TO DO Twenty-five things to see, hear, watch, and read.
1. See What the Constitution Means to Me Amend this. Prime Video, October 16.
When a young Heidi Schreck needed cash for college, her mother–slash–debate coach came up with a brilliant scheme: Win prize money at the American Legion’s essay contests for teens. Heidi’s speech killed in competition. In her Pulitzernominated, crowd-galvanizing Broadway performance (captured by director Marielle Heller in its final week), the adult Schreck reimagines the speech, trying to stay true to her 15-year-old self, whose key interests were witches and Patrick Swayze. As she rewrites her speech, she uncovers the pain and abuse the Constitution’s sexism has wrought on her, her family, and others who have slipped between its calligraphed cracks—and demands it do better. helen shaw
2. See Save Yourselves! A charming apocalypse flick. In select theaters and VOD.
A nebbishy Brooklyn couple (Sunita Mani and John Reynolds) briefly take a break in the country—just in time for Earth to be invaded by aliens. Of course, because this is a low-budget comedy, the ETs are seemingly harmless balls of fur— though they prove deadly. Your enjoyment may depend on how annoying you find the central characters, but the film’s relative restraint keeps things grounded. bilge ebiri
3. Listen to Song Machine An audiovisual project. Gorillaz Productions/Parlophone/Warner, October 23.
Gorillaz caps its “Song Machine” series of singles and music videos with an album of collaborations with rock legends Elton John, Beck, Robert Smith, and Peter Hook and stars like Schoolboy Q, Kano, and 6lack. Group mastermind Damon Albarn’s sharp songwriting and versatile production make
Song Machine, Season One: Strange Timez an intriguing listen. craig jenkins
4. See Theaster Gates “Black Vessel” is his first solo exhibition here. Gagosian, 555 West 24th Street, through December 19.
In a perfect fit for our fitful times, Theaster Gates stages the massive temple on West 24th as a place for worship, delectation, song, and transcendence. His construction materials are bricks, passion, love, and an activism that involves performances by the Black Monks. The sun will shine here through our collective pouring rain. Viewers will skip over inner oceans. jerry saltz
5. Hear Calidore Quartet String quartets, a pandemic-friendly genre. chambermusicsociety.org, October 15.
Even with halls sealed and musicians idled, the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center soldiers on, streaming live string quartets. The Calidore
Quartet performs Dvorak’s “American” quartet, Wynton Marsalis’s equally American At the Octoroon Balls, and Schubert’s decidedly non
American Quartettsatz. justin davidson
6. Watch Social Distance Pandemic TV. Netflix, October 15.
This anthology series, filmed entirely in quarantine, focuses each time on a different set of characters dealing with COVID-19. The cast includes Danielle Brooks, Mike Colter, and real-life spouses Dylan and Becky Ann Baker as a married couple not seeing eye to eye. jen chaney
7. See New York City Ballet Stay on your toes. nycballet.com, through October 31.
The New York City Ballet’s fall digital season includes excerpts from Justin Peck’s Rodeo: Four Dance Episodes and sections of Alexei Ratmansky’s Pictures at an Exhibition and Russian Seasons; on October 24, the company will broadcast a “matinee,” a free, family-oriented bill of Jerome Robbins’s Fanfare and several of George Balanchine’s more whimsical pieces, like the pas de donkey from A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Each program is available online for a week. h.s.
8. Read Memorial About Houston couple Mike and Benson. Riverhead Books, October 27.
Author Bryan Washington has called it “a gay slacker dramedy,” but the novel is far more than a riff on Reality Bites.
9. See The Trial of the Chicago 7 There are a lot of speeches. In select theaters; Netflix, October 16.
Sometimes Aaron Sorkin finds a context in which his most reliable and, often, most annoying tics just work. This movie is one of those occasions—a courtroom drama about the trial of prominent protesters at the 1968 Democratic National Convention that has a terrific, sprawling ensemble cast and all the grandstanding and speechifying anyone could ever want. alison willmore
10. Listen to Fake It Flowers “I’ll make a cup of coffee for your head.” Dirty Hit, October 16.
Months after a sample of her single “Coffee” went viral, British Filipino singer-songwriter Beabadoobee debuts an album of candy-sweet indierock jams with a sprinkling of lush, orchestral folk songs. At 20, the performer is a sharp tunesmith, joining peers like Mitski, Soccer Mommy, and Jay Som in breathing new life into the breezy brand of alt-rock that dominated ’90s radio. c.j.
11. Watch Grand Army Adapted from 2013’s Slut: The Play. Netflix, October 16.
This honest look at life in a Brooklyn public high school comes from playwright Katie Cappiello, who was inspired by her teaching experiences. With a cast that includes some of her students, the first episode, in which a nearby bombing causes a school lockdown, is an immediate grabber. j.c.
12. Hear To America Inspired by James Weldon Johnson’s poetry. The Green-Wood Cemetery, October 22 to 24.
The essential ingredients for a live musical experience have changed a bit: in this case, a mask, a flashlight, a shot of whiskey, and a taste for tromping around cemeteries after dark. Performers are spaced out along a two-and-a-half-mile journey, building a collective ode to—or possibly an elegy for—the nation at a fragile time. Concerts sell out quickly, but subscribers to the Death of Classical newsletter get early warning when more tickets become available. j.d. One of the few network comedies positioned to tell interesting, sharp COVID stories returns for its sixth season. kathryn vanarendonk
14. See Evil Eye Horror steeped in Indian mythology. Prime Video.
What if you thought that your daughter’s boyfriend was the reincarnation of a man who tried to kill you decades ago? Indian superstition is the narrative juice of this film, but like many of Blumhouse’s
productions (Get Out, The Purge), horror is only a vehicle to explore more urgent themes, in this case generational trauma and gender bias. And if you’re unacquainted with South Asian horror, I’ll give you a fair warning: Don’t watch it alone. sangeeta singh-kurtz
15. Read Where the Wild Ladies Are Spirits and specters. Soft Skull Press, October 20.
In Aoko Matsuda’s daring retellings of Japanese folktales, feminine apparitions find agency in death, transforming mortals and yokai alike.
16. Hear Jeremy Denk Music by a defiantly current composer. caramoor.org, October 25.
At 82, Frederic Rzewski is the model of the politically engaged composer. Denk performs his Winnsboro Cotton Mill Blues, a 1980 piece that evolves from a lively rumble into a protest, along with other jaunty/angry music by Thomas “Blind Tom” Wiggins, Scott Joplin, Tania Leon … and Beethoven. j.d.
17. See State vs. Natasha Banina Call it jury duty. bacnyc.org, October 12 and 14.
The Arlekin Players Theatre’s production returns for only a handful of live Zoom shows, thanks to the Baryshnikov Arts Center and the Cherry Orchard Festival. In State vs. Natasha Banina, the audience plays the jury, evaluating the confession of a violent and bewildered Russian teenager, whose life in a Darwinian orphanage is copied from actual accounts. The production is worth watching for Darya Denisova’s astounding performance alone. h.s.
18. Read Greenlights All right, all right, all right. Random House, October 20.
The autobiography of Matthew McConaughey, now 50, is at once a time capsule of aughts Hollywood and a philosophical reflection on how to live life as well as possible (something he calls “catching greenlights”). While the book has its bombshells and juicy tidbits, it isn’t your typical celebrity memoir; the writing is good—poetic at times—and it reads more like a journal he opened a vein or two to write. s.s.k.
19. Watch Supermarket Sweep Paging Leslie Jones stans. ABC, October 18.
The bygone game show in which contestants ransack grocery aisles for big money gets a revamp with host Leslie Jones. While the Sweepers won’t be wearing masks, the show was filmed under virus protocols, according to the producers. j.c.
20. Listen to Love Is the King
Jeff Tweedy’s comfort food. dBpm, October 23.
Ten days after Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy releases How to
Write One Song (Dutton, October 13), his new solo set arrives. The album’s quiet, homespun country-rock is an act of making the most of a bad situation and a soundtrack for others trying to do the same. c.j.
21. Hear Dallas Symphony Orchestra Pastoral songs. mydso.com, streaming October 16.
Fabio Luisi, Dallas Symphony Orchestra’s musical director, conducts the pocket version of Mahler’s
Das Lied von der Erde, with mezzo-soprano Tamara Mumford and tenor Stuart Skelton. j.d.
22. See The Antenna Deeply creepy. VOD, October 20.
Turkish director Orçun Behram’s gripping horror–political allegory unfolds in a desolate complex where a newly installed centralized TV system broadcasts bulletins from an unnamed government into each apartment. Meanwhile, a black goo drips into residents’ lives and minds, targeting their sense of identity and desires. b.e.
23. Watch The Queen’s Gambit With the star of Emma. Netflix, October 23.
Anya Taylor-Joy stars as a chess whiz coming of age in the ’50s—the rare girl playing the game competitively in a sea of boys and men. j.c.
24. Listen to Mass for the Endangered Praying for nature. Nonesuch/New Amsterdam.
A contemporary sensibility pierces an antique haze in Sarah Kirkland Snider’s elaboration of the liturgical text, with a libretto by Nathaniel Bellows. There’s a mournful intensity to the music, performed by vocal ensemble Gallicantus. j.d.
25. Read The Dead Are Arising Honoring Malcolm X. Norton, October 20.
Les Payne’s 30-year effort was completed by his daughter, Tamara Payne, after he died in 2018, and the resulting biography adds new dimensions to the civil-rights icon’s journey “from street criminal to devoted moralist and revolutionary.”
For more culture coverage and streaming recommendations, see vulture.com.