The director Rian Johnson is used to channeling well-worn styles (noir in his excellent whodunit Brick, everything from Tarantinoesque hyperbole to Andersonian whimsy in the misunderstood Brothers Bloom), but he’s less comfortable, one assumes, yielding to its absence. So one has to wonder how heavy an authorial handprint he’ll leave on John Darnielle in his film The Life of the World to Come, in which the Mountain Goats leader performs the songs from his 2009 album of the same name. It’s an unplugged performance from a performer who’s rarely plugged in, one who’s at his best—instrumentally, lyrically—stripped to his sinews. In other words: Should Johnson have had to do anything other than hit record?
THE FILM SHOWS AT 7:30 P.M. AT THE BLACK CAT, 1811 14TH ST. NW. $8. (202) 667-4490.