Akin to a sought-after pop-up restaurant, Heidi Duckler and her Heidi Duckler Dance Theatre intermittently surface to guide audiences on an always delicious exploration of lesser-known but meaningful L.A. cultural sites. In Chinatown Blues, this band of dancers, actors, singers and musicians explores the area immediately northeast of downtown once identified as an Italian neighborhood and then as New Chinatown — it's now just referred to as Chinatown. Live music by French-Canadian band Claire Gignac et compagnie accompanies HDDT's exploration of an under-construction building as this neighborhood continues to evolve. 837 N. Spring St., Chinatown; Fri.-Sat., May 29-30, 8:30 p.m.; $50, $25 students. bit.ly/chinatownblues. —Ann Haskins
There was a time, dear reader, when revisionist Westerns weren't more common than straightforward oaters. John Ford helped define both strains of that most persistent genre, blurring the lines between the two with The Searchers, which the Aero is playing along with Budd Boetticher's The Tall T. John Wayne was never better than in his performance as a Civil War vet whose tireless quest to rescue his kidnapped niece (played by Natalie Wood) brings out both the best and worst in him. Based on an Elmore Leonard story, The Tall T tells of a rancher who likewise gets held hostage and falls in love with a fellow kidnapee in the process. Aero Theatre, 1328 Montana Ave., Santa Monica; Fri., May 29, 7:30 p.m.; $11. (323) 466-3456, americancinemathequecalendar.com.
La Collectioneuse, a monthly series at Cinefamily devoted to the cinema and culture of France, begins with short films by Marc Caro and Jeanne-Pierre Jeunet as well as their 1995 collaboration, City of Lost Children. The film is about a scientist who, in a desperate attempt to prolong his own life and arrest the aging process, kidnaps children in order to extract their dreams. Postscreening conversations, installations and drinks on the patio are an integral part of La Collectioneuse, so come prepared. Cinefamily/Silent Movie Theatre, 611 N. Fairfax Ave., Fairfax; Fri., May 29, 9:30 p.m.; $12. (323) 655-2510, cinefamily.org.
There will be plenty of tassel-twirling and booty-shaking at the Burlypicks California Regional competition, but that's not the only thing the annual event has to offer. Expect everything from the classic tease to oddball variety acts, packed into YouTube-friendly segments for this celebration of old-school nightclub entertainment. The 2015 competitors include plenty of local burlesque talent, such as "the Lost Ziegfield Girl," Iza La Vamp, and Leggy Lass Greenleaf, who is bound to get Tolkien fanatics in her corner. Certainly there will be some unusual takes on burlesque here; last year's winner, Nikita Bitch Project, is known for her Michael Jackson and Godzilla routines, and this year's contestants don't play it safe. The champ will advance to the Burlypicks finals, set to take place in Los Angeles in September. Fais Do-Do, 5253 W. Adams Blvd., West Adams; Fri., May 29, 9 p.m.; $12-$20. (323) 931-4636, burlypicks.com. —Liz Ohanesian
The L.A. Phil's Next on Grand series continues with a forward-looking program exploring the potential of new musical and visual technology and arrangement strategies. Gustavo Dudamel conducts the Phil in the world premiere of electric guitarist/composer Steven Mackey's Mnemosyne's Pool, a heavily percussive orchestration inspired by the titular Greek goddess of memory, which highlights the role of memory in musical creation and reception. Brad Lubman conducts New York's Ensemble Signal in composer Steve Reich and visual artist Beryl Korot's Three Tales (non-orchestral), a three-act video opera about advancing technology, combining projections with live performers. Walt Disney Concert Hall, 111 S. Grand Ave., downtown; Fri., May 29, 8 p.m.; $65-$197. (323) 850-2000, laphil.com. —John Payne
Being told that Vertigo is widely considered the greatest film of all time may give the impression that it's an old, lifeless bore to which it's difficult to devote one's attention for two hours. The reality is something altogether different. Few movies are as vibrant as Alfred Hitchcock's meticulously crafted tale of mistaken identity, with Jimmy Stewart as a retired detective and Kim Novak as the object of his affection-turned-obsession. Between the VistaVision cinematography and Bernard Herrmann's benchmark score, Vertigo remains a singularly hypnotizing blend of sight and sound. Hollywood Forever Cemetery, 6000 Santa Monica Blvd., Hollywood; Sat., May 30, 8:30 p.m.; $14. (323) 221-3343, cinespia.org.
There's pop surrealism, there's lowbrow — and then there's whatever painter and cat fancier Anthony Ausgang is up to. His wildly colorful, hyper-patterned, superflat cosmic Catascopes would be totally abstract were it not for the omnipresence of cartoon cats to lend them space and scale for context. Rendered with the same exaggerated mannerism as their surroundings, these cats are indeed curious. Sleek, flirtatious, mischievous, the felines are largely metaphors for the artist's experience of the random world we inhabit. And tonight's opening promises plenty of randomness — including a special performance by Ausgang's fancy rock band, Cat Museum. Copro Gallery, Bergamot Station Art Center, 2525 Michigan Ave., T5, Santa Monica; Sat., May 30, 8-11:30 p.m.; free. Exhibition continues Wed.-Sat, 1-6 p.m., through June 20. (310) 829-2156, copronason.com. —Shana Nys Dambrot
Atlas Obscura is a website that lists the world's most unusual locations, and it's putting on a worldwide celebration of interesting places with events in numerous cities, including Los Angeles. More than a dozen happenings take place here on Obscura Day 2015, including a Jeepney tour of Historic Filipinotown, a falconry adventure in Palmdale and a visit to the Dapper Cadaver prop house in Sun Valley. The city's own urban-exploration organization, Obscura Society L.A., is hosting sojourns to the International Printing Museum in Carson, the Valley Relics Museum in Chatsworth and the Bunny Museum in Pasadena, among many others. Various locations in Los Angeles County; Sat., May 30, 5 a.m.-9 p.m.; $5-$45. firstname.lastname@example.org, atlasobscura.com/obscuraday2015. —Tanja M. Laden
Dwell on Design Los Angeles celebrates its 10th anniversary and once again transforms the L.A. Convention Center's nearly 3,000 square feet into what it says is the largest design event in the country. Organized by Dwell magazine, the three-day event features 400 exhibitors and 250-plus speakers and presenters across three stages, including Dutch designer and keynote speaker Marcel Wanders, Moby, Ed Begley Jr., Micky Dolenz, Mark Mothersbaugh, Nate Berkus, David Bromstad, Frances Anderton and Charles Phoenix. The schedule also features a pop-up store, film screenings, themed pavilions and awards, in addition to workshops and panels on topics ranging from "Creating the Ultimate Smart Home" to "Revitalizing the L.A. River." Los Angeles Convention Center, 1201 S. Figueroa St., downtown; Fri., May 29, 10 a.m.-7 p.m.; Sat., May 30, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; Sun., May 31, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; $35 in advance, $40 at the door. (213) 741-1151, dwellondesign.com. —Siran Babayan
It's hard to believe that this year marks the 17th annual Bats Day in the Fun Park weekend. The event had its humble beginnings when 80-odd goths showed up to Disneyland one day; it has now become a three-day extravaganza attended by thousands. What to expect: The Happy Haunts Swinging Wake: A Costumed Celebration, which involves you dressing up as some creature from the Eldritch realms; Gallery999's "Through a Child's Eyes" Haunted Mansion–themed art show; and today's closing trip to Disneyland. Just because your life is dark doesn't mean you can't occasionally enjoy the crepuscular rays that are the magic of Disney. Sheraton Hotel at the Anaheim Resort, 1855 S. Harbor Blvd., Anaheim; and Disneyland, 1313 Disneyland Drive, Anaheim; Fri-Sun., May 29-31; $60-$135. (813) 922-8799, batsday.com. —David Cotner
UCLA's William A. Wellman, Hollywood Rebel retrospective presents Beggars of Life and Wild Boys of the Road in the Billy Wilder Theater. The latter is a particularly moving coming-of-age story about three youths (two boys and a girl dressed as a boy) eking out a meager existence on their own and trying to save enough money to help their parents as well. A sly endorsement of FDR's New Deal policies, it's also an immensely moving story of lost youth. Also, it's less than 70 minutes long. UCLA's Billy Wilder Theater, 10899 Wilshire Blvd., Westwood; Sun., May 31, 7 p.m.; $10. (310) 206-8013, cinema.ucla.edu.
Along with the Art Directors Guild Film Society and The Hollywood Reporter, the American Cinematheque screens An American in Paris as part of Worlds Built to Order: Art Directors Guild Film Society Series 2015. Vincente Minnelli's Best Picture–winning adaptation of the Gershwin composition stars Gene Kelly as an expat painter who falls in love in the City of Lights. Along with Leslie Caron, Kelly cuts a rug in one of the most famous dance sequences in film. Egyptian Theatre, 6712 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood; Sun., May 31, 7:30 p.m.; $11. (323) 466-3456, americancinemathequecalendar.com.
James Benning has made more than 20 films of varying length since Los Angeles Filmforum first held a retrospective devoted to his work in 1998; he's also been the joint subject of a documentary, Double Play: James Benning and Richard Linklater. His new feature, natural history, came about after he was granted access to the Museum of Natural History Vienna's storage rooms for 13 consecutive days; it's edited based on the first 27 digits of pi. (Note: Benning will not be able to attend, despite an earlier announcement from the venue that he would.) Spielberg Theatre at the Egyptian, 6712 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood; Sun., May 31, 7:30 p.m.; $10. (323) 466-3456, lafilmforum.org.
To address the sadness spurred by seeing old places get demolished in our fair city, Zócalo presents Is L.A.'s Past Worth Saving? Moderated by KCRW's Saul Gonzalez, it's a conversation about the loss of sites such as Ray Bradbury's home or that last Queen Anne mansion in Bunker Hill. It's also the launch of the Getty and the city's new preservation initiative, HistoricPlacesLA — a website that aims to comprehensively chronicle the endangered city. The panel will include L.A. Weekly's own Dennis Romero, Libros Schmibros' David Kipen, KCET's Lynell George, crime novelist Denise Hamilton and L.A. Office of Historic Resources manager Ken Bernstein. The Plaza on Olvera Street, El Pueblo de Los Angeles, 845 N. Alameda St., downtown; Mon., June 1, 7:30 p.m.; free. (213) 485-6855, zocalopublicsquare.org/event/?postId=59741. —David Cotner
The New Bev hosts lesser-known films from Brian De Palma and Martin Scorsese, respectively: Get to Know Your Rabbit and Boxcar Bertha. A rare comedy and De Palma's first foray into studio filmmaking — Warner Bros. gave him the gig after seeing his film Greetings — Get to Know Your Rabbit tells of a corporate exec who gives up his life to pursue his real passions: tap dancing and magic. Barbara Hershey and David Carradine play a train-robbing duo in Boxcar Bertha, Scorsese's second feature, which is set in the South during the Depression. New Beverly Cinema, 7165 Beverly Blvd., Fairfax; Mon., June 1, 7:30 p.m.; $8. (323) 938-4038, thenewbev.com. —Michael Nordine
What will become of Captain Holt and Gina? Who will be the precinct's new captain? Will Jake and Amy finally hook up? With the recent season-two finale of Fox's cop comedy Brooklyn Nine-Nine, fans were left with a lot of questions. Luckily for them, UCB hosts this panel discussion, moderated by The League actor Jason Mantzoukas, with the show's cast and crew, including Andy Samberg, Chelsea Peretti, Terry Crews, Melissa Fumero, Stephanie Beatriz, Joel McKinnon Miller, Dirk Blocker and co-creators Dan Goor and Michael Shur. Maybe now you can find out why Sergeant Jeffords named his twin girls Cagney and Lacey. UCB Sunset, 5419 W. Sunset Blvd., Hollywood; Tue., June 2, 8:30 p.m.; $5. (323) 908-8702, sunset.ucbtheatre.com. —Siran Babayan
Gavin. Headcrusher. The Chicken Lady. And everybody's favorite gay, lisping barfly, Buddy Cole ("Such a lot of fuss over a few extra s's"). These are characters fans of The Kids in the Hall know and love, and tonight, they might be introduced to a few new ones. It's been more than six years since the beloved Canadian comedy troupe's last major tour. And Dave Foley, Kevin McDonald, Scott Thompson, Mark McKinney and Bruce McCulloch (who's also reading from his book Let's Start a Riot: How a Young Drunk Punk Became a Hollywood Dad Monday at Skylight Books) would be forgiven if they lay off any hashtag references. Jokes can become dated. Characters last forever. The Theatre at Ace Hotel, 929 S. Broadway, downtown; Tue., June 2, 8 p.m.; $49.50. (213) 623-3233, acehotel.com. —Siran Babayan
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Mark Haskell Smith discusses his new book, Naked at Lunch: A Reluctant Nudist's Adventures in the Clothing-Optional World, with L.A. Times book editor David Ulin. Smith embarks on a personal quest to explore the appeal and history of nudism dating back to ancient Greece. He looks at public indecency laws, namely San Francisco's ban on nudity passed in 2013. Smith also interviews academics and folks who live in the buff, and does as the Romans do, traveling from SoCal to the South of France (including an entire town in Spain that's clothing-optional), where he goes to nude beaches, resorts, cruises and even hikes in his birthday suit. Vroman's, 695 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena; Wed., June 3, 7 p.m.; free. (626) 449-5320, vromansbookstore.com. —Siran Babayan
Lou Ureneck, a Boston University journalism professor, discusses his new book, The Great Fire: One American's Mission to Rescue Victims of the 20th Century's First Genocide. Ureneck recounts the little-known story of Rev. Asa J. Jennings, a Methodist minister from New York working for the YMCA, who arrived in Smyrna in 1922 during the Greco-Turkish War. The predominantly Christian port city, located in modern-day Turkey, was home to Greek and Armenian refugees fleeing Turkish soldiers, who set fire to the city, killing thousands. Though the United States and other countries were unwilling to intervene, Jennings, with the aid of other Americans, orchestrated the evacuation of more than 250,000 of the refugees. Vroman's, 695 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena; Thu., June 4, 7 p.m.; free. (626) 449-5320, vromansbookstore.com. —Siran Babayan
For more events see our arts, music, stage and film sections and visit laweekly.com/calendar.