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You know, this time of year, we twa hae run about the braes, and pou’d the gowans fine, but we’ve wander’d mony a weary fit, sin’ auld lang syne. You know what I’m mean? I have no idea either. In fact, nothing about this year made much sense. Which is why this weekend is going to be the most gratifying weekend of the 2017. We get to end it! When we slide into next Monday, we slide into nothing short of the future.
So if there’s anything you’ve been meaning to do so that 2017 wasn’t a total wash, now is the time to sneak it in before the buzzer. First some standalone situations worth looking into, then I’ll bust open a vigorously shaken bottle of New Year’s Eve options. Apologies in advance for the couch. Onward!
HORNS OF PLENTY: Hot on the heels of Mayor Walsh’s fresh designation of Dec. 28 as Mighty Mighty Bosstones Day comes the beloved ska brotherhood’s annual holiday family reunion, the Hometown Throwdown. As Marc Hirsh sharply observes, “When it comes to Boston music, the Dropkick Murphys own Saint Patrick’s Day and the Boston Pops own the Fourth of July. And the end of the year? That belongs to the Mighty Mighty Bosstones.” The party rolls through Friday and Saturday with shows at the House of Blues. Friday’s guests are Rude Bones and Vic Ruggiero, and Saturday opens with the Pietasters and Kicked in the Head. (Sunday just opens with a headache.) Tickets here.
DANCE/REVOLUTION: On the off chance you have zero interest in high-energy ska-punk, there’s also an appearance this weekend from the classical Chinese dance company (and Falun Dafa advocates) Shen Yun, which comes to the Boch Center Wang Theatre for performances all weekend. The company draws from 5,000 years of tradition to create pieces that Karen Campbell calls an “eye-popping” “extravaganza,” and that the Chinese government calls a tool “to preach cult messages.” Tickets here!
LIQUID PLUMMER?: At the multiplex this week is Ridley Scott’s latest directorial effort, “All the Money in the World,” starring Christopher Plummer, Michelle Williams, and Mark Wahlberg. The story — a true one, about prototypical billionaire J. Paul Getty and his refusal to meet the ransom set by his grandson’s kidnappers — is wild enough, but the back story of the movie is arguably more bonkers. After allegations of harassment surfaced against Kevin Spacey a few months ago, he and his likeness were duly scrubbed from the film and Plummer was plugged in, and the whole thing became a technological feat of derring-do-over that makes “Eyes Wide Shut” look like Bobby Brady’s vase. As Mark Feeney notes in his 2½-star review of the “thriller, of sorts”/“crime movie, of sorts,” “going to ‘All the Money in the World’ offers two viewing experiences for the price of one: the movie itself and the search for seams showing in Plummer’s scenes.” The only flaw I can cite, having not seen it, is that the entire score wasn’t also subbed out for a loop of Beyoncé’s “Irreplaceable,” just to really shade Spacey. Oh man. That would have been so good. Now showing.
SORKIN LOSER?: Also in theaters is the directorial debut from the perennially quotable (even by himself) Aaron Sorkin, “Molly’s Game,” which finds one Jessica Chastain as one Molly Bloom, who for a good chunk of the aughts ran an off-the-books high-stakes poker game until the feds caught wind. In his 2½-star review, Ty Burr calls it “confident and slickly made,” but dings Sorkin for “pulling punches,” peddling “backdated Freud for the cheap seats,” and ultimately “bluffing.” So many tasty Sorkinisms though! Truly the Goobers of writing. Now showing.
BUGS IS A FEATURE: Speaking of classic zings, on Friday and Saturday at Symphony Hall, you and the kids (or you and the no kids) can catch “Bugs Bunny at the Symphony II,” with the Boston Pops — i.e. live orchestral renditions of Looney Tunes music set to classic cartoons projected on the big screen. Expect Carl Stalling classics like “The Rabbit of Seville” and “Rhapsody Rabbit,” as well as Milt Franklyn’s “What’s Opera, Doc?” (You know the one: “Kill the wabbit, kill the waaa-bit, kill the WAAA-bit . . .”) On that note, probably not the best night out for children who love and want to protect bunnies. Info and tickets here.
And with that . . . ssssssssssssssss: POP! Happy New Year! [champagne emoji] Here’s what’s up on Sunday.
FIRST THINGS FIRST: We’ve got a massive online roundup of everything you could possibly need to know to go full force into First Night, the way one ought. Consult the Dickens out of it. Performances by Eli “Paperboy” Reed, Dutch ReBelle, TEMPO International Rhythm Section, ImprovBoston, Boston Saxophone Quartet, and more are all open to the public, as is a scavenger hunt, a whole spread of ice sculptures, and fireworks through the evening (and Copley Square for the big moment).
LIVE THROUGH THIS: If it’s going to take more than some lousy new year to drag you forward in time, you can sink your Lee Press-Ons into the “Saved by the 90s” New Year’s Eve bash at the Middle East Downstairs. Expect Rancid, Garbage, and (whoa, just now hearing how this list is sounding) Collective Soul (did that help?). And Nirvana. Surely they will play some Nirvana. More information and tickets here. Oh, and for the more persnickety music fans among you, Terence Cawley offers a handpicked selection of foolproof New Year’s club shows from the likes of Deer Tick, Speedy Ortiz, Peter Wolf, Stick Figure, and Dopapod. I should correct that. It’s New Year’s Eve. There will be some fools there.
LAUGH IN: On the fool tip, it’s a great night for comedy as well. Homegrown comic on the rise Gary Gulman has a year-capping set at the Chevalier Theatre in Medford, a big-room homecoming following his two solid Netflix specials and some prime late night gigs. Tickets here. And a host of other comics are onstage too, including Jim Jefferies at the Wilbur, Kyle Ploof at Nick’s Comedy Stop, Sam Morril at Laugh Boston, and six different shows from ImprovBoston. Check Nick A. Zaino III’s full roundup here.
GET CRACKING: And finally, those nuts aren’t gonna crack themselves. The final performance of Boston Ballet’s holiday favorite “The Nutcracker” amps up an already crazy dream by super-sizing the cast, squeezing in a few unexpected cameos, and pulling some unexpected tricks out of the bag. (OK, spoiler: It’s a confetti cannon. Yes, I know, your hair, but the kids will like it. Just deal.) Tickets here.
OR STAY IN!: If all of this hope in the new year feels tragically misplaced to you, on Friday, Netflix’s dark vision of the technofuture (no, not “Fuller House”) “Black Mirror” returns for its fourth season with a six-episode dump that — I’m being very clear here — will not provide an uplifting start to your 2018. Isaac Feldberg finds highs and lows in this season’s episodes, but laments that head writer Charlie Brooker “still can’t stop twisting the knife”: “Four seasons in, his well-established love of darkly ironic third-act reveals feels like a weakness, reducing characters to one-note martyrs or monsters, stories to grimly moralizing parables.” And since you’re going to watch it despite all this, I’ve even put together a list of ways to pick up the pieces after your “Black Mirror” binge.
And if tuning out the TV is part of your pre-bundled package of resolutions, now’s as good a time as any to look back on the best albums of 2017 (says us) and have a listen.
And that, folks, is how you wrap up a year. However you go about forgetting auld acquaintances or whatever, make this weekend one you’ll miss come Monday. (The rest of 2017 can take a long walk off a short pier.)
Happy New Year!Michael Andor Brodeur can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @MBrodeur.