12/01/16 9:53am

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Well, I can’t say I’m sorry that this is the last Culture Essentials column I’ll write in 2016, a year that took from us David Bowie, Prince, Lemmy, Leonard Cohen and Sharon Jones and left us with a rabbit fur coat that someone wore home after a spray tan. Still, 2016 has not been without cultural gems. Stranger Things was the perfect, unexpected summer delight. We lost Sharon Jones, but the documentary about her, Miss Sharon Jones!, is actually very life affirming. I can’t even with Zadie Smith’s new book, Swing Time. In the Dark made podcasts feel vital, fresh and addictive all over again. And Beyoncé not only slayed every single person alive, whether you know it or not, with Lemonade, she also brought the Dixie Chicks back into the country music fold. So this year, wasn’t just exceptionally bad, really, it was exceptional in every way.

Also, did anyone else watch Love Actually over Thanksgiving weekend and freak out when Billy Bob Thornton, playing the American president, causes an international incident because he sexually harasses the Prime Minister’s secret crush? Remember, this is a movie that cast Liam Neeson as a grieving widow long before Natasha Richardson died. Just saying.

Here’s what to read watch, listen to and attend while we all wait out the final 31 days of 2016.

10. With so many streaming services, the spread of cheap, good looking flat screens, plus the fact that popcorn popped on your stove, in coconut oil and a lot of salt is far superior to movie theater popcorn (sorry, purists), it’s not often that it feels imperative to watch a film on the true big screen in a theater. La La Land, starring beautiful young people Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling, is an absolute exception. Go escape into its charm, romance and musical numbers for a few hours, it’s okay. (more…)

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11/30/16 2:28pm

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In no particular order, here are all the things that Mike Mills’ third directorial feature, 20th Century Women, will make you do: nonchalantly dab your eyes with a tissue, develop a deep affinity for life in Santa Barbara in 1979, and fall in love with every inch of Annette Bening’s glorious face. Yes, Mills’ follow-up to 2011’s Beginners is that good.

Led by a brilliant cast of Bening, Elle Fanning, Greta Gerwig, Billy Crudup, and newcomer Lucas Jade Zumann, 20th Century Women tells the story of 50-something-year-old Dorothea (Bening) trying to decipher how to best help her teenage son (Zumann) grow into a good, just, young man in a time when everything is somewhat in flux: there’s an energy crisis, Jimmy Carter is desperately trying to unite a society that’s fumbling in the space between one era and the next, and local teenagers entertain themselves by playing choking games. Terrified that she alone cannot give her son everything he needs–and feeling more distant from him with every new record he spins in his room, and every minute in which he becomes a slightly older version of himself–Dorothea enlists the help of a few lost souls that rent rooms in her enormous, constantly in-repair home in sunny Santa Barbara. (more…)

09/08/16 12:45pm

It is 100 percent a total cliché to talk about the seemingly ever-increasing speed of the passage of time, but humor us here for a minute. How did it get to be September 8 all of the sudden after an August that felt like it lasted forever? And when will it be sweater weather? There’s plenty of September left (and longish, warm days, judging from the current heat advisory) to enjoy outside, as well as all of the excitement of the beginning of New York’s cultural season, packed with book festivals, art shows and finally, some movies we actually want to watch. Here are eight happenings we’re excited for this month. Go forth and plan.

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1. When we first wrote about the web series High Maintenance back in 2013 we had no idea that it would one day become a fully fledged comedy on HBO. Watch New York City’s favorite weed dealer on a bicycle deliver dope to all manner of hilarious urban stereotypes (you may even recognize yourself), starting September 16 at 11pm(more…)

07/28/16 9:00am

When Johnny Cash sang about falling into a burning ring of fire, we’re pretty sure he was talking about living in New York City in August, which is why this month’s culture roundup is replete with ways to keep it chill indoors—like a new Ellen Page film that offers the perfect excuse to Netflix and grill—as well as a few reasons to brave the heat, including MoMA PS1’s final installation at Fort Tilden.

Rockaway! by Katharina Grosse Photo: MoMA PS1

Rockaway! by Katharina Grosse Photo: MoMA PS1

10. Not that we need an excuse to head to the beach in August, but Katharina Grosse’s installation, Rockaway!, at Fort Tilden’s aquatics building is reason enough to hitch a ride to the Rockaways. To call Grosse’s latest work site-specific is kind of an understatement, seeing as how the German artist transformed the decaying building, which never bounced back after Hurricane Sandy and will be demolished after the exhibition closes in November, into her canvas, spray painting it in electric hues of oranges and pinks inspired by a beachy sunset. (more…)

06/30/16 10:49am
Photo: Adam Carter via Flickr

Photo: Adam Carter via Flickr

There will be plenty of fireworks this month, both in the sky and on our social calendars. July’s cultural events are full of glitter, surprise and overwrought emotion—all of which can be found in our first pick, a screening of Death Becomes Her in Bushwick. The other nine entries on the countdown this month, from a beach read centered around an art-world mystery to a psychedelically immersive screening, are equally as incendiary. Read on for more of our July culture essentials. (more…)

04/28/16 11:57am
The Tube Train, a linoleum cut by Cyril E. Power, part of Unfinished at

The Tube Train, a linoleum cut by Cyril E. Power, is part of the show, Unfinished Business at the Met Breuer.

May. It’s the time of the year here in New York where we traditionally ask ourselves, “Will it ever be really warm again?” And then one week later we start complaining about how hot it is on the subway platform. Forget the weather and get yourself to these 10 exhibitions, TV shows, new films, concerts and books, because it’s truly an outstanding month in culture ahead. (more…)