Mass Humanities-sponsored readings of Frederick Douglass’s “What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July?” speech started on Juneteenth and run through July 18. “Every year we say that the words of Douglass are resonant because of the ongoing work we need to do around racial justice,” executive director Brian Boyles tells Globe correspondent Dana Gerber.
FILM: Ahmir-Khalib “Questlove” Thompson’s “Summer of Soul” earns four stars from Globe film critic Ty Burr, who raves that it “instantly vaults into the pantheon of music documentaries on the strength of its performances and the passion and intelligence of its assembling.” The summer is 1969, and with six weekends’ worth of music crammed into 117 minutes, the film is “a snapshot of Black America.”
The “twisty crime drama” “No Sudden Move,” directed by Steven Soderbergh from Ed Solomon’s script, is a 3½-star effort set in Detroit in 1954. It boasts a star-studded cast and a plot that’s “complex to the point of occasional inscrutability,” writes Burr, “but plot is beside the point. What jazzes this filmmaker and the actors who flock to him is the language the characters speak, what they say and don’t say as they triple-cross each other into oblivion.”
Based on a true story, “I Carry You With Me” “takes the kind of undocumented immigrants’ saga we think we know and recasts it in a dreamy, bittersweet light,“ Burr writes in a 3½-star review. “Through camerawork and cutting, performances and score, ‘I Carry You With Me’ turns a familiar story into specific, suspenseful drama, with details that snag the heart and last in the memory.”
The Twitter-inspired tale of “a road trip that went south both geographically and otherwise,” Janicza Bravo’s “Zola” offers “a take on men and women, white and Black, exploiters and the exploited, that is both jaundiced and wise,” Burr writes in a 3-star review. Taylour Paige plays Zola “with easygoing confidence and sass,” and the other characters are “all so colorful that you may not notice how firmly Paige is holding the film together.”
Most of the 2-star Chris Pratt vehicle “The Tomorrow War” “takes place 30 years from now, when space aliens are doing what space aliens tend to do, invading Earth,” writes the Globe’s Mark Feeney. Honestly, I can’t top this observation: “The director, Chris McKay (the two ‘Lego Batman’ movies) would seem to agree with that noted aficionado of action movies Ralph Waldo Emerson: ‘In skating over thin ice our safety is in our speed.’”
Burr programs 14 selections into his “July Fourth film festival for the real America — its ideals of government and its feet of clay, its welcoming arms and its doors slammed shut, the people it has helped raise up and the people it has kept down for generations? The good and the bad, both seen with clarity and conscience.” Spanning 1917 (”The Immigrant”) to 2020 (”First Cow”), they hit some unexpected and welcome notes.
TV: The best British TV mysteries hit lofty heights, and “while it’s not at the level of the best of the genre,“ Globe TV critic Matthew Gilbert says, “The Beast Must Die” gets the job done. Set on the Isle of Wight, the six-episode series has “a trio of dynamic leading turns, by Cush Jumbo, Billy Howle, and Jared Harris,” and “a hypnotic, ‘Mr. Ripley’-like vibe as the con artistry and chesslike moves keep us guessing.”
Last week’s list of Gilbert’s top 10 series of the year sparked a question: Do miniseries count as series? No. “They’re even better than series, in certain ways.” Cases in point include “one-season wonder” “Freaks and Geeks,” the “Masterpiece” adaptation of “Bleak House,” and four of the many examples that demonstrate that “HBO has shown all the other TV outlets how to do it.”
Pressed by an Ask Matthew reader to “admit that the cast was charming,” Gilbert, a nonfan of “Friends,” acknowledges that and quickly pivots to pointing out that “most of the cast members have done their best work after the show wrapped in 2004.” He offers a dozen-plus examples, including Jennifer Aniston in “The Morning Show” and, “if you’re in the market for a light, farcical binge,” Matt LeBlanc in “Episodes.”
VISUAL ART: Virgil Abloh’s “ascent from do-it-yourself-streetwear to design director for the menswear line of Louis Vuitton, one of the most storied labels in fashion, spans barely a decade,” writes Globe art critic Murray Whyte. “Figures of Speech,” at the Institute of Contemporary Art, reveals “a canny maker, interested as much in the guts of things as their sleek surfaces.”
“SculptureNow 2021,” at the Mount, Edith Wharton’s home in Lenox, is “an enchanting escape,” writes Globe correspondent Cate McQuaid. With no set theme, the annual exhibition, back after a year on pause, “becomes an open field for the imagination as abstract and representational works, or sculptures in a range of mediums, strike different perceptual chords, harmonizing.”
Nearby, the show “Scout’s Box” captures David Chatt’s memories in three dimensions. The artist “wraps objects from his youth in beads: toy soldiers, a brownie camera perched atop its yellow Kodak box, a magnifying glass,” writes McQuaid. ”Together, these curiosities kindle associations, unfurling a story of a boy, or a time. Or is it a story of ourselves?” At Sienna Patti Contemporary in Lenox.
LOVE LETTERS: Ready for a fresh start? Aren’t we all? The theme of Season 5 of the Love Letters podcast, hosted by the Globe’s Meredith Goldstein, is “New Beginnings.” The episodes tell stories about love that’s new, revived, reinvented, and full of hope. In the latest installment, sportscaster Trenni Kusnierek discusses a change of heart in her attitude toward “boyfriend people.” Listen here.
MUSIC: Singer-songwriter Richard Marx’s new book, “Stories to Tell: A Memoir,” mostly focuses on his work, but Barbra Streisand, Madonna, and Bruno Mars crop up in a wide-ranging Q&A with Goldstein. The ‘80s icon very relatably talks about the impact of the pandemic on his work habits: “The last thing on my mind was writing songs, and it continued for a long time. It kind of freaked me out.”
Best known for gaming, the digital platform Twitch helps Boston-based orchestra Phoenix expand its audience in unexpected ways. “We thought, what can be uniquely good about streaming that’s not just streaming a concert?” Matthew Szymanski of Phoenix says in a Q&A with the Globe’s A.Z. Madonna. “[M]usic is really a communal experience, and [Twitch] has given us a way to have that experience while everybody had to be apart.”
The International Orchestra of Refugees “is both a virtual orchestra and a kind of LinkedIn network for refugee musicians, helping them create cross-cultural ensembles and find employment,” writes Globe correspondent Mariya Manzhos. Says Patron Yemery, a Congolese refugee and band leader: ”There is nothing like confidence for young immigrants in a place where you don’t know where to start. For me, music was the basis of everything else.”
FOOD & DINING: If you’re anything like me, the Recipes for the Fourth feature in this week’s Food section almost made you forget how hot your kitchen gets in the summer. (Almost — it was 92 degrees!) Cookbook authors Nandita Godbole and Andrea Nguyen discuss Indo-American and Vietnamese cooking, and local restaurateur Tse Wei Lim (Journeyman, Backbar) shares his Chinese-Singaporean family’s recipe for Hainanese Chicken Rice.
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