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

The Petersen Automotive Museum's reopening with a whole new look.
The Petersen Automotive Museum's reopening with a whole new look.
Courtesy of the Petersen Museum


fri 12/4

In case you don't know what to get your favorite tin-pot despot for the holidays, here's a playbook for the next crackdown: Director Michael Moore appears in person for a Q&A following the screening of his latest documentary, Where to Invade Next. Moore, playing proxy invader for American interests, interacts with common citizens of other countries to find out which are ripest for plunder and exploitation. With Moore's trademark anger simmering just beneath his avuncular surface, Where to Invade Next is a playful, empathetic counterpoint to the grim events unspooling in Paris, Brussels and elsewhere. (Moore also will appear with the film, plus his debut, Roger & Me, Sun., Dec. 6, at 6 p.m. at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood.) Ray Stark Family Theatre, SCA 108, George Lucas Bldg., USC, 900 W. 34th St., University Park; Fri., Dec. 4, 2 p.m.; free with RSVP. (213) 740-2804, cinema.usc.edu/events. —David Cotner

Check into the Nuart's midnight screening of Psycho on 35mm. Those who've seen it already know that, however great Vera Farmiga may be in the TV series based on Alfred Hitchcock's masterwork, there's nothing like the expectation-defying, standard-setting original; for those who've yet to meet Norman and his mother, well, rest assured that there's always a vacancy at the Bates Motel. Nuart Theatre, 11272 Santa Monica Blvd., West L.A.; Fri., Dec. 4, 11:59 p.m.; $11. (310) 473-8530, landmarktheatres.com. —Michael Nordine

sat 12/5

Sick of the film-industry patriarchy? Head to Hollywood for Moonfaze Feminist Film Festival, a one-day short-film event spotlighting female narratives and feminist viewpoints from around the globe. Take the uncanny for a spin in Cecilia Rowlson Hall's experimental dance short Prom Night, or join Roller Coaster's aspiring-actress protagonist for a farcical run-in with Murphy's Law. The evening kicks off with a two-hour open-bar reception where cinephiles will have a chance to mingle, enjoy local bites and brews, and snag a souvenir from the pop-up shop. L.A. Mother, 1627 N. Gower St., Suites 3-4, Hollywood; Sat., Dec. 5, 5 p.m.; $20. (323) 469-1822, moonfaze.lamother.com. —Lucy Tiven

Convinced that this is the year you will finally go DIY for the holidays? Head to Self Help Graphics & Art's Holiday Marketplace for an afternoon packed with demos. From doll making to collage to button making, there's a tutorial to help make your holiday season artier. Make sure to check out the printing demos, where artists will collaborate with chefs to make some unusual pieces. If the thought of making things this holiday season is overwhelming, fear not. Lots of artists and vendors will be on hand with gifts you can buy. Self Help Graphics & Art, 1300 E. First St., Boyle Heights; Sat., Dec. 5, noon-5 p.m.; free. (323) 881-6444, selfhelpgraphics.com. —Liz Ohanesian

Arguing about Love Actually long ago became more interesting than actually watching Love Actually; whether you consider it a timeless romance or deeply offputting may say more about you than it does about the movie, making this apparent classic something of a rom-com Rorschach test. Thanks to Electric Dusk, you'll have the opportunity to debate its merits from the comfort of your own car, preferably with someone whom God only knows what you'd do without. Electric Dusk Drive-In, 1000 San Julian St., downtown; Sat., Dec. 5, 5 p.m.; $9 lawn, $13 car, $55 VIP. (818) 653-8591, electricduskdrivein.com. —Michael Nordine

If you weren't trampled on Black Friday and are still in need of holiday gift ideas, ditch the mall in favor of the one-stop-shop convenience of the L.A. Gadget Expo. The inaugural event will be chockablock with exhibitors selling the latest in home, fitness, family, outdoors, transportation and mobile gizmos, from electric skateboards, portable shelves and laser flares to every type of "smart" device, including ones that track not only your health but also your dog's whereabouts. For tech dummies, the expo also hosts demos, speakers and testing stations, in addition to entertainment, giveaways and food trucks. The Reef, 1933 S. Broadway Ave., downtown; Sat.-Sun., Dec. 5-6, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; $10 presale, $15 at the door. (800) 526-2784, lagadgetexpo.com. —Siran Babayan

You'll need to wear a hazmat suit just to flip through Let There Be GWAR, a coffee table book offering the definitive history of the world's scariest, most theatrical metal band. The book, from author Roger Gastman and Bob Gorman, a member of the Slave Pit (Gwar's art collective and production company), traces the group's origins to a bottling factory in Richmond, Virginia, in the mid-'80s, and details its lineup changes, discography, tours, videos, troubles with the law and quasi-mainstream success in the '90s, thanks to Jerry Springer, Joan Rivers, Beavis and Butt-head, a couple of Hollywood movies and even a Grammy nomination. The tome is heavy with fliers, comics, backstage passes, fan mail and member interviews, as well as a preface by MTV News host and surprising super fan Kurt Loder. Gwar co-founder Hunter Jackson signs the book. La Luz de Jesus Gallery, 4633 Hollywood Blvd., Los Feliz; Sat., Dec. 5, 7-10 p.m.; free. laluzdejesus.com. —Siran Babyan

Cinefamily has been known to unearth singularly odd and/or obscure fare from time to time, but Dangerous Men sounds like it's on its own level. Alluringly described by the theater's programming notes as "THE holiest of all Holyfuckingshits," the whatsit was seen by a mere 50 or so people during its initial theatrical run here in Los Angeles a decade ago — which is to say, this one screening will more than likely double the total number of Angelenos ever to have seen the late John S. Rad's genre-melding curio. Cinefamily/Silent Movie Theatre, 611 N. Fairfax Ave., Fairfax; Sat., Dec. 5, 11:59 p.m.; $12. (323) 655-2510, cinefamily.org. —Michael Nordine

Angel City Chorale celebrate diversity every day — and for the holidays.
Angel City Chorale celebrate diversity every day — and for the holidays.
Photo by Linda Weiss

sun 12/6

Tonight, Judd Apatow has two reasons to celebrate: He had a good year, thanks to his Amy Schumer–starring comedy, Trainwreck, and though this show is billed as The 48th Annual Judd Apatow and Friends Birthday Spectacular & Show, it's really Apatow's 48th birthday. For more than a year now, the director has been hosting and performing in the semi-regular comedy show–for-a-cause at Largo, featuring the likes of Adam Sandler, Louis C.K., Zach Galifianakis, Sarah Silverman, Ray Romano, Lena Dunham, David Spade, Beck, Jackson Browne and others, with proceeds from each night benefiting a different charity. Helping to blow out the candles and raise money for nonprofit Connecting to Cure Crohn's and Colitis will be Jakob Dylan, Paul Williams, Maria Bamford and guests. Largo at the Coronet, 366 N. La Cienega Blvd., Beverly Grove; Sun., Dec. 6, 7 p.m.; $100. largo-la.com. —Siran Babayan

Around this time of year, we're up to our eyeballs in holiday concerts, but at Sing Joy, the 150-plus members of Angel City Chorale are lifting their voices to celebrate diversity, too. Performance features holiday songs from American, African, Jewish, Middle Eastern, South American and British traditions. And there's a dessert reception after each show. L.A. is a beautifully diverse city — and that's something to sing about. Wilshire United Methodist Church, 4350 Wilshire Blvd., Mid-Wilshire; Sat.-Sun., Dec. 5-6, 7 p.m.; $35. (310) 943-9231, angelcitychorale.org. —Gwynedd Stuart

For something a bit more low-key, delve into the early years of America's independent film movement with Wanda and Shadows at UCLA. Actress-turned-filmmaker Barbara Loden was the first woman to write, direct and star in a feature film, but this portrait of a wayward housewife in Pennsylvania (a prize winner at 1970's Venice Film Festival) was the only movie she completed before her untimely death. Shadows also was made by an actor-turned-director, namely the inimitable John Cassavetes, though he went on to make many more, including HusbandsA Woman Under the Influence and Opening Night. His debut shows signs of the greatness to come in those works. UCLA's Billy Wilder Theater, 10899 Wilshire Blvd., Westwood; Sun., Dec. 6, 7 p.m.; $10. (310) 206-8013, cinema.ucla.edu. —Michael Nordine

Upcoming Events

mon 12/7

Ethnic studies has of late been a hot-button topic in Arizona, where Mexican-American studies are effectively banned. For Ernie Bustamante, the issue hits close to home. He grew up in Tucson and went on to major in ethnic studies at Stanford before settling in L.A. So the writer, an alum of the prestigious ABC/Disney Writing Fellowship program, has created Banned in Tucson, a politically minded sketch-comedy show that makes its debut at UCB Sunset on Monday with director John Lopez and an ethnically diverse cast. UCB Theatre, 5419 Sunset Blvd., Hollywood; Mon., Dec. 7, 5:30 p.m.; $5; (323) 908-8702, bannedintucson.com. —Liz Ohanesian

Ben Rivers is among the most exciting avant-garde filmmakers working today, melding experimental techniques onto a narrative framework like few others. This has garnered him a host of prizes at prestigious film festivals the world over but little in the way of theatrical distribution, which means that the L.A. premiere of his latest, The Sky Trembles and the Earth Is Afraid and the Two Eyes Are Not Brothers, may be the last time it plays locally anytime soon. Rivers will attend the screening. REDCAT, 631 W. Second St., downtown; Mon., Dec. 7, 8:30 p.m.; $11. (213) 237-2800, redcat.org. —Michael Nordine

Though its new façade is being called everything from awesome to an eyesore, one of the world's largest automobile museums is finally reopening after a yearlong, $125 million renovation. The Petersen Automotive Museum's exterior is now overlaid with more than 300 stainless-steel ribbons and LED lights against a red backdrop. With 10,000 square feet of added space, visitors can wander through three themed floors featuring 25 new interactive galleries, including Rolling Sculpture; Precious Metal; Forza Motorsports Racing Experience; BMW & the Art of the Automobile; Howlin': Vehicles From the Nearburg Collection; and the Disney/Pixar Cars Mechanical Institute, with narration from the movie's characters. There's also the museum's famed Vault (tours start in January), which houses Henry Ford II's Ferrari, Steve McQueen's Jaguar XKSS, Saddam Hussein's 1978 Mercedes-Benz 600 Landaulet and the Shah of Iran's 1939 Bugatti. Petersen Automotive Museum, 6060 Wilshire Blvd., Mid-Wilshire; opening day Mon., Dec. 7, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; $15, $12 seniors & students, children $7, under 3 free. (323) 930-2277, petersen.org. —Siran Babyan

The Loved One celebrates its 50th anniversary at the Egyptian with a special appearance by star Robert Morse, more recently known to fans of prestige television as Mad Men's Burt Cooper. Based on Evelyn Waugh's satirical novel about the funeral industry in L.A., the black-and-white comedy was long considered unfilmable before director Terry Richardson got to it. Arrive early for a pre-screening reception at 6 as well as an illustrated presentation on the filming locations, then stay after to hear Morse discuss the film. Egyptian Theatre, 6712 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood; Mon., Dec. 7, 8 p.m.; $11. (323) 466-3456, americancinemathequecalendar.com. —Michael Nordine

Barbara Loden wrote, directed and stars in Wanda.
Barbara Loden wrote, directed and stars in Wanda.

tue 12/8

As community awareness goes, few people are as devoted to their surroundings as Patricia Lombard — see why when she discusses her new book, Larchmont ($22, Arcadia Books). Lombard, publisher of the Larchmont Buzz, has devoted herself, since moving to the area in 1989, to chronicling the development of the densely populated half-square-mile enclave. Throughout 128 pages, you'll see rare historical images — such as the Larchmont Theatre and the streetcars that ran past it — and when she's done, you can walk right up the street and have scones, because like any well-rounded neighborhood, it's all right there. Chevalier's Books, 126 N. Larchmont Blvd., Koreatown; Tue., Dec. 8, 7 p.m.; free. (323) 465-1334, chevaliersbooks.com. —David Cotner

wed 12/9

Forty-five years ago, activists decided that social justice at home meant more than dying in Vietnam, so the Chicano Moratorium was launched. It was a movement that led tens of thousands to march in protest — until the police response resulted in the deaths of four people, including Mexican-American journalist Ruben Salazar. In tonight's East Los Angeles and the Chicano Moratorium program, three films show the event and its aftermath: Cinco Vidas (1973), about five ordinary locals; Murals of East Los Angeles (1977); and The Chicano Moratorium: A Question of Freedom (1971) by Loyola Marymount student Thomas Myrdahl, filmed on the ground as the chaos unfolded. Billy Wilder Theatre, Hammer Museum, 10899 Wilshire Blvd., Westwood; Wed., Dec. 9, 7:30 p.m.; free. (310) 443-7000, cinema.ucla.edu/events/2015/12/09/east-los-angeles-and-chicano-moratorium. —David Cotner

The Black Version is that rare marvel of comedy that not only draws you into the sketch but also artfully makes you reconsider what you thought you knew about its subject matter. Premise is simple: The audience suggests a film, and the comedians of color improvise their own version. Created by Jordan Black at the Groundlings, its cast — comedy veterans Daniele Gaither, Phil LaMarr, Gary Anthony Williams and Cedric Yarbrough — are joined on occasion by everyone from Key & Peele to Wayne Brady. Bresha Webb, whom you may have seen playing doctors on NBC's ER and Truth Be Told, is part of this holiday special. Largo at the Coronet, 366 N. La Cienega Blvd., Beverly Grove; Wed., Dec. 9, 7 p.m.; $30. (310) 855-0350, largo-la.com. —David Cotner

Speaking of last chances, The Look of Silence plays the Aero several months after the conclusion of its theatrical run. Joshua Oppenheimer's remarkable follow-up to The Act of Killing takes a look at the Indonesian genocide from the victims' perspective rather than the perpetrators', and is even more devastating for its grounded view. Oppenheimer will be present for a Q&A following the screening, which should be well worth sticking around for — he's one of the most eloquent filmmakers you're likely to hear speak about his own work. Aero Theatre, 1328 Montana Ave., Santa Monica; Wed., Dec. 9, 7:30 p.m.; $11. (323) 466-3456, americancinemathequecalendar.com. —Michael Nordine

thu 12/10

Tonight's screening of Killer of Sheep marks the final edition of Metro Art's fall film series in collaboration with Echo Park Film Center. Directed by Charles Burnett on location in Watts for less than $10,000, the film tells the story of Stan, whose inner life is being demolished by his stultifying work at a slaughterhouse. He's frustrated by money problems, but there are no pat solutions or happy endings here — he just keeps on keeping on, enjoying simple pleasures such as slow dancing with his wife and holding his daughter, brightening momentarily when embers of hope and humor stir. Fred Harvey Room, Union Station, 800 N. Alameda St., downtown; Thu., Dec. 10, 8 p.m.; free. (213) 484-8846, echoparkfilmcenter.org/events/metro-presents-killer-of-sheep-at-union-station. —David Cotner


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