What to see this week in the UK

Andrew Pulver, Sophie Harris, John Fordham, Andrew Clements, Jonathan Jones, Miriam Gillinson and Lyndsey Winship

Five of the best … films

1917 (15)

(Sam Mendes, 2019, UK/US) 119 mins

Sam Mendes’s first world war drama has turned into a substantial commercial success, as well as an awards-season powerhouse: its immersive long-take style saw it end up at No 1 at the US box office last week. The film follows two couriers as they try to reach a unit threatened by a German counter-attack; with Roger Deakins in charge of the cameras, this has emerged as a visual tour de force.

Waves (15)

(Trey Edward Shults, 2019, US) 136 mins

An intense drama from the director of It Comes at Night, Waves focuses on the African-American middle class and the pressure to succeed. Its central character is a high-school wrestler, whose father is pushing him to make the grade; at the same time, his relationship with his girlfriend becomes fraught. A sensitively observed, tragic film.

Uncut Gems (15)

(Josh and Benny Safdie, 2019, US) 135 mins

Adam Sandler gives one of his rare classy-movie performances: one to file alongside Punch-Drunk Love, Funny People and The Meyerowitz Stories. He is twitchy, relentless jewel dealer Howard Ratner, cruising for a bruising on the mean streets of New York as he tries to offload a rare opal and stay ahead of debt collectors.

A Hidden Life (12A)

(Terrence Malick, 2019, US/Ger) 174 mins

Late-period Terence Malick is a mixed bag: The Tree of Life counts as some sort of berserk masterpiece, but his subsequent films – To the Wonder, Knight of Cups, Song to Song – emerged as mannered, self-indulgent bombast. A Hidden Life claws back some of the lost ground: it’s no less high-flown and rhapsodic, but its subject matter – the travails of second world war conscientious objector Franz Jägerstätter – gives it real substance.

Bombshell (15)

(Jay Roach, 2019, US/Can) 109 mins

In Bombshell, Hollywood takes aim at the abusive culture inside Fox News as represented by the late Roger Ailes, and uses the media-friendly figures of channel anchors Megyn Kelly and Gretchen Carlson to do so. Charlize Theron and Nicole Kidman play Kelly and Carlson, with Margot Robbie as a composite figure; John Lithgow is their bete noire.


Five of the best … rock, pop & jazz

Beat Horizon

In three short weeks 2020 has proven itself not for the faint of heart, but these hip-hop, beats and bass-heavy all-nighters are here to perk up your weary soul. Rabble-rousing edification comes courtesy of Zambian rapper Sampa the Great, golden-voiced MC Yasiin Bey AKA Mos Def (not Bristol) plus drum’n’bass titans Roni Size and Goldie.
O2 Academy Brixton, SW9, Saturday 18; Motion, Bristol, Friday 24; O2 Victoria Warehouse, Manchester, 25 January

Tyler Childers

His country cred runs deep: raised on bluegrass and Nirvana, Kentucky songman Tyler Childers has been honing his talent on tour with country royalty Willie Nelson and John Prine, and his producer is Sturgill Simpson. He’s on these shores playing behind Country Squire – an album brimming with political poetics and sweetly gritty tunes.
Manchester Academy 2, Saturday 18; St Luke’s, Glasgow, Sunday 19; O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire, W12, Tuesday 21 January

Krept and Konan

Aspects of this London rap duo sit slightly uncomfortably – they run their own dessert restaurant, Crepes & Cones (cute!), but also deliver lines such as “I’ma kill that pussy, cause a felony tonight” (less so). But their onstage chemistry is undeniable, and new album Revenge Is Sweet boldly addresses issues of depression and anxiety via tracks that deftly move from smooth and reflective to absolutely pummelling.
Stylus, Leeds, Tuesday 21; Albert Hall, Manchester, Thursday 23; Rock City, Nottingham, Friday 24; touring to 30 January


The Bristolian trio co-helmed by Portishead’s Geoff Barrow are back to deliver their oblique, slightly jittery post-punk and deliciously psychedelic, krautrock-inspired sounds, audible on third album >>> (the follow-up to second album >>, and debut BEAK>, of course), and 2019’s groovesome Life Goes On EP. Gig-nodders will be out in force.
Electric Ballroom, NW1, Friday 24 January; touring to 8 February


Ian Shaw and Friends

Ian Shaw, the genre-vaulting jazz singer, annually celebrates the arts of song and the diversity of his musical friendships in this week-long Soho season. Trumpeter Guy Barker (21st), saxophonist Pee Wee Ellis (22nd), Loose Tubes legend Iain Ballamy (23rd) and singer-songwriters Georgia Mancio and Bumi Thomas (24th) drop in.
Pizza Express Jazz Club, Soho, W1; Sunday 19 to 26 January


Three of the best … classical concerts

Ludwig out… Llŷr Williams. Photograph: Alamy

Beethoven: The 1808 Concert

The historic concert in Vienna on 22 December 1808 that included the premieres of three of Beethoven’s greatest orchestral works – the Fifth and Sixth Symphonies and the Fourth Piano Concerto – is likely to be revisited several times this year as part of the 250th-anniversary celebrations. The first re-creation of the marathon programme comes as a joint project from the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, conducted by Jaime Martín, and the Orchestra of Welsh National Opera under Carlo Rizzi, with Steven Osborne and Llŷr Williams as piano soloists.
St David’s Hall, Cardiff, Sunday 19th January

The Book of Elements

Contemporary music rarely gets much of a look-in in the Southbank Centre’s international piano series, but Noriko Kawai’s recital is devoted to a complete performance of one of the most important keyboard works of our time. The 27 pieces that make up James Dillon’s 80-minute Book of Elements deal with the basic ingredients of music – change and continuity – but do so in an utterly personal and profoundly pianistic way, and Kawai is the definitive interpreter of this thrilling work.
Purcell Room, SE1, Sunday 19th January

Street Scene

Occupying the middle ground between opera and musical, Street Scene has become the most frequently performed of the stage works that Kurt Weill composed after he settled in the US. Opera North’s new production, directed by Matthew Eberhardt and conducted by James Holmes, has Giselle Allen and Robert Hayward as Anna and Frank Maurrant; Gillene Butterfield is their daughter Rose.
Grand Theatre, Leeds, Saturday 18th January to 28 February; touring to 20 March


Five of the best … exhibitions

Grayson Perry

Years before he won the Turner prize and was trampolined into fame, Perry was making ceramics in which he developed his satirical style. These “lost pots” have been lovingly recovered for an exhibition that looks at Grayson Perry, pre-Grayson Perry. It’s a chance to explore another facet of an artist who is part of the fabric of modern Britain.
The Holburne Museum, Bath, Friday 24 January to 25 May

Ian Davenport

Art world fashion currently embraces figurative painting – back in from the cold because it can show diversity – but so much of the best modern painting is abstract. Ian Davenport keeps the faith with a sublime and serious poetry of colour rooted in abstract expressionism. Here he shows etchings and monoprints that put his big vision on paper.
Cristea Roberts Gallery, SW1, to 8 February

Tullio Crali

This Italian painter was born in 1910, a year after FT Marinetti published the Manifesto of Futurism. He must have imbibed its rhetoric as a baby, for he remained loyal to futurism throughout his career. But he created his dynamic images of aircraft and flight at the height of the fascist age. Futurism is an art of war, and in a minor talent such as Crali you see how its aesthetic of machines served Mussolini’s dictatorship.
Estorick Collection of Modern Italian Art, N1, to 11 April

Illuminating the Self

It’s a 19th-century voyeur’s delight as the Hatton unveils an installation of Victorian underwear. But wait – each is embroidered with texts by people with epilepsy, and the entire display moves to a programme based on brain activity. Artists Susan Aldworth and Andrew Carnie have worked with scientists who are researching the use of light to massage brain cells on a show that explores the mystery and frailty of the human mind.
Hatton Gallery, Saturday 18 January to 9 May; Vane, to 29 February, Newcastle upon Tyne

The Four Ages of Woman

London’s Bethlem Hospital has artistic associations going back to William Hogarth, who painted its patients, and Richard Dadd, who was incarcerated there. But this exhibition explores another heritage: that of women, art and the varieties of mental experience. It includes writer, painter and patient Anna Kavan and contemporary potter Bibi Herrera.
Bethlem Museum of the Mind, Beckenham, to 25 April


Five of the best … theatre shows

Romantics Anonymous

Here’s a theatrical treat for the gloomy winter months. It’s a musical adaptation of the quirky French movie Les Émotifs Anonymes, about two painfully shy chocolate-makers who eventually make sweet love. The show transfers to Bristol following a hit London run at the Globe in 2017 and is directed by Emma Rice, who has a knack for creating vivid, vibrant, joyful theatre.
Bristol Old Vic, Saturday January 18 to 1 February

The Welkin

A new play from Lucy Kirkwood (Chimerica, The Children) is always a very good thing. Her latest work is set in Suffolk in 1759, where a woman stands trial for murder. She claims to be pregnant, but is it just a ruse to escape the noose? A jury of 12 matrons must decide. James Macdonald directs two powerful actors: Maxine Peake and Ria Zmitrowicz.
National Theatre: Lyttelton, SE1, to 23 May

Faces in the Crowd

Director Ellen McDougall creates highly thoughtful and striking shows. Her latest is an adaptation of Valeria Luiselli’s debut novel, a slippery story set in Mexico where a marriage is falling apart. As a mother and wife recalls her previous life in New York, memories and figures from the past intermingle with the present. The cast includes Anoushka Lucas, who was a spellbinding Mary Magdalene in a recent production of Jesus Christ Superstar.
Gate Theatre, W11, to 8 February

Push festival

Push festival returns with another celebration of creative talent in the north-west. Highlights include Plaster Cast Theatre’s Sound Cistem, a show from two transgender performers that is part gig, part verbatim theatre and part disco. There’s also a one-woman show from Tania Camara, Oreo, about successful black women in European politics, and a showcase of new writing talent from local theatre company Box of Tricks.
HOME, Manchester, Saturday 18 January to 1 February

Faustus: That Damned Woman

Playwright Chris Bush is one to watch. There’s great intelligence to her work but great heart, too. Her new drama is a co-production between Headlong and the Lyric Hammersmith, a female-led version of the Faust myth. The decision to sell one’s soul to the devil, in exchange for godlike power, becomes very different when it’s a 17th-century woman doing it. Jodie McNee stars as Faustus with Danny Lee Wynter as Mephistopheles.
Lyric Hammersmith, W6, Wednesday 22nd January to 22 February


Three of the best … dance shows

Aisha and Abhaya

A fantastical fairytale rooted in contemporary politics, Aisha and Abyaha is a new creation for Rambert combining dance, animation and film, led by film director Kibwe Tavares and uber-cool choreographer Sharon Eyal, with music by Ori Lichtik and genre polymath Gaika. It’s the story of two refugee sisters, washed ashore in a place far from home.
Royal Opera House: Linbury Theatre, WC2, Tuesday 21 January to 9 February

Still Hungry: Raven

The LIMF continues with its indefinable mix of circus, dance, puppetry and WTF. This week’s highlights include feminist circus show Raven by Still Hungry, a trio of German performers tackling the challenges of motherhood as a rabenmutter (raven mother) – AKA a working mum.
Jacksons Lane Theatre, N6, Tuesday 21 to Thursday 23 January

Impermanence Dance Theatre: Laberinto

Impermanence is stirring up the Bristol dance scene with a residency at the Old Vic and plans for a new venue in the city. Here it performs Lea Anderson’s piece, made originally for a Peruvian troupe, which draws on imagery from South American ceremonial sites.
Bristol Old Vic, Saturday 18 January