Going Out : Cinema
Penélope Cruz (above) is on luminous form in her latest collaboration with the Spanish director Pedro Almodóvar, a unique blend of outrageous soap opera and melancholy meditation on the legacy of the Spanish civil war, also starring Aitana Sánchez-Gijón, stealing every scene as Cruz’s would-be actor mother.
Taming the Garden
In an era when the actions of the super-rich edge ever further into self-parody, the film-maker Salomé Jashi documents the live transportation of massive trees from the coast of Georgia to one wealthy guy’s garden, in a premise that sounds like the first line of a parable about man’s hubris, but is in fact real.
From the former Radiohead music video director Garth Jennings comes the follow-up to his first animated children’s adventure about an impresario’s attempt to save his theatre with a singing competition. This time, the gang must attempt to lure a reclusive rock star out of hiding for one big show.
All aboard one of the world’s first documentary features, which showcases Ernest Shackleton’s ill-fated 1914-16 Endurance expedition to the Antarctic. This timely digital remaster and rerelease from the BFI boasts a new score, courtesy of regular silent film accompanist Neil Brand. Catherine Bray
Going Out: Gigs
3 February to 15 February; tour starts Brighton
Singer-songwriter turned Twitter comic James Blunt (above) tours in support of last year’s greatest hits album celebrating his 17-year (!) career. Expect a mass singalong to You’re Beautiful, lashings of banter, and a handful of songs you know but can’t name.
29 January to 5 February; tour starts Nottingham
Produced by Mike Elizondo (50 Cent, Fiona Apple), and featuring Blood Orange AKA Dev Hynes, the Baltimore hardcore band’s recent third album Glow On bolstered their status as the genre’s most experimental practitioners. This whirlwind tour features support from UK punk upstarts Chubby and the Gang. Michael Cragg
Fergus McCreadie Trio, Justyna Jablonska & Jyotsna Srikanth
Royal Concert Hall, Glasgow, 30 January
A fittingly diverse show for the Celtic Connections festival; Scots pianist McCreadie’s much-feted trio – a brew of northern European jazz, rock, funk and Celtic grooves – shares a bill with the contemporary-classical, Carnatic and electronic dialogues of cellist Justyna Jablonska and South Indian violinist Jyotsna Srikanth. John Fordham
Royal Opera House: Linbury theatre, London, 4 February to 12 February
Vivaldi wrote more than 50 operas. Of the 20 or so that survive, none has a regular place in the repertory. So Adele Thomas’s production of Bajazet, a pasticcio first seen in Verona in 1735, is a real collector’s item. It’s conducted by Peter Whelan, with a cast including Gianluca Margheri and James Laing. Andrew Clements
Going Out: Stage
Royal Court theatre, London, to 5 March
A new play from Alistair McDowall, best known for cult theatrical hit Pomona. The Glow is about a spiritualist medium in the 1860s and stars Fisayo Akinade, Rakie Ayola, Tadhg Murphy and Ria Zmitrowicz. Expect the unexpected.
Doubt: A Parable
Chichester Festival theatre, to 5 February
PPowerhouse actor 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: Phantoms
Merlin theatre, Frome, 3 February to 5 February, then touring
After Dracula, choreographer Mark Bruce continues in the dark, gothic vein in a new triple bill, taking on myths, folk tales and cinematic fantasies. Music comes from the White Stripes, folk singer Martin Simpson and jazz pianist Gareth Williams. Lyndsey Winship
Leicester comedy festival
Various venues, 2 February to 20 February
The gargantuan comedy fest returns to the real world after last year’s virtual edition, with more than 560 shows. Highlights include the winningly eccentric Inbetweeners man Joe Thomas, the always boundary-pushing Alfie Brown and pod star Ed Gamble. Rachel Aroesti
Going Out: Art
Francis Bacon: Man and Beast
Royal Academy of Arts, London, 29 January to 17 April
The great carnivore of modern British art, who saw bodies as meat, constantly compared humans with other animals. Apes scream in cages, dogs prowl in wastelands and beef is butchered in his claustrophobic canvases. By examining Bacon’s eye for nature, this exhibition (work pictured, above) promises a safari through his ideas and passions.
Van Gogh Self-Portraits
The Courtauld, London, 3 February to 9 May
No artist saw himself more vividly than poor Vincent; not even his Dutch predecessor Rembrandt was a more searching self-portraitist. Even without his paintings, Van Gogh’s letters would be one of the greatest works of confessional literature. Here are his pictures of the man in the mirror: raw, relentless, true.
British Art Show 9
Wolverhampton Art Gallery and Wolverhampton School of Art, to 10 April
The brilliant painter Michael Armitage stands out in this interesting if over-curated and didactic ragbag of talents and tendencies in British art now. There’s everything you might 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, to 8 May
The faces of Henry VIII and his gifted daughter Elizabeth I are as recognisable as modern celebrities. They and other members of the Tudor dynasty assiduously got their portraits put about. Henry even employed the Renaissance genius Holbein, whose influence lends power to these paintings of monarchs and their ministers. Jonathan Jones
Staying In: Streaming
Pam and Tommy
Downton’s Lily James metamorphoses into Baywatch-era Pamela Anderson (above) in this series chronicling the first internet-sensation celebrity sex tape. This is both a comedy crime caper (Seth Rogen plays one of the thieves) and feminist-slanted retelling of the video’s impact.
The Righteous Gemstones
Sky Comedy, Thur
Danny McBride’s televangelist comedy combines epic familial saga with brutal, deliciously dumb humour – think It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia meets Succession (plus Jesus). The cast is just as spectacular: season two returns with Jason Schwartzman and Eric Andre joining John Goodman, Adam DeVine and McBride himself.
Apple TV+, Fri
Move aside, the British sitcom: Israeli dramas are fast becoming US TV’s go-to remake material. Here, Uma Thurman and The Big Bang Theory’s Kunal Nayyar star in an adaptation of the very clever nail-biter False Flag, about five ordinary people implicated in a high-profile kidnapping.
BBC Three & BBC iPlayer, Tue
A slew of British comic talent – James Acaster, Lou Sanders, John Kearns, Kiell Smith-Bynoe and more – accompany gently offbeat double act Celeste Dring and Freya Parker for this four-part sketch show, a highlight of BBC Three’s broadcast relaunch night. RA
Staying In: Games
Out now, Xbox, PC, Mac
This is a whimsical dog-photography game, which you can also pet the dogs. Surely that’s all you need to know?
Dying Light 2
Out Fri, Xbox, PC, PlayStation
A tense run-away-from-the-zombies game set in a ravaged city that offers tens to hundreds of hours of smashing the undead with a plank, if that’s your thing. Keza MacDonald
Staying In: Albums
Alice Glass – Prey//IV
Canadian avant-pop artist Glass (above) finally unleashes her debut solo album, having previously been one half of noise merchants Crystal Castles. The record’s sonic template ricochets between Baby Teeth’s sugary electropop and the pure rage catharsis of the towering Fair Game.
MØ – Motordrome
Denmark’s biggest pop export returns with her third album, her first since 2018’s muddled Forever Neverland. While that guest-heavy record suffered in the aftermath of the global success of 2015’s Diplo-assisted Lean On, the streamlined Motordrome – 10 tracks in half an hour – recalls the pulsating synthpop and punk spirit of her early singles.
Eels – Extreme Witchcraft
Mark Everett, AKA E, returns with his 14th album under his Eels moniker, and his first with producer John Parish since 2001’s scuzzy Souljacker. Like that album, Extreme Witchcraft roughs up E’s lyrical storytelling, with songs such as The Magic and Amateur Hour lurching around galloping melodies.
Pinegrove – 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 creaky indie-folk into confessional high art. That continues on 11:11, with Hall’s fragile voice pondering the strange limbo of Recent Times on the lilting single Respirate. MC
Staying In : Brain food
Amazon Prime Video, from 4 February
Named after the weekly showcase for Black comics at LA’s Comedy Store throughout the 90s, this fascinating docuseries sees founder Guy Torry unpacking its star-making significance. Performers Regina King (above), Nick Cannon, Dave Chappelle and Tiffany Haddish relive their stage time.
For a decade and more than 450 episodes, Roman Mars’s podcast has drilled into the minutiae of design, exposing the lesser-known functionalities of our daily lives. Highlights include the sounds of TV sports and the reasoning behind alphabetical ordering.
Archaeologist Simon Roper has spent recent years amassing a devoted following for his explainer videos on English speech throughout history. He translates academic rigour into entertaining ASMR linguistics, from geordie phonology to London accents in the 14th century. Ammar Kalia