Arts

Things to Do

The Weekender: Master of the universe, fairy godmothers, and galaxies far, far away

Sun Li in the film ShadowA scene from the film Shadow.
Courtesy of Well Go USA
Sun Li in “Shadow.”

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Hey there . . . Socks fans.

It may feel like the end of the world, but I promise you: It’s just the end of the week.

And not just any end of the week, since it’s Mother’s Day weekend. So on behalf of all of us here at Weekender (I mean, it’s just me), word to your respective mothers. Also, clean your room, is this how you were raised?! (Also: Hi, Mom! Dinner maybe? Portland sure sounds yummy.) 

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If you screwed up and forgot to order flowers and the florist only has long-stem roses left and those would be strange to give your mom because it’s not like you’re taking her to prom, don’t fret. I’ve got a whole list of backup plans. (How does she feel about medieval Chinese action epics, for instance?)

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DOUBLE FEATURE: Director Zhang Yimou (“House of Flying Daggers”) returns with “Shadow,” which “shows a master at the top of his game,” according to Globe film critic Ty Burr. “If you have any love at all for the movies and the places they can take you, catch this one on the biggest screen possible,” he writes in his 3½-star review. It’s a (literally) misty, chiaroscuro thrill ride with “ravishing visuals and reckless energy” and “an epic that draws equally upon Shakespeare, Kurosawa, wu-xia martial arts films, and the most elemental melodramas of the silent screen, all while playing like the best Mandarin-language episode of ‘Game of Thrones’ you’ll ever see (especially this season).” (Oooh gurl I am co-signing that “GoT” shade!) Now screening.

MYTH MAKER: I was surprised to learn that “Lord of the Rings” wasn’t about Jared and his empire of fine jewelry stores and precision-crafted treasures for the special moments in your life.  So, suffice it to say, I’m going into “Tolkien” completely unprepared. Burr gives 2½ stars to this J.R.R. Tolkien biopic, directed by Dome Karukoski (“Tom of Finland”) and starring Nicholas Hoult (in a more subdued mode than his turn as Beast from “X-Men”), noting that it’s “almost defiantly about humans rather than elves, orcs, wizards, and barrow-wights.” Also lots of childhood trauma. Hey, as long as someone gets engaged, I’ll be happy. Now screening.

Josh Ritter
David McClister
Josh Ritter plays the Wilbur Theatre Saturday and Sunday.

JUST JOSHIN: Fans of songsmith Josh Ritter likely already have their tickets to his Saturday and Sunday night appearances at the Wilbur Theatre (hence the first night officially selling out), and soon-to-be fans should get clicking. Ritter’s most recent album, “Fever Breaks,” found him teaming up with Jason Isbell and his rough-and-tumblish 400 Unit for a set of songs that Globe contributor Stuart Munro says have a “weightiness and gravity and a tough, electric edge” that sounds like “a melding of the two musical personalities.” Ritter brings his trusty Royal City Band along for this ride; get in while there’s still room and grab tickets for Sunday’s show here.

SAGA GENESIS: Much like me with “Game of Thrones,” the “Star Wars” saga decided to just jump in halfway through the story (i.e. “Episode IV — A New Hope”) and spend the next few decades occasionally dipping back to sort out what the hell is happening. But one of the reasons it’s so easy to wander whenever into the massive mythology of “Star Wars” is John Williams’s iconic and enduring score, which provides a soundly charted emotional map and inspired some of the worst disco in history — none of which will be revisited when the Boston Pops accompany three screenings of George Lucas’s classic on Friday and Saturday at Symphony Hall, under the deftly wielded light-saber (kinda) of Keith Lockhart. Use the force (or your mouse) and grab tickets here

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FIT TO PRINCE: A galaxy away on the fantasy continuum is Boston Ballet’s production of “Cinderella,” choreographed in 1948 by Sir Frederick Ashton, and featuring principal dancer (and budding choreographer) Lia Cirio. When last we saw this “undisputed classic” in 2014, Globe dance writer Karen Campbell proclaimed it “chock full of inventive choreography, atmospheric sets, opulent costumes, and fabulous dancing,” and this time around she notes the production is “ideal for kids, packed with not just fairy tale magic, but fanciful whimsy and laugh-out-loud humor.” That’s at Citizens Bank Opera House through June 8. Find tickets here

PHILADELPHIA FREEDOM: And another galaxy away on the ballet spectrum is BalletX, the Philly-based contemporary ballet troupe Campbell praises as “versatile, committed, and technically adept performers” known for “serving up a range of challenging choreography.” This World Music/CRASHarts program on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday at the Institute of Contemporary Art is no exception, featuring the Boston premieres of three works: Matthew Neenan’s “Increasing,” Cayetano Soto's “Schachmatt,” and Nicolo Fonte's “Steep Drop, Euphoric.” Arrive to the ICA Common Room 30 minutes early for free pre-performance talks with Boston Dance Alliance Executive Director Debra Cash (and stay on Friday for a post-performance Q&A with the artists). Tickets here.

CODE RED: Also onstage this weekend is the season closer at the Boston Lyric Opera, composer Poul Ruders and librettist Paul Bentley’s operatic adaptation of “The Handmaid’s Tale,” based on the novel by Margaret Atwood. The Globe’s Zoë Madonna calls director Anne Bogart’s staging “ambitious” and “immersive,” with “a fantastic cast and chorus” and a “tour de force performance [from] mezzo soprano Jennifer Johnson Cano” as Offred — “seemingly a role she was born to inhabit.” A couple more performances remain at the Ray and Estelle Lavietes Pavilion, Harvard University on Friday and Sunday; find tickets here.

CUMMINS ATTRACTION: Guessing you may be in need of a laugh after that one, so avail yourself of one Dan Cummins, who puts in a few shifts Friday and Saturday nights at Laugh Boston. Bostonians will chuckle with enthusiastic approval over the Idaho native’s bit about sidewalk etiquette, while a slightly smaller subset of people will surely identify with his tales of mixing LSD with the music of Enya. That’s what we call range, people. Find tickets here.

LOCATION IS EVERYTHING: Globe art critic Murray Whyte paid a visit to the Addison Gallery of American Art at Phillips Academy to see its current exhibition, “In and Out of Place,” and found a show of 100-plus works from the museum’s permanent collection that “in both its volume and breadth of forms, defies a unifying logic, but for one: As we’ve shaped the land, so has it shaped us, and in ways still far from reconciled.” Featuring works from Winslow Homer, Walker Evans, Laurie Simmons, Andrea Zittel, and Edward Hopper, it’s a show with “dozens of gems,” and an example of “the institution doing what it does best: cobbling new stories with old works, and giving them new life.” It’s on view through July 31; find more information here.

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AFRICAN QUEENS: And lastly from the outside world this weekend is “School Girls; Or, the African Mean Girls Play,” Jocelyn Bioh’s off-Broadway hit that makes its New England premiere via SpeakEasy Stage Company. “School Girls,” writes Globe contributor Christopher Wallenberg, is “a West African spin on irreverent, cruel-intentioned teen comedies — from ‘Mean Girls’ and ‘Heathers’ to ‘Pretty in Pink’ and ‘The Breakfast Club.” And theater critic Don Aucoin calls the production, directed by Summer L. Williams, “first rate,” packing “a considerable emotional wallop.” It’s onstage through May 25 at the Calderwood Pavilion; fetch tickets here. (Yeah, yeah, I know.)

Amy Poehler and Maya Rudolph in the Netflix series Wine Country.
Netflix
Amy Poehler and Maya Rudolph in “Wine Country.”

OR STAY IN! You could set the tone for the entire Mother’s Day weekend with the premiere of Amy Poehler’s directorial debut, “Wine Country,” which comes to Netflix on Friday. It follows a group of friends on a 50th-birthday jag to Napa Valley. And that those friends are Tina Fey, Maya Rudolph, Rachel Dratch, Ana Gasteyer, Paula Pell, and Emily Spivey should tell you what kind of party this is going to be.

And, not to shed a tear for a war criminal or anything, but this Sunday marks the end of the trail for President Selina Meyer and the rest of D.C.’s sloppiest ops team on HBO’s Emmy-hogging comedy, “Veep,” which Globe TV critic Matthew Gilbert lauds for remaining “not only cruelly funny but a look into the peculiar art of failing up.” “I’d love to say that the show has turned its sights away from political satire and toward sitcom ridiculousness,” he writes, "But have you watched a 24-hour cable news channel lately?”

And finally (both senses) “Saturday Night Live” welcomes Oscar-winning actress Dame Emma Thompson to host this week’s proceedings (and Kate McKinnon seems very nervous). Will she have to play Nanny McPhee to the mischievous musical guests the Jonas Brothers? God, I hope not. I’m not even sure why that thought entered my head. This might be a good place to stop. 

And that, mother-loving Weekenders, is all I’ve got for you this time. However you spend your weekend, please, please just try to behave — and make it one you’ll miss come Monday. 

See you next time!

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