May 13, 2021

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HomeFront: All the movies, music, and podcasts you need for a weekend of self-care

8 min read

The story of a domestic violence survivor building her own house in Dublin, “Herself” captures a “moat of human connection that is as protective of the heroine as the walls they raise together,” Burr writes in a 3-star review. In co-screenwriter (with Malcolm Campbell) Clare Dunne’s “nuanced and heartfelt performance we see the inner strength that keeps Sandra going at war with the terror that never goes away.”

What more is there to say about someone who’s been in the public eye since age 2? Plenty, as “Matt Heineman and Matt Hamachek’s thoughtful, engaging, and comprehensive two-part documentary, ‘Tiger,’” demonstrates. Through “dozens of disparate interviews,” the film tells the story of Tiger Woods from 1978 to 2019, when “he would return from the dead and win his fifth Masters Tournament,” writes Globe correspondent Peter Keough.

Bing Liu’s “Minding the Gap” is “a profound, subtle, and stirring debut feature,” Keough says of the 2018 Oscar-nominated documentary. Shot in the filmmaker’s economically depressed hometown of Rockford, Ill., the film “accomplishes the rare feat of merging acute social observations with intimate human experience.”

If “Crossing Delancey” (1988) is all you know of the work of filmmaker Joan Micklin Silver, who died on New Year’s Eve, you’re in for a treat. She also “directed three of the finest movies of the late 1970s … and a little-known gem that was among HBO’s very first original films,” writes Burr. “Would Silver’s filmography have been three times as long had she been a man? It’s impossible to dispute.”

While “Wonder Woman 1984” is still fresh in your mind, stroll down memory lane with “a card-carrying member of Gen X,” the Globe’s Christopher Muther. “This movie is so 1984, but in a much deeper way than I was expecting,” he writes before touching on “The Day After,” Frankie Goes to Hollywood, and Chess King. “Buried beneath the superhero cliches is a film that almost captures the ethos of the 1980s.”

TV: This TV legend’s last day hosting this answer-and-question game show was Oct. 29, 2020, and his last episode aired on Jan. 8, 2021. In other words, Alex Trebek’s final episode of “Jeopardy!” is Friday.

“Masterpiece” turns 50 this year, “and that’s a most excellent thing,” writes Globe TV critic Matthew Gilbert. “It’s strange to think of ‘Masterpiece’ as cutting edge, isn’t it?” But it is: starting with “‘The First Churchills,’ a 12-episode drama about Winston Churchill’s 17th century ancestors,” through “Downton Abbey” and right up to the new “All Creatures Great and Small” that launches on Sunday, the actual anniversary, the PBS stalwart has changed American TV.

The new sitcom “Mr. Mayor” boasts Ted Danson as its title character and “30 Rock” in its DNA, through creators Tina Fey and Robert Carlock. “[A]ll I am prepared to say about it at this point is that it has a lot of potential,” Gilbert writes after watching the first two episodes. “The cast is good, with the ping-ponging of barbs between Danson and [Holly] Hunter — network-styled, not ‘Veep’-styled — particularly enjoyable.”

“New England continues to be a distinctive place in an increasingly flattened world, and part of that is a sharp sense of humor and being able to mock and be mocked in turn,” Carlock, who grew up in Weston and attended Belmont Hill and Harvard, says in a Q&A with Globe correspondent Christopher Wallenberg. “That seems to be part of the Massachusetts experience.”

Nicolas Cage hosts “History of Swear Words,” exploring “the wit and wisdom of the small handful of words we still can’t print in a newspaper,” says Globe correspondent James Sullivan (author of a book about dirty-word expert George Carlin). It’s labeled a comedy series, but “when each day of our shared existence brings a new round of thoroughly legitimate excuses to blurt ‘WTF!?,’ you might say our dependence on swear words can be deadly serious.”

Mithsuca Berry’s "Protect Your Seedlings" can be seen in the windows at the Boston Center for the Arts’s Mills Gallery.
Mithsuca Berry’s “Protect Your Seedlings” can be seen in the windows at the Boston Center for the Arts’s Mills Gallery.Tyahra Angus

VISUAL ART: The windows of the Mills Gallery at the Boston Center for the Arts are blooming with “Mithsuca Berry’s sober yet joyful hand-painted mural, ‘Protect Your Seedlings.’” The piece honors the Combahee River Collective, a short-lived but influential Black feminist group that “laid out a blueprint for intersectionality decades before the notion of shared agendas became an organizing principle,” writes Globe correspondent Cate McQuaid.

The postponement of “Philip Guston Now” turned a focus on the Canadian-American painter into a burning spotlight on the four museums, including the MFA, that will eventually mount the touring exhibition. “Museums are in the business of context, and it won’t take two years to rebuild,” says Globe art critic Murray Whyte. “The delay is about them not being able to endure the scrutiny the show will bring to their doorsteps, and getting their houses in order so they can.”

Sculptor Ledelle’s Moe’s installation “When,” at Mass MoCA, “is serene but ominous; still but unsettling,” writes Whyte, who has visited multiple times since it opened in late 2019. “‘When’ has grabbed and held me so many times this year, but its long run over this erratic year always meant something else felt more urgent, present, now. Not today.” The exhibition closes Jan. 24.

The new Fall River Museum of Contemporary Art “just tumbled into actuality,” artist Harry Gould Harvey IV tells Cate McQuaid. With his wife, artist Brittni Ann Harvey, he curated a local show just as the pandemic hit, and before long, “[i]t became something more long-term,” says Michael Benevides of FABRIC Arts Festival. Says Brittni Harvey: “We want to bring art to recontextualize history.”

PODCASTS: “I didn’t know anything about podcasts before I pitched one,” writes the Globe’s Mark Shanahan, a.k.a. “Mr. 80 Percent” (”a deeply personal podcast about my ordeal with prostate cancer”). “It’s likely that if life hadn’t changed so dramatically last spring, I wouldn’t be as hooked as I am. But podcasts have helped mitigate the monotony and dread of the shutdown.” He has so many suggestions, you may need to grow more ears.

Dr. Kathy May Tran practiced her instrument while on break at MGH.
Dr. Kathy May Tran practiced her instrument while on break at MGH.Courtesy Boston Hope

MUSIC: Front-line health care workers need a break, and the Boston Hope Music Teaching Project is on the case, coordinating lessons from New England Conservatory teaching fellows. “The expectation for them is not that they get to be on the Carnegie Hall stage,” co-director Dr. Lisa Wong tells the Globe’s Zoë Madonna. “The expectation is for them to have an instrument, and to learn to heal through it, and to express themselves.”

Andris Nelsons is back in Boston — the BSO music director was in Europe when the pandemic struck — and back at work, reports the Globe’s Malcolm Gay. He’s returning to the helm for the recording of “four Beethoven symphonies alongside contemporary works as part of the orchestra’s streaming initiative, BSO NOW.” The concerts roll out next month.

Thirty-eight acts, from rising stars to big names, fill the schedule for the online festival Get Down With Your Hometown, a benefit for three Pioneer Valley arts organizations. “This is a way to ring in the start of 2021 with a big party and bring some joy,” Jodi Lyn Cutler of alternative learning center North Star tells Globe correspondent Diti Kohli. The lineup includes Rhiannon Giddens and Melissa Ferrick.

Boston singer-songwriter Alastair Moock received his second Grammy nomination in November — and turned it down after learning that all five nominees in the best children’s music album were white and four were men. “In the last year, I’ve just learned a lot,” he tells Globe correspondent Natachi Onwuamaegbu. “I think I know a good album when I hear one. But do I? Do other white folk?”

PARENTING: The Globe’s In the Family Way project tackles your thorniest pandemic-era dilemmas. Through a weekly newsletter and column, it explores questions about children’s health, education, and welfare in uncertain times, including expert advice on everything from finances to screen time. Sign up for the newsletter here.

Parents whose tweens could use a break from screens might consider turning them on to age-appropriate book series. Globe correspondent Lauren Daley “asked New England authors to recommend a few middle-grade fiction series (for readers roughly 8 to 12 years old) to keep kids bingeing on books over the long, lonely winter ahead.” All-of-a-Kind Family, yes!

BOOKS: The “Moby-Dick” reading marathon moves online this year, opening up the event to the world. Log on for expert Q&As, trivia, and 25 hours of Melville’s allegorical adventure. “There’s just something about hearing it read out loud,” Amanda McMullen of the New Bedford Whaling Museum tells Natachi Onwuamaegbu. “It’s magical.”

Another January ritual, quitting drinking for a month, is “an amazing opportunity to reevaluate your relationship with alcohol,” Hilary Sheinbaum says in a Q&A with the Globe’s Christy DeSmith. The author of “The Dry Challenge” discusses her motivation (a bet) and the resulting benefits, and suggests “branching out in a COVID-safe environment, where you can explore new things that will occupy your time and make you happy.”

LOVE LETTERS: The theme of season 4 of the “Love Letters” podcast, hosted by the Globe’s Meredith Goldstein, is “At Any Age.” It focuses on the relationship lessons learned at all stages of life, with first-person accounts by people from age 17 to 70. Listen here.

WORKING ON IT: In another pandemic-related transformation, self-help-book skeptic Meredith Goldstein writes, “I find myself wondering what these books might have to offer. I want someone to tell me how to be better to the world.” In their new monthly column, Working On It, Goldstein and writer Christina Tucker “will take a closer look at self-help and what it can offer.” Read the first one here.

FOOD & DINING: This time of year — and of American history — calls for comfort food, and former Globe food editor Sheryl Julian is here with some rice pudding. “Its flavor and texture is consolingly familiar, and when you’re finished eating, you’re wrapped in a creamy quilt of contentment,” she writes. “It’s the sort of food you want when you need a little cheering up.” How did she know?

BUT REALLY: “Zoe’s Extraordinary Playlist” sneaked back on to the prime-time schedule this week, but for some reason I’m a little sick of watching TV. While you’re thinking — perhaps yelling — about sedition, consider picking up a copy of “Liberty’s First Crisis: Adams, Jefferson, and the Misfits Who Saved Free Speech” (2015), an entertaining book about the Sedition Act of 1798. Yes, really. Globe reviewer James Sullivan (from up there in the “History of Swear Words” item) praised author Charles Slack’s “storytelling flair” and “keen eye for the latter-day implications of this early challenge to one of the country’s bedrock principles.”

Wear your mask and wash your hands!

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