Winter arts guide

Things to Do

The Weekender: The protector of Wakanda, god of funk, and king of England

Chadwick Boseman in “Black Panther.”
Marvel Studios
Chadwick Boseman in “Black Panther.”

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Not gonna lie, people. It’s not always easy being a Things to Do newsletter. Sometimes you wake up, read the real news, and feel more like a What’s to Be Done newsletter, or worse, a Why Bother Doing Anything newsletter. But nobody needs more of that in their inbox.

Luckily for everyone involved here, this week’s suggested events do precisely what you need the arts to do in times of hopelessness and uncertainty: They open your eyes, ears, and hearts to the world around you, and help us find joy and build understanding when we need them most. (OK, maybe not the Noel Gallagher show, because I’ll never understand why people enjoyed Oasis — like, at all — but that’s neither here nor there.)

So rather than stay in and bury your head in the sand, go out and feel the sun on your face — and then, you know, go back inside because that’s where all of the events are. 


BLACK POWERS: In its best scenes, Ty Burr writes, “Black Panther” is “exhilarating.” “The movie doesn’t reinvent the superhero genre so much as reclaim and reenergize it — archetypes, cliches, and all — for viewers hungry to dream in their own skin,” Burr writes in his 3½-star review, praising co-writer and director Ryan Coogler’s “singular sensibility” for delivering the kind of “pop power that can rise from a long time coming.” Come for the Afrofuturist saga of the vibranium-rich nation of Wakanda, stay for the Kendrick Lamar-helmed soundtrack and the stunning cinematography of Cambridge-born Oscar nominee (“Mudbound”) Rachel Morrison. Now showing.

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NOAH’S ARC: We can laugh about it now, but only because “Daily Show” host Trevor Noah is here all weekend. After a bumpy start, the South African comic has settled comfortably into his esteemed chair (he’s tops with those millennials, you know). This week, he brings his patiently befuddled perspective on American life to the Wilbur for a stand that runs through Sunday. And yeah, it’s sold out (those millennials!) but there are resales online. (Ask a millennial to show you.)

LED FREE: When Robert Plant comes to the Orpheum to perform on Friday night with his Sensational Shape Shifters, don’t expect a wail down memory lane (despite it being the 50th anniversary of Led Zeppelin). At 69, Plant and his band are a lot more wrapped up in the here and now than the days of old. They’ll be playing songs from Plant’s latest album, “Carry Fire,” an album that finds “liminal connections between Appalachian bluegrass, Saharan blues, Celtic folk, Arabian trance, West Coast psychedelic rock, and British trip-hop,” according to interviewer Stephen Humphries. Will this information stop you from shouting “STAIRWAY!!” while he’s pausing to tune? Probably not. Ramble on, my dude. Tickets here.

CLINTON BILL: Sometimes the best way out of a funk is simply to go unfathomably deep into another one, and who better to lead the way than George Clinton and Parliament (funkin’) Funkadelic? On Saturday night at the House of Blues, the Mothership isn’t just bringing one nation under a groove through the power of interplanetary funk, it’s also transporting the spirit of New Orleans as part of its “Mardi Gras Madness” tour. Tickets available here; and please note, this show is BYOB. (Beads.) 

BE THERE THEN: Meanwhile, on the other end of the unbridled fun spectrum, ex-Oasis guitarist and principal songwriter Noel Gallagher brings his High Flying Birds back to the Boston Opera House on Saturday night. It was three years ago that the elder Gallagher first threatened retirement from live shows within the next 10 years, which I’m guessing was intended to gin up some urgency, and which appears to have worked: The show is sold out, but resales abound.

A detail of “Juliana,” in “Art in the Age of the Internet.”
Frank Benson/ICA/Boston
A detail of “Juliana,” in “Art in the Age of the Internet.”

STATE OF THE ART: One glance at the ads for the Cheese of the Month club in my Facebook feed suggests that the Internet has a pretty good understanding of who we are. But do we have a true understanding of the Internet? “Art in the Age of the Internet, 1989 to Today” is the Institute of Contemporary Art’s freshly-opened (and sprawling) exhibition of painting, performance, photography, sculpture, video, and Web-based work that examines the impossibly many ways the Internet has changed art — and us along with it. “The Internet is no paradise, although it is a mighty tool to make things more visible,” writes Cate McQuaid. “It reflects our messy, heroic, and avaricious humanity. Or has it grown so insidiously big that now humanity is becoming a reflection of the Internet?” Good question. Another one: What’s the WiFi password here? The show is up through May 20. More info here.

GOING PALEO: Of course, if the technofuture depresses you, you can just as easily escape to the prehistoric past. “Early Man” is the newest rubbery-mugged animated feature from Nick Park (“Chicken Run,” “The Curse of the Were-Rabbit”), and while it’s not peak Park, Burr calls it a “good, smart, silly stop-motion family film, the kind you can fully enjoy under the pretext of spending an afternoon at the movies with your kids.” Eddie Redmayne features as the voice of Dug, a caveman who may have invented soccer. (Hm! I would have guessed football.) Opens Friday.

FIGHTING WORDS: With the 90th Academy Awards creeping up (March 4) and the best picture category so overstuffed as to mean next to nothing, might I recommend brushing up on this year’s foreign language nominees? This year’s entries come from Chile, Hungary, Sweden, Russia, and, in the case of director Ziad Doueiri’s “The Insult” — which screens at Kendall Square starting Friday — Lebanon. In his 3½-star review, Burr calls the film (which follows a petty tiff between neighbors that rips into a national crisis) a “worthy contender” that “expands beyond allegory” to address “the idiocies of men as they attach themselves to causes, ethnicities, religious beliefs, and grudges — everything but other people.”

BARD TIME: Onstage this week is the Actors Shakespeare Project’s production of “Richard III” (which I think is the one where he teams up with Apollo Creed). Theater critic Don Aucoin admires the “brooding elegance” of the production, cleverly staged in Cambridge’s Swedenborg Chapel, but he’s especially taken with the performance of actor-playwright Steven Barkhimer in the title role: “Key to his success,” writes Aucoin, “is that Barkhimer — whose own pleasure in performance has always been a quality to savor — embraces the all-encompassing theatricality of the scheming, bloody-minded monarch he’s playing.” (Maybe say a quick prayer for this century while you’re there.) That’s up through March 11; find tickets here.

COMIC RELIEF: And finally, you might be surprised by how tickled you find yourself by comedian Matthew Broussard, who is well aware you will immediately take him for “a douchebag”: “80s movies have taught you to not trust someone with my hair and bone structure.” This kind of refreshing honesty goes a long way these days. Or at least for an hour or so when he takes the stage at Laugh Boston for a trio of shows on Friday and Saturday. Find tickets here.

Quinn Liebling and Rio Mangini in “Everything Sucks!”
Scott Patrick Green/Netflix
Quinn Liebling and Rio Mangini in “Everything Sucks!”

OR STAY IN! The Globe’s Matthew Gilbert sees a whole lotta “Freaks and Geeks” (and a dash of “Stranger Things”) in the new 10-episode Netflix series “Everything Sucks!” and deems it “earnest and sweet, if not particularly fresh” — hey, just like me! Arrives Friday.

Far fresher is the one-two punch of comedians Jessica Williams and Phoebe Robinson, a.k.a. “2 Dope Queens,” whose hit podcast-turned-HBO-series is fast becoming the best part of doing absolutely nothing on Friday nights.

If nothing else can make you feel better about the world collapsing around you, a Superchunk album can. “What a Time to Be Alive” just arrived, and Chapel Hill’s patron saints of tinnitus pull their trusty trick of baiting punk ferocity into bristling pop freakouts. 

And finally, there’s a wealth of worthwhile new jazz albums, illustrating the exciting changes happening in the form since Ryan Gosling first invented it in late 2016. 

And that, Weekenders, is what we call a good weekend — all you have to do is go do it. Until next time, here’s to Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. If those don’t work, there’s always Monday. See you next week!

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