The Weekender: Russian spies, Hollywood brains, and restless Zombies

Murray Close/20th Century Fox

Jennifer Lawrence plays a prima ballerina turned Russian agent in “Red Sparrow.”

By Michael Andor Brodeur  Globe Correspondent 

Want the Globe’s top picks for what to see and do each weekend e-mailed straight to you? Sign up for the Weekender newsletter here.

Much like the Oscars, this here humble Weekender gathers together the best and brightest events in their respective fields, dresses them up a little with some shiny links and details, and presents them to you with a big smile and a couple of dad jokes. Unlike the Oscars, there are no losers to push past on your way to accept them, you won’t fall asleep (ideally) before the end of it, and Ryan Seacrest remains thousands of miles away. It’s everything you want and nothing you don’t. (Well, except for my friend who gets hives at the mention of Jennifer Lawrence. He might want to skip the next blurb.) Off we go!

FROM RUSSIA WITH NO CLOTHES: “Hunger Games” franchise director Francis Lawrence reunites with Jennifer Lawrence (side note: I was about to say “the one and only Jennifer Lawrence,” but I think I personally know at least two Jennifer Lawrences) for “Red Sparrow,” “a hard-R espionage thriller” that reviewer Tom Russo gives three stars. “This story of a Russian agent trained to seduce is arrestingly dark fare that takes risks across the board,” he writes. “Lawrence takes off her clothes and puts on a Russian accent, never seeming ridiculous, only brave.” (And while we’re talking hard-R’s, you should hear the other Jen Lawrence from Lawrence’s accent. None hahhder.) Opens Friday.


HARD ‘S’: Fun fact: Did you know that circus performers from Australia actually tumble counterclockwise? I’m sorry. That’s actually not true at all. That was the “fun” part of the fact. I probably shouldn’t be doing that. Please don’t let my little white lie keep you from checking out Circa — the renowned contemporary troupe from down under bringing its 2012 production “S” to the Boch Center Shubert Theatre. “S” is described as a “sinuous, seductive, sophisticated, sensual, and savage” love letter to the letter, full of body-bending acrobatics and set to the music of Kimmo Pohjonen, Samuli Kosminen, and the Kronos Quartet. The Celebrity Series of Boston presentation runs Friday through Sunday. Find tickets here.

GEORGE BURNS: After a few years touring with fellow “Comedy Get Down” comics D.L. Hughley, Cedric the Entertainer, Eddie Griffin, and Charlie Murphy, comedian George Lopez is giving himself some much-needed personal space on his current tour. And boy could he use it. Dude recently gave up his beloved game of golf until Trump deals with DACA — and that was his “me” time. In the meantime, he’ll be teeing off into the audience at the Wilbur this Saturday on “The Wall World Tour,” but don’t be surprised if he’s traded in his 9-iron for a sledgehammer. Find tickets here.

Gretjen Helene

Claudia Rankine’s “The White Card” is at the Paramount Center’s Robert J. Orchard Stage through April 1.

CONVERSATION PIECE: Some people use Woolite to handle delicate whites. Poet Claudia Rankine uses words. Her 2014 collection “Citizen: An American Lyric” was a probing exploration/excavation of the slights, slips, and signals that carry systemic racism forth, and an insistent second-person indictment of white America’s passive upkeep of white supremacy. It’s uncomfortable and necessary stuff, and the world premiere of Rankine’s new play “The White Card” brings the American conversation about race to a more literal place: a tense dinner party. Directed by American Repertory Theater artistic director Diane Paulus, the show — an ART production presented by ArtsEmerson — is at the Paramount Center’s Robert J. Orchard Stage through April 1. (And if you’ve got some spare weekend to fill, pick up “Citizen” and catch up with the 1,300-plus people participating in ArtsEmerson’s “Citizen Read” book club.) More information and tickets here.

WOOLF PARADE: Elsewhere onstage this weekend is Sarah Ruhl’s adaptation of “Virginia Woolf’s Orlando,” Woolf’s time-traveling, continent-crossing, gender-flexing novel that Ruhl found alluringly “operatic and epic and often very funny.” “I think the time is right for ‘Orlando,’ ” Ruhl recently told the Globe’s Terry Byrne. “Virginia Woolf couldn’t have imagined the trans movement, but she relished the idea that the mind of the artist is androgynous and wanted to open people up to possibilities.” That’s at the Lyric Stage through March 25; find more information and tickets here.

A STAR IS TORN: Before it comes to PBS in May, consider checking out Alexandra Dean’s fascinating new documentary “Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story,” the tale of Hedwig Kiesler, the inventor of the “frequency hopping” technology that enables modern-day mobile communications who was also a Hollywood star, Hedy Lamarr. Long story, but in his three-star review, Ty Burr says the film “fascinates with its biographical zigs and zags.” Kiesler’s striking beauty and Hollywood’s twisted priorities caught her in a narrow lens (and she never did see a dime for her discoveries), but Dean’s tale mixes stunning footage from early in her life with haunting interviews from before her death in 2000 to give Kiesler the star turn she deserves. Opens Friday.


THE ROCKING DEAD: The Saturday night show is sold out, but there are still tickets floating around for the Sunday night reemergence of the legendary Zombies at City Winery. Christopher Muther saw the band at the Regent back in 2013, and described the experience as “a paean to beautiful songs that stubbornly refuse to age” that was only “occasionally painful,” due to some less-than-welcome detours into newer material (i.e. away from hits like “She’s Not There” and “Time of the Season”). But look, whether the whole thing is Watusi-worthy or not, it’s the Zombies, and it’s always a good policy to catch them before they catch you. BYOB (Bring Your Own Brains). Tickets here.

DIVINE WORKS: “There are many reasons to be dazzled by the 13 works in ‘Fra Angelico: Heaven on Earth,’ writes reviewer Cate McQuaid of the new exhibition on view at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum through May 20, “among them the painter’s jaw-dropping, luxuriant color, his innovative compositions, and his wondrous precision.” But worth the visit alone is the way the 15th-century painter’s works “ignite the souls of devotees”: “Today the faithful are catholic museum visitors, not Catholic churchgoers,” writes McQuaid. “Still, it works.” More info here.

NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM: For something a little less, uh, directly in front of the baby Jesus, try this weekend’s return of the popular MFA Late Nite series. Night owls can explore exhibitions in the galleries including “Takashi Murakami: Lineage of Eccentrics” and “(un)expected families”), enjoy Late Nite Bites (which, I’m about to shock you, are small plates), dig into DJs and drag takeovers in the Linde Wing and the Courtyard (including DJ Yvng Pavl, Brandi Blaze, STL GLD, Haasan Barclay, and DJ Dayglow featuring performances by Coleslaw, Severity Stone, and Violencia), and go deep into a virtual reality “macro-arrangement of sculptural instruments” courtesy of MSHR, the art duo of Birch Cooper and Brenna Murphy. Advance tickets for the event are sold out, but a limited amount of same-day tickets will be available starting at 8 p.m. on Saturday at the museum’s Huntington Avenue entrance. More info here.

SUPER CONDUCTOR: If your summer of Bernstein at Tanglewood just can’t come quickly enough (easy pal, easy), the New England Philharmonic this weekend is marking the composer’s centennial early with a performance of “Three Dance Variations” from 1944’s “Fancy Free.” The wide-ranging program on Saturday evening at Boston University’s Tsai Performance Center also features performances of Claude Debussy’s “Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune,” Eric Nathan’s “Paestum,” Ferruccio Busoni’s “Indian Fantasy for piano and orchestra (Op. 44) (featuring Jeffrey Swann on piano), and the Boston premiere of Steven Stucky’s Symphony. The program will also honor conductor Richard Pittman, who has led the Philharmonic for two decades (and Boston Musica Viva for five). More information here.

RAMBLE ON: And finally from the outside world: If you like yelling at movies, that’s nice, I get it, but maybe leave it to the pros. Like Trace Beaulieu and Frank Conniff, a.k.a. The Mads of “Mystery Science Theatre 3000.” On Saturday night, they’ll bring their loudmouth real-time critiques of the worst/best movies ever made to Arlington’s typically very polite Regent Theatre. Please note: Even though we’re breaking some hallowed rules of the cinema tonight, if I see you texting during the show, you can retrieve your phone later from the bottom of Spy Pond. Tickets and info here.

OR STAY IN! If you really like yelling at movies, then I certainly don’t need to be furnishing you with extra plans this weekend. You’re probably already in full-on Oscar party mode. The 90th annual Academy Awards air Sunday night on ABC with host Jimmy Kimmel and a list of strong performers (yay Mary J.!) and I’m going to just step out of your way and let you do your thing. (Just please note: The guy from “Queer Eye” must have hit his head or something. Do not add yogurt to that guacamole. That’s not how any of this works.)

Once your mini-quiches are baking and your weenies properly Crock Potted, check out Ty Burr and Janice Page’s rundown of who will win and who should win (as well as who should and shouldn’t even be there), and Mark Feeney’s short list of particularly galling snubs.

It’s a good time as well to brush up on Rachel Morrison, the Cambridge native whose work on “Mudbound” made her the first ever woman nominated for a best cinematography Oscar. (You can see her work currently in “Black Panther.”) And be sure to keep an eye on “Icarus,” the Oscar-nominated documentary on Russia’s state-sponsored athletic doping program, which has producers based in Boston (and is now on Netflix).

And if all of this Oscar nonsense sounds like garbage, I have a feeling the new Breeders album, “All Nerve,” will sound like gold. Terence Cawley calls it “in every sense of the term, a true comeback album,” but if you’ve ever been in my car, you know they never went anywhere. Or I haven’t. One of those.

And that, my dear Weekenders, is this week’s bag. Listen hard around 11 p.m. on Sunday to hear me scream at the moon when “Get Out” loses to the billboard movie, and however you spend your weekend, make it one you’ll miss come Monday. 

See you next week!

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