The Weekender: Folk heroes, good dogs, and ‘SNL’ stars’ reunion
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What ho, Weekenders? We’re halfway through September and you know what that means: FALL LOOKS. That’s right. I’m talking sweaters, bigger sweaters for over the sweaters, clunky boots, fierce hats, maybe some more sweaters, pile it on, autumn. I am here for it.
And the Globe is feeling the itch to switch things up too. No sooner did I push my head through my first turtleneck of the season than it launched a foxy new Boston Globe smartphone app. It’s a look. It whispers function but screams fun. It’s full of Globey prize-winning journalism. It’s free for non-subscribers for two whole weeks. And it’s so hot right now. (No really, I’ve got three sweaters on for some reason.)
OK, now read this and you can put your phone down for a couple days, I promise. (Let’s go!)
GOOD BAEZ: When a 19-year-old Joan Baez released her first self-titled album in 1960, as she remembers, it was “really just old folk songs, because I’d fallen in love with a guy from Harvard, and I wasn’t paying any attention to politics.” Now 77, a titan of her craft and one of music’s most powerful voices in several senses, Baez has a name that’s synonymous with protest. This Friday and Saturday at the Boch Center Wang Theatre, you get two chances to catch Baez performing songs from her 25th studio album, “Whistle on the Wind” (plus most likely a Tom Waits cover or two) as she comes through on her “Fare Thee Well” tour — and yes, you read that right. (After this lap, most of her studio time will be spent painting and doing some well-earned chilling.) Raise a fist, raise a glass (use different hands), and grab tickets here.
ED TIMES: Taylor Swift’s hiking buddy, presumably redshirted stray Lannister, and local-busker-turned-global-busker Ed Sheeran is still a thing, having just been nominated to lose to Drake in several categories at this year’s American Music Awards, which are also still a thing. On Friday and Saturday, he really sticks it to Joan Baez with a pair of shows at Gillette Stadium with openers Snow Patrol, who, again, wow, still a thing! Find tickets here.
RAT TALE: In theaters this weekend is “White Boy Rick,” the true story of Rick Wershe Jr., a Detroit 14-year-old who would become the youngest informant in FBI history. The film teams Matthew McConaughey with Richie Merritt, whose big-screen debut helps carry a complicated picture, according to the Globe’s Mark Feeney. “In what have been several months of race at the movies — ‘Sorry to Bother You,’ ‘Blindspotting,’ ‘BlacKkKlansman,’ ‘Kin’ — this skanky tale of a collapsing, all-but-lawless Detroit may be the most racially encouraging: that is, in the way people get along, if and when (especially when) the getting along is on the wrong side of the law,” he writes in his three-star review. (Keep an eye out for pop-ins from Bruce Dern and Piper Laurie.) Now screening.
GIRL INTERPRETED: At the Brattle Theatre through Sept. 20, you can catch what Globe film critic Ty Burr heralds as “a stunner — one of the best films of the year, if also one of the hardest to initially get your head around.” Directed by Josephine Decker and written by Decker and Donna Di Novelli, “Madeline’s Madeline” follows the perspective of 16-year-old Madeline (Helena Howard), “a teenage girl struggling with mental illness while flowering angrily, impetuously, and vibrantly into herself.” “This is cinema as vertigo,” writes Burr in his four-star review, “not so much directed as choreographed and collaged.” Find tickets here (and hit Saturday’s 7 p.m. screening for a Filmmaker in Person appearance from Decker).
LAB RESULTS: Potomac, Patriot, Primrose, Poppet, and Phil are five Labrador littermates on the path to becoming working guide dogs for the blind in “Pick of the Litter,” a new documentary from co-directors Don Hardy Jr. and Dana Nachman. Burr tosses it 2½ stars, whapping it lightly with a newspaper for its unnecessary reality-competition trappings, but praising it for prompting “simple awe at the capabilities of these smart, focused, loving four-footed companions, whom we’re encouraged to think of as ‘working dogs,’ but who are so much more to the men and women to whom they’re ultimately assigned and for whom they open the world.” Now screening.
REEL PEOPLE: If that’s simply not enough film for your weekend, I suggest driving north of Springfield (until your service sucks) to the 11th annual Ashfield Film Festival, “the town’s delightfully daffy, completely community-produced annual soiree,” as told by reporter James Sullivan. The festival showcases “five-minute films created by the working folks, gentleman farmers, and schoolchildren of this agrarian community of 1,700, where there is no cellphone service and the town diner and the supply store across the street qualify as the sole hotbed of activity” — although this year the festival is feeling the influence of outsider entries from Buckland and Shelburne. It runs through Saturday; find more info here.
OUTSIDE THE LINES: And if you want to make a whole outsider art weekend of it, visit the Tisch Family Gallery at Tufts for “Expressions Unbound: American Outsider Art From the Andrew and Linda Safran Collection,” a selection from the largest single-collection gift of works by African-American artists the university has received to date, showcasing works by prominent self-taught artists including Thornton Dial, Howard Finster, Bessie Harvey, William L. Hawkins, Mary T. Smith, Jimmy Lee Sudduth, and Purvis Young. It’s up now and runs through Dec. 16; find more information here.
NET WIN: Over a quarter million people tuned into Facebook Live to watch comedian Chris Fleming’s recent stand-up special “Showpig.” And while it may have been Facebook’s first foray into comedy specials, it wasn’t the first time slaying the Internet for Fleming, who powerwalked into viral fame as the titular suburban alpha-mom in his long-running Web series “Gayle” and has since gone on to release dozens of deeply confusing nature videos, pop singles, and alternate personae. On Saturday at the Wilbur, he gives an immersion course in his weird comedic language. Tickets here.
LAUGHING WITH YOU: This weekend is also the tail end of the Boston Comedy Festival, and there’s still a bunch of highlights on the calendar. Jim Norton’s Chip Chipperson podcast tapes a live episode at the Somerville Theatre on Friday, the “Mads” of “Mystery Science Theater 3000” watch Vincent Price’s “The Tingler” at the Regent Theatre in Arlington on Saturday (followed by a set from Emo Philips), while the big finale goes down at the Somerville Theatre, featuring a big comedian-of-the-year hug for Gary Gulman and an early-yet-overdue lifetime achievement award for Jennifer Coolidge. Full listing of funny business here.
ABOUT WHITE: While the title of “Straight White Men” more than “hints at a polemical takedown,” writes Globe theater critic Don Aucoin, “what [Young Jean] Lee delivers is more intricate and artful — even sympathetic — than that.” The “arrestingly original” playwright brings her latest play to the Mosesian Center for the Arts in Watertown for its regional debut (through Sept. 30), shortly after she became the first Asian-American female playwright to have a play produced on Broadway. “Flawed and sometimes exasperating though it is,” he writes, “ ‘Straight White Men’ adds up to an intriguing, even illuminating take on questions of status and privilege.” Find tickets here.
FLOCKING DEAD: Understandably, you might concern yourself this weekend with preparations for the end of summer, the onset of autumn, the looming winter, and, of course, the approaching zombie apocalypse. But that doesn’t mean you have to go it alone! I mean, post-apocalypse, you definitely will, but on Saturday afternoon at 2 p.m. in Union Square in Somerville, there’s a free, all-ages, team-based Zombie Apocalypse Preparedness Game. Please note: You will need an iPhone to play the zombie game. (Please also note: The irony there is not lost on this newsletter.) New RSVPs are currently listed as closed, which has to be the weakest zombie deterrent technique I’ve ever seen. Find more info here.
OR STAY IN! Those who were sad to see Maya Rudolph’s short-lived variety show live so . . . shortly, or were bummed to see Fred Armisen pack up and move on from “Portlandia,” will find some relief in the form of “Forever,” the new Amazon comedy starring the erstwhile “SNL” faves. You’ll also have to deal with some suspense: Globe TV critic Matthew Gilbert is expressly forbidden from saying much about it, but he let slide that it “starts in an expected place and winds up somewhere very different.” I really hope he doesn’t mean canceled.
A few streams over on Hulu, Sean Penn suits up for “The First,” which chronicles a tormented astronaut as he prepares for a trip to Mars — either an ascent or a descent depending on how you look at it. Gilbert says that despite the “bold twist” of centering the show on a “psychological journey instead of a literal one,” it “lacks forward momentum as it lingers indulgently in some of its least interesting conflicts.”
And those just looking to tune in/out, check out new albums from Wayne Shorter (“Emanon” is a triple album based on the graphic novel he co-wrote); Aphex Twin (reviewer Isaac Feldberg calls “Collapse” a “skittering sonic acid-trip that feels a bit like floating over the surface of an alien planet, computer code and vital signs strobing urgently across the inside of your space helmet”), and Carrie Underwood (“Cry Pretty” is her sixth album, and her first as producer).
And that, fashionably layered Weekenders, is all I’ve got coming down the runway this weekend (well, apart from this caftan thing I’ve been knitting all summer, but the bells haven’t been attached yet). However you choose to spend your weekend, make it one you’ll miss come Monday.
See you next time!