To go out: Movie theater
Tom Holland and Mark Wahlberg star as Nathan Drake and his wisecracking partner Victor “Sully” Sullivan in a big-screen adaptation of one of the best-selling video game franchises of all time. Join them on their efficient multitasking quest to find both a long-lost treasure and a long-lost brother.
Don’t be fooled by the rocks she has, Jennifer Lopez still knows how to direct a silly romantic comedy. This brilliant, high-concept romance — in which an abandoned megastar spontaneously marries a random guy (Owen Wilson) — makes perfect cheese next to Valentine’s Day.
Romeo and Juliet – ROH
If the J-Lo joint isn’t quite the right flavor of romance for you this Valentine’s Day, fear not. The Royal Opera House has you covered, with 205 minutes of ballet broadcast live, in the form of Kenneth MacMillan’s version of Romeo and Juliet, an instant classic since its premiere in 1965.
Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy
Written and directed by Ryusuke Hamaguchi, this Japanese romantic drama weaves together themes of infidelity, hidden attraction, mistaken identity and sexual intrigue, with a comedic levity that belies Hamaguchi’s insight into the human nature. The best movie released this week.
To go out: Gigs
February 12 to 16; the tour starts in Glasgow
The Sportiest Spice Girl embarks on her delayed tour in support of Carly Rae Jepsen’s eighth album of 2020, her third to break into the UK Top 10. Yeah yeah. Michael Cragg
February 13 to 16; the tour starts in Manchester
Released last summer, R&B experimenter Aalegra’s third album, Temporary Highs in the Violet Skies, was a slow hit, earning the Swedish singer a Grammy nod. Allow its laid back and healing qualities to take away your winter blues. CM
Psapha at 30
Kettle’s Yard, Cambridge, February 17; on tour until April 29
The Manchester-based new music group are celebrating their 30th anniversary with a program that includes their latest commission – Simon Holt’s The Sower, which features a cimbalo in its instrumentation and is inspired by a poem by Antonio Machado. Psappha also performs The Ax Manual by Harrison Birtwistle and works by Ninfea Cruttwell-Reade and Joanna Ward. Andrew Clements
Skylla by Ruth Goller
Holywell Music Room, Oxford, 15 February, then on tour
In recent years, British bassist Ruth Goller has fronted jazz, funk and world-class bands ranging from Acoustic Ladyland and Melt Yourself Down to Vula Viel – but Skylla is her own unique company, a mix of edgy improvisation and haunting vocals, in an eerie tone – a curved yet inviting sonic world. John Fordham
To go out: Stage
Hampstead Theatre, London, to March 12
A new play from the devilishly intelligent Florian Zeller with a stellar cast including Toby Stephens, Gina McKee, Paul McGann and Angel Coulby. MG
Lost Dog: A Tale of Two Towns
Warwick Arts Centre, Coventry, February 16-18then turned
Ben Duke of Lost Dog has created dance theater gold nuggets with his imaginative (and very funny) revisions of Paradise Lost and Romeo and Juliet. Now it takes an equally biased take on Dickens’ London-Paris classic, focusing on the character of Lucie Manette. Lyndsey Winship
A lot of noise for nothing
Shakespeare’s Royal Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon, until March 12
Director Roy Alexander Weise helms a new version starring Michael Balogun and Akiya Henry. An exciting creative team includes Mobo nominated composer Femi Temowo. Miriam Gillinson
Phil’s Fun Factory
butterfly club, London, February 12
A new monthly evening from comedian Phil Dunning, a cheerfully camped character. Expect freewheeling skits, eerie musical numbers and special guests including Feel Good star Mae Martin and brilliantly funny newcomer Freddie Meredith. Rachel Aroesti
To go out: Art
Kettle’s Yard, Cambridge, to June 19
One of the most spectacular entertainers on the planet offers a quieter, more intimate experience than his Sunflower Seeds at Tate Modern might make you expect. The nature of freedom and the contrasting attitudes towards authenticity in China and the West are among the themes of an exhibition that plays quickly and freely with the histories of art.
The world of Stonehenge
British Museum, London, February 17 to July 17
The medieval chronicler Geoffrey of Monmouth claimed that the strange stones on Salisbury Plain had been brought by magic from Ireland by Merlin. William Blake imagined them dominating tiny druids, Jeremy Deller recreated them like a bouncy castle. This exhibit promises the most up-to-date archeology on Britain’s Neolithic wonder.
Modern Institute, Glasgow, at 19 March
Sagging, splattered paintings spilling out into the gallery space, hanging happily from the ceiling, blending imagery with abstract pulses. Jackson works in Savannah, Georgia, and you could see her carrying on the tradition of radical southern artist Robert Rauschenberg with her theatrical scale and verve.
Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, 18 February at 12 June
This revolutionary painter of modern life can stop you in your tracks with the sheer intelligence of his eyes. Pissarro was not only one of the founders of Impressionism in 1870s France, but a keen observer of whom the city streets and people at work still have a gravity that goes beyond beauty.
Stay at home: Diffusion
Louis Théroux: Forbidden America
February 13, 9 p.m., BBC Two
Forced to podcast for his dinner during the first confinement, the documentary filmmaker embraces freedom with a brand new trio. In the first episode, he fights his way through a series of meetings with the far-right extremists who fuel the internet culture wars.
Released February 18AppleTV+
A group of employees agree to have their minds interfered with so that they don’t remember their work outside office hours. Ben Stiller directs and Adam Scott (Parks and Recreation) stars as a staff member about to rediscover what he does all day.
Jeen-yuhs: A Kanye Trilogy
Released February 16netflix
Kanye West is a singular figure: sonically avant-garde, politically incendiary, determined to reinvent both the music industry and celebrity itself in his own image. This film, made by longtime friends, follows the dizzying early years before observing his mega-stardom from further afield.
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
Released February 18, Amazon Prime Video
The fourth season of this lavishly made mid-century New York comedy-drama returns to follow Midge Maisel’s roller coaster ride of a career as a stand-up comedian. It’s 1960 and Midge’s pioneering work continues in a very messy family dynamic. Meanwhile, romance with Lenny Bruce may still be on the cards. AR
Stay at home: Games
Assassin’s Creed: The Ezio Collection
Released February 17nintendo switch
Three classic games, finally available to play on Nintendo Switch. Modern Assassin’s Creed games suck a hundred hours out of your life – it’s a throwback to when they were more manageable.
Horizon: West forbidden
Released February 18PlayStation 4/5
The adventures of Aloy, the fiery-haired dinosaur-hunting robot, continue in this beautiful sci-fi epic. A game about rediscovering the Earth after it has been reclaimed by nature and machines.
Stay at home: Albums
Foxes – The Kick
Six years after her second album, Foxes, the new independent representative of synthpop, returns with the thrilling The Kick. Created with producer James Greenwood in lockdown, it’s a 12-track ode to escapism led by galloping single Sister Ray and disco-tinged Sky Love.
Mary J Blige – Hello Gorgeous
Ahead of her Super Bowl halftime appearance on Sunday alongside Dr. Dre, Eminem and Kendrick Lamar, the queen of hip-hop soul is releasing her 14th album. Featuring the likes of Usher, Anderson .Paak and the ubiquitous hype man DJ Khaled, it’s further proof of Blige’s influence on a new generation of R&B singers.
Big Thief – Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe In You
The Brooklyn quartet recorded their fifth album, a 20-track, 80-minute opus, across the United States after bending over for songwriting sessions in the woods of Vermont. His mutable sound reflects the diverse locales, ranging from crisp indie rock to stripped-down folk to the swirling psychedelia of last August’s Little Things.
Alt-J – The dream
After their debut album An Awesome Wave won the 2012 Mercury Music Prize, Cambridge masterminds Alt-J and their restless post-rock split opinion. Some hailed them as the new Radiohead, while others dismissed them as ripe for parody. On their fourth album, they finally seem quite happy to be a mix of the two.
Stay at home: brain food
As we emerge from January’s forced health fads, this podcast by Aubrey Gordon and Michael Hobbes helps demystify the latest wellness trends. Investigate the science (or lack thereof) in everything from sleep loss manuals to celebrity diets.
The line goes up: the problem With NFTs
It’s an abbreviation that flourishes everywhere and that no one understands well: the NFT. YouTuber Dan Olson tackles the artistic trend with typical rigor in this film, explaining why you should be wary of spreading them.
Apple TV+, February 18
Actor Jeffrey Wright narrates this four-part documentary series about Abraham Lincoln’s journey to end slavery. Based on the 2020 book by historian David S Reynolds, the series offers a nuanced take on the often oversimplified political battles of the time.