Five of the best … films
Marriage Story (15)
(Noah Baumbach, 2019, US) 136 mins
Baumbach has tended to set himself up in world-weary hipster territory; putting the brake on commercial success and awards recognition. That has changed with this study of a divorce fight: a relatable subject that may well be a mainstream hit. Scarlett Johansson and Adam Driver are the couple whose arguments, it is suggested, are based on Baumbach’s split from Jennifer Jason Leigh.
The Irishman (15)
(Martin Scorsese, 2019, US) 208 mins
Scorsese’s epic mafia picture is possibly his last on the subject: a fable of ageing, betrayal and murder based on the true story of mob killer Frank Sheeran, supposedly the man who pulled the trigger on Jimmy Hoffa. De Niro and Pacino are both on magisterial form as Sheeran and Hoffa, respectively, with Joe Pesci and Harvey Keitel providing backup.
Sorry We Missed You (15)
(Ken Loach, 2019, UK) 101 mins
An acutely observed film about the nightmares that can trap those trying to make ends meet. Kris Hitchen is the van driver who is fighting to make a living for his family; his wife Abby (Debbie Honeywood) is a care worker also struggling with the deadlines imposed on her; their family life, in the end, is the major casualty.
The Amazing Johnathan Documentary (15)
(Ben Berman, 2019, US) 91 mins
At first this seems like a straightforward nostalgia film: magician-comedian the Amazing Johnathan, who was a Vegas fixture until 2014, attempts to launch a comeback after his 2014 “retirement” when he announced he had a year to live. Director Ben Berman is then confounded to discover another, better-funded, documentary crew have joined the tour, and his film segues into one as much about the film-making process as Johnathan’s slipperiness. (Out on Tue).
The Report (15)
(Scott Z Burns, 2019, US) 120 mins
Adam Driver pops up in his second film of the week: here playing senate staffer Daniel Jones, who is asked to compile a report investigating the CIA’s “enhanced interrogation” programme after 9/11. This absorbing drama focuses on investigation and compilation, unafraid to dispense with more orthodox ways of putting heavy-duty issues across. Jon Hamm co-stars.
Five of the best … rock & pop
Björk has described her latest hugely elaborate tour, Cornucopia, as both “digital theatre” and a “sci-fi pop concert”. Focusing chiefly on her last album, 2017’s bird call-heavy Utopia (although there will be some hits mixed in – don’t panic), expect a 50-strong Icelandic choir, a seven-piece flute ensemble and a stage modelled to look like fungi. You just don’t get that with Ed Sheeran.
The O2, SE10, Tuesday 19; touring to 28 November
“Parents ain’t always right,” bellows Yungblud, AKA 22-year-old Dominic Harrison, on recent single Parents, his disaffection aiming for “My Chemical Romance” but settling around “Avril Lavigne”. Other songs include Medication, Anarchist and The Underrated Youth. You get the gist.
Bristol, Tuesday 19; Manchester, Wednesday 20; London, Thursday 21; Birmingham, Friday 22; touring to 29 November
Tegan and Sara
As well as revisiting some of their teenage demos for September’s Hey, I’m Just Like You, Canada’s Quin sisters also released a memoir, High School, that same month. Both acts of nostalgia dominate a “multi-dimensional show” that involves the twins easing through mainly acoustic singsongs, as well as a little storytelling.
Brighton, Saturday 16; London, Sunday 17; Manchester, Tuesday 19 November
Sure, the highlights will centre on the classic singles – the sultry hush of Breathe Again, uber-ballad Un-Break My Heart’s medically dubious proclamations, and early 00s anti-moron anthem He Wasn’t Man Enough for Me – but keep an ear out for choice cuts from last year’s surprisingly excellent Grammy-nominated Sex & Cigarettes, specifically lead single Long As I Live.
Eventim Apollo, W6, Saturday 16 November
Jan Garbarek Group
The plaintive, spacey and instantly recognisable sax sound of Norway’s Jan Garbarek has symbolised jazz’s evolution into a global language for half a century – as has his record label, the famed ECM. At the Festival Hall, Garbarek’s band, including percussion star Trilok Gurtu, help celebrate ECM’s 50th, an opening-weekend highlight of the London jazz festival.
Saffron Hall, Saffron Walden, Saturday 16; Royal Festival Hall, SE1, Sunday 17 November
Three of the best … classical concerts
Must the Devil Have All the Good Tunes?
Gustavo Dudamel brings the Los Angeles Philharmonic to London for a residency at the Barbican this week. There is Ginastera, Stravinsky and Bruckner in the programmes, as well as a concert in which the orchestra are joined by jazz great Herbie Hancock (Tue), and two commissions new to London. Andrew Norman’s Sustain (Wed) is described as a “meditation on humanity’s relationship to nature”, while John Adams’s Must the Devil Have All the Best Tunes? (Mon) is a piano concerto composed for the flying fingers of Yuja Wang.
Barbican Hall, EC2, Monday 18 to Wednesday 20 November
Hanna Hartman, the Swedish composer-in-residence at this year’s Huddersfield contemporary music festival, gets three concerts to herself. The first includes a HCMF commission, Hurricane Season, for moving amplified sounds and objects, while the second is devoted to one of Hartman’s best-known pieces, Secret Security – music theatre for electronics and tiny objects, whose movements are projected on to a video screen.
Various venues, Huddersfield, Sunday 17 to Tuesday 19 November
Death in Venice
It is more than a quarter of a century since Benjamin Britten’s last opera was seen at Covent Garden. The new production of this adaptation of Thomas Mann’s novella promises to be one of the highlights of the Royal Opera season. It is directed by David McVicar and designed by Vicki Mortimer, with tenor Mark Padmore as Gustav von Aschenbach, the role written for Peter Pears. Richard Farnes conducts.
Royal Opera House, WC2, Thursday 21 to 6 December
Five of the best … exhibitions
This radical surrealist photographer was at the heart of the Parisian avant garde in the 1930s. Her sensual montages are the stuff of dreams. She was Picasso’s collaborator as well as lover, taking a series of photographs that document the creation of his masterpiece Guernica in a Left Bank loft. In this Tate retrospective, she escapes his shadow.
Tate Modern, SE1, Wednesday 20 November to 15 March
One of the pioneers of feminist art gets a major UK survey as she turns 80. Chicago’s famous installation The Dinner Party put women on the top table of history. Her equally spectacular works here include The Birth Project, an intimate exploration of motherhood, and her dark, even apocalyptic recent meditations on death and extinction.
BALTIC, Gateshead, Saturday 16 November to 19 April
Troy: Myth and Reality
The siege of a city in Asia Minor by an alliance of Greek heroes is an event between legend and history. The Greek poet Hesiod called the warriors “demigods”. Homer tells of the obstinacy of the mightiest, Achilles, in The Iliad. But what is the archaeological reality behind this war that has echoed through world culture and still inspires fiction and films today? This should be a fascinating, even moving, journey to the dawn of human memory.
British Museum, WC1, Thursday 21 November to 8 March
This pioneer of British conceptual art has spent a lifetime walking. Even more ascetically than his contemporary Richard Long, he rejected the permanent, commodified art object in favour of a direct and transient engagement with the landscape. Since 1972, he has walked the earth, recording his footsore journeys with photographs and words. In our age of planetary crisis, his ecological vision has new urgency.
Parafin Gallery, W1, Friday 22 November to 8 February
Our fascination with robots is insatiable, dominating science fiction from Metropolis to the Terminator franchise. As real robots become increasingly capable, are we on the verge of living in an Asimov story? Or do we confuse R2-D2 with what are just lumbering claws and digitised cars? This exhibition looks at the state of robotics today alongside fantasies of intelligent machines in film, pop and fashion.
V&A Dundee, to 9 February
Five of the best … theatre shows
My Brilliant Friend
For fans of Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan Novels – and there are lots of us – this stage adaptation, spread over two plays, is big news. For everyone else: where have you been? The story is set in Naples and charts the ferociously intense and lifelong friendship between two girls-then-women, Lila and Lenu. Melly Still directs Niamh Cusack and Catherine McCormack.
National Theatre: Olivier, SE1, to 22 February
The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe
Director Sally Cookson is brilliant at capturing the essence of classic novels and releasing it on stage. She did it with Jane Eyre and now she has done a stunning job with her Narnia adaptation, which received rave reviews at Leeds Playhouse in 2017. It is full of puppets, aerial acrobatics and cracking storytelling.
Bridge Theatre, SE1, to 2 February
If all you want for Christmas is a warm-hearted new musical, this one might well be it. The show is composed by Jim Barne and Kit Buchan, recipients of the 2018 MTI Stiles + Drewe mentorship award. The action kicks off on Christmas Eve, when Dougal travels from Northampton to New York for his father’s wedding – and finds himself drawn to the most unlikely of love interests. Tim Jackson directs.
New Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich, Saturday 16; The Royal, Northampton, Tuesday 19 to 30 November
As editor-in-chief at a Turkish newspaper, Can Dündar was arrested after publishing footage of Turkish state intelligence delivering weapons to rebel fighters in Syria. After being jailed for 92 days, he now lives in exile in Germany. This is his story, which Pippa Hill and Sophie Ivatts have adapted from the book Dundar wrote during his incarceration. It is a co-production between the Arcola and the RSC.
Arcola Theatre, E8, to 7 December
The Strange Tale of Charlie Chaplin and Stan Laurel
Who knew Charlie Chaplin and Stan Laurel used to be pals? Before Chaplin discovered worldwide fame and Laurel discovered Hardy, the duo toured North America for two years with a music hall troupe. Laurel never forgot that time; Chaplin never mentioned it. Told By an Idiot investigates this unlikely coupling with its customary playfulness and wit. The show previews ahead of a UK tour in 2020.
Theatre Royal: The Drum, Plymouth, to 30 November; touring to 29 March
Three of the best … dance shows
Matthew Bourne’s The Red Shoes
Lavish sets, ballet in-jokes and a love letter to the world of the theatre in Matthew Bourne’s dance version of the Powell and Pressburger classic. The award-winning Ashley Shaw reprises the Moira Shearer role as dancer Vicky Page, joined by Adam Cooper, returning to Bourne’s company for the first time in 20 years.
Theatre Royal: The Lyric, Plymouth, Monday 18 to 23 November; touring to 6 June
Le Ballet De L’Opéra National Du Rhin: Les Beaux Dormants
A contemporary reimagining of the Sleeping Beauty story from the Canadian choreographer Hélène Blackburn that sees the fairytale as a metaphor for adolescent awakenings with all the energy and uncertainty of teenage life.
Royal Opera House: Linbury Theatre, WC2, Thursday 21 to 24 November
Company Chameleon: The Shadow
Carl Jung’s model of the psyche meets the apocalypse in Anthony Missen’s new work. It uses athletic contemporary dance to play out a dark thriller, delving into the psychology of six characters and their shadow counterparts.
HOME, Manchester, Friday 22 & Saturday 23; touring to 30 November