no plans this weekend? Let us fix that for you. Welcome to The IndependentArts Agenda, our all-new guide to the best culture to catch up on all Saturdays and Sundays.
Carefully curated by our critics and editors, this roundup will give you our hot tips on art, film, television, theatre, dance, comedy, opera, books and music. Whether it’s a recent must-see show or a gem you may have missed, we hope our recommendations mean you’ll never stumble across something to see or do.
This week, if you haven’t watched The last of us However, our TV Editor Ellie Harrison says you’re in store for a treat, while Arts Editor Jessie Thompson is curious about Melanie C.’s Sadler’s Wells Dance Show. Elsewhere, our film editor Adam White says you can now watch Damien Chazelle Babylon At the cinema (if you dare), chief art critic Mark Hudson points out that you only have two days to see a National Gallery show of Lucian Freud, and music editor Roseanne O’Connor thinks Lewis Capaldi’s Newcastle show won’t be missed.
Lucian Freud: New Perspectives
It’s your last chance to see a fascinating exhibit that attempts to look beyond the celebrity image of Freud, but struggles to find much new to say about this famous and controversial artist. If you love Freud, you’ll be delighted by the impressive selection of works from all periods. If you don’t, you are unlikely to win. The National Gallery through January 22nd
Ignore the failed attempts to reframe the post-Impressionist figure as more of a political figure than we have so far assumed. It’s the ethereal glow on Cezanne’s definitive landscapes and the stark precision of his endless studies of apples that make this one of the staple exhibitions of the past year that is. Tate Modern, through March 12
Spain and the Hispanic World
A wonderful mix of ‘treasures’ covering 4,000 years of Hispanic and Spanish culture from Neolithic pottery to Impressionist painting via Velazquez and Goya. On loan from the Hispanic Society Library and Museum in New York, some of the show’s quirkiness adds to the show’s charm. Royal Academy, until April 10th
Mark Hudson, Chief Art Critics
Sonnets for Albert by Anthony Joseph
This week, Trinidad-born poet Anthony Joseph became the latest inductee to the roll call of TS Eliot Award winners, whose illustrious group includes Ted Hughes, Sharon Olds and Seamus Heaney. Sonnets for Albertwhich uses an autobiographical lens to explore life with an absent father, it was described as “luminous” by the judges who awarded it £25,000. Dive in this weekend for a groovy ballad.
Really Good, by Monica Hessey
Sheet Creek The all-round funny author and personality Monica Hessey has written one of the most anticipated novels of the year, inspired by her own experience of divorce in her twenties. Not before she had some time to process it all, though; I told The Independent This, “I didn’t want to write as therapy. I did.” Going Being therapy is the cure.” Praised by Dolly Alderton and Marian Keyes, it arrives in bookstores this weekend.
The Year of the Cat by Rhiannon Lucy Coslet
This tender memoir from Rhiannon columnist Lucy Cosslett is one of the rare pieces of pandemic-generated writing that won’t make you want to run a mile. There’s something genuinely insightful and profound about Cosslett grappling with the history of her mental health and creative aspirations, as she decides whether or not to have a baby — all while caring for her kitten Mackerel. It’s full of hard-won wisdom, tell it up close.
You can access unlimited streaming of movies and TV shows with Amazon Prime Video Sign up now for a free 30-day trial
Jesse Thompson, Arts Editor
What’s more stressful: Damien Chazelle’s three-hour epic thriller, or just hearing about it? If you haven’t been blown away by the endless headlines about copious orgies, bodily fluids, and snake fights, you can catch it at the cinema this weekend. Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie, and Diego Calva lead an eccentric team (Olivia Wilde! Spike Gornes! Flea from Red Hot Chili Peppers!) playing Hollywood stars and fighters caught up in the transition from silent film to talkies. Then do lots and lots of punches. In cinemas now
I love my dad
This action comedy — a huge hit on the festival circuit — finally made it to VOD on Monday (January 23), and stars King Patton Oswalt as a father who hunts down his son. He has his reasons, however flimsy: Annoyed by his son’s blocking of him on social media, he is his “friend” in the guise of a very pretty girl. If you’re afraid that all sorts of super disturbing sexting is going on… well, you probably don’t watch it. Available on VOD starting Monday
M3GAN who? Real connoisseurs know the buzziest horror movie of 2023 is Skinamarink, about two children whose parents disappeared along with the doors and windows of their home. It might take a little staring – it’s about kids wandering around in the spooky darkness, after all – but it’s already been called one of the scariest movies ever made. Frustratingly, it’s only showing in one London cinema at the moment – the film’s mecca of Prince Charles – but it’s set to hit streaming platform Shudder later this year. Now at the Prince Charles Cinema
Adam White, film editor
New album: Gigi’s Recovery by The Murder Capital
If you’re expecting more of the same high-octane rock music, Irish band The Murder Capital has a surprise in store. Gigi recovery is a moody and introverted concept album, inspired in part by frontman James McGovern’s growing disillusionment with the party scene. Songs like “Ethel” are demanding, grunge-influenced and paranoid. Drumming shivers, guitars whining, vocals muttering. Throughout, there’s a sense that the band is trying to claw their way out of something: the labels, the misconceptions, their own sanity. Face their fears. It is an ambitious and brave record.
Live music: Lewis Capaldi
If you’re in Newcastle this weekend, you could do worse than head to Lewis Capaldi’s arena show. The Scottish singer-songwriter, who rose to fame circa 2018 with his hit single “Someone You Loved,” is doing well. You would be, if you’ve spent the past few years collecting Brit Awards, platinum records, and yes, a Grammy nomination. Now he’s back, armed with songs from the follow-up to his record-breaking debut, 2019 Divinely uninspired to an infernal extent. Come on for the frank lyrics and his soaring, emotionally-riddled vocals; Stay tuned for premium squad outfits and extra comics. Utilita Arena, Newcastle, January 21
Kayhan Kalhor and Erdal Erzincan
The classical music traditions of Persia and Turkey come together again thanks to the exceptional collaboration of Kayhan Kalhor and Erdal Erzincan. The Grammy Award-winning Kalhor, a bowed Iranian stringed instrument, joins Erzinjan, who is famous for playing the baglama, a long-necked lute. In these amazing performances, they deliver a range of vibrant sensual acts in which the audience falls, just amazing. Barbican, London, 21 January
Roisin O’Connor, Music Editor
How did we get here?
The candid memoirs of Melanie C Who i am, released last year, revealed her to be the happiest girl ever to be out of her comfort zone. After Jerry, she launched a soulful solo career that saw her pelted with bottles at the V Festival. Now, a year before she turns 50, she’s collaborating with highly regarded choreographer Julie Cunningham, whose work is characterized by great focus and control. The one-hour performance promises to bring audiences on an “intimate journey through space and time”. Sadler’s Wells, through January 29
Who’s afraid of Virginia Woolf?
Four of our finest dramatists screaming at each other? It must be time for another Who’s afraid of Virginia Woolf? Biology. Elizabeth McGovern and Dougray Scott star as warring couple Martha and George; Gina Bramhill and Charles Aitken are Honey and Nick, a young couple who hang out for drinks. Early reviews are glowing with the Royal Bath Theatre’s production, staged in the intimate Ustinov Studios. Read our verdict in our Sunday’s Week on Stage column. Theater Royal Bath until 11 February
Alex Edelman: Just for us
American star Alex Edelman, who was named Best Newcomer at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2014 for his show Millennials, a month-long residency at the Menier Chocolate Factory begins this month. in his presentation Just for usThe Jewish comedian, who also got a nod from an Edinburgh comedy in 2018 and was branded “a rowdy” by New York, explains what happened when he snuck into a meeting of white supremacists. Meniere Chocolate Factory until February 26th
Jesse Thompson, Arts Editor
The last of us
Players, rejoice! And fans of fancy, fancy TV – you can rejoice, too! Finally, at last, we have a video game adaptation that seems to have escaped the genre’s curse. The last of usStarring survivors Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey in post-apocalyptic America, they’ve accomplished something unprecedented: they’ve transformed their source material into a more suspenseful drama. New episodes of the show drop weekly. The first show of these reviews was last week. The second one is landing on Monday and can’t arrive a moment early. Sky Atlantic and NOW, every Monday
This is a ’90s show
Well worth a look at this revival of the classic sitcom That ’70s Show, It has just been released on Netflix. It’s a total nostalgia ride, as Topher Grace, Laura Prepon, Ashton Kutcher, and Mila Kunis all return to their roles after two decades. Television critic Nick Hilton, a fan of the original, has mixed feelings about the reboot but believes “the lure of generations past might pull you in”. Netflix, out now
Everyone else burns
Simon Bird, the former actor, stars in this new Channel 4 sitcom, which arrives on Monday, as the patriarch of a family belonging to an extremist religious sect that believes the world will end. We can expect frivolity and a lot of hearts. It’s not just a series about religion, Bird insisted in an interview The Independent. “I think religion in the show is a metaphor for a lot of other things,” he said, “whether it’s some sort of unquoted ‘family values’, or a little conservative. Channel 4, 10 p.m., Monday, January 23
Ellie Harrison, Television Editor