To go out : Movie theater
Penélope Cruz (above) is on bright form in her latest collaboration with Spanish director Pedro Almodóvar, a unique blend of outrageous soap opera and melancholic meditation on the legacy of the Spanish Civil War, also starring Aitana Sánchez- Gijón, stealing every scene as Cruz’s actress-to-be mother.
Tame the garden
At a time when the actions of the super-rich are increasingly pushing towards self-parody, filmmaker Salomé Jashi documents the live transport of massive trees from the Georgian coast to a wealthy man’s garden, in a premise that sounds like the first line of a parable about man’s pride, but is actually real.
Former Radiohead music video director Garth Jennings follows up his first animated children’s adventure about an impresario’s attempt to save his theater with a singing contest. This time the gang must attempt to lure a reclusive rock star out of hiding for a big show.
All aboard one of the world’s first feature-length documentaries, which features Ernest Shackleton’s ill-fated 1914-16 Endurance expedition to Antarctica. This timely digital remaster and BFI reissue features a new score, courtesy of regular silent film accompanist Neil Brand. Catherine Bray
To go out: Gigs
February 3 to February 15rush; the tour starts in Brighton
The singer-songwriter turned Twitter comic James Blunt (above) on tour in support of last year’s greatest hits album celebrating his 17-year (!) career. Expect loads of singing on You’re Beautiful, loads of banter and a handful of songs you know but can’t name.
January 29 to February 5rush; the tour starts in Nottingham
Produced by Mike Elizondo (50 Cent, Fiona Apple) and featuring Blood Orange AKA Dev Hynes, Baltimore hardcore band Glow On’s recent third album cemented their status as the genre’s most experimental practitioners. This whirlwind tour includes support from British punk newcomers Chubby and the Gang. Michael Cragg
Fergus McCreadie Trio, Justyna Jablonska & Jyotsna Srikanth
Royal Concert Hall, Glasgow, January 30
A truly diverse show for the Celtic Connections festival; Scottish pianist McCreadie’s much-loved trio – a mix of jazz, rock, funk and Celtic grooves from Northern Europe – shares a bill with the contemporary-classical, Carnatic and electronic dialogues of cellist Justyna Jablonska and the South Indian violinist Jyotsna Srikanth. John Fordham
Royal Opera House: Linbury Theatre, London, February 4 to February 12rush
Vivaldi wrote more than 50 operas. Of the twenty that survive, none have a regular place in the repertoire. Thus, Adele Thomas de Bajazet’s production, a pasticcio first seen in Verona in 1735, is a true collector’s item. It’s directed by Peter Whelan, with a cast including Gianluca Margheri and James Laing. Andrew Clements
To go out: Stage
Royal Court Theatre, London, to March 5ch
A new play from Alistair McDowall, best known for the cult theatrical hit Pomona. The Glow is about a spirit medium from the 1860s and features Fisayo Akinade, Rakie Ayola, Tadhg Murphy and Ria Zmitrowicz. Expect the unexpected.
Doubt: a parable
Chichester Festival theatre, until February 5rush
PPowerhouse actress Lia Williams directs Monica Dolan in a new production of John Patrick Shanley’s Pulitzer-winning play. Dolan plays a devout school principal alongside Sam Spruell’s progressive Father Flynn. Miriam Gillinson
Mark Bruce Company: Ghosts
Merlin Theater, Frome, February 3 to February 5rushthen turned
After Dracula, choreographer Mark Bruce continues in the dark and gothic vein in a new triple program, tackling myths, folk tales and cinematic fantasies. The music comes from the White Stripes, folk singer Martin Simpson and jazz pianist Gareth Williams. Lyndsey Winship
Leicester Comedy Festival
various places, February 2 to February 20rush
The gargantuan comedy festival returns to the real world after last year’s virtual edition, with more than 560 shows. Highlights include eccentric Inbetweeners winner Joe Thomas, Alfie Brown who always pushes the boundaries, and pod star Ed Gamble. Rachel Aroesti
To go out: Art
Francis Bacon: Man and Beast
Royal Academy of Arts, London, January 29 to April 17he
The great carnivore of modern British art, who viewed bodies as meat, constantly compared humans to other animals. Monkeys scream in the cages, dogs prowl the wastelands and the ox is butchered in its claustrophobic webs. Examining Bacon’s eye for nature, this exhibition (work pictured above) promises a safari through his ideas and passions.
Self-Portraits of Van Gogh
the Courtaud, London, February 3 to May 9
No artist saw himself more vividly than poor Vincent; not even his Dutch predecessor, Rembrandt, was a more sought-after self-portraitist. Even without his paintings, Van Gogh’s letters would be one of the greatest works of confessional literature. Here are his photos of the man in the mirror: raw, relentless, true.
British Art Exhibition 9
Wolverhampton Art Gallery and Wolverhampton School of Art, until April 10he
The brilliant painter Michael Armitage stands out in this interesting, if overly organized and didactic, ragbag of the talents and trends in current British art. There’s everything you’d expect from witty video installations to visionaries with important things to say. With Jamie Crewe, Alberta Whittle, Florence Peake, Joanna Piotrowska and many more.
the Holburne Museum, Bath, until May 8
The faces of Henry VIII and his gifted daughter Elizabeth I are as recognizable as modern celebrities. They and other members of the Tudor dynasty diligently had their portraits published. Henry even employed the Renaissance genius Holbein, whose influence gives power to these paintings of monarchs and their ministers. jonathan jones
Stay at home: Diffusion
Pam and Tommy
Downton’s Lily James transforms into Baywatch-era Pamela Anderson (above) in this series chronicling the internet’s first celebrity sex tape sensation. It’s both a crime comedy (Seth Rogen plays one of the robbers) and a feminist account of the impact of video.
Sky Comedy, game.
Danny McBride’s televangelist comedy combines epic family saga with brutal, deliciously silly humor – think It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia meets Succession (plus Jesus). The cast is equally spectacular: season two returns with Jason Schwartzman and Eric Andre joining John Goodman, Adam DeVine and McBride himself.
Apple TV+, Fri.
Walk Away, The British Sitcom: Israeli dramas are quickly becoming the go-to remake material on American TV. Here, The Big Bang Theory’s Uma Thurman and Kunal Nayyar star in an adaptation of the nifty, nail-biting False Flag, about five ordinary people involved in a high-profile kidnapping.
BBC Three & BBC iPlayer, Tue.
A host of British comedy talent – James Acaster, Lou Sanders, John Kearns, Kiell Smith-Bynoe and many more – accompany Celeste Dring and Freya Parker in a slightly offbeat double act for this four-part sketch, a highlight of the evening relaunch of BBC Three. AR
Stay at home: Games
Available now, Xbox, PC, Mac
This is a fancy dog photography game, in which you can also pet the dogs. Surely that’s all you need to know?
Dying Light 2
Outside Fri, Xbox, PC, PlayStation
A tense zombie escape game set in a ravaged city that offers tens to hundreds of hours of smashing the undead with a board, if that’s your thing. Keza MacDonald
Stay at home: Albums
Alice’s Glass – prey//IV
Canadian avant-pop artist Glass (above) is finally releasing her first solo album, after being half of the noise mongers Crystal Castles. The sound model of the disc ricochets between the sweet electropop of Baby Teeth and the pure catharsis of rage of the imposing Fair Game.
Denmark’s biggest pop export returns with their third album, their first since 2018’s confusing Forever Neverland. simplified – 10 tracks in half an hour – recalls the thrilling synthpop and punk spirit of his first singles.
Eels – Extreme Witchcraft
Mark Everett, aka E, returns with his 14th album under his moniker Eels, and his first with producer John Parish since 2001’s scuzzy Souljacker. Like that album, Extreme Witchcraft sketches out E’s lyrical storytelling, with songs such as The Magic and Amateur Hour wavering around galloping melodies.
Pine forest – 11:11
Over the course of four albums, including 2020’s Marigold, their first via Rough Trade, frontman Evan Stephens Hall and drummer Zack Levine have turned their gritty indie-folk into confessional art. It continues at 11:11, with Hall’s shaky vocals pondering the strange limbo of Recent Times on the singing single Respirate. CM
Stay at home : brain food
Amazon Prime Video, from February 4
Named after the weekly black comics showcase at the Comedy Store in Los Angeles in the 90s, this riveting docuseries sees founder Guy Torry unboxing his importance as a star. Performers Regina King (above), Nick Cannon, Dave Chappelle and Tiffany Haddish relive their time on stage.
For a decade and over 450 episodes, Roman Mars’ podcast has delved into design details, exposing the lesser-known features of our daily lives. Highlights include the sounds of televised sports and the reasoning behind the alphabetical order.
Archaeologist Simon Roper has spent the past few years amassing a devoted following for his explainer videos of English speech throughout history. It translates academic rigor into entertaining ASMR linguistics, from Geordie phonology to 14th century London accents. Ammar Kalia