Welcome back to HomeFront, a magical place full of movies, TV shows, music, art, books, and other diversions that somehow smells like the seashore, an evergreen forest, and fresh-baked cookies all at the same time. Where is this? Wherever you need it to be. (See? Magical.) Fire up a screen and/or headphones and let’s go!
FILM: This is a big week for documentaries. Ron Howard’s “Rebuilding Paradise” earns three stars from Globe film critic Ty Burr with its unblinking account of the 2018 wildfire that destroyed Paradise, Calif. It was the worst conflagration in state history — so far. “The movie plays like a premonition,” Burr says of a film that “is frank about human helplessness in the face of disaster, and frank, too, about our unsteady perch on an Earth capable of throwing us off without a thought.”
“The Fight,” a snapshot of four cases pursued by the ACLU, also garners three stars, this time from Globe critic Peter Keough. The cases represent a ripped-from-the-headlines grab bag of hot-button issues that allows directors Elyse Steinberg, Josh Kriegman, and Eli Despres to show off their well-developed storytelling muscles. Says Keough: “[T]heir coverage of events occurs in real time with remarkable serendipity and dramatic suspense.”
Bob Marley would have turned 75 in February, and Kevin Macdonald’s 2012 documentary “Marley,” rereleased for the occasion, is “a fat beach-read of a bio-doc that covers every aspect of Marley’s rich life,” Burr writes in a 3½-star review. At nearly 2½ hours, it “offers a balanced portrait of the man, despite being produced by family members who have every reason to lean into hagiography.”
This one’s fiction: “Summerland,” set in southeastern England during the Blitz and starring Gemma Arterton (“Quantum of Solace”) as a crabby writer improbably saddled with a child evacuee from London. Writer-director Jessica Swale’s debut is “eccentric on the surface, conventional beneath, and an easy watch,” Burr writes in a two-star review.
Remember hugging? Even hugging non-fan Meredith Goldstein endorses the embraces of Charlize Theron and her immortal pals in “The Old Guard.” Director Gina Prince-Bythewood’s hit “has a lot of excellent kicking, punching, running, and comic-book cliffhangers, but it’s also a film with beautiful embraces,” the Love Letters columnist writes in a meditation on cinematic hugging. “Right now, for obvious reasons, that’s a beautiful thing to see.”
Goldstein also rounds up memorable cinematic hugs in a separate list that will send you sprinting to Netflix, even if you never make it to what will almost certainly be a roaring comments section. Yes, of course both stories mention “Good Will Hunting.”
TV: The highest-profile debut of the week is a visual album that drops Friday: Beyoncé’s “Black Is King.” The “companion to last year’s Beyoncé-curated album ‘The Lion King: The Gift’” is the top entry on Globe TV critic Matthew Gilbert’s “What I’m watching this week” list, and really, what else are you doing on Fridays these days?
In our current age of weirdness, the appeal of dystopian drama is as undeniable as it is paradoxical. An Ask Matthew reader weighing the options asks for Gilbert’s top pick, which is not what you might expect. My personal “to watch” list is already pretty long, but it always has room for “a brilliant, provocative, faceted nightmare.”
VISUAL ART: “Homage to the Auction Block: New Paintings by Steve Locke,” at LaMontagne Gallery, grew out of the controversy surrounding Locke’s proposed Faneuil Hall memorial to kidnapped and enslaved Africans. “Locke puts those erased people, and indeed the dynamic of erasure, at the center of the picture plane and lets that history ... be the dropped pebble from which colors ripple out,” writes Globe correspondent Cate McQuaid.
“This strange summer, when we’re parched for art and community, is the perfect time for an art fair,” writes McQuaid. AREA CODE Art Fair, which spotlights New England artists both online and at 3-D pop-ups, quenches that thirst. “It’s been wonderful to be part of a team of such great human beings,” curator Jen Mergel says of the volunteer visionaries creatively battling pandemic fatigue.
MUSIC: This week in “the show must go on”: Newport Folk Festival, originally scheduled for this weekend. The online event includes a dizzying variety of video and audio, newly recorded and plucked from the archives, as well as a birthday tribute to Mavis Staples. “We decided to make the best of it, and use our megaphone … in a virtual world,” executive producer Jay Sweet tells Globe correspondent Lauren Daley
New music powerhouse Bang on a Can has been staging virtual concerts for months and now ventures into the arena of socially distanced live performance with a weekend’s worth of sold-out shows at Mass MoCA. “[I]n the last month we kind of put all this together and decided yeah, we’re gonna go for it,” co-artistic director Michael Gordon tells Globe correspondent David Weininger.
From hip-hop with roots in Framingham to “future soul” out of Boston, local musicians are still creating even in unsettled times. Globe correspondent Karen Muller spins the New Releases rack and comes up with a half-dozen selections sure to get you moving — and thinking. The best title? A tie between “Vicious Nonbeliever,” by Mal Devisa x DJ Lucas, and Square Loop’s “Mom Come Pick Me Up.”
The phenomenon of a virtual Tanglewood — “taking a festival that is so deeply rooted in a particular place, and transposing it for a domain as radically placeless as the Internet” — focuses Globe classical music critic Jeremy Eichler on the future. “[I]t is already clear that, once a vaccine arrives and live concerts do eventually return to Tanglewood and Symphony Hall, musical organizations, like office workers, will not simply return to old habits.”
BOOKS: The eagerly awaited follow-up to “The Warmth of Other Suns,” Isabel Wilkerson’s “Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents” spans the world to explore what the author calls “the infrastructure of our divisions.” reviewer Joshunda Sanders says the new book “should be required reading for generations to come and is as propulsive a reading experience as her debut.”
National Book Award winner Edward Ball airs his forebears’ dirty laundry in “Life of a Klansman,” a timely subject that allows the author of “Slaves in the Family” to “speculate artistically about his ancestors,” writes reviewer Walton Muyumba. “In documenting his forefather’s Ku Klux Klan membership, not only does Ball break a Creole code, he also dares document how whiteness and white supremacy function in American life.”
FOOD & DINING: “Send help, for I am buried beneath a substantial pile of summer squash, trying to eat my way out,” says the Globe’s Devra First. Her delightful, timely Cooking From Home series wraps up this week with a look at pies and crisps. Fruit crisp “is a dessert that embraces transition by its very design,” she writes. “I’ll be making it often in the coming months.” No, that’s not a vegetable recipe — maybe the summer squash won.
Room-temperature meatloaf is comfort food even in hot weather. It has an advocate in former Globe food editor Sheryl Julian, and she’s never steered me wrong. “Must have it, heat wave or no,” she writes, sharing suggestions for ingredients, techniques, leftovers, side dishes, and keeping the kitchen relatively cool. “It’s so familiar, so comforting, so completely unchallenging.”
Even less challenging: takeout. Mother-son team Ana Maria and Joshua Fidalgo of Nos Casa in Roxbury are here to help. “[W]e have our traditional plates from Cape Verde that are really hard to find in other places,” Ana Maria Fidalgo tells Globe correspondent Kara Baskin in a wide-ranging three-way conversation about the Boston restaurant scene. “And they’re all ready to go. You don’t have to wait; they’re already made.”
SPORTS: Give me a “G”! Give me an “R”! Wait, what team is that? Why, it’s the Providence Grays, who play 19th-century-style baseball in wool uniforms. “It’s the pure game,” team captain Brian Travers tells Globe correspondent Lauren Daley, who offers an introduction to the world of vintage baseball. “It just gives you that spark of ‘This is the way the game is supposed to be.‘”
BUT REALLY: August starts this weekend, and Sunday is six months away from Groundhog Day, the cinematic theme song of pandemic existence. Sometimes it’s hard to remember playing in the snow, and not just because the outdoor temperature is uncomfortably close to body temperature. Remember, New Englanders working together have saved a lot of lives — let’s not relax now. Wear your mask and wash your hands!