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

My Neighbor TotoroEXPAND
My Neighbor Totoro

fri 8/28

Since she broke out on E!'s Chelsea Lately, Whitney Cummings has stayed plenty busy subverting stereotypical relationship material on mainstream projects such as her self-titled NBC sitcom, Whitney. The Comedy Store regular, 2 Broke Girls co-creator/executive producer and dais denizen on Comedy Central's Roasts of Bob Saget, David Hasselhoff and Joan Rivers has only gotten sharper and more personal in the past few years. This weekend she films her third hourlong special, debuting next year on HBO (where she's also prepping a pilot based on 2005 Maureen Dowd best-seller Are Men Necessary?). Broad Stage, 1310 11th St., Santa Monica; Fri.-Sat., Aug. 28-29, 8 p.m.; $39.50. (310) 434-3200, thebroadstage.com/whitney_cummings/. —Julie Seabaugh

Begin the weekend with a smile and, perhaps, a tear. The Kid, one of Charlie Chaplin's most iconic films, screens at Old Town Music Hall. The writer-director-producer-editor-star's first full-length effort behind the camera remains a landmark of the silent era, its blend of lighthearted joy and tear-jerking sorrow as poignant as ever. In it, the Tramp, Chaplin's instantly recognizable screen persona, tries to take care of an abandoned child. Old Town Music Hall, 140 Richmond St., El Segundo; Fri.-Sat., Aug. 28-29, 8:15 p.m.; Sat.-Sun., Aug. 29-30, 2:30 p.m.; $10. (310) 322-2592, oldtownmusichall.org—Michael Nordine

Occidental College professor Allison de Fren leads an illustrated lecture called Enchantment of the Glass Armonica, on the history of a musical instrument invented by Benjamin Franklin in the 1760s. It was a sophisticated version of the old fingers-and-wineglasses trick, producing an eerie sound that inspired works by composers such as Mozart, Beethoven and Strauss. Later in the 18th century, physician Franz Anton Mesmer began using the glass armonica to mesmerize audiences and illusionist Étienne-Gaspard Robertson employed it in his Gothic horror entertainment show, The Phantasmagoria. Lynn Drye provides a live performance on the instrument that some have believed actually drives its players mad (see: Mr. Holmes). Velaslavasay Panorama, 1122 W. 24th St., West Adams; Fri.-Sat., Aug. 28-29, 8 p.m.; $15. Workshop on Sat., Aug. 29, 1 p.m., $20. (213) 746-2166, glassarmonica.bpt.me. —Tanja M. Laden

Upcoming Events

Whoever said Hollywood doesn't stand up for social justice should stop by the Grammy Museum this weekend. Friday night, the first event from Audible Impact: Music & Activism will feature performances by Bleachers, Andrew Dost, Lena Dunham, Carly Rae Jepsen, Alia Shawkat, Sarah Silverman and Reggie Watts to benefit LGBTQ youth. The next day, Blackout Festival, a music, movie and art celebration, will feature panels on social justice, storytelling and live performances by Lalah Hathaway, PJ and V Bozeman, alongside a screening of the Sundance Special Jury Prize winner 3½ Minutes, 10 Bullets, which chronicles the shooting of 17-year-old Jordan Davis. Grammy Museum, 800 W. Olympic Blvd., downtown; Audible Impact is Fri., Aug. 28, 8 p.m.; $65-$150. (213) 765-6800, grammy0x200Bmuseum.org. Blackout Festival is Sat., Aug. 29, noon; $10-$18. blackoutforhumanrights.com. —Sascha Bos

The "Alice: 150 Years of Wonderland" group exhibition, which opens tonight, is an early celebration of the 150th anniversary of the publication of Lewis Carroll's landmark book of fantasy and whimsy. Curator and Nickelodeon animator Nico Colaleo assembled this tribute by 50 artists in and around the animation industry, blending sense and nonsense with a cavalcade of mixed media devoted to Carroll's visionary weirdness. Expect free beer, wine, Wonderland-themed entertainment, surprises and photo opportunities. NerdMelt Showroom, 7522 Sunset Blvd., Hollywood; Fri., Aug. 28, 7-11 p.m.; free. (323) 851-7223, nerdmeltla.com. —David Cotner

Whitney Cummings
Whitney Cummings
Photo by Michael Muller

sat 8/29

The Scarlet Stone is a dance-theater performance in which ancient Persian mythology meets modern-day events; it chronicles the struggles of young Iranians fighting for democracy and justice. Based on the poem written by Iranian political activist Siavash Kasrai while in exile, which was itself inspired by Ferdowsi's Shahnameh (think a Middle Eastern version of The Odyssey), the performance features internationally renowned dancers mixed with real-time video animation. It was adapted, directed and composed by Shahrokh Yadegari, who was influenced by Iran's Green Movement, which launched protests after the 2009 election. The performance is in Persian with English subtitles. UCLA Royce Hall, 340 Royce Drive, Westwood; Sat., Aug. 29, 8 p.m.; $35-$120. (310) 825-4401, scarletstone.com. —Orly Minazad

Sofia Coppola stepped out of her family's long shadow when she stepped behind the camera to make The Virgin Suicides. Cinespia gives her directorial debut the Hollywood Forever treatment. Attempt, as have so many readers of Jeffrey Eugenides' elegiac novel and viewers of Coppola's fine adaptation, to find the pieces and put them back together. This is a mournful task with no possible happy ending, given how fragmented the Lisbon daughters are before we've even met them, yet it's difficult not to try. Hollywood Forever Cemetery, 6000 Santa Monica Blvd., Hollywood; Sat., Aug. 29, 9 p.m. (gates at 7:15); $15. (323) 221-3343, cinespia.org—Michael Nordine

Saturday's other film option takes place indoors and isn't much more upbeat: Little Man, What Now? and No Greater Glory, the latest double feature in UCLA's ongoing Frank Borzage retrospective. The first installment in the director's Weimar trilogy, Little Man finds Margaret Sullavan grinning and bearing the difficulties of everyday life in 1930s Germany — especially chilling considering the film was made in 1934 and didn't have the benefit of hindsight. Not part of the same triptych but certainly in its thematic orbit, the anti-war No Greater Glory shows the effect of battle lines on children as warring gangs of schoolkids vie for dominance over a vacant lot. Billy Wilder Theater, 10899 Wilshire Blvd., Westwood; Sat., Aug. 29, 7:30 p.m.; $10. (310) 206-8013, cinema.ucla.edu—Michael Nordine

The creative partnership and friendship of 1980s teen idols Corey Haim and Corey Feldman was fraught with tragedy that came to a head in their revealing reality show, The Two Coreys, and ended with Haim's death in 2010. Their on-screen charm, though, lives forever in Joel Schumacher's 1987 vampire flick, The Lost Boys. Beloved by many horror fans, the film brings together Haim as a new kid in a strange town and Feldman as a local wannabe hero; they bond over the vampire problem in fictional Santa Carla. Smart, funny and legitimately scary, the movie features a hip, young cast that includes Jason Patric, Kiefer Sutherland, Jami Gertz and a pre–Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure Alex Winter. Seeing this film in a cemetery will amp up your fear of immortal creeps. Gerard "G Tom Mac" McMann will be on hand to perform his memorable Lost Boys number "Cry Little Sister" before the screening. Sunnyside Cemetery, 1095 E. Willow St., Long Beach; Sat., Aug. 29, 6:30 p.m.; $12 (presale), $15 (on-site, cash only). (323) 428-7411, lbcinema.org. —Liz Ohanesian

Previously held in downtown and Hollywood, the latest installment of Casey Rup and Kevin Riggin's comedy/music/art mash-up, Super Tight, tonight makes its way to Cinefamily. The comedy portion features stand-up comic Jay Weingarten, DJ Douggpound of Tim & Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!, Alana Johnston singing selections from her album Self-Esteem Party and a musical by none other than writer-actor ("Star-Burns" on Community) Dino Stamatopoulos. TV Carnage's Derrick Beckles shows bad VHS video clips, Galen Pehrson screens an animated short and band KrOn play synth grooves. Following the performances, the theater's patio displays art installations by Thom Rugo, Kytten Janae, Jeannette Bonds, Angela Stempel and Johnny Woods, in addition to food curated by Cinefamily chef Gary Campbell. Cinefamily/Silent Movie Theatre, 611 N. Fairfax Ave., Fairfax; Sat., Aug. 29, 9:30 p.m.; $12. (323) 655-2510, cinefamily.org. —Siran Babayan

The Kid

sun 8/30

The San Fernando Valley Comic Book Convention has an intimate, old-timey vibe, with hourly raffles, dozens of vendors and a spate of golden-age and silver-age comics, along with free pizza for the first 100 paid attendees. Special guests include retired policeman Ken Osmond, who played Eddie Haskell on Leave It to Beaver. Scott Tracy Griffin, an expert on the work of Edgar Rice Burroughs, also makes an appearance, as does Lana Wood, aka Plenty O'Toole in the 1971 James Bond film Diamonds Are Forever. The original model for Disney's Tinker Bell, Margaret Kerry, also stops by, along with other special guests. It's like a mini San Diego Comic-Con right in our own backyard. Granada Pavilion, 11128 Balboa Blvd., Granada Hills; Sun., Aug. 30, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.; $5, kids under 12 free. (661) 253-1284, facebook.com/SanFernandoValleyComicBookConvention —Tanja M. Laden

Need some cookbooks to help deal with the overflow of late-summer produce? The Culinary Historians of Southern California's annual used cookbook sale is, conveniently, at the Hollywood Farmers Market. This is the place to find rare and classic cookbooks, magazines and other food-related ephemera. All sales benefit the Los Angeles Public Library's culinary collections, which are among the best in the world, and the source of the library's popular "To Live and Dine in L.A." exhibit, on view through Nov. 13. Hollywood Farmers Market, 1600 Ivar Ave., Hollywood; Sun., Aug. 30, 8 a.m.; free. chscsite.org. —Sascha Bos

Courtesy of Studio Ghibli and the Aero, a cheerful palate cleanser in the form of My Neighbor Totoro. The eponymous creature is one of the most beloved in the world of animation — ditto director Hayao Miyazaki. We should all be so lucky as Satsuki and Mei, two young sisters whose new house sits at the edge of a forest containing not only the friendly Totoro but other spirits as well. This is the dubbed version, not the subtitled Japanese version. Aero Theatre, 1328 Montana Ave., Santa Monica; Sun., Aug. 30, 3 p.m.; $11. (323) 466-3456, americancinemathequecalendar.com—Michael Nordine

Words such as "enigmatic" and "haunting" were coined so that they might one day describe 3 Women, Robert Altman's psychodrama starring Sissy Spacek and Shelley Duvall. They are phenomenal as co-workers turned roommates, starting out friendly but growing wary of one another in increasingly strange ways. (The story came to Altman in a dream, which shows in the best possible way.) Cinefamily/Silent Movie Theatre, 611 N. Fairfax Ave., Fairfax; Sun., Aug. 30, 7:30 p.m.; $12. (323) 655-2510, cinefamily.org—Michael Nordine

3 Women
3 Women

mon 8/31

The new monthly storytelling salon Origin Story carries on comic book movies' grand tradition of focusing on a person's beginnings. Hosted by Moth GrandSLAM winner Margot Leitman, the evening of exposition and exultation will include stories from voice-over actress and comedian Andrée Vermeulen, America's Funniest Home Videos' Jennifer Semler, actor and comic Jonathan Braedley Welch, Jacob Reed of the improv group Bangarang! and Heather Sundell of the L.A. Times. UCB Sunset, 5419 Sunset Blvd., Hollywood; Mon., Aug. 31, 8:30 p.m.; $5. (323) 908-8702, sunset.ucbtheatre.com. —David Cotner

tue 9/1

Quentin Tarantino has long been vocal about his love for A Fistful of Dollars and the entire Man With No Name trilogy of which it's a part, so the fact that Sergio Leone's spaghetti Western is playing all week long at the New Beverly is little surprise. Some of the movies it's being paired with are pleasantly surprising, however, namely Cry of a Prostitute. The Italian gangster drama concerns a former lady of the night who teams with an assassin in order to end a gang war once and for all. New Beverly Cinema, 7165 Beverly Blvd., Fairfax; Tue., Sept. 1, 7:30 p.m.; $10. (323) 938-4038, thenewbev.com—Michael Nordine

New York City summers in L.A. as American Ballet Theatre dances Leonard Bernstein and Jerome Robbins' exuberant Fancy Free, following three WWII sailors on leave in New York City — the origin of the Broadway musical turned Gene Kelly/Frank Sinatra movie On the Town. With the video monitors, even the cheap seats can view ABT stars Marcelo Gomes, Gillian Murphy and recently promoted principal Stella Abrera. Before the intermission, hear more Big Apple music as Audra McDonald croons Broadway classics. Hollywood Bowl, 2301 Highland Ave., Hollywood; Tue. & Thu., Sept. 1 & 3, 8 p.m.; $1-$144. (323) 850-2000, hollywoodbowl.com. —Ann Haskins

wed 9/2

M. Night Shyamalan's cultural cachet isn't what it once was, but his name elicits curiosity nonetheless. His latest, horror flick The Visit, is screening for free at USC in advance of its theatrical release. Two siblings sent to their grandparents' place find that all is not well with their elders and that leaving their room after 9:30 is most ill-advised. USC, 900 W. 34th St., University Park; Wed., Sept. 2, 7 p.m.; free, RSVP required. (213) 740-2804, cinema.usc.edu. —Michael Nordine

Ryan Berg discusses his experiences with LGBTQ homeless teens in New York and his debut book, No House to Call My Home: Love, Family and Other Transgressions, with Carlos Sosa of local community organization C.I.T.Y. x1. Of the more than 4,000 homeless teens in New York, roughly 40 percent are identified as queer. Berg introduces readers to eight such disowned and abused kids he knew while working as a residential counselor in a group home and as a caseworker. Berg also probes the foster care system and how youth are "aged out" of it, often forcing them to enter a life of sex work, drugs or crime. Book Soup, 8818 Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood; Wed., Sept. 2, 7 p.m.; free, book is $25.99. (310) 659-3110, booksoup.com. —Siran Babayan

thu 9/3

Indie filmmaker, actress, performance artist and writer Miranda July signs her latest book, The First Bad Man. Published earlier this year, July's story centers on protagonist Cheryl Glickman, a lonely, repressed 40-something woman who lives alone, has sexual fantasies about a co-worker and dreams of a baby boy she's convinced she met when she was 6. This is July's first novel following her 2007 short-story collection, No One Belongs Here More Than You, and a decade after she marked another first in her career, her feature film debut, 2005's Cannes- and Sundance-winning Me and You and Everyone We Know. Book Soup, 8818 Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood; Thu., Sept. 3, 7 p.m.; free, book is $16. (310) 659-3110, booksoup.com. —Siran Babayan

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