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    Things to Do

    The Weekender: A franchise fail, a festival of films, and a fabulous farce

    Lisbeth Salander (Claire Foy) in Columbia Pictures' THE GIRL IN THE SPIDER'S WEB.
    Columbia Pictures
    Claire Foy stars in “The Girl in the Spider’s Web.”

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    Well hello, Weekenders! I hope you’re enjoying/savoring/clinging like grim death to these scant few days between campaign seasons (I think we get four or five of them). In this twilight of exhaustion and ambivalence, we might be able to locate some fleeting peace — and much-needed downtime before Thanksgiving lays out its rich buffet of arguments. 

    It’s been a rough week in every other section of the paper, but this weekend’s spread of things to do feels like a landslide of good news. Read on!

    WEB SLIGHT: But first the bad news. Globe film critic Ty Burr bravely went and saw “The Girl in the Spider’s Web” and it appears to be ghastly. In a 1½-star review, he calls it a “soulless, bloodless product” that “almost seems to invite derision” (save that zing for the Thanksgiving ham!). “Subtitled ‘A Dragon Tattoo Story,’ it exists almost solely to drive a stake in the ground for the further franchising of [the late] author Stieg Larsson’s ‘The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.’ ” This time, Claire Foy stars as Lisbeth Salander, the film’s “tattoed, pierced, and leather-clad angel of vengeance” who, despite that setup, still comes off “small, dynamic, humorless, and, to be honest, fairly dull.”  (That one might be too mean for Thanksgiving.) Now screening.


    BORN THIS WAY: Burr gives 2½ stars to “Boy Erased.” The new film from writer, director, and actor Joel Edgerton features strong performances from Lucas Hedges, Nicole Kidman, and Russell Crowe, but this adaptation of Garrard Conley’s memoir of the same title remains “detached in a way difficult to pinpoint.” Hedges plays Jared, a young man sent by his family to “gay conversion therapy,” a widely debunked practice (still legal in 36 states) which attempts to pray the gay away. It’s a story that needs to be told, but Edgerton keeps the heart of the matter stowed away in the closet: “The story’s real conflict — of faith in one’s God versus belief in oneself — is locked away where the camera can’t see it.” Now screening.

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    COLD KVELLIN’: And lastly in the moving picture department, the Boston Jewish Film Festival returns for its 30th birthday (and still not married?!) and runs through Nov. 19 at the Museum of Fine Arts, Coolidge Corner Theatre, West Newton Cinema, and other local venues. This  year’s installment brings dozens of films to town, and Peter Keough offers a highlight reel of excellent documentaries (this weekend, for instance, you can catch Samuel D. Pollard’s “Sammy Davis, Jr.: I’ve Gotta Be Me”). You can find a full schedule of films and events (this year’s gala honors Nancy Spielberg) here.

    NASHVILLE, TN - MARCH 09: ***EXCLUSIVE COVERAGE*** Comedian Lewis Black performs as part of CMT Presents "Ron White's Comedy Salute To The Troops" A Special Honoring The Armed Forces Premiering Saturday, March 12 on CMT. All performaces taped at the Grand Ole Opry House on [February 15, 2011] in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Rick Diamond/Getty Images for CMT)
    Rick Diamond/Getty Images
    Lewis Black performs at the Boch Center Shubert Theatre on Friday.

    MAD MAN: I know I was joking up there about the week after the midterms serving as some sort of caesura of calm between extended stretches of political tension; and, boy, it sure would be nice if that were true. However, for many of you there’s still plenty of pent-up tension to vent, and you might as well just let Lewis Black do it for you. Black’s fuming, sputtering, collar-loosening political paroxysms were once his signature as a comic, but these days it’s like he’s channeling the collective fury of America’s tortured conscience, presumably as it chokes on eagle bones. He’ll be managing his anger on stage as part of his “The Joke’s On Us” tour at the Boch Center Shubert Theatre on Friday night. Take your blood pressure med (or one of those gummies your sister gave you) and try to have fun. Tickets here!

    VERS CASE: In the “clearly angling for an EGOT” department, the multitalented Josh Groban comes to TD Garden on Friday, along with Tony-winning “Wicked” star Idina Menzel. Groban has been everywhere (meaning not just Twitter) lately, earning Tony noms for his stage work (“Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812”), scoring time with another Tony (i.e. Danza) on television in “The Good Cop,” and finishing his eighth studio album, “Bridges,” which Groban says represents the “perfect balance of everything I learned from strengthening my abilities as a songwriter and song interpreter, and . . . not being afraid to go to a certain place vocally that I maybe shied away from for a few years.” You can grab tickets here.

    Photo: Jeremy Daniel 04WrongPlay "The Play That Goes Wrong" The Play That Goes Wrong National Tour. Photo by Jeremy Daniel (3).
    Jeremy Daniel
    “The Play That Goes Wrong” is at the Emerson Colonial Theatre through Nov. 18.

    BOMB SQUAD: “Pratfall- and pandemonium-filled moments, seemingly impromptu but plotted out like a precisely choreographed ballet, suffuse the madcap farce ‘The Play That Goes Wrong,’” writes Globe contributor Christopher Wallenberg of the renowned Broadway comedy which got its start in a London pub theater, and which stumbles onto the stage at the Emerson Colonial Theatre through Nov. 18. And indeed, Globe theater critic Don Aucoin calls this perfectly disastrous touring production a “delightfully deranged alternative universe” in which a “marvelously skilled cast constructs layer upon layer of inspired absurdity, even as the onstage set is literally collapsing around their ears.” If the chaotic farce of real life has you down, this play might just . . . uh. This play might just . . . dammit. Line, please? (Find tickets here.)


    TURNBLAD TIME: Elsewhere on stage and in things that delight Don Aucoin, the North Shore Music Theatre is shaking up its new production of “Hairspray,” which he calls “exuberant, virtually irresistible, and, yes, timely.” “The period references in ‘Hairspray’ may seem dated (the Gabor sisters, Debbie Reynolds, Nikita Khrushchev),” writes Aucoin, “but the musical itself remains strikingly fresh, even after multiple iterations of the story on film and onstage,” and the North Shore production (helmed by director-choreographer Jeff Whiting) “abounds in its own distinct pleasures.” It’s up only through Sunday, so grab tickets now.

    MOVERS/SHAKERS: Two serious dance programs are in town this weekend. At the ICA on Friday and Saturday you can catch Abby Z and the New Utility, the Bessie Award-winning Abby Zbikowski’s nine-dancer troupe which channels hip-hop, West African, tap, and (why not) punk movement into “abandoned playground,” a work that takes its performers through “complex sequences of hyper-physical dance that push them to the brink of their capabilities and endurance.” Find tickets here. And at the New England Conservatory’s Plimpton Shattuck Black Box Theatre on Saturday and Sunday, Celebrity Series presents Dance Heginbotham (the acclaimed company of Mark Morris vet John Heginbotham) in a debut program that pairs four pieces with live music from guitarist Jérôme Mouffe, the Verona Quartet, flamenco artist Yosi Karahashi and castanet choir, and jazz pianist-composer Ethan Iverson. Find tickets here.

    POLITICAL-LEANING: And if your exhaustion with politics isn’t total and complete — i.e. if you can bear quietly contemplating them within the confines of an art gallery — check out the latest exhibition at Brown University’s Bell Gallery, “Danny Lyon: The Only Thing I Saw Worth Leaving,” which collects photographs and films by the renowned photographer from the 1960s onward, capturing figures on the margins from civil rights activists, to motorcycle gangs, to Texas prisoners. (It’s up through Dec. 19. More information here.) And at the Ethelbert Cooper Gallery of African & African-American Art (on Mt. Auburn St. in Cambridge) through Jan. 21, you can see “Nine Moments for Now,” a group show of contemporary works that’s part of the 50-State/For Freedoms Initiative, a nationwide campaign exploring Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s four tenets of human rights. More information here.

    HOLIDAY RUSH: And lastly from the outside world, it’s time (already) (for some reason) (why?) to celebrate Christmas! Andris Nelsons will lead the Boston Symphony Orchestrathis weekend in a performance of Act II of “The Nutcracker” (the sugary part). This arguably premature merrymaking will be tempered by continued celebration of Latvia’s centenary with a premiere performance of Andris Dzenitis’s “Mara.” Finishing off the program will be Shostakovich’s acclaimed graduation project, Symphony No. 1. Find tickets here.

    OR STAY IN! Starting Friday, you can stream the second season of “Patriot,” the audacious Amazon comedy-farce-drama that Globe television critic Matthew Gilbert said “puts the high in hybrid” and describes as “a weird combo of ‘Homeland’ and ‘Get Smart.’ ”


    Also returning for a second season is Mark and Jay Duplass’s HBO creepshow anthology, “Room 104,” which returns Friday at 11:30. It’s . . . Duplassy. 

    People seem to be once  again gathering around the fire of “Saturday Night Live” for shelter from the wild political winds (and a dose of proverbial HuckaPM), and Liev Schreiber (who, fun fact, once was the editor of the Globe I’m pretty sure) takes his first turn as host on Saturday, along with musical guest Lil Wayne. 

    And in music this week, you can check out (over and over again) “Black Velvet,” the posthumous album from Charles Bradley. Globe writer Robert Steiner says “this 10-track collection of rarities” was “arranged by Bradley’s friends at soul-revivalist labels Dunham/Daptone Records . . . with the love and passion Bradley exuded in life fully preserved and present.”

    Also available Friday is the hidden gem “No One Seems to Notice That It’s Raining,” a 13-track collection of recordings from the undersung Jay Bolotin, who Globe writer James Sullivan calls a “perceptive, highly literary singer-songwriter with a gorgeous finger-picking guitar style that nods to his Kentucky roots.” These demos capture a five-year stretch of demos from Polotin, and it sounds better late than ever: “It’s the kind of project, like, say, the Nick Drake resurrection of some years ago, that makes us reconsider the relationship between the commerce of art and true, unmitigated artistry.”

    And that, world-weary Weekenders, will be all the candidates I’m bothering you with this week. But however you elect to spend your hard-won weekend, do your real duty as an American and make it one you’ll miss come Monday. 

    See you next week!

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