday 2 June
Dead Man Walking
Freedom is the overarching theme of Welsh National Opera’s summer season. Menotti, Dallapiccola and Beethoven come later, but first there is a performance of Jake Heggie’s 2000 opera debut. It is based upon Sister Helen Prejean’s book about a nun who counsels both a murderer on death row and the victim’s family. This semi-staging is directed by Martin Constantine and conducted by Karen Kamensek, with Lucia Cervoni as Sister Helen and Morgan Smith as the killer.
Wales Millennium Centre: Donald Gordon Theatre, Cardiff, Friday 7 June
Five of the best ... exhibitions
The abstract paintings of this Guyana-born British artist are rightly being rediscovered as remarkable works that combine colouristic freedom and epic scale with a grand sense of global history. Bowling began as part of the pop movement before embracing the sublimity of US-style abstraction, with a political twist. A painter for our times.
Tate Britain, SW1, to 26 August
Bacon’s visceral art plunges you into a closed space where people interact without rules or limits. Love is the devil and people are pieces of meat in his raw yet perversely romantic view of life. This exhibition of double-figure paintings focuses on his most personal themes: desire, depravity and the shock of feeling.
Gagosian Gallery, Grosvenor Hill, W1, Thursday 6 June to 3 August
Russian modern art before the first world war was optimistic and even fun-filled. Natalia Goncharova was a star of the most exciting homemade movement, Russian futurism, which had little in common with Italian futurism except that both hoped for change. Goncharova’s art is full of shards of colour and visions of the everyday transfigured into something magical. This exhibition looks afresh at her place in the story of modern art.
Tate Modern, SE1, Thursday 6 June to 8 September
You get two former boyfriends of Tracey Emin for the price of one in the opening show at this gallery, which has moved from London to her birthplace, Margate. Her old flame Freedman displays paintings by Childish who, in our times of bizarre national self-obsession, looks resonantly contemporary. A punk backwoodsman whose introspection is suited to the melancholy Kentish shore.
Carl Freedman Gallery, Margate, to 25 August
There is more Margate fun at this photographic survey of the days before foreign holidays, when a day on the beach meant a bucket, a spade and a saucy postcard. The tang of salt air and the taste of fish and chips cling to these images of postwar pleasure. Artists range from genius of the genre, Martin Parr, to, surprisingly, Benjamin Britten and Peter Pears.
Turner Contemporary, Margate, to 8 September
Five of the best ... theatre shows
Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike
Don’t be fooled by the title. As playwright Christopher Durang comments: “My play is not a Chekhov parody … I take Chekhov scenes and characters and put them into a blender.” The result is a seriously tasty concoction: a sideways, funny glance at Chekhovian themes (celebrity, death, ennui) with some wonderful larger-than life characters. Janie Dee stars.
Theatre Royal: Ustinov Studio, Bath, Thursday 6 June to 6 July
Jonny Woo’s All Star Brexit Cabaret
Yes, we’re all sick of Brexit. But what about a singing, sexy Brexit? Drag superstar Jonny Woo and composer Richard Thomas have written a very silly and surprisingly personal cabaret show about the 2016 referendum. A hit at Edinburgh last year, it includes cameos from cabaret stars playing Cameron, May, Farage et al.
Soho Theatre, W1, to 8 June
This festival always attracts a top-notch range of talent. Highlights this year include a new solo show from Rachel Mars, rap storytelling about the Luddites from Jack Dean and new work from local favourites People You May Know. The Suitcase prize challenge, scratch sessions and Funny Women awards should also produce a few gems. There are also quality touring shows including Tangram Theatre’s A Hundred Different Words for Love.
New Wolsey Theatre & Studio, Ipswich, to 8 June
Sarah Kosar’s last play, Mumburger, was an edgy work about grief and cannibalism. The US playwright’s latest work is being staged at Jay Miller’s Yard venue, so is bound to be exciting, edge-of-your-seat theatre. Sara Joyce directs Michelle Fox in a piece exploring gun ownership and violence against women. It is set in a small town in the US, where a teenage girl disappears 15 years after another youngster was kidnapped. The Yard Theatre, E9, to 22 June
Samuel Adamson’s new work plays loose and easy with Ibsen’s A Doll’s House, mapping four queer stories across four generations – 1959, 1988, 2019 and 2042 – within one family. It is a study of shifting sexuality down the years, with each couple struggling to align their private passions and social expectations. The play is directed by the venue’s artistic director Indhu Rubasingham and runs until the day of the Pride in London parade.
Kiln Theatre, NW6, to 6 July
Three of the best ... dance shows
Scottish Dance Theatre: Ritualia & The Circle
The Dundee-based company has a forward-thinking attitude and often comes up with leftfield gems. This double bill features a new work from Emanuel Gat, plus a queer reimagining of Nijinska’s masterpiece Les Noces, set to the original Stravinsky score, by Berlin-based Scot Colette Sadler.
Saffron Walden, Saturday 1; Salford, Tuesday 4 June
The Putin-loving Ukrainian dancer has been responsible for some unpalatable online rants recently. Whether Polunin’s career can survive his stupidly self-destructive tendencies depends on the quality of his work. This new show, which includes a ballet about Rasputin, will be a litmus test.
London Palladium, W1, Saturday 1 June
Always trying to break dance out of its usual bubble, BalletBoyz takes its latest offering to the West End. The double bill includes a piece created by the dancers themselves, and it’s a fresh and surprisingly accomplished work, with an excellent score by Charlotte Harding.
Vaudeville Theatre, WC2, Monday 3 to 15 June
Main composite image: Allstar/Paramount; Natalia Goncharova; Nick Canonica; Linda Nylind/The Guardian