18 Best Things to Do in L.A. This Week

Celebrate Fourth of July on the Queen Mary: See Saturday.
Celebrate Fourth of July on the Queen Mary: See Saturday.
Photo Courtesy of the Queen Mary

fri 7/3

Big City Forum After Hours is a monthly series of mobile conceptual salons that invite artists, curators, architects, designers, writers, musicians and filmmakers to share and reflect on what drives them. The series occupies various domestic settings (made cozier with wine and dessert). This edition is at the home of artist Alexandra Grant, whose new show is on at the Pasadena Museum of California Art. She's a practitioner of social theory and public art as well as painting and sculpture. BCF creates art experiences IRL, in the belief that the physical energy of proper conversation, the disorientation of new environments and the clinking of glasses lead to more complete inspiration. Tonight's guests are LACMA curator Rita Gonzalez, Poetic Research Bureau director and author Joseph Mosconi and poet/performance artist Jibade-Khalil Huffman. Private residence, address provided with ticket purchase, Westlake/MacArthur Park; Fri., July 3, 9:30-11:30 p.m.; $20. bravoarts@gmail.com, bigcityforum.blogspot.com. —Shana Nys Dambrot

You may not have heard, but a certain Greatest Damn Country on Earth is celebrating her 239th birthday this weekend. A 35mm screening of Willie Nelson's 4th of July Celebration kicks off the festivities at the Aero. Released in 1979, when America was barely two centuries old, the concert movie features performances by the likes of Waylon Jennings and Jimmy Buffett in addition to the man himself. Nelson has been holding the event nearly every year since the early '70s, and one assumes it's mellowed out since a rough first few years: Cars were destroyed, stabbings and rapes were reported, and one person drowned at the bicentennial edition. Aero Theatre, 1328 Montana Ave., Santa Monica; Fri., July 3, 7:30 p.m.; $11. (323) 466-3456, americancinemathequecalendar.com. —Michael Nordine

With apologies to the box office juggernaut that is Jurassic World, we've yet to see a better blockbuster than Mad Max: Fury Road this year. George Miller's postapocalyptic franchise kicked into high gear back in 1982 with the massively influential The Road Warrior, which the Nuart is playing at midnight. Less austere and heady than the original installment, the envelope-pushing sequel envisions a primitive future run by roving gangs who maim, rape and kill in the name of gasoline. Most fearful among these is Lord Humungus, one of cinema's most ridiculous(ly awesome) villains, who has no recourse but to once again unleash his dogs of war on our hero. Nuart Theatre, 11272 Santa Monica Blvd., West L.A.; Fri., July 3, 11:59 p.m.; $11. (310) 473-8530, landmarktheatres.com. —Michael Nordine

18 Best Things to Do in L.A. This Week

Upcoming Events

sat 7/4

Launched in 1934, the RMS Queen Mary made her maiden voyage in 1936 and transported passengers across the North Atlantic before becoming a troop ship during World War II. She returned to passenger service after the war but in 1967 docked in Long Beach Harbor for good, due to the rise of the jet age. Given her history and landmark status, the stately ship is an appropriate venue for an All-American July Fourth Celebration. The jubilee features entertainment spanning a full century, from a traveling circus and a Gatsby-esque garden party to a Prohibition-era speakeasy and WWII-themed live entertainment such as Peter Jacobs Wartime Revue, the USO Dollz and the Swingin' Hollywood Hot Shots. The occasion also marks the Queen Mary's public unveiling of the world's largest Lego brick ship model — plus fireworks, of course. The Queen Mary, 1126 Queens Highway, Long Beach; Sat., July 4, 2 p.m.; $44 online/$49 walk-up adult, $25 online/$29 walk-up kids; $99 VIP. (877) 342-0738, queenmary.com/events/july-fourth. —Tanja M. Laden

Grand Park's Fourth of July Block Party is just like the suburban block parties of your youth — except it stretches for eight blocks in the middle of downtown and features more than 30 food vendors, live music, KCRW DJs and mural painting. In keeping with the block-party theme, two stages — the Front Yard and the Backyard — will provide continuous live entertainment culminating with a (legal!) rooftop firework display that will put your uncle's to shame. You can sprawl out on one of the many lawns with a picnic. Just don't try to bring any booze to the party — this is a dry event. Grand Park, 200 N. Grand Ave., downtown; Sat., July 4, 3-9:30 p.m.; free. grandparkla.org. —Sascha Bos

What better way to celebrate what unites America than with bikers, explosions and Elvis? The 89th annual Americafest features a daylong extravaganza of TNT Action Sportsmen performing death- and doctor-defying motorcycle stunts, as well as music to commemorate the fateful 50th anniversary of Elvis meeting The Beatles in Los Angeles. Ushering you further into the exciting evening, PyroSpectaculars by Souza will thrill/wow/jazz (circle one or more) you with the largest fireworks show in all of Southern California, just before a screening of Despicable Me 2. The Rose Bowl, 1001 Rose Bowl Drive, Pasadena; Sat., July 4, 2-10 p.m.; $13 general, $25 reserved. (626) 577-3100, rosebowlstadium.com. —David Cotner

The 'Murrica celebrations continue at Hollywood Forever Cemetery, aka tonight's honorary Danger Zone, where Top Gun, fireworks and other forms of patriotic revelry are being hosted by Cinespia. Curiously popular even now, some three decades after its initial release, the Tom Cruise vehicle led to a spike in sales of flight jackets and aviator sunglasses (thanks for that). It's a movie about dudes in the Air Force battling for supremacy of the sky, maybe? I don't know, I haven't actually seen it since I was a kid. Regardless, there are few better ways to celebrate one's independence than by watching an over-the-top classic, so go for it. Hollywood Forever Cemetery, 6000 Santa Monica Blvd., Hollywood; Sat., July 4, gates 7:15 p.m., movie 9 p.m.; $25. (323) 221-3343, cinespia.org. —Michael Nordine

sun 7/5

For the second installment of La Collectionneuse, a monthly salon in which cinephilia and Francophilia are one, Jacques Rivette's Duelle screens at Cinefamily. One of the French master's more fantastical offerings, it concerns two demigoddesses — Juliet Berto as Queen of the Night and Bulle Ogier as Queen of the Sun — engaging in combat for control of a mystical red diamond that will extend their stay on our humble planet. It was originally conceived as the first entry in an ambitiously outré four-part series called The Daughters of Fire, of which Rivette only managed to complete half before suffering a nervous breakdown and abandoning the project. Arrive promptly to the patio for fancy drinks, a photo booth, pleasant tunes and other like-minded patrons in French threads. Cinefamily/Silent Movie Theatre, 611 N. Fairfax Ave.; Fairfax; Sun., July 5, 6:30 p.m.; $12. (323) 655-2510, cinefamily.org. —Michael Nordine

Like Paris or New York but with way fewer berets, DTLA Paint Out turns the bustling sidewalks of the Historic Core into public art studios. Maybe it's the proliferation of architectural landmarks, but folks with easels aren't at all out of place. The recurring event is hosted by Raw Materials, the city's chillest indie art supply store and favorite of atelier and street practitioners alike. Known for events it sponsors (notably Friday Night Life Drawing at the Grand Central Market) as much as for its curated inventory, Raw Materials has a special fondness for plein air artists such as banks-on-fire painter Alex Schaefer, who leads today's group. Bring your own supplies, pick some up at the store or just follow the group and witness art coming to life amid life happening all around. (In full disclosure, the store has donated materials for L.A. Weekly's Artopia.) Raw Materials, 436 S. Main St., downtown; Sun., July 5, 1 p.m.; free. (800) 729-7060, facebook.com/rawmaterialsla. —Shana Nys Dambrot

mon 7/6

Hummingbird rehabilitator Terry Masear signs her new book, Fastest Things on Wings: Rescuing Hummingbirds in Hollywood. From her West Hollywood home, Masear fields calls from panic-stricken Angelenos who find hummingbirds orphaned or injured by animals or the weather. In the last 10 years, Masear has helped heal thousands of these winged creatures, including Gabriel, an Anna's hummingbird she spent four months nursing back to health after it collided with a limousine in Beverly Hills. Masear, who's also a professor of English as a second language at UCLA Extension, describes the birds' eating, mating and migratory habits, as well as some of their rescuers, who range from filmmakers and rock stars to construction workers. Book Soup, 8818 Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood; Mon., July 6, 7 p.m.; free, book is $25. (310) 659-3110, booksoup.com. —Siran Babayan

The first Japanese major leaguer: See Tuesday.
The first Japanese major leaguer: See Tuesday.
Photo by Robert Fitts

tue 7/7

Imagine being a 20-year-old baseball player from Japan sent to San Francisco in 1964 to play for the Giants. Masanori Murakami will tell you what it was all really like when he discusses his memoir, Mashi: The Unfulfilled Baseball Dreams of Masanori Murakami, the First Japanese Major Leaguer. Murakami could barely comprehend English when he was sent over as sort of a baseball exchange student, so you can also imagine what kind of complications — and disappointments — ensued during his whirlwind adventures before he was sent back home. Villalobos Hall, Whittier College, 13507 Earlham Drive, Whittier; Tue., July 7, 7:30 p.m.; free. (323) 660-1175, whittier.edu. —David Cotner

Does anyone embody the best and worst of Old Hollywood more than Judy Garland? A preternaturally gifted performer who was never made to feel entirely at home among the people she made rich, Garland lit up the screen like few others. Try not to let the behind-the-scenes bum you out too much during LACMA's matinee screening of Meet Me in St. Louis, a Vincente Minnelli musical considered one of its star's must-sees. LACMA, 5905 Wilshire Blvd., Mid-Wilshire; Tue., July 7, 1 p.m.; $5. (323) 857-6000, lacma.org. —Michael Nordine

Alluring depictions of French ballet dancers established Edgar Degas as the artist most associated with dance, but the intriguing centerpiece of "Degas: Russian Dancers and the Art of Pastel" captures an exuberant group of Ukrainian folk dancers. There's nothing dainty about these intense young women, who explode off the canvas in sun-drenched tones and with a sense of abandon, in contrast to earlier masterpieces of dainty, evanescent ballet dancers on the surrounding walls. Considered a masterpiece in its own right, Russian Dancers recalls a watershed moment for the artist and the art form of pastels, when Degas developed techniques that allowed layering of pastels to create denser effects than previously possible. Getty Center, 1200 Getty Center Drive, Brentwood; Tue.-Fri. & Sun., 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m.; Sat., 10 a.m.-9 p.m.; free entry, parking $15, $10 after 5 p.m. Exhibition runs through Oct. 11. (310) 440-7300, getty.edu. —Ann Haskins

Edgar Degas' Russian Dancers
Edgar Degas' Russian Dancers
Photo courtesy of the Getty Center

wed 7/8

USC Annenberg professor Josh Kun and Kogi BBQ founder and chef Roy Choi discuss To Live and Dine in L.A.: Menus and the Making of the Modern City. Tied to an exhibition at the Central Library downtown, the book chronicles more than 200 menus — some dating back to the 19th century — drawn from the thousands in the menu collection of the library and shows how the popularity of various foods and types of restaurants has evolved. Skylight Books, 1818 N. Vermont Ave., Los Feliz; Fri., July 17, 7:30 p.m.; free, book is $45. (323) 660-1175, skylightbooks.com. —David Cotner Note: this event has been rescheduled for the following week, and has been updated to reflect the new date, July 17

The South Bay Film Society continues to prove itself a force of cinematic good with its latest event, the U.S. premiere of A Brilliant Young Mind. About a math prodigy (Hugo's Asa Butterfield) lacking social skills, it's been met with unanimous praise since its premiere at last year's Toronto International Film Festival. The great Sally Hawkins co-stars. AMC Rolling Hills 20, 2591 Airport Drive, Torrance; Wed., July 8, 7:30 p.m.; $10. (310) 326-1167, southbayfilmsociety.com. —Michael Nordine

In 1964, the year the Civil Rights Act was passed, a National Urban League survey ranked Los Angeles as the most desirable city for African-Americans. In 1965, the Watts Riots took place. Josh Sides discusses how the city came to embody "both the best and the worst" for African-Americans escaping discrimination in the South and the rest of the country, in a program titled The Promises and Perils of Postwar Black Los Angeles. Sides is the Whitsett Professor of California History at Cal State Northridge and author of the 2006 book L.A. City Limits: African-American Los Angeles From the Great Depression to the Present. He lectures in conjunction with the museum's current exhibit, "Mark Bradford: Scorched Earth," which includes the L.A.-based artist's 12 paintings and a sound installation inspired by such early-'90s issues as the AIDS epidemic and the 1992 L.A. riots. Hammer Museum, 10899 Wilshire Blvd., Westwood; Wed., July 8, 7:30 p.m.; free. (310) 443-7000, hammer.ucla.edu—Siran Babayan

thu 7/9

We often sympathize with the types of people we see represented on screen, while those ignored by mainstream media remain invisible. Since 1982, Outfest has harnessed Hollywood's movie mania to celebrate LGBTQ representation in film. Starting tonight with Tig, the documentary tracing comedian Tig Notaro's battle with cancer (which she famously announced during a stand-up set), the festival spans 11 days of screenings and events. For instance, in Do I Sound Gay?, director David Thorpe tries to determine what a "gay voice" is, with help from friends such as David Sedaris. Sebastián Silva's Nasty Baby stars Kristen Wiig as the surrogate for a hip gay couple. Various L.A. locations; Thu.-Sun., July 9-19; $15 & $20. outfest.org. —Sascha Bos

Los Angeles Filmforum pays tribute to a key figure in underground/experimental filmmaking with Jack Smith: The Whole Fantasy. The program consists of three works clocking in at 3, 28 and 43 minutes, respectively: Scotch Tape, I Was a Male Yvonne De Carlo and Flaming Creatures. The last of these, still his best-known and most influential film, initially was deemed obscene and banned in several countries. As often happens with work of that nature, it's now regarded as a vital piece of art. Spielberg Theatre at the Egyptian, 6712 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood; Thu., July 9, 7:30 p.m.; $10. (323) 466-3456, lafilmforum.org. —Michael Nordine

For more things to do this week. see our stage, arts, film and music sections and visit laweekly.com/calendar.

Editor's note: This post has been updated to reflect that To Live and Dine in L.A.: Menus and the Making of the Modern City has been rescheduled


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