11 Cheap and Free Things to Do This Week
Santa meets some little green (painted) men on Saturday.
A salsa celebration, Christmas at an off-beat museum, a bunch of Christmas movie screenings and more to do and see in L.A. this week for 11 bucks or less.
A Very Salsa Christmas is the latest installment in Union Station's inaugural Cocoa Concert Series, and it's your refuge from all the Christmas music you may be sick to death of by now. L.A.'s very own LA Picante — led by Pablo Alemann — unveil their salsa stylings as they accompany dance lessons in the constitutionally brilliant acoustics of Union Station. There's also the Elftenders' Cocoa Bar, an Ugly Christmas Sweater contest (hopefully it's the sweater that's ugly, not the Christmas itself), holiday crafts and cookie decorating and scintillating selfies with Santa Claus. Union Station, South Patio, 800 N. Alameda St., downtown; Fri., Dec. 23, 6 p.m.; free. (213) 683-6875, unionstationla.com/happenings/cocoa-concert-series. —David Cotner
Don't let the fact that you've watched bits and pieces of It's a Wonderful Life on TV more times than you can count stop you from seeing it on the big screen. Frank Capra's brand of movie-magic optimism feels especially vital this holiday season, which caps off a year in which the Mr. Potters of the world repeatedly won. Maybe it's all been a terrible vision of what could have been and we'll soon return to real life? Egyptian Theatre, 6712 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood; Fri., Dec. 23, 7:30 p.m.; $11. (323) 466-3456, americancinemathequecalendar.com. —Michael Nordine
Remember when comically evil cartoon villains were only in power onscreen? Batman Returns remembers. The second of Tim Burton's contributions to the Caped Crusader mythos screens on 35mm at midnight, the perfect time to descend into the shadowy realm of Gotham as it's overtaken by Danny DeVito's Penguin and Michelle Pfeiffer's Catwoman. And though Batman's always been the moody sort, there are certainly more moments of levity here than there were in Batman v Superman. Nuart Theatre, 11272 Santa Monica Blvd., West L.A.; Fri., Dec. 23, 11:59 p.m.; $11. (310) 473-8530, landmarktheatres.com. —Michael Nordine
It wouldn't be Christmas Eve without the L.A. County Holiday Celebration, now in its 57th year. This year's program features music and dance groups that have appeared in previous shows — Harmonic Bronze Handbell Ensemble, Vox Femina L.A. and Gay Men's Chorus of Los Angeles, among them — as well as first-time performers, like the all-female stringed mariachi band Las Colibrí, playing the Vince Guaraldi classic "Christmastime Is Here" and Jose Feliciano's "Feliz Navidad"; the Dixieland blues band California Feetwarmers performing "Christmas in New Orleans" and more; and the American-Mexican-Brazilian singer and violinist QVLN performing "The Little Drummer Boy." As always, if you can't make the live show, you can watch live on PBS SoCal KOCE and pbssocal.org. Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, 135 N. Grand Ave., downtown; Sat., Dec. 24, 3-6 p.m.; free. lacountyarts.org/holiday.html. —Gwynedd Stuart
Celebrate Christmas Eve with what some consider the worst movie ever made: Santa Claus Conquers the Martians. The panned sci-fi/comedy/holiday whatsit was first released in 1964 and has enjoyed a second, largely ironic second life thanks to Mystery Science Theater 3000; anyone who delights in so-bad-it's-good fare will consider this an early gift from Santa himself. Anyone alarmed by the so-called War on Christmas, meanwhile, will have their paranoia fulfilled by the film's vision of Martians scheming to claim St. Nick for themselves. New Beverly Cinema, 7165 Beverly Blvd., Fairfax; Sat., Dec. 24, 2 p.m.; $6. (323) 938-4038, thenewbev.com. —Michael Nordine
You might think that bunnies at holidays are reserved specifically for Easter or Mel Blanc's birthday, but Christmas at the Bunny Museum hops all over your furry preconceived notions. The final Christmas event before the museum moves to its new location in Altadena in March — "the Grand Hoppenin'," museum founders Candace Frazee and Steve Lubanski call it — today's farewell to the old homestead is a nostalgic, bittersweet one. With around 30,000 bunny-related items — as well as a passel of real bunnies for which you can bring fruits and vegetables — the Bunny Museum is a priceless paragon of singular, visionary Americana. The Bunny Museum, 1933 Jefferson Drive, Pasadena; Sun., Dec. 25, 2 p.m.; $5, members and kids under 4 free. (626) 798-8848, thebunnymuseum.com. —David Cotner
The most stressful part of the holiday season has come and gone, so reward yourself with a good midday cry at LACMA. Terms of Endearment is among the quintessential tearjerkers, and one of many inexplicable Best Picture winners from the '80s (Driving Miss Daisy? Seriously?). Still, it does its thing — i.e., draw you into the decades-long mother/daughter relationship between Shirley MacLaine and Debra Winger — well enough, and is nothing if not emotionally involving. LACMA, 5905 Wilshire Blvd., Mid-Wilshire; Tue., Dec. 27, 1 p.m.; $4. (323) 857-6000, lacma.org. —Michael Nordine
Communikate is comedian Kate Berlant's gripping, disturbing mind-meld of the psychic and the comedic. As she brings willing yet unsuspecting audience members onstage to plumb their unfathomable depths, she works through new comedy by wielding the eldritch powers of the guffaw and the supernal energy of the hee-haw to bring down upon those gathered a phantasmagoria of the human experience itself. The result may frighten you, revealing unto you the fragility of your own existence. Also, three other comics are invited by Berlant to do whatever it is that they do; past guests include Claudia O'Doherty, Nick Kroll and Kyle Mooney. UCB Franklin, 5919 Franklin Ave., Hollywood; Wed., Dec. 28, 8 p.m.; $5. (323) 908-8702, franklin.ucbtheatre.com/show/5375. —David Cotner
A more lighthearted alternative can be found just a few miles west as the Aero celebrates screwball all week. The most tempting double bill on the docket has to be Bringing Up Baby and The Awful Truth, both on 35mm and both starring Cary Grant. He stars opposite Katharine Hepburn and a leopard in the former and Irene Dunne in the latter, which won Leo McCarey the Academy Award for Best Director. Aero Theatre, 1328 Montana Ave., Santa Monica; Wed., Dec. 28, 7:30 p.m.; $11. (323) 466-3456, americancinemathequecalendar.com.
The Food Truck Collective exists solely to put on food truck–focused events. It curates the trucks and adds the music and games. The NoHo Food Truck Collective, held Thursday evenings in the parking lot of the North Hollywood Library, always has a DJ (playing family-friendly music) and games for the kids. The trucks are subject to change, but there are some fairly reliable regulars. The seafood-centric Tackle Box, serving stuff like fried shrimp, po' boys and catfish, usually is at the event, as are My Delight, a cupcake truck, and Main Squeeze, with fancy lemonades. North Hollywood Regional Library, 5211 Tujunga Ave., North Hollywood; Thu., Dec. 29, 5:30-9:30 p.m.; free. thefoodtruckcollective.com. —Katherine Spiers
Santa Sangre's coming to town, namely the Egyptian. More surreal than screwball, Alejandro Jodorowsky's outré horror film uses both flashbacks and flash-forwards to tell the story of a boy who grows up in a Mexican circus and is forced to help his fanatical mother after his father cuts her arms off and commits suicide. The blood that spills in this movie — which is bizarre even by the El Topo and Holy Mountain director's standards — might not actually be holy, but it's certainly been known to cause viewers to say "holy shit." Good riddance, 2016! Egyptian Theatre, 6712 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood; Thu., Dec. 29, 7:30 p.m.; $11. (323) 466-3456, americancinemathequecalendar.com. —Michael Nordine
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