Things to Do

The Weekender: Stone on the court, Cruise in the air, and a house on a stage

Emma Stone as Billie Jean King and Steve Carell as Bobby Riggs in “Battle of the Sexes.”
20th Century Fox
Emma Stone as Billie Jean King and Steve Carell as Bobby Riggs in “Battle of the Sexes.”

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 Typically, this final weekend of September is when I put aside some special time for me, my imagination, a trip to Michael’s, and a hot glue gun. You can never get started on your costume too early, after all. (Plus, the realism I’m striving for with this Steve Bannon getup is really testing my pockmark-painting skills.) 

However, this isn’t a newsletter about me being (neurotic) me, it’s about you being (fun-loving) you. There’s a whole month before Halloween gets here, but only a few hours until September (and any semblance of summer) takes off. With that in mind, and no time to waste, I give you this week’s action-packed Weekender. (We’ll talk costumes next time; feel free to share what you’ve got brewing at the e-mail below.)

GOOD MATCH: You’ve likely already vacuum-bagged and stowed away your summer whites (because you’re not a monster), but you’d be forgiven for busting them out just one more time for “Battle of the Sexes,” the recounting of the “ridiculous/historic” 1973 tennis match between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs (and the second feature from directors Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris since 2006’s “Little Miss Sunshine”). In his three-star review, Ty Burr calls the film “slick and wholly enjoyable, a pop provocation whose medicine goes down easy via outsize, engaging performances” from Emma Stone and Steve Carrel. (BONUS: If the Kodachrome vibes of “Battle of the Sexes” make you all misty with nostalgia, chase the film with this new Alvvays video which finds the band “live” from Expo 67.) Opens Friday.

Tom Cruise in “American Made.”
David James/Universal Pictures
Tom Cruise in “American Made.”

PILOT PROGRAM: And if you’re still not ready to take flight of the ’70s, remain in your seat for the new Tom Cruise vehicle (in this case, a plane again), “American Made,” directed by Doug Liman (the two first worked together for 2014’s  “Edge of Tomorrow”). Burr pins three stars on this tale of small-plane pilot Barry Seal, whose distinguished anti-career found him flying high/laying low while running missions (and lots of cocaine) for clients from the CIA and DEA to the Medellin cartel and the Contras. Burr makes zero mention of any volleyball scenes, so adjust expectations in advance. Opens Friday.

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“WITNESS” PROJECTION: Am I allowed to say “bish” here? I honestly have no idea. I’m going to go with yes because there will be about 20,000 teenage girls and their most sensitive besties belting it out right in front of their dads at TD Garden Friday and Saturday, as the young legions roar along with pop queen Katy Perry on her “Witness” tour. Or, at least, that’s the idea — ticket sales were a little slow last we checked (I chalk it up to fear of a Gronk cameo). Will Backpack Kid be in the house?! I do not know. Will some kid accidentally clock his little sister while attempting to dance like Backpack Kid? Oh, I can pretty much guarantee it. Find ice at the concession stand; but first, find tickets here.

SET PIECE: The centerpiece of “Home,” the newest creation from “theater-maker” Geoff Sobelle, is an actual house, built right on stage from the floorboards up, and inhabited by virtual generations of unrelated souls (and knowing Sobelle, whose genre-bending “The Object Lesson” took top honors at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 2014, don’t be surprised if you end up as one of them). “Performed in one act over about 90 minutes, ‘Home’ seems to live somewhere in between art installation, performance art, and what we traditionally think of as theatrical performance,” writes Jeremy D. Goodwin. “It proceeds at its own pace, creates its own environment, and progresses according to its own momentum.” If nothing else, it’s a therapeutic opportunity to watch people who aren’t you spend the whole weekend working on the house. It runs through Oct. 1 at the Paramount Center’s Robert J. Orchard Stage. Get tickets here.

PRAISE JESUS: Maura Johnston calls “Okovi,” the new album from Zola Jesus, “a vessel for catharsis, channeling disparate musical ideas — the white-noise clamor of ambient music, the punishing overdrive of maxed-out synths, and the solemnity of spiritual music, to name only a few — on widescreen songs arranged to give [Nika] Danilova’s searing poetry maximum impact.” It’s a fantastic record, but the best way to experience the intensity of Danilova’s music is to put yourself in her presence for a spell. This Sunday at the Institute for Contemporary Art, you’ll have a chance, as she performs songs from “Okovi” with a live trio (after an opening set from John Wiese). You can find tickets here.

COVER ME: If you don’t know Dan Wilson from his work in the seminal ’90s rock band Semisonic (even though you’ve definitely drunk-danced to “Closing Time” at one last call or another), then you’ve heard his touch as a songwriter on chart heavies like Taylor Swift’s “Treacherous,” Adele’s “Someone Like You,” and Dixie Chicks’ “Not Ready to Make Nice.” On his new (third) album, “Re-Covered,” Wilson borrows back some of the songs he consigned to the stars and casts them in a new light (though “Closing Time” still sounds like “Closing Time”). On Friday night he plays an intimate date at the Red Room at Berklee’s Café 939. Find tickets here.

Kate Rothko Prizel & Christopher Rothko/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Mark Rothko’s “No. 9” is part of “Mark Rothko: Reflection” at the Museum of Fine Arts.

TRUE COLORS: “For [Mark] Rothko,” writes Cate McQuaid, “a painting had to be a direct transmission: his soul to the painting, the painting’s soul to us.” And there’s something about this transmission that leaves those in its path speechless. For proof, wander into the “small but sterling” “Mark Rothko: Reflection,” on view through July 2018 at the Museum of Fine Arts. This collection of 11 paintings on loan from the National Gallery of Art quickly spans Rothko’s career, but each canvas offers contemplative depths that make the show’s dimensions more vast than any frame could contain. As a wise Boston band once said, you can’t be told it, you must behold it. More information here.

CHECK IT OUT: Devotees of Boston’s legendary documentarian Frederick Wiseman, make space on your Sunday slate for a showing of his newest project, “Ex Libris – The New York Public Library.” “Wiseman may have found his great subject” in New York’s sprawling library system, writes Burr in his four-star review: “an organization dedicated to bringing all knowledge to all people at no cost, an outrageously radical notion made practical through day-to-day functionality. “And while the film “has no narration and it lasts three hours and 17 minutes,” he says, “somewhat surprisingly, [it] rushes by at the speed of life.” “Ex Libris” shows at the Museum of Fine Arts on Sunday and various dates through Oct. 18.

FROM RUSSIA WITH BLOOD: Over at Symphony Hall, Andris Nelsons will lead a rare performance (the first in the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s history, at least) of Shostakovich’s “colossal” Symphony No. 11 (the movements of which were once described by the Russian poet Anna Akhmatova as “white birds, flying against a terrible black sky.” “As with so many of Shostakovich’s works,” writes the Globe’s Jeremy Eichler (in a piece that puts the work wonderfully into context), “the Eleventh also seems to carry a more personal cargo, its score akin to those ‘Magic Eye’ images that reveal, for certain seers, hidden pictures within pictures.” That’s Friday and Saturday at Symphony Hall. Get tickets here.

CHEAP DATE: If your budget is more Coinstar than rockstar, you’re going to be glad you made it all the way to the end of this thing, because surprise! Sunday is International Frugal Fun Day, which somehow still sounds expensive but totally isn’t. We’ve put together a value-pack of free stuff to get into to celebrate the day, from art museums and city tours to local farms and festivals. If you opt for a picnic on Castle Island, heads up: Every day is Frugal Fun Day for seagulls. 

Larry David’s “Curb Your Enthusiasm” returns to HBO on Sunday.
John P. Johnson/HBO
Larry David’s “Curb Your Enthusiasm” returns to HBO on Sunday.

OR STAY IN!: This weekend would be a good time to keep The Globe’s Fall TV Preview handy. It’s a doozy. The 43rd season of “Saturday Night Live” kicks off Saturday night on NBC with host Ryan Gosling and musical guest Jay-Z, complete with new cast members (Chris Redd, Heidi Gardner, and Luke Null), old favorites (Alec Baldwin has so much Trumpery to catch up with!), and, with any luck, more Kate McKinnon reducing Gosling to a quivering lump. Master of kvetch Larry David returns to HBO on Sunday with an all new season of “Curb Your Enthusiasm” (with Bryan Cranston guesting as David’s therapist). There’s also the Kyra Sedgwick-starring mystery-thriller “Ten Days in the Valley” coming Sunday to ABC, and the Cornwall-set “Masterpiece” soap “Poldark,” also on Sunday on PBS. (See? I got you, Mom.)


Oh, and lest I space out, there’s a new David Bowie box set, “A New Career in a New Town,” covering those amazing post-Ziggy years, 1977-1982 (think “Low,” “Heroes,” and “Scary Monsters”) — a period when, as David Weininger puts it, “he had not just made outstanding music; he had created the future.”

And that, my friends, is all I’ve got for you! Have fun, be safe, bring a sweater, and however you go about spending your weekend, make it one you’ll miss come Monday.

We’ll see you next week, same time, same inbox. 

Michael Andor Brodeur can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @MBrodeur