20 Best Things to Do in L.A. This Week
The dearly departed Carrie Fisher co-stars as Marie in When Harry Met Sally... on Friday.
Castle Rock Entertainment
A screening of a classic romcom with Carrie Fisher in a co-starring role, a bunch of NYE goings on, the Rose Parade (on a Monday?) and more to do and see in L.A. this week.
It's arguable that the late 1960s and early '70s comprise one of the sexiest eras in film stylistically (think Russ Meyer's buxom/bouffanted babes or the cat-eyelinered enchantresses of Italian horror films by the likes of Jess Franco), so it was only a matter of time until nouveau indie film makers sought to re-create some of that allure in a reverent, shamelessly retro way. Anna Biller's The Love Witch looks like it's an authentic low-budget romp from many decades ago, but its referential campiness and satiric tone give it modern appeal, especially to those of us who grew up lusting after or wanting to look like bodacious B-movie girls in blue eye shadow and go-go boots. The occult themes of the 2016 flick — the main character is a witch who puts love spells on men — also makes it super hipster-friendly (in case you didn't know witches are, like, so hot right now). Biller, who wrote, produced, designed, directed and edited the movie, will be on hand at the 10 p.m. Friday screening for a Q&A. Cinefamily, 611 N. Fairfax Ave., Fairfax; Fri., Dec. 30, 10 p.m. (also Dec. 31-Jan. 4, times vary); $14 Dec. 30, $12 other screenings. (323) 330-4412, cinefamily.org. —Lina Lecaro
Gene Wilder & Fidel Castro's New Year's Rockin' Eve (in Limbo) is an immersive theater experience in which you may finally find some kind of closure with the massive level of loss that defined the year 2016. Wilder and Castro greet you at the doors to Limbo, congratulate you on dying a semi-interesting death and show you around the place. Some highlights: Rock & Roll Heaven's subdivision for one-hit wonders and ska cover bands playing you off with renditions of hits by Bowie and Prince; the Facebook Echo Chamber; and four hidden, magical, life-changing Golden Tickets. UCB Sunset, 5419 Sunset Blvd., Hollywood; Fri., Dec. 30, 7:30, 9 & 10:30 p.m.; $6. (323) 908-8702, sunset.ucbtheatre.com/performance/50997. —David Cotner
It's been four years since Nora Ephron died, and in her absence no one has come close to picking up the rom-com torch she left behind. When Harry Met Sally... (written by Ephron and directed by Rob Reiner) is a bittersweet reminder of a time when romantic comedies were actually both funny and romantic. It's a fitting entry in Cinefamily's aptly titled The End of the Worst Year Ever, Please Make It Stop, Forget Canada — Can I Please Leave the Planet?, I Need a Break Here, Thank God It's the Holidays Comfort Film Fest. Cinefamily/Silent Movie Theatre, 611 N. Fairfax Ave., Fairfax; Fri., Dec. 30, 7:30 p.m.; $12. (323) 655-2510, cinefamily.org. —Michael Nordine
Lawrence of Arabia is the rare classic that actually exceeds its imposing reputation, and nothing does its breathtaking sweep justice like a giant screen. Lucky, then, that the Egyptian is screening it as it was meant to be seen: on 70mm. Don't be intimidated by the 216-minute runtime: David Lean's epic flies by with all the force of a passing sandstorm, and Peter O'Toole's magnetic performance (the first of many) in the title role is one for the ages. Egyptian Theatre, 6712 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood; Fri., Dec. 30, 7:30 p.m.; $11. (323) 466-3456, americancinemathequecalendar.com. —Michael Nordine
Stay up late with My Neighbor Totoro. The eponymous creature is one of the most beloved in the world of animation — ditto director Hayao Miyazaki, whom this film put on the world stage. We should all be as 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. Purists that they are, the folks at the Nuart are screening Miyazaki's classic in the original Japanese with English subtitles. Nuart Theatre, 11272 Santa Monica Blvd., West L.A.; Fri., Dec. 30, 11:59 p.m.; $11. (310) 473-8530, landmarktheatres.com. —Michael Nordine
As a woman who's been intoxicated on more than one occasion, I'm loath to admit that Chris D'Elia does a pretty good impersonation of every drunk chick, but it's true. It's a bit from White Male. Black Comic., his 2013 Comedy Central special, in which he also tackles why church is creepy and weird and, naturally, sex. If you don't know his stand-up, D'Elia's probably recognizable from his TV roles as Danny on NBC's Undateable and before that as Whitney Cummings' significant other, Alex, on her defunct sitcom Whitney. For people in the mood to sit down while someone else stands up this New Year's — and to watch someone make jokes about drunk chicks rather than being surrounded by them — this show is just the thing. The Wiltern, 3790 Wilshire Blvd., Sat., Dec. 31, 7 p.m.; $40. wiltern.com. —Gwynedd Stuart
For the first time in recent memory, we can't even pretend that the new year might have better things in store than the shitty one that preceded it (unless you're an arms dealer and WWIII is on your wishlist). Alas, if you have kids and won't be permitted to drown your sorrows like so many other people, Grand Park and the Music Center's N.Y.E.L.A. Countdown to 2017 isn't a half-bad place to be. The alcohol-free, family-friendly event has live music and DJs on three stages — the Countdown Stage, the Get Down Stage and the Funktown Stage — as well as a photo booth, inflatable art and food from vendors including Bling Bling Dumplings, Mario's Tacos and Pizza on Wheelz. Don't worry — there will be plenty of opportunities to tie one on in the coming year. Grand Park, 200 N. Grand Ave., downtown; Sat., Dec. 31, 8 p.m.-1 a.m.; free. grandparkla.org/nyela. —Gwynedd Stuart
2017: A New Hope is your locus for New Year's Eve's most transformative moments — and what better place to cultivate much-needed hope than in a comic book store, where good triumphs over evil with persistent frequency? Tonight's extravaganza is hosted by RiffTrax contributing writer Joseph Scrimshaw, and offers up fun from Muppeteer Phoebe Bottoms, The Duff screenwriter Josh A. Cagan, Luck of the Draw host Caitlin Durante, talk show host Lucia Fasano and J. Elvis Weinstein, the original puppeteer and voice of Tom Servo and Gypsy on Mystery Science Theater 3000. And, performing Tchaikovsky's entire Nutcracker holiday musical in five minutes, dancer Sara Stevenson Scrimshaw. NerdMelt, 7522 Sunset Blvd., Hollywood; Sat., Dec. 31, 6:45 p.m.; $8. (323) 851-7223, holdmyticket.com/event/264198. —David Cotner
Few revival theaters are open on the last night of the year, and fewer still celebrate the festivities with a Mighty Wurlitzer pipe organ. For both, there's only one option: New Year's Eve at Old Town Music Hall, a yearly tradition featuring the usual assortment of music, short films and a surprise feature; this being a special occasion, there will also be light refreshments and sparkling apple cider. Reservations are required in advance, so call ahead. Old Town Music Hall, 140 Richmond St., El Segundo; Sat., Dec. 31, 8:30 p.m.; $20. (310) 322-2592, oldtownmusichall.org. —Michael Nordine
Oshogatsu is the Japanese New Year celebration, and Little Tokyo is the place to celebrate it. Festivities run through the early afternoon with events centered around Weller Court and Japanese Village Plaza. You'll find Japanese cultural programming such as taiko drum performances, mochi demonstrations, a kimono fashion show and martial arts. Over at the Frances Hashimoto Plaza, across from Japanese Village Plaza, kids can learn calligraphy, play games and listen to stories. Street food vendors will be serving up okonomiyaki, takoyaki and other dishes. Little Tokyo tends to get pretty busy on New Year's Day and, while there is shuttle service available this year, your best bet is to take the Metro. The Gold Line's Little Tokyo station is a short walk from the action. Weller Court, 123 Astronaut E.S. Onizuka St., downtown; Sun. Jan. 1, 11 a.m.-4 p.m.; free. (213) 626-3067, facebook.com/events/1154509294645784. —Liz Ohanesian
Viennese coffee comes with whipped cream — or mit schlag — and Austria celebrates the new year in a similar frothy manner. The Neujahrskonzert (New Year's Concert) is a nationally televised event with dancers performing in one of Vienna's ornate palaces to live music, offering a peek back at the era of the Austro-Hungarian empire. The touring show Salute to Vienna has become an annual visitor, re-creating the flavor of the Neujahrskonzert complete with Strauss waltzes, polkas, ballet, ballroom dance and singing, with lots of music from the Strauss Symphony of America. Ticket price includes a postperformance glass of Champagne to toast the new year. Walt Disney Hall, 111 S. Grand Ave., downtown; Sun., Jan. 1, 2:30 p.m.; $35-$115. salutetovienna.com/los-angeles. —Ann Haskins
With a new year upon us, we must all of us remember to be wary of the Wet Bandits. For a reminder of how to combat those sinister home invaders, avail yourself of Home Alone at the New Bev. Macaulay Culkin may have moved on to the "novelty band that sings exclusively about pizza" phase of his career, but the movie that made him a household name seems poised to remain a holiday staple for years to come. New Beverly Cinema, 7165 Beverly Blvd., Fairfax; Sun., Jan. 1, 2 p.m.; $6. (323) 938-4038, thenewbev.com. —Michael Nordine
The Aero simultaneously rings in 2017 and closes out its screwball comedy series with a Marx Brothers double feature: A Night at the Opera and Monkey Business. The latter was their biggest box office success, while the former was their first original screenplay; both display their singular gifts for slapstick, which manages to come across as both joyously lowbrow and rarefied high art. Yuk it up and hope the next 12 months go better than our last rotation around the sun. Aero Theatre, 1328 Montana Ave., Santa Monica; Sun., Jan. 1, 5 p.m.; $11. (323) 466-3456, americancinemathequecalendar.com. —Michael Nordine
That's a lot of flowers and stuff — see it all live on Monday.
Courtesy Tournament of Roses Parade
The Rose Parade and the related Rose Bowl college football game usually are held on New Year's Day, except in years when Jan. 1 falls on a Sunday. When that occurs, the festivities are moved to Monday, in keeping with a quaint tradition that began in 1893 to prevent churchgoers' horses from being startled by noise from the parade. This year's theme, "Echoes of Success," is a vaguely cheery salute to generosity and unselfishness, and the parade is led by a triumvirate of Olympic athletes — Janet Evans, Allyson Felix and Greg Louganis — one of just a handful of times that multiple grand marshals have been chosen. Lavishly decorated like gigantic cakes frosted with intricate layers of flower petals, the parade's celebrated floats will drift like slow-moving clouds over to the intersection of Sierra Madre Boulevard and East Washington Boulevard for more public viewing on Monday afternoon and Tuesday. Colorado & Orange Grove boulevards, Pasadena; Mon., Jan. 2, 8 a.m.; free-$68. tournamentofroses.com. —Falling James
In the spring of 1981, tensions between police and South London's African-Caribbean population boiled over, resulting in a three-day riot known as Brixton Rising. After the fact, Margaret Thatcher would refuse to recognize that racism, rampant unemployment and widespread income inequality were contributing factors that led to the riots, but a positive outcome was the surge in black indie filmmaking in Great Britain. The Hammer program The Workshop Years: Black British Film and Video After 1981 revisits the film and video work of collectives such as Black Audio Film Collective, Sankofa Film and Video Collective and Ceddo Film and Video Workshop to reveal the ways in which they subverted the mainstream media. Something tells us it'll be instructive even today. Hammer Museum, 10899 Wilshire Blvd., Westwood; Tue., Jan. 3, noon-4 p.m.; free. (310) 443-7000, hammer.ucla.edu. —Gwynedd Stuart
Speaking of rom-coms, Ernst Lubitsch directed some of the greatest ever made (including The Shop Around the Corner, which Ephron loosely remade as You've Got Mail). Among that august company is Trouble in Paradise, an exemplar of the "Lubitsch touch" that countless filmmakers have attempted to emulate. In it, a thief (Herbert Marshall)and a pickpocket (Miriam Hopkins) fall in love and plan to part a perfume mogul from his riches — a scheme that begins to fall apart when their mark's wife enters the picture. LACMA, 5905 Wilshire Blvd., Mid-Wilshire; Tue., Jan. 3, 1 p.m.; $4. (323) 857-6000, lacma.org. —Michael Nordine
Variety is the spice of life, they say, and while most variety shows are the kind of spice that clumps at the bottom of the jar, the weekly show Scot Nery's Boobie Trap — with its blazing panoply of magicians and musicians, villains and vaudevillians — gives you everything from high wires to low humor. Nery, a contortionist and comedian himself, somehow juggles a circus that could otherwise degenerate into anarchy. He manages these wild acts to give audiences something they never thought they'd see, as well as the tried-and-true circus acts that have pleased crowds since Barnum & Bailey were but glimmers in their fathers' eyes. Café Club Fais Do-Do, 5257 W. Adams Blvd., West Adams; Wed., Jan. 4, 8 p.m.; $25, $17 in advance. (323) 931-4636, faisdodo.com. —David Cotner
Hot off their appearance at the Rose Parade, Fukushima Honda Tomodachi, a cultural exchange program made up of high schoolers from Fukushima, bring you up-to-date on the effects of the cataclysm that was the 2011 Great East Japan earthquake and tsunami. They'll explain how they're dealing with this constant nightmare in tandem with a performance led by Hawaiian musician and multiple Grammy winner Daniel Ho. Also included are expansive thoughts and contemplative actions from the members of the Grateful Crane Ensemble's Tohoku Goodwill Tour, which produced entertainment for the benefit of survivors, many of whom lost everything in the disaster. Aratani Theater, Japanese American Cultural and Community Center, 244 S. San Pedro St., Little Tokyo; Wed., Jan. 4, 8 p.m.; free with RSVP. (213) 628-2725, jaccc.org/tomodachiconcert. —David Cotner
Damien Chazelle's latest film, La La Land, has been described as a love letter not only to Los Angeles but to movie musicals themselves. Shot in CinemaScope, his cinematic spectacle harkens back to Old Hollywood and the all-singing, all-dancing hit movies it produced. The young auteur discusses the film, his life, and his love of music and musicals during An Evening With ... Damien Chazelle at LACMA. Following the intimate conversation, there will be a screening of the much-beloved, candy-colored French musical The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, featuring a young Catherine Deneuve. Directed by Jacques Demy, the 1964 classic was a major influence on Chazelle and remains remarkably fresh despite predating La La Land by half a century. LACMA's Bing Theater, 5905 Wilshire Blvd., Mid-Wilshire; Thu., Jan. 5, 7:30 p.m.; $25. (323) 857-6010, lacma.org. —Matt Stromberg
Under the always-illuminating baton of frequent guest conductor Bramwell Tovey, the L.A. Philharmonic offers an evening of glorious melodics, heart-tugging romanticism and jaw-dropping virtuosity amid rich sonic architecture. On tap are Walton's lyrical and lovely Façade Suite No. 2 and a fairy tale coming to sumptuous life in Tchaikovsky's Sleeping Beauty, Act 2. In between there's Sibelius' Violin Concerto, performed by the multiple-prize-winning violinist Ray Chen, who's been sawing the strings since age 4 and was the first-prize winner at the Yehudi Menuhin International Competition at 19. Chen boasts truly breathtaking technique and sheer show-stopping magnetism. Walt Disney Concert Hall, 111 S. Grand Ave., downtown; Thu., Jan. 5, 8 p.m. (also Sat. & Sun., Jan. 7 & 8); $20-$183. (323) 850-2000, laphil.com. —John Payne
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