Welcome back to HomeFront, where the iced tea is homemade, the Caprese salad is homemade, the face masks are homemade, and the cocktails are takeout from a Massachusetts restaurant that’s finally allowed to sell to-go booze. Pour yourself something frosty and join me on the couch.
MOVIES: “She Dies Tomorrow,” which earns 3½ stars from Globe film critic Ty Burr, “is about waking up to fear and embracing it as a constant.” Timely! Writer-director Amy Seimetz’s characters aren’t physically ill, but they are certain that they’re about to die. “It starts as an art-house puzzler before swimming out past horror into less easily defined waters,” Burr writes. “As the sensation of imminent doom spreads from character to character to character, ‘She Dies Tomorrow’ takes shape as an allegory with just enough genre trimmings to keep us off balance.”
You’ll need outside clothes to see “The Burnt Orange Heresy” — the “nominally twisty suspense drama” set in the European art world is playing at the West Newton Cinema and Lexington Venue, Burr says in his 2½-star review. Claes Bang, Elizabeth Debicki, and Donald Sutherland carry the action while Mick Jagger turns in “a jack-in-the-box performance that is exceedingly pleasurable. Jagger relishes his character’s mastery of the situation like a cat enjoying a fat, fresh fish.”
“If it were any less original it’d be its own sequel,” Globe editor and writer Mark Feeney writes in a two-star review of Liam Neeson’s latest, “Made in Italy.” Neeson and his son Micheál Richardson play a squabbling father and son in, yes, Italy. “If ‘Made in Italy’ is a recipe, Neeson is its chief source of seasoning,” but Richardson comes off as “a twerpier version of the young Hugh Grant.”
The week’s big-name release is the Seth Rogen vehicle “An American Pickle,” and Burr’s 1½-star review makes me want to run right out and ... watch “Long Shot” again. Rogen plays a successful immigrant and the disappointing great-grandson he meets after spending a century preserved in brine. Although Rogen turns in a “tough, proud, blustery performance” as the great-grandfather, he can’t rescue the “genial but fatally slapdash” film.
Would-have-been Newport Jazz Festival weekend is a great time for Bert Stern’s 1959 documentary “Jazz on a Summer’s Day.” The “effervescent and intimate” film pioneered an enduring concert-movie format, writes Globe correspondent Peter Keough, capturing performances by, among others, Louis Armstrong, Mahalia Jackson, Chuck Berry, and Dinah Washington. It’s showing online and “in an ad hoc drive-in” in Newport.
The most important movie released in 1995 was “Toy Story,” according to Feeney. “Die Hard With a Vengeance” outstripped it at the box office, but Pixar’s first feature mixes “artistic excellence and ambition” with “commercial success and impact on the industry.” Turning the clock back a quarter-century yields a bounty of suggestions for your weekend watch list beyond the adventures of Woody and Buzz.
TV: August is traditionally a dry season for new TV — and a prime opportunity to revisit shows you missed. When “Avenue 5,” a comedy from “Veep” creator Armando Iannucci set in outer space, premiered in January, Globe TV critic Matthew Gilbert liked it well enough. It initially played as “a half-hour-ish distraction from the Sunday scaries,” writes Globe correspondent Maura Johnston. As the show and the news proceeded, though, “Iannucci‘s fine ear for satire seemed to have transmuted itself into an ability to predict the present.”
Johnston also recommends All Elite Wrestling’s “AEW: Dynamite,” which is, let’s just say, not my usual thing. But TV programming with clear-cut heroes and villains sounds pretty great right now. I’m planning to tune in if only to satisfy my curiosity about Dr. Britt Baker, D.M.D. — “a bona fide dentist whose ringside villainy puts Steve Martin to shame.”
MUSIC: Pandemic ingenuity reaches new heights with “the world’s first opera staged inside ‘Animal Crossing,‘ ” just one of the ways local performers are keeping music playing in a socially distanced world. Due Donne Productions staged Humperdinck’s “Hansel and Gretel” on a virtual island, reports the Globe’s Zoë Madonna, and Mistral Music organizes performances in Brookline’s Knyvet Square. “It’s very hard to ask someone after being online from 9 to 5 to then tune in to two more hours of sitting in a chair,” says NEMPAC Opera Project artistic director Alexandra Dietrich. Solution: using neighborhood locations as sets.
Boston trumpeter Jason Palmer, who teaches at Berklee, recently posted a YouTube playlist, “Justice for Breonna Taylor Duos in Dedication,” of improvisations by Palmer and fellow artists memorializing the Louisville EMT. “It’s just a little thing I feel I’ve been called to do in this world,” Palmer, who also leads the house band at Wally’s Café, tells Globe correspondent James Sullivan. “The magic of improvisation is you get all of the spectrum.”
The first creative-in-residence at Castle of Our Skins, performer-composer-scholar Tanyaradzwa Tawengwa, talks with Globe correspondent CJ Ru about her research and new gig. “Voices coming together is just one of the most beautiful experiences, but it’s also a metaphor for humanity,” says the native of Zimbabwe, a Princeton grad. “I feel that my role as a composer and a creator is to create space for a deeper exploration of humanity.”
VISUAL ART: The Adam Pendleton exhibition “Elements of Me” reopened along with the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, “into a new world,” writes Globe art critic Murray Whyte. Pendleton is Black, and “[t]he show, with its sharp black geometric forms inscribed on white walls, its small etched mirrors in boxes, its rough and gestural works on paper, is mysterious. But it’s also so very clear.”
“Ghostwriter,” Boston artist Nathan Miner’s new exhibition at Steven Zevitas Gallery, “marries real-world artwork with digital magic,” writes Globe correspondent Cate McQuaid. Layered atop Miner’s “dense, gestural abstract paintings,” augmented reality creates a transcendent experience: “The tangibility of the paintings gives way to a dream.”
The Gardner’s ancient Greek statue of Persephone has a new home, but it hasn’t gone anywhere. After decades of sinking into the earth of the museum’s courtyard, the half-ton marble creation recently got a new plinth, and Globe correspondent Kelly Horan has the fascinating details. “I often imagine her and feel a lot of pressure from above, from Gardner,” says director of conservation Holly Salmon.
COMEDY: Unable to tour, Mike Birbiglia launched a podcast, “Working It Out,” that “gives listeners a glimpse at the types of conversations comedians would have if they were hanging out at clubs or chatting over the phone,” writes Globe correspondent Nick A. Zaino III. Birbiglia says of the unexpectedly productive project: “I would never in a million years have considered doing that outside of the circumstances that we find ourselves in right now.”
BOOKS: Love Letters columnist and certified “Twilight” fan Meredith Goldstein tackles Stephenie Meyer’s 671-page “Midnight Sun,” the story of the first book of the saga told from the vampire’s perspective. (Why bother with May-December romances when May-1918 is already out there?) Writes Goldstein: “I hoped it might transport fans the way the stories did a decade ago. I suppose it does, but more because of the nostalgia that comes with it.”
A transporting new Margot Livesey novel is always good news, and her latest is especially welcome when a trip to England is not in the cards. In “The Boy in the Field,” Livesey “spins a luminous tale of what happens to a family after three teenage siblings discover a young man unconscious in a field,” writes Globe reviewer Daneet Steffens. “Livesey’s language is crystalline-clear and immersive, replete with vibrant imagery and echoes.”
BUT REALLY: In the story I linked to in the introduction, Globe correspondent Liza Weisstuch talks to local mixologists about preparing mixed drinks for patrons to take home. Thinking about that hybrid model, a bell went off: LIFE is a hybrid model right now. School, work, socializing, medical care, and so many other aspects of daily existence bend to accommodate a situation that’s testing the patience of everyone who isn’t a committed hermit. Hang in there, HomeFront readers. Wear your mask and wash your hands!