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The Weekender: ‘The Irishman,’ ‘The Crown,’ ‘Hope & Harmony,’ and a whole bunch of Sky Bar wrappers

The Boston Globe logo The Boston Globe 11/14/2019 Michael Brodeur
a group of people standing next to a man in a suit and tie: Robert De Niro (right) and Al Pacino in Martin Scorsese's "The Irishman." © Netflix Robert De Niro (right) and Al Pacino in Martin Scorsese's "The Irishman."

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Howdy Weekenders! Hey, not to put any pressure on you, but this is really the last remaining weekend before malls and turkeys and sugar plums and instruction manuals and string lights and passive-aggressive comments from your brother-in-law and rolls of Scotch tape and beverages made from eggs and tryptophan-induced comas smudge out the rest of the year in an exhausting yet festive blur of compulsory holiday activity. Not a huge deal, but if you were thinking of enjoying life before the proverbial sleigh runs you over, this might be the weekend to get on that.

To that end, I’ve made a list and checked it twice / No holiday stuff, which is awfully nice.

THE GANG’S ALL HERE: If you’ve got 3½ hours, love mob movies that double as prolonged psychological studies, and have forgiven Martin Scorsese for being such a meanie about your precious superhero movies, I’ve got great news: His latest achievement, “The Irishman,” is here and Globe film critic Ty Burr just put three stars in it, plus one more — just to be sure. “It’s the ultimate fusing of Scorsese’s two sides,” writes Burr, “the wicked delight he takes in illustrating human sin and the concern he has for the human soul. And even though it takes a while to get there, the movie is a masterpiece, one made by a man counting down his own years as if they were rosary beads.” A cast of familiar faces including Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci, Al Pacino, Harvey Keitel, and Bobby Cannavale might have you expecting a standard-issue mafia movie, but “The Irishman” hits harder, aims higher, and pits every character against the biggest thug of them all — time itself. (Note: It also comes to Netflix on Nov. 27, but don’t say Burr didn’t warn you: “It deserves to be seen in a movie house rather than at home, where social media and bathroom breaks will dilute the hushed, steamrolling power of its moral and spiritual calculus.”) Now screening.

TRACK STARS: Elsewhere in movie land is “Ford v Ferrari," which Burr gives 3½ stars and calls “an extremely enjoyable true-life drama featuring some of our most deft actors [i.e. Matt Damon and Christian Bale] having the time of their lives.” Set between ’63 and ’66 “when the Ford Motor Company hired an outsider, Carroll Shelby, to build a car that would win the 24 Hours of Le Mans auto race against the perpetually dominant Ferrari” — the movie (directed by “Walk the Line" and “Logan” director James Mangold) mixes plenty of deftly filmed vroom-vroom action with the combustible chemistry of Damon & Bale for a ride that “feels custom-built for maximum audience pleasure," even if your dad never taught you anything about cars and you still regard their inner workings as a mundane form of magic. I mean, to be fair, he did try. Several times. Now screening.

SPONGEBOB SUNDANCE: And if that all sounds a little too grown-up for you, the Boston International Kids Film Festival takes over the Somerville Theatre and Arlington Capital Theatre from Friday to Sunday. The BIKFF specializes in short films “For Kids, By Kids & About Kids," and its extensive three-day program is broken up into blocks of films for middle-schoolers and kids ages 10 and under, with special blocks of student documentaries, and productions from the young auteurs of the FC Academy summer program. And don’t miss the Friday night kickoff screening of “New Homeland," a documentary by filmmaker Barbara Kopple about a group of Syrian refugee boys who find a new sense of belonging at a Canadian summer camp. Don’t forget to save room for popcorn. Find a full schedule and tickets here.

NEW KIDZ: It’s taking all of my powers to keep from recommending the Kidz Bop World Tour, which brings kid-friendly and adult-vexing versions of “Old Town Road,” “Havana,” and “Truth Hurts" to the Orpheum on Friday night (though I guess I just did, whoops, tickets here), so instead I’m going with a pick from Globe music contributor Maura Johnston, who recommends an intimate appearance from rising young “Nashville-based troubadour Liza Anne Odachowski,” a.k.a. Liza Anne, whose new album “Fine But Dying” combines “hi-res-snapshot lyrics with pointed guitar-pop that makes every feeling described land even harder.” She’s at Great Scott in Allston with opener Sofia Bolt on Friday (much later, so you can still catch Kidz Bop, I won’t say anything). Tickets here.

FAR FROM HOME: Weekenders, I never thought in my wildest dreams that I’d be sending you to my old hometown of Fitchburg, so I’m going to let Globe art critic Murray Whyte do it instead. Wellesley College professor and recent winner of the deCordova’s $35,000 Rappaport Prize Daniela Rivera has a solo exhibition of “monumental” works that “all but tremble with humanity, so often dismissed or ignored in our industrious little species’s urge to dominate at a planetary scale.” “Labored Landscapes: Where Hand Meets Ground” fills the contemporary wing of the Fitchburg Art Museum with works that dig into Rivera’s homeland of Chile and cry out for justice through their imposing presence (not to mention the absence that surrounds them). To Whyte, it feels like a “victory lap.” To me, it sound like a triggering close encounter with my own tumultuous homeland, so you folks let me know how it was. It’s up through Jan. 12; find more info here.

MAINE ATTRACTION: For a more northerly art outing, consider driving up to Portland to see Ragnar Kjartansson’s “Scenes from Western Culture," a nine-screen video installation that “depicts a faintly absurd and occasionally ominous vision of Western life." It’s less of a heartstring-twanger than his renowned multiscreen “The Visitors” (which you may have caught at the ICA earlier this summer), and it probably won’t turn you into a weepy blubbering mess like his “God” did to me, but, says Whyte, “it’s got meat: Kjartansson based his films on French Rococo painter Jean-Antoine Watteau’s pastoral scenes of 18th-century aristocrats. Plus ça change.” It’s up through March of 2020 — and while you’re there, check out “N.C. Wyeth: New Perspectives" and "Barbara Morgan: Letter to the World.” More info here.

ORCHESTRATED EFFORT: On Sunday at NEC’s Jordan Hall, you can catch “Hope & Harmony: A Benefit Concerto for Underserved Women with Breast Cancer," staged by Mistral Music, the classical ensemble led by artistic director and breast cancer survivor Julie Scolnik, who not only assembled a full orchestra for this year’s installment, but also secured superstar conductor Sir Simon Rattle — whom we haven’t seen much of around these parts lately. The program includes Mozart’s powerful overture to “The Marriage of Figaro,” the “rise from the abyss that is Brahms’s Symphony No. 1," as Globe classical contributor Zoë Madonna puts it, and the third movement of Beethoven’s 9th — “a piece Scolnik said she returned to repeatedly for comfort during her chemo treatments.” Proceeds from the concert will benefit Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program, Boston Breast Cancer Equity Coalition, and Greater Lawrence Family Health Center. Find more information here.

LAWS OF ATTRACTION: And at Boston Lyric Opera on Saturday and Sunday you can catch the “keenly anticipated" local production of Gregory Spears’s opera “Fellow Travelers,” adapted from Thomas Mallon’s eponymous 2007 novel (and with a libretto by Greg Pierce). Set in the McCarthy era, it tells the story of a love affair between two men whose secret is suddenly under siege as the hunt intensifies for “sexual subversives” within the government. The production isn’t exactly perfection, according to Globe critic Zoë Madonna, but the cast is still “a stunner, full of familiar faces." Find tickets (and a Spotify playlist to preview) here.

LOL TOGETHER NOW: Globe contributor James Sullivan recently caught up with veteran comedian and actor Robert Klein, who comes to perform two shows at DoubleTree Boston-Cambridge for the closing night of the Boston Comedy Festival — which wraps up its five-day run on Friday and Saturday. Klein, whom fest founder Jim McCue says has “been everywhere and done everything,” “spans the generations, from Carson to Letterman to Colbert,” and “delivers over and over again,” has already won a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2010 from the fest, so I guess what I’m saying is this better be good. It’s a packed schedule both days at multiple venues (including a Women of the Boston Comedy Festival showcase at the DoubleTree on Friday), so check the whole schedule here before making any critical comedy decisions.

TROUPE BEVERLY HILLS? And lastly from the outside world, on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday you can catch the Global Arts Live presentation of L.A.-based troupe BODYTRAFFIC (founded in 2007 by Lillian Rose Barbeito and Tina Finkelman Berkett), known for bold leaps across stylistic boundaries (jazz, contemporary, ballet), top-notch choreographers (this show will feature local premieres of works by Wewolf, Ohad Naharin, Micaela Taylor, and Matthew Neenan of BalletX), and unexpected soundtracks (Peggy Lee, anyone?). Check the company Vimeo page and website for a glimpse of what’s to come, and grab tickets here.

OR STAY IN: I could very easily see myself doing nothing but settling into the sectional, working my way through the Globe Books Gift Guide (so much good stuff), a box of Sky Bars (they’re back!), and the entire first season of “The Crown” (which arrives Sunday on Netflix). “The Crown” may not have caramel, vanilla, peanut, or fudge, but it does have Olivia Colman, which is almost as good. “I have seen the third season of ‘The Crown,’” writes Globe TV critic Matthew Gilbert, “and it is dazzling and excellent. It’s extraordinary historical TV, as it takes one of the more colorless British monarchs, Queen Elizabeth II, and turns her life into a lens through which we can watch a busy century unfold.” Colorless?! I may have to recommend to Matthew (and all of you) the chromatically sorted compendium and celebration of Elizabeth’s style, “Our Rainbow Queen." That woman is the never-ending color story.

Oh, and speaking of Brits, Harry Styles is hosting and performing on “Saturday Night Live.” Caution: May cause screaming.

And that, soon-to-be-turkey-tired Weekenders, is all I’ve got cooking this week. Have fun out there, stay warm, and however you spend your weekend, make it one you’ll miss come Monday.

See you next time!


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