Welcome once again to HomeFront, our temporary takeover of The Weekender. We begin this week with two public service announcements for everyone who has lost the ability to distinguish the days of the week and is lucky enough to have a mom (or surrogate) in their life: Sunday, May 10, is Mother’s Day. And among the retailers permitted limited reopening under new state guidance issued this week are florists. Just saying.
With each passing week, it becomes clearer that staying apart really is drawing us together. We’re all grateful for and to the front-line workers keeping us safe, healthy, entertained, and fed. Nobody likes them, but everyone in Massachusetts is supposed to wear a face covering. We’ve considered taking up golf just to get out of the house. The house is good, though — hunker down and check out some new-to-you entertainment options.
COMFORT ZONE: For suggestions about living your best pandemic life, turn to the Globe’s Comfort Zone section, which welcomes tips from readers. Do you have a personal story to share? Advice or a hack to suggest? An act of kindness you want the world to know about? E-mail details to the editors at email@example.com.
FILM: Michelle Obama’s book tour for her 2018 memoir, “Becoming,” gives structure to Nadia Hallgren’s film of the same name. Globe film critic Ty Burr gives it 3½ stars, acknowledging, “I may have awarded this straightforward documentary about a remarkable woman a half-star more than it actually deserves, but the lift one gets from time spent with a capable and thoughtful person ... well, it’s a reminder of all our better natures.”
“Driveways” features one of Brian Dennehy’s final performances, and the slice-of-life film "is the one to raise a glass to and maybe shed a tear over,” Burr writes in a 3½-star review. Dennehy, who died last month at 81, plays a Korean War vet who befriends the 8-year-old boy next door and his scrappy single mother. Says Burr, “There’s not much more to ‘Driveways,’ but, goodness, isn’t that enough?”
Burr begins his 2½-star review of the rom-com “Straight Up” by observing that “writer-director-star James Sweeney comes close to breaking the land speed record for dialogue,” then manages not to mention “Gilmore Girls” until the second paragraph. That is discipline, folks. The tale of a gay man and his best friend, a straight woman, “has its modest yet real pleasures, not to mention an undercurrent of melancholy that makes the laughs stick to the ribs.”
On the documentary beat, “Matt Wolf’s beguiling and illuminating documentary ‘Spaceship Earth’”focuses on the 1991 Biosphere 2 project, writes Globe correspondent Peter Keough. You may not be surprised to learn that the wacky-sounding, idealistic undertaking had roots in late-’60s San Francisco, but the identity of “a bête noire nobody expected” will almost certainly live up to that characterization.
A documentarian better known for acting, Lee Grant, “approaches her subjects with assertiveness, tenacity, and humor — like Michael Moore without the ego, snark, manipulativeness, or fudged facts,” Keough says of “20th Century Woman: The Documentary Films of Lee Grant.” The Coolidge Corner Theatre kicks off its virtual repertory series with four films by Grant, an Oscar winner for best supporting actress and best documentary.
TV: Nostalgia sparked by the “Parks and Recreation” revival episode inspired Globe staffers Meredith Goldstein and Mark Shanahan to brainstorm nine more TV and film reunions they’d like to see. Why not make them all, as a fund-raising competition for pandemic relief? Multiple Batmans and a “Game of Thrones” finale do-over look more promising at first glance, but don’t sleep on the genius idea of an Eddie Murphy-Grace Jones “Boomerang” reunion.
You know those HBO ads that make you say, “That guy looks like Mark Ruffalo"? They’re for “I Know This Much Is True,” based on Wally Lamb’s Oprah-certified novel about twin brothers (Ruffalo plays both) battling “unhealthy familial bonds, cross-generational trauma, schizophrenia, toxic masculinity, and PTSD,” writes Globe TV critic Matthew Gilbert. Unfortunately, writer-director Derek Cianfrance’s six-part miniseries “just sits there, a roiling mass of misery that fails to provide you with a compelling reason to keep watching.”
The performances also outstrip the storytelling in “The Eddy,” a Netflix miniseries from “La La Land” writer-director Damien Chazelle. Set in and around a club in suburban Paris, it incorporates jazz “both in the performance scenes and in the background of the scenes with dialogue,” Gilbert writes. “But the story line imposed onto the setting is awfully stale, as familiar as the ambience is not.”
And a reader has a timely question for Ask Matthew: what to watch on Hulu (now with tons of FX programming) after finishing “The Handmaid’s Tale,” “PEN15,” and “Shrill”? He has nine recommendations, and if this paragraph ends in midsentence, it’s because I just learned that George Clooney and Kyle Chandler are costarring in
... OK, fine, “Catch-22.”
PERFORMING ARTS: A new Globe initiative, ArtsAlive, curates exclusive content from local cultural institutions to tide you over while performance and exhibition spaces are closed. Featuring artists and experts — actors, musicians, conductors, singers, dancers, museum curators, and more — each video is a quick hit of creativity to brighten your day. The selections change weekly; the latest crop reminded me that the Peabody Essex Museum belongs on any post-stay-at-home itinerary. Click here to check out ArtsAlive.
The uncertainty coloring every aspect of life very much extends to the performing arts, leaders of five Boston-area organizations confirmed in a wide-ranging discussion with Globe theater critic Don Aucoin. The Next Act, the Globe’s new series about post-pandemic life in the arts, kicked off with their (virtual) conversation. “The key is to stay true to our art form,” said Boston Ballet’s Mikko Nissinen. “I think safe is death.”
FINE ART: While we’re testing our coping skills in multidisciplinary ways, a helpful analog might be the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic, but that “phantom catastrophe” left a surprisingly light footprint, writes Globe music critic Jeremy Eichler. As for coronavirus: “Illness will remain resistant to cultural memory, but this pandemic may also have fewer places to hide.” You may think you’re pandemic-ed out (I sure did), but trust me on this one.
For this week’s Pilgrimage column, Globe art critic Murray Whyte heads to bucolic Arlington, Vt., where Norman Rockwell was living when he created the “Four Freedoms” paintings, employing local amateurs as models. The transplanted New Yorker gave his best-known works “allegorical scope; the townsfolk in Arlington gave them plainspoken, homespun universality.”
MENTAL HEALTH: Love Letters columnist Meredith Goldstein’s Taking Care interview series turns tuneful this week when Joy Allen, chair of the music therapy department at Berklee College of Music, drops in. Allen tackles reader questions, and she and Goldstein share their quarantine playlists, as do Globe staffers Dan Shaughnessy, Jeneé Osterheldt, and Janelle Nanos. One of these people really likes Richard Marx; click here to find out who.
FOOD & DINING: The James Beard Award nominees have been announced, and “Boston’s reputation as a stronghold for women chefs is well founded,” writes James Beard Award nominee Devra First (that’s her name this week, I do not make the rules). Some of them are even open for takeout and/or delivery, including Fox & the Knife, Sarma, and some locations of “Pastry Love” author Joanne Chang’s Flour Bakery as well as Myers + Chang.
After — or instead of — working your way through that takeout list, sooner or later you’ll have occasion to whip up something sweet at home. Former Globe food editor Sheryl Julian looks for inspiration from the home cooks of the 1930s and ’40s, who dealt with widespread ingredient shortages, and Globe correspondent Kara Baskin goes in search of home cooks’ family recipes for sweets that are perfect for Mother’s Day (Sunday! This Sunday!).
BOOKS: With uncanny timing, Erik Larson’s latest bestseller, “The Splendid and the Vile,” landed in the midst of “personal dislocation, privation, a sense of great loss, and an attack whose end is not discernible,” writes Globe correspondent David M. Shribman. In the story of Winston Churchill and his family during the Blitz, American readers “are finding comfort in another country’s distress in another century in another confrontation with evil.”
Judging from the Most Read list, you probably already know this, but here’s a reminder that the Globe is serializing a new novella by Ben Mezrich, “The Mechanic.” The Boston-set mystery is 22 chapters, and he’s only about one-third of the way through — catch up before some well-intentioned video conference spoils it for you.
BUT REALLY: Take care of yourself. Let Daniel Radcliffe and a slew of other famous British people read to you as part of the Harry Potter at Home project. Find Sir Patrick Stewart on Twitter and enjoy his reading of one Shakespeare sonnet per day. Make a mask and draw a smiley face on the front. Wear it when you go out, please. Wash your hands!