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

Bride of Frankenstein
Bride of Frankenstein

fri 10/16

During the 1984 Olympic Arts Festival, Sankai Juku introduced L.A. audiences to Japanese butoh in a breathtaking debut that sent suspended, white-powdered figures into a dangling descent down the face of the Music Center's Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. In the intervening decades, the company, led by Ushio Amagatsu, gained international acclaim for its absorbing performances. In its welcome return, the Japanese characters for "birth" and "earth" are combined in the title of Umusuna — Memories Before History. UCLA, Royce Hall, 340 Royce Drive, Westwood; Fri.-Sat., Oct. 16-17, 8 p.m.; $29-$89. (310) 825-2101, cap.ucla.edu. —Ann Haskins

Samita Sinha's sonic performance Cipher reimagines the concept of raga, the Hindustani vocal tradition of creating a mood through music, incorporating jazz and electronic influences into her ancient sounds. Sinha accomplishes this immersion of feeling through the sound of her voice and two boxes: an electronic tabla (a drum) and a tanpura (a drone — a kind of instrument, not the thing that flies). The songs in Cipher combine Persian, Arabic and Sanskrit words to create a verbal code, which Sinha invites listeners to decipher. The meditative experience of paying close attention to her "body-sound," which combines physical movement with vocal expression, will transport listeners to a world where language is both meaningless and all-encompassing. REDCAT, 631 W. Second St., downtown; Fri.-Sat., Oct. 16-17, 8:30 p.m.; $25. (213) 237-2800, redcat.org. —Sascha Bos

In what's easily this week's most inventive double feature, the New Beverly pairs one of the more subversive films of the 1980s, Cruising, with one of the most memorably upsetting of the '90s, Seven. Though the two serial-killer dramas take wildly different approaches to their graphic subject matter, both are propelled by their directors' control over unsavory material and the viewer's conflicted need to have difficult questions answered. Al Pacino goes undercover in New York's gay club scene in William Friedkin's film, while Brad Pitt wonders what it's in the box in David Fincher's; suffice to say that neither one likes what they find. New Beverly Cinema, 7165 Beverly Blvd., Fairfax; Fri., Oct. 16, 7:30 p.m.; $8. (323) 938-4038, thenewbev.com. —Michael Nordine

Bride of Frankenstein, which is not only superior to the original but one of the best, saddest horror movies ever made, plays all weekend long at Old Town Music Hall. Frankenstein's monster was a monster less because he was made that way and more because he was perceived that way, a sad truth that's even clearer here than in the first installment of Universal's enduring franchise. The creation of his bride — who, spoiler alert, doesn't appear until much later than you'd expect — is presumably an attempt at taming him, but mostly serves to underscore what a pitiful existence he was born into. "We belong dead!" Old Town Music Hall, 140 Richmond St., El Segundo; Fri., Oct. 16, 8:15 p.m.; Sat., Oct. 17, 2:30 & 8:15 p.m.; Sun., Oct. 18, 2:30 p.m.; $10. (310) 322-2592, oldtownmusichall.org—Michael Nordine

Sankai Juku: See Friday.
Sankai Juku: See Friday.
Photo by Laurent Philippe

Upcoming Events

sat 10/17

The Los Angeles Poverty Department (LAPD) maintains a database of Skid Row artists more than 500 individuals strong, and their creativity will be on display at the annual Festival for All Skid Row Artists. Now in its sixth year, the event showcases the diverse talents of this under­appreciated and underserved community, from visual art to music and everything in between. Performances by Vijay Gupta's Street Symphony and the Colburn School Choir, plus hands-on workshops, round out an event focused on building community and dispelling prejudice. With "gentrification" the buzzword on everyone's lips, it's important to see exactly who's getting pushed out to make room for downtown's new, wealthier set. Gladys Park, Sixth Street at Gladys Avenue, downtown; Sat.-Sun., Oct. 17-18, 1-5 p.m.; free. (213) 413-1077, lapovertydept.org. —Sascha Bos

Miranda July, a performance artist, filmmaker and author (2015's best-selling The First Bad Man), now offers her latest stage work, New Society. The piece is cagily touted as a theatrical experiment in collaboration that mingles fiction and real life to concoct a fanciful look at time, love, fear and loathing among a roomful of strangers trapped together for two hours — but beyond that, the ever-quixotic July is loath to reveal further deets, as that might spoil the potentially explosive surprises such a scenario suggests. Bring hankies, perhaps. UCLA Freud Playhouse, 405 Hilgard Ave., Westwood; Sat., Oct. 17, 8 p.m.; Sun., Oct. 18, 4 p.m.; $29-$49. (310) 825-2101, cap.ucla.edu. —John Payne

Cinefamily's monthly La Collectionneuse soirée returns with Sheitan. Vincent Cassel stars as a handyman in rural France whose inclinations (say the title slowly for a clue to its English translation) prove quite the buzzkill for four visitors who get lured out to the countryside by a disarmingly beautiful woman. Kim Chapiron's horror/comedy was graphic enough to receive France's most restrictive rating and, though the MPAA never got the chance to impose their standards on it, it likely would have been deemed NC-17. Consider yourself warned. Cinefamily/Silent Movie Theatre, 611 N. Fairfax Ave.; Fairfax; Sat., Oct. 17, 7:30 p.m.; $12. (323) 655-2510, cinefamily.org—Michael Nordine

As part of the New Objectivity: Modern German Art in the Weimar Republic, 1919–1933 exhibit, LACMA screens Josef von Sternberg ever-devastating The Blue Angel on 35mm. One could easily point to this as the film in which Marlene Dietrich truly became Marlene Dietrich; her performance as an arrestingly gorgeous nightclub crooner was iconic then and remains so now. The effect of her beauty is largely disastrous for the esteemed professor who falls in love with her, however, and his downward spiral is part of what makes this early German sound film so difficult to watch. 5905 Wilshire Blvd., Mid-Wilshire; Sat., Oct. 17, 7:30 p.m.; $10. (323) 857-6000, lacma.org—Michael Nordine

Anyone seeking lighter fare will be well-served by the Aero's double bill of The Breakfast Club and Ferris Bueller's Day Off. John Hughes is one of those departed filmmakers whose passing hasn't gotten much easier to accept with time, especially as the genre he brought to its peak drifts further and further from what once made it special. Little needs to be said about either teen classic at this point, but if you're unfamiliar with the fan theory that Ferris is actually a figment of the troubled Cameron's imagination, read up on it before the screening and see if it holds water. Aero Theatre, 1328 Montana Ave.; Santa Monica; Sat., Oct. 17, 7:30 p.m.; $11. (323) 466-3456, americancinemathequecalendar.com—Michael Nordine

sun 10/18

After a successful summer at the Seattle Art Museum, "Disguise: Masks & Global African Art" comes to Westwood. This interactive, multimedia exhibit features traditional African masks, 3-D modeling software, neon lights and bizarre GoPro footage that may lead you to question your own sense of self. Featuring installations by 12 contemporary African and African-descended artists, "Disguise" reflects on costumes, rituals and the other ways in which we project a multitude of identities. The exhibit leads viewers on a disconcerting tour through a field of masked deer, a colorful meditation session and the busy streets of Lagos, Nigeria. Fowler Museum, 308. Charles E. Young Drive North, UCLA, Westwood; Sun., Oct. 18, noon-5 p.m.; free. Exhibition continues through March 13. (310) 825-4361, fowler.ucla.edu. —Sascha Bos

Here at L.A. Weekly we're replacing our annual Pancake Breakfast with Brunch at the Races at Santa Anita Park, featuring breakfast items from 30 of L.A.'s best restaurants, including Superba Food + Bread, Little Dom's and Cassell's Hamburgers. Enjoy pancakes, egg dishes, pastries, cocktails and everything in between, while listening to trumpet player Sean Billings and taking in a horse race. A portion of the proceeds will benefit Homeboy Industries. Santa Anita Park, 285 W. Huntington Drive, Arcadia; Sun. Oct. 18, 11 a.m.-2 p.m.; $45-$75. microapp.laweekly.com/brunch-at-the-races/2015

The Egyptian opened its doors for the first time on Oct. 18, 1922. The theater celebrates that milestone with King Vidor's The Big Parade, which first opened three years later. Vidor was one of Hollywood's first true masters, and in silent benchmarks like this and The Crowd he displayed a humanism that's rarely been matched in the century since. This breakthrough World War I drama was one of the first to focus on the conflict's traumas rather than its glories, a rare approach at the time that's obviously been replicated countless times since. Egyptian Theatre, 6712 Hollywood Blvd.; Hlywd.; Sun., Oct. 18, 3 p.m.; $11. (323) 466-3456, americancinemathequecalendar.com—Michael Nordine

The weekend comes to a close in avant-garde fashion at Los Angeles Filmforum, where Experimental Landscapes I: Landscape and the Body at Work and Play kicks off a new series about the intersection between labor, landscape and leisure. Four different works comprise the program — each clocking in between 20 and 35 minutes — including two by Sharon Lockhart, who will appear in person. Spielberg Theatre at the Egyptian, 6712 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood; Sun., Oct. 18, 7:30 p.m.; $10. (323) 466-3456, lafilmforum.org. —Michael Nordine

The Invisible Man by Zina Saro-Wiwa, part of "Disguise: Masks & Global African Art" at the Fowler
The Invisible Man by Zina Saro-Wiwa, part of "Disguise: Masks & Global African Art" at the Fowler

mon 10/19

As part of L.A. Central Library's ALOUD lecture series, Los Angeles Times columnist Patt Morrison moderates a discussion with Roberta Kaplan and Lillian Faderman. In her new book, Then Comes Marriage: United States v. Windsor and the Defeat of DOMA, which is also the name of the event, New York attorney Kaplan gives her account of how she fought the United States v. Windsor case, which brought down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in 2013. Kaplan describes her relationship with Edith Windsor, who filed the lawsuit after the death of her wife in 2009, as well as her own life as a gay woman. Activist and scholar of lesbian history Faderman's book, The Gay Revolution: The Story of the Struggle, chronicles the history of the modern LGBTQ movement, from the 1950s to the AIDS epidemic in the '80s to the recent fight for marriage equality. Los Angeles Central Library, Mark Taper Auditorium, 630 W. Fifth St., downtown; Mon., Oct. 19, 7:15 p.m.; free, reservation required. (213) 228-7500, lfla.org.—Siran Babayan

Contrary to Variety, which posted an obituary last month erroneously announcing his death, Terry Gilliam is alive, and will be discussing his new, appropriately titled book, Gilliamesque: A Pre-Posthumous Memoir, as part of Live Talks Los Angeles. The director and Monty Python member even joked about the gaffe in a tweet: "I apologize for being dead, especially to those who have already bought tickets to the upcoming talks." Fans will no doubt delight in hearing Gilliam share from his autobiography, in which he looks back on his life, from his childhood in Minnesota and growing up in L.A. to joining the legendary British comedy troupe, the only American among Oxford and Cambridge graduates. Gilliam also goes behind the scenes on the making of his films. The book includes family photos and Gilliam's biggest contribution to Python — his animations. Alex Theatre, 216 N. Brand Blvd., Glendale; Mon., Oct. 19, 8 p.m.; $25.50, $53 & $113 (top 2 prices include book). livetalksla.org. —Siran Babayan

tue 10/20

Even though fashion sometimes seems like a fleeting art form, the tenacity and perspicacity it takes to present that art is a constant for couture majordomo Joe Zee, who talks tonight about his new memoir, That's What Fashion Is: Lessons and Stories From My Nonstop, Mostly Glamorous Life in Style. He's been a stylist and creative director at Elle magazine, and he's co-hosting the new ABC gabfest FABLife with Tyra Banks. Zee will clue you in on the realities behind the sartorial sorcery of the fashion world, even as he reveals the devotion that keeps him there. Book Soup, 8818 Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood; Tue., Oct. 20, 7 p.m.; free, book is $29.99. (310) 659-3110, booksoup.com. —David Cotner

wed 10/21

Elvis Costello was one of the many people credited with the famous line "Writing about music is like dancing about architecture." His thoughts about writing about music memoirs are unclear, so find out what he really thinks when you see him in conversation with Chris Connelly about his new book, Unfaithful Music and Disappearing Ink. He covers everything from changing his name from Declan MacManus to his big hit singles to life as a widely celebrated musician and occasionally celebrated husband and father. Wilshire Ebell Theater, 4401 W. Eighth St., Koreatown; Wed., Oct. 21, 8 p.m.; $40.32 (includes a copy of the book). (323) 939-1128, booksoup.com. —David Cotner

Remember when Michael J. Fox showed up from the past at Smog City Brewing? Of course not — it hasn't happened yet. On the exact day that Marty McFly first arrived in The Future in Back to the Future Part II, Smog City celebrates by screening the entire trilogy and serving up its first Triple IPA, named "1.21 Gigawatts" in honor of Doc Brown. Although our present (thankfully) looks pretty different from director Robert Zemeckis' 1989 vision, Smog City has promised a hoverboard at tonight's event. If that's not The Future, we don't know what is. (Also look around for other BTTF Day events, including the artist collective Mothership's multimedia experience Bring Back the Future at Automata in Chinatown, part of the Live Arts Exchange festival.) Smog City Brewing, 1901 Del Amo Blvd., Ste. B, Torrance; Wed., Oct. 21, 4-9 p.m.; free. (310) 320-7664, smogcitybrewing.com. —Sascha Bos

Back for a third year, Lit Crawl L.A. promises "literary mayhem" at dozens of restaurants, theaters, galleries, bars and other venues in the NoHo Arts District. Following an opening program at the Laemmle NoHo 7, more than 200 authors and artists are scheduled to appear, including Concrete Blonde singer Johnette Napolitano, Los Angeles Times contributing editor and former L.A. Weekly writer Erin Aubry Kaplan, Los Angeles Times book critic David Ulin, NPR commentator S. Pearl Sharp, Emmy-winning actress Barbara Keegan and many others. The evening also packs in performances and additional readings, such as "Zombies vs. Vampires," an "All-Female Literary Smackdown," comics, poetry, LGBTQ stories and more. Laemmle's NoHo 7, 5240 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood; Wed., Oct. 21, 6 p.m.-mid.; free. (818) 762-4600, litcrawl.org. —Siran Babayan

thu 10/22

John Fleck brings his one-man gothic horror show Blacktop Highway to REDCAT for one weekend only, celebrating Halloween with video projections and Freudian theory. The performance, which premiered at REDCAT's New Original Works Festival, makes use of Fleck's unique vocal style to completely immerse viewers in his wacky world. Expect explorations of taxidermy, cinema and the id, ego and superego — all from one guy on a small stage. One-man shows have gotten a bad rap, but L.A.-based Fleck is a master of the form. REDCAT, 631 W. Second St., downtown; Thu.-Sat., Oct. 22-24, 8:30 p.m.; Sun., Oct. 25, 7 p.m.; $20-$25. (213) 237-2800, redcat.org. —Sascha Bos

You don't have to be a natural-born performer to be onstage. Since 2007, Margot Leitman, L.A. actress, comedian, TV writer and founder of UCB's storytelling program, has been teaching amateurs how to recount the good, the bad and the ugly moments of their lives in front of an audience. Her new book, Long Story Short: The Only Storytelling Guide You'll Ever Need, lays out the basics of the art form, from getting over stage fright to memorization to the rules of storytelling — i.e., "Storytelling is not stand-up comedy." Leitman's comedian friends Dave Ross, Vanessa Marshall, June Diane Raphael and Dan Curry will help launch her book and share their own stories. UCB Franklin, 5919 Franklin Ave., Hollywood; Thu., Oct. 22, 7 p.m.; $5. franklin.ucbtheatre.com. —Siran Babayan


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