Things to Do

The Weekender: Astronauts, divas, dancers, and dad jokes

Ryan Gosling stars in “First Man.”
Ryan Gosling stars in “First Man.”(Universal Studios)
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Well hello and Happy Holidays, Weekenders! Whoa, what’s that look for?

It was the “Holidays” part, wasn’t it? This newsletter has very little experience as the bearer of bad news, but I’ve got to give it to you straight: Once Halloween hits, we shift directly into holiday hyperdrive: the turkey, the big box from the basement, the shopping, the weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Which means all of these precious “normal” weekends we’ve been enjoying together will soon be scattered by the autumn winds. So take a deep breath of the brisk fall air, grab yourself a cider donut and a scarf, and let the denial take hold and sink in, because we’ve got zero time to waste.


PERSONAL SPACE: If you’re looking for a space odyssey or an overblown hero epic, “First Man” may not be the right stuff for you. But if you want a more personal take on the historic feat, one “that looks for the man behind the hero,” take Globe film critic Ty Burr’s 3½-star cue and go see it this weekend.  Damien Chazelle (“Whiplash,” “La La Land”) directs and Ryan Gosling stars as Neil Armstrong in this “film that insists history is made from private lives” and corrects a “casual cultural belief, a half century on, that the Apollo missions and the NASA endeavors leading up to them somehow ‘just happened’ without terrific effort and terrible loss.” Will he make it to the moon? (Yes, we know this.) Will he make it back? (Yes, they made it back.) Will he eat his cereal? (That I cannot say, but precedent suggests no.) Now screening.

STARR TURN: Burr also has three stars of love to give to “The Hate U Give,” an adaptation of Angie Thomas’s 2017 young adult novel from director George Tillman Jr. and the late screenwriter Audrey Wells (who died the day before the film’s release). Following the story of Starr (Amandla Stenberg), who sees her best friend gunned down by police, the film “escapes ‘Afterschool Special’ clichés for the most part and works instead as one young woman’s powerful coming of age in the middle of a fractured society,” and “dramatizes with care and awareness the infinite gray areas of black urban life in America.” It’s also a welcome showcase of Stenberg (who played Rue in “The Hunger Games”), who here emerges as “one of the most appealing talents of her generation.” Also stars Regina Hall, Russell Hornsby, Issa Rae, and Lamar Johnson. Now screening.


DOC DOCKET: And have you been enjoying the GlobeDocs Film Festival? Not to worry if you’ve been busy this week; pairings of films and discussion panels with Globe journalists run through Sunday and there’s a lot left to see. (BTW, did you know that over 70 percent of this year’s documentaries were directed by women? So don’t be surprised if many selections go beyond identifying problems and into actually fixing them.) For you dance fans who made it this far into a documentary blurb, you can catch “Danseur” on Saturday (11 a.m. at the Brattle), which features a number of Boston Ballet figures as it highlights the struggles faced by male dancers, with a panel discussion led by Loren King. And Sunday’s program opens (11:30 a.m. at the Brattle) with a program of six documentary shorts. Find a full schedule of films and tickets here.


PAGE PROGRAM: If that’s not nearly enough festing for you, there’s also the 10th annual Boston Book Festival, which has been described as “The Coachella of Books” (by me, just now); it kicks off Friday night and runs all day Saturday in Copley Square. Along with keynote speakers including Michael Pollan, Tayari Jones, and Christopher Castellani, there will be a healthy showing of local talents, including locals Andre Dubus III, Gish Jen, Laura van den Berg, Martín Espada, and Shauna Barbosa. Apart from two ticketed events (Friday’s keynote with Pollan and a Saturday afternoon forum “On Leadership” with Doris Kearns Goodwin, John Kerry, and Samantha Power), all events are free and take place in Copley Square. (I have no idea where they’re putting the mist tent.) Find a full schedule here.

Florence Welch (pictured in Brazil in 2016) will front the Machine at TD Garden Friday.
Florence Welch (pictured in Brazil in 2016) will front the Machine at TD Garden Friday.(Raphael Dias/Getty Images/file)

FOLLOW YOUR LEAD: Depending on what kind of lead singer you prefer, you’ve got two solid options bookending the weekend. If you’re a “roar into the rafters” type, on Friday at TD Garden you can catch belting queen Florence Welch and her respective Machine, touring behind her most recent album, “High as Hope.” (Tickets here.) If you’re more of a “whisper it into your notebook” type, on Sunday (as well as Monday) at the Boch Center Wang Theatre, you can catch indie-rock mainstays Death Cab for Cutie, led by Ben Gibbard, whose melancholy sweetness sounds fresh all over again on “Thank You for Today.” (Tickets here.) If neither of those sounds nearly fabulous enough, read on, dear reader, read on . . .


DRAMATIC PAUSE: . . . because Chita Rivera is in the house! Isn’t it grand? Isn’t it great? Isn’t it swell? Isn’t it fun? Those will all be solid yeses as the Broadway legend comes to the Calderwood Pavilion, Boston Center for the Arts, on Saturday for a pair of speak-and-sing performances alongside accompanist (and star in his own right) Seth Rudetsky. Rivera, the 85-year-old recipient of this year’s lifetime achievement award at the Tonys, rolls into town with a rollicking romp through her remarkable life on and off stage. “It’s not scripted or planned,” she told the Globe, “so it always feels fresh, and a memory or a song emerges out of a moment. We may talk about something that happened years ago, or just last week.” You can grab tickets here.

NEXT STOP: Also at the Calderwood this weekend, you can catch SpeakEasy Stage Company’s production of Stephen Adly Guirgis’s “perceptive, humane, frequently funny” Pulitzer Prize-winning play, “Between Riverside and Crazy.” Directed by the sure hand of Tiffany Nichole Green, it’s “a work that engages the ear (Guirgis’s dialogue is the gift that keeps on giving), the conscience, and the heart,” according to Globe theater critic Don Aucoin. “Guirgis has fashioned a gritty slice of life that by the end has elevated itself into something like a modern morality play,” he writes. It runs through Saturday, and you can find tickets here.


DAD JOKES: Through the ’90s there was no snark snarkier, no wit more sharp and pokey, no jerk jerkier than “Joe Dirt” himself, David Spade, whose “Hollywood Minute” segments on “Saturday Night Live” and hypercynical sitcom “Just Shoot Me” made Jerry Seinfeld come off like Fred Rogers. But his extensive new audio book, “A Polaroid Guy in a Snapchat World” (which the comic calls a “real blabalanche”), finds Spade digging in less and taking a more reflective, self-effacing, fatherly, fifty-something look at life. You can get a sampling when he’s onstage at the Wilbur Theatre on Friday. Find tickets here.

MOTION, PICTURES: You are definitely not permitted to dance through the galleries of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum (especially after what happened at Susan’s wedding), but the museum’s very first choreographer-in-residence, Peter DiMuro, is a different story. Through Oct. 25, you can experience “The House of Accumulated Beauties,” a 45-minute dancer-led “movement tour” of the galleries and their many treasures. Each tour includes performance installations and a finale in the form of a “chorus of Isabellas.” Find more info and tickets here. And here’s a video on how to put on toe shoes, which, I should be clear, you will not be needing since you will not be dancing. (Do you have any idea how much that cake cost?)

TEXTILE MESSAGES: And while you’re at Isabella’s place, check out Steve Locke’s outdoor installation “Three Deliberate Grays for Freddie (A Memorial for Freddie Gray),” as well as “Common Threads: Weaving Stories Across Time,” an exhibition that combines the Gardner’s own stunning collection of tapestries with fiber art from artists such as El Anatsui, William Kentridge, and Raqs Media Collective, as well as “true pearl,” an “opera, in five tapestries” from composer David Lang and librettist Sibyl Kempson. It’s on view through Jan. 13. More information here.

Aaron Eckhart and Marthe Keller in “The Romanoffs.”
Aaron Eckhart and Marthe Keller in “The Romanoffs.” (Amazon/Chris Raphael)

OR STAY IN! Because your Me Time is about to be seriously compromised, the couch is a great option for the next few days. On Friday you can dig into Matthew Weiner’s anticipated new Amazon series “The Romanoffs” — an anthology drama which dips into the lives of various descendants of the Russian royal family. It stars Diane Lane, Aaron Eckhart, Noah Wyle, Mary Kay Place, Corey Stoll, Amanda Peet, Kathryn Hahn, Paul Reiser, Isabelle Huppert, and some erstwhile “Mad Men” like John Slattery and Christina Hendricks. Globe TV critic Matthew Gilbert calls it a “fine new series” of “discrete pieces, a collection of short stories hanging together loosely and, at times, provocatively.”

And on Sunday you can go “Camping” with Jennifer Garner, David Tennant, Brett Gelman, Juliette Lewis (whaat), and Ione Skye, who all turn up in this new HBO adaptation of a British series, helmed Stateside by the Dunhamic duo behind “Girls,” Lena Dunham and Jenni Konner. But while the Annoying Protagonist has become a popular trope on TV over the last decade, Garner can’t pull it off, according to Gilbert: “Give me Debbie Downer any day over the HBO show’s insanely controlling, petty, and pouty Kathryn, played by the poorly cast Jennifer Garner. There’s nothing entertaining about her.” Maybe just watch some reruns of “Insecure” instead.

And finally, the whole dang weekend you can kick back with the new Kurt Vile album, “Bottle It In,” which Globe reviewer Terence Cawley calls a “long slow record” of “mellow gold” and “the fullest portrait yet of the human behind that Cheshire Cat grin.”

And that, soon-to-be-even-busier Weekenders, is all I’ve got for you this weekend. (And if you need to get out of the house, there’s a bunch of new public art on display as part of HUBweek that can give your aimless wandering some purpose.) However you decide to spend your weekend, make it one you’ll miss come Monday!

See you next time.

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