New Yorker staff writer William Finnegan will discuss his new surfing memoir: See Friday.
New Yorker staff writer William Finnegan will discuss his new surfing memoir: See Friday.
Photo by Scott Winer

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

fri 7/31

Spamalot, the musical adaptation of Monty Python and the Holy Grail, premiered to Broadway in 2005 and ran for more than 1,500 performances, winning the Best Musical Tony Award along the way. Now a production of the show — written by Python co-founder Eric Idle and John Du Prez — comes to the Hollywood Bowl with Idle in the role of the Historian, Christian Slater as Sir Galahad, Craig Robinson (The Office and the upcoming Mr. Robinson) as King Arthur, Warwick Davis (Willow) as Patsy and Jesse Tyler Ferguson (Modern Family) as Sir Robin the Not-Quite-So-Brave-as–Sir Launcelot. Hollywood Bowl, 2301 N. Highland Ave., Hollywood; Fri.-Sat., July 31-Aug. 1, 8 p.m.; Sun., Aug. 2, 7:30 p.m.; $13-$182. (323) 850-2000, hollywoodbowl.com. —Tanja M. Laden

Saturday Night Fever may be remembered by some as merely a dance movie, but there's enough granular authenticity in its depiction of late-'70s New York for it to qualify as a historical artifact. It's also vibrantly alive like few other movies — and I don't even like disco. The Aero screens it in a double bill of John Travolta musicals with Grease. Both movies provide a unique juxtaposition of nightclub glitz and working-class grit. Aero Theatre, 1328 Montana Ave., Santa Monica; Fri., July 31, 7:30 p.m.; $11. (323) 466-3456, americancinemathequecalendar.com—Michael Nordine

In an exciting new collaboration, Film Independent at LACMA and the Toronto International Film Festival have selected three films representing the best in Canadian cinema. All of these events are free, and the first is tonight: Albert Shin's filial drama In Her Place. Shin, a Canadian of Korean extraction, returned to his motherland to shoot this movie about a wealthy couple from Seoul descending upon a failing farm in the country to adopt the unborn child of a poor teenager. Tomorrow sees the other two screenings in the CAN/LA series, Felix and Meira (at 1 p.m.) and Atanarjuat (The Fast Runner) (at 7:30). LACMA, 5905 Wilshire Blvd., Mid-Wilshire; Fri., July 31, 7:30 p.m.; free. (323) 857-6000, lacma.org. —Michael Nordine

What's the best disaster movie of 1998? If you answered Armageddon, put on your dunce hat and prepare for cinematic enlightenment. Mimi Leder beat Michael Bay to the end-of-the-world party by a month and a half, but Deep Impact didn't see the same boffo box office as its close competitor (though it was the highest-grossing film directed by a woman until Twilight). No matter: Téa Leoni, thespian goddess that she is, imbues the story of an apocalyptic asteroid with enough humanity for all 7 billion of us. Los Angeles Film School, 6353 Sunset Blvd., #4006, Hollywood; Fri., July 31, 8 p.m. (doors at 6 p.m.); free. lafilm.edu —Michael Nordine

William Finnegan discusses his latest book, Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life, a memoir about his upbringing in California and Hawaii. He reveals how overcoming his childhood shyness led to everything from his joining a surf gang in Hawaii to war reporting — all while searching for that perfect wave. Pages, a Bookstore, 904 Manhattan Ave., Manhattan Beach; Fri., July 31, 7 p.m.; free. (310) 318-0900, pagesabookstore.com. —David Cotner

From the girl groups and boy bands that have made K-pop a global phenomenon to the stars of K-drama (aka Korean television shows), KCON brings together the various facets of Korean pop culture at the Los Angeles Convention Center this weekend. Friday's events, for instance, include a "Fanfiction Open Mic," all-ages dance party Klub KCON and how-to panels for potential YouTubers and cosplayers. The programming is eclectic, with everything from cooking to dance lessons. If you don't know anything about Korean culture, check out Saturday morning's "What Is K-pop?" panel. Concerts at Staples Center on Saturday and Sunday require a separate ticket. Los Angeles Convention Center, 1201 S. Figueroa St., downtown; Fri., July 31, 1 p.m.; Sat., Aug. 1, 10 a.m.; Sun., Aug. 2, 10:30 a.m.; $10-$25 (entry to Klub KCON is an additional $20). (323) 456-4813, kconusa.com. —Liz Ohanesian

Wet Hot American Summer: See Saturday.EXPAND
Wet Hot American Summer: See Saturday.

sat 8/1

Patrick McPheron is a noted fashion photographer with an abiding love of vintage science fiction and a technicolor imagination. His new book, Invasion, brings all these facets together in a series of high-production-value, high-camp photographs. They tell a classic tale of nefarious alien invaders, corporate overlords and citizen resistance, complete with gender-bending, evil robots and modern architecture, starring ageless party monster James St. James and RuPaul's Drag Race fave Tammie Brown. Tonight's book launch premieres 20 prints from the project installed in an "immersive sci-fi experience." HNYPT, 212 W. 12th St., downtown; Sat., Aug. 1, 8-11 p.m.; free with RSVP to rsvp@TheInvasionSeries.com. (213) 769-8040, theinvasionseries.com. —Shana Nys Dambrot

Rumors abound regarding the casting of a potential new Indiana Jones — our money's on Chris Pratt — but most moviegoers will never accept anyone but Harrison Ford in the role. For exhibits A–Z, look no further than Raiders of the Lost Ark. Nazi artifacts will be uncovered, faces will melt and an undying franchise will be born. Electric Dusk Drive-In, 1000 San Julian St., downtown; Sat., Aug. 1, 8:30 p.m.; $9 (lawn seats)-$55 (VIP treatment). (818) 653-8591, electricduskdrivein.com—Michael Nordine

Your other outdoor option is considerably grimmer: Apocalypse Now at Hollywood Forever Cemetery. Francis Ford Coppola famously said that his movie "is not about Vietnam; it is Vietnam," and though this correspondent wouldn't go that far (sorry, Francis, but I still like The Deer Hunter more), there's no doubting its place in the war-movie canon. This is the end, the horror, you know the drill. Hollywood Forever Cemetery, 6000 Santa Monica Blvd., Hollywood; Sat., Aug. 1, 9 p.m. (gates at 7:15); $14. (323) 221-3343, cinespia.org—Michael Nordine

For nine hours this weekend, musicians will play in the Fitzpatrick-Leland house that Rudolf Schindler designed in Laurel Canyon. The multilevel house, with its slightly curved front-yard swimming pool, has been serving as a sort of laboratory for the musicians. They’ve been living and playing there in preparation for this performance, composed by artist Scott Benzel and called Op. 21: Inner Experience Fellowship/Friends of Crime. A gong player will be in the basement, a pianist in the upstairs bedroom. Visitors are expected to wander and can stay as long as they want. Address and parking information available with RSVP; free. Sat., Aug. 1, 1-10 p.m. (323) 651-1510, makcenter.org. —Catherine Wagley

Another summer, another cycle of traditional warm-weather activity: shlepping off to camp, watching favorite films outdoors from the comfort of a blanket or lawn chair, waxing nostalgic about seasonal memories while storing new ones for future reminiscence. Combine the three with added bonuses of pre-show music courtesy of Sun Rai and food trucks aplenty at Eat See Hear's screening of 2001 cult-comedy favorite Wet Hot American Summer, conveniently following the July 31 streaming premiere of director David Wain and co-writer Michael Showalter's Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp Netflix series. Best of all, the evening's live introduction comes courtesy of WHAS special guests. Autry National Center, 4700 Western Heritage Way, Los Feliz; Sat., Aug. 1, 5:30 p.m. doors, 7 p.m. music, 8:30 p.m. movie; $12-$20. (323) 667-2000, eatseehear.com. —Julie Seabaugh

Since its inception in 2006, the Leimert Park Village Book Fair has attracted thousands of visitors who come to watch more than 200 local authors, poets, spoken-word artists and performers across five stages. The daylong event boasts readings, panels, workshops, film screenings, book giveaways and children's activities. This year's highlights include a panel discussion with writers from Fox's Empire, as well as a special forum on the 50th anniversary of the Watts riots, featuring Assemblyman Mike A. Gipson, community leaders and educators addressing the causes of the civil unrest and "where we are as a city (and a nation) since the riots." Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza, 3650 W. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Baldwin Hills/Crenshaw; Sat., Aug. 1, 10 a.m.-7 p.m.; free. (323) 730-0628, leimert0x200Bparkbookfair.com. —Siran Babayan

In the waning days of summer — already? — Nerdist Industries hosts the sixth annual Summahfest. Comedian and rapper Howard Kremer (of the Have a Summah comedy albums) returns to host the popular blowout, which includes music, water slides, food trucks, free beer, water-balloon fights, face painting and other summer-themed activities. At 6 p.m., stand-up comedians Steve Agee, Paul Danke, Cornell Reid, Nick Rutherford, Jada Catta-Preta, John Roy, Brody Stevens and Saturday Night Live alum Brooks Wheelan provide the chuckles, followed by an improv show at 8. So slap on the SPF and have a couple of laughs before it's suddenly September. Nerdist Showroom at Meltdown Comics, 7522 Sunset Blvd., Hollywood; Sat., Aug. 1, 2-10 p.m.; free. (323) 851-7223, nerdmeltla.com. —Siran Babayan

Craig Robinson and Merle Dandridge star in Spamalot at the Hollywood Bowl.
Craig Robinson and Merle Dandridge star in Spamalot at the Hollywood Bowl.
Photo by Ed Krieger

sun 8/2

The latest installment of Hammer Conversations features Mark Bradford and Anita Hill. Bradford, an award-winning L.A. abstract artist and teacher whose exhibit "Scorched Earth" is at the Hammer through Sept. 27, will talk with Hill, lately a professor working in law and women's studies at the Heller Graduate School. Gender, race and feminism as a window to social justice and activism will be the topics covered, but maybe they'll talk about Clarence Thomas, too. Hammer Museum, 10899 Wilshire Blvd., Westwood; Sun., Aug. 2, 2 p.m.; free. (310) 443-7000, hammer.ucla.edu. —David Cotner

mon 8/3

iO West, the famed comedy theater that has helped groom the likes of Vince Vaughn, Bill Hader and Bob Odenkirk, hosts the 13th annual Los Angeles Improv Comedy Festival. Modern Family's Eric Stonestreet, Cheers' George Wendt, The Middle's Neil Flynn, Anchorman's David Koechner and other celebrity guests appear in more than 200 improv, sketch and stand-up performances across three stages, including iO West staples The Armando Show and BeerSharkMice. A highlight this year is the seven-day Improv Show, which will attempt to "set the Guinness Book of World Record for Longest Continuous Improv Show." In addition to a competition, the festival offers workshops led by instructors with credits including the Emmys, Saturday Night Live, MADtv, Conan and Jimmy Kimmel Live. Part of the proceeds benefit the Chris Farley House, a sober facility in Madison, Wisconsin. iO West, 6366 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood; Sun., Aug. 2-Sat., Aug. 8, $5-$10 (workshops $25). (323) 962-7560, ioimprov.com. —Siran Babayan

tue 8/4

Often after a political struggle, it takes years to figure out what happened. Tonight's attempt attends to make sense of the L.A. Chicano Movement in the 1960s and '70s, as UC Santa Barbara professor Mario T. Garcia presents his book The Chicano Generation: Testimonios of the Movement. The empowerment of Chicanos was catalyzed by activists such as Gloria Arellanes, Rosalio Munoz and Raul Ruiz, and is related here in their own words. Vroman's Bookstore, 695 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena; Tue., Aug. 4, 7 p.m.; free, book is $29.95. (626) 449-5320, vromansbookstore.com. —David Cotner

With all due respect to the beloved, far more amiable Roger Ebert, there's never been a more influential film critic than Pauline Kael. Movies about critics are understandably rare, making Cinefamily's She Lost It at the Movies: A Tribute to Pauline Kael event, which will include excerpts from the forthcoming, as-yet-unfinished documentary What She Said: The Art of Pauline Kael, particularly special. In addition to footage from the doc, the festivities will include a 30-minute television interview and audio recordings from the early 1970s featuring Kael talking with such filmmakers as Alfred Hitchcock, Peter Bogdanovich and Martin Scorsese. Cinefamily/Silent Movie Theatre, 611 N. Fairfax Ave., Fairfax; Tue., Aug. 4, 8 p.m.; $12. (323) 655-2510, cinefamily.org—Michael Nordine

Mark Bradford and Anita HillEXPAND
Mark Bradford and Anita Hill
Photo Courtesy Hammer Museum

wed 8/5

The American Cinematheque screens Edward Landler and Brad Byer's 2006 documentary I Build the Tower, marking the 50th anniversary of both the Watts Uprising and the death of Watts Towers builder Sabato Rodia. Born in 1875, Rodia emigrated from Southern Italy to L.A., settling in a triangular-shaped lot in Watts he bought for $900. Beginning in the 1920s, he spent more than 30 years constructing the historic landmark before inexplicably abandoning it and relocating to the Bay Area. Landler and Byer (Rodia's great-nephew) include audio interviews with Rodia, as well as interviews with his family, Watts residents, historians and city officials. After the screening, Watts Towers Arts Center director Rosie Lee Hooks moderates a panel discussion with Landler, Ben Caldwell, Charles Dickson, Luisa Del Giudice, Gerald Horne, Ojenke and Judson Powell. Aero Theatre, 1328 Montana Ave., Santa Monica; Wed., Aug. 5, 7:30 p.m.; $11, $9 seniors & students. (323) 466-3456, americancinematheque0x200Bcalendar.com. —Siran Babayan

The Egyptian is celebrating genre fare for the next few weeks, and tonight's offering from Night of the Living '80s: A New Wave of Horror is especially brutal: Maniac Cop and Maniac Cop 2. To whom — or what — does the title refer? The answer, dear reader, is too shocking to reveal in these pages — you'll just have to go see the movies (or look it up, whichever is easier). William Lustig will appear for a discussion between his two films, which are being presented in brand-new DCP restorations. Egyptian Theatre, 6712 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood; Wed., Aug. 5, 7:30 p.m.; $11. (323) 466-3456, americancinemathequecalendar.com. —Michael Nordine

thu 8/6

Uhh Yeah Dude is one of the best comedy podcasts hosted by two noncomedians. Jonathan Larroquette is the son of John Larroquette, and Seth Romatelli is a bit actor who just appeared in an episode of IFC's Maron as computer repairman No. 1. Recorded in Romatelli's Hollywood apartment, the podcast began in the Stone Age of the medium in 2006 and has never had a celebrity guest. Instead, the guys simply rely on their straight-shooting chemistry — Romatelli is usually the angrier of the two — as they riff on current events and hot-topic issues. Tonight's live taping includes DJ sets by Baths, Jogger and DJ Tiberio. It's also the eve of Larroquette's birthday, which, if you're a fan, you, uhh, already knew. Regent Theater, 448 S. Main St., downtown; Thu., Aug. 6, 8 p.m.; $20. (323) 284-5727, theregenttheater.com. —Siran Babayan

It’s difficult and rare to come across stories that can illuminate the Holocaust in unfamiliar ways. Bent is such a play, and at the Mark Taper Forum it's getting its first major revival since its 1979 Broadway debut. This production makes the Holocaust visceral and horrifying anew and, what’s more, educational — a testament to Martin Sherman’s powerful writing, Moisés Kaufman’s flawless direction and a host of strong performances. Mark Taper Forum, 135 N. Grand Ave., downtown; through Aug. 23. (213) 628-2772, centertheatergroup.org. —Jenny Lower

For more events see our arts, stage, music and film sections, and visit laweekly.com/calendar.

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