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

21 Best Things to Do in L.A. This Week
Courtesy Billings Productions

Dinosaurs are back and thirsty for blood (not really) at the Los Angeles Zoo, Cheech and Chong are back for 4/20 and more excellent stuff to do in L.A. this week

fri 4/15

Dinosaurs are pretty fucking rad. In celebration of their radness, the Los Angeles Zoo introduces the exhibit "Dinosaurs: Unextinct," a wild ride through the 135 million years during which dinosaurs completely rejected democracy and ruled the Earth. Get up close to 17 advanced animatronic dinosaurs and discover facts about their lives and their similarities to animals you'll find at the zoo today. From the wily Suchomimus to the devious Carnotaurus to the tempestuous Tyrannosaurus, you'll learn a thing or two while you thank God for sending those meteors down to make way for Jesus and you! Through Oct. 31. Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens, 5333 Zoo Drive, Griffith Park; Fri., April 15, 10 a.m.; $20-$25. (323) 644-6001, lazoo.org/dinos. —David Cotner

Led by Dwight Rhoden and Desmond Richardson, Complexions Contemporary Ballet evolved out of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre, where Richardson and Rhoden were both star dancers. That's also where Rhoden established his choreography cred through a series of riveting works that often reflect African-American culture and concerns. Drawing on dance genres ranging from ballet to contemporary to street, the ensemble is known for its wide range of subject matter as well as spectrum of dance styles. The mixed repertory this visit includes a work honoring Maya Angelou, one in pointe shoes, one set to folk songs by Odetta and one set to "Summer" from Vivaldi's Four Seasons. Among the 14 powerful dancers, don't miss Los Angeles Ballet alum Andrew Brader. Music Center, Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, 135 N. Grand Ave., downtown; Fri.-Sat., April 15-16, 7:30 p.m.; Sun., April 17, 2 p.m.; $34-$138. (213) 972-0711, musiccenter.org/complexions. —Ann Haskins

Noir City: The 18th Annual Los Angeles Festival of Film Noir begins in South American fashion with The Bitter Stems and Riffraff. Still unavailable on DVD despite winning the Silver Condor Award for best picture in its native Argentina 60 years ago, the former is just the sort of rarity that makes the festival beloved by admirers of femmes fatales and hard-boiled detectives; Riffraff, meanwhile, was directed by former Hitchcock cinematographer Ted Tetzlaff and set in Panama City (but actually filmed on the RKO lot). Eddie Muller and Alan K. Rode of the Film Noir Foundation will introduce the 35mm double feature. Egyptian Theatre, 6712 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood.; Fri., April 15, 7:30 p.m.; $11. (323) 466-3456, americancinemathequecalendar.com—Michael Nordine

The idea of Midnight Cowboy as a midnight movie seems obvious in hindsight — and not just because of its title. The first real New Hollywood movie to win Best Picture at the Academy Awards (as well as the only X-rated film to win in any category) stars Jon Voight in the title role, a Texan whose big-city aspirations are far from the seedy reality that awaits him in New York City. Like the film itself, the relationship he forms with Dustin Hoffman's con man is by turns affecting and dispiriting, the kind of nuanced dynamic that so many filmmakers had down to a T in the late 1960s and early '70s. Nuart Theatre, 11272 Santa Monica Blvd., West L.A.; Fri., April 15, 11:59 p.m.; $11. (310) 473-8530, landmarktheatres.com—Michael Nordine

sat 4/16

Judging by the prodigious number of California outlets participating in Record Store Day 2016, purists can declare that vinyl is far from dead. Actually, they can gloat: 2015 vinyl sales outpaced cash generated by streaming music, the world's most popular method of auditory acquisition, by a cool $30 million. Today, celebrate analog, knowing there will never be a national "Mp3apalooza." Celebrate the knowledgeable clerk (as brick-and-mortar shops are making a comeback) and celebrate — from Poo-Bah in Pasadena to Freakbeat in the SFV, from Claremont's Rhino to Covina's Kaos — the warmth of analog and the human touch. Various locations; Sat., April 16. recordstoreday.com. —Skylaire Alfvegren

The Huntington's Shakespeare Day is among the worldwide events marking the 400th anniversary of the death of the most performed playwright in history. The daylong family celebration features traditional and new interpretations of the Bard's canon throughout the library's grounds: the Independent Shakespeare Company and Guild of St. George perform scenes from The Taming of the Shrew, Hamlet and Richard III; L.A. Opera sings songs from Shakespeare-inspired operas; Music Center's Will & Company presents an adaptation of Romeo and Juliet for school kids; and students from the East L.A. Performing Arts Academy at Esteban E. Torres High School present excerpts from Twelfth Night. The event also includes workshops, crafts and demonstrations that explore more about Shakespeare and the Elizabethan era, as well as the Huntington's "First Folio" edition of Shakespeare's collected plays and related works. Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens, 1151 Oxford Road, San Marino; Sat., April 16, 11 a.m.-4:30 p.m.; $25, $21 seniors & students, $10 children, free kids under 4. (626) 405-2100, huntington.org. —Siran Babayan

Choosing among the three Decline of Western Civilization documentaries is probably a fool's errand, but Part II: The Metal Years is the sentimental favorite of many a headbanger. Penelope Spheeris (who will appear in person as part of Cinefamily's Underground USA: Indie CInema of the '80s series) would later bring her intuitive understanding of heavy music to the first Wayne's World movie, but her skills have never been on display quite as they are here. She foregrounds the subculture's decadence and excess (not that bands like W.A.S.P. needed much help) without losing sight of the flesh-and-blood people behind it, some of whom end up looking more sad than glamorous. Who could forget that swimming pool full of vodka? Cinefamily/Silent Movie Theatre, 611 N. Fairfax Ave., Fairfax; Sat., April 16, 7 p.m.; $12. (323) 655-2510, cinefamily.org—Michael Nordine

Tommy Chong and Cheech Marin break out the bandanas and suspenders in honor of 4/20 on Wednesday.
Tommy Chong and Cheech Marin break out the bandanas and suspenders in honor of 4/20 on Wednesday.
Courtesy of Ethan Miller/Getty Images

sun 4/17

Skirball Puppet Festival is the museum's fifth annual, daylong family celebration of the art form, featuring performances by Beth Peterson, Animal Cracker Conspiracy, Fratello Marionettes, the Devised Puppetry Project, Strings & Things Puppet Theatre, Robin Walsh, Jared Ramirez, Coyote Rising, Leslie K. Gray, Paul Zaloom and other artists. Small or large, these puppets range from hand to string to shadow puppets, and they tell stories inspired by Mother Goose, Leonardo da Vinci and Igor Stravinsky. The festival also includes films, workshops, stilt walkers and a communal project led by the Noah's Ark at the Skirball storytellers and Rogue Artists Ensemble. Skirball Cultural Center, 2701 N. Sepulveda Blvd., Brentwood; Sun., April 17, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.; $12, $9 seniors & students, $7 children, free kids under 2. (310) 440-4500, skirball.org. —Siran Babayan

NBC's Seeso streaming platform boasts both classic and cutting-edge comedy, from seminal Saturday Night Live up through original offerings from Upright Citizens Brigade. This weekend, new meta-series The Comedy Show Show — which captures the live experience of the industry's top weeklies and monthlies — films an episode of Bryan Cook's Competitive Erotic Fan Fiction. The writers' free-for-all/festival darling/Nerdist podcast invites a return lineup of former CEFF champions Moshe Kasher, Eliza Skinner, Ben Roy, Dave Hill, Ian Karmel, Guy Branum, Andres du Bouchet, Jackie Kashian and Solomon Georgio. Meaning it'll be creative, delightfully dirty and available online soon. The Virgil, 4519 Santa Monica Blvd., East Hollywood; Sun., April 17, 8 p.m.; free. (323) 660-4540, thevirgil.com. —Julie Seabaugh

A Josef von Sternberg double feature at the New Beverly: The King Steps Out and Ana-ta-han, his final film. Von Sternberg wrote, directed, shot and narrated the Japanese war drama that ended up being his swan song; after multiple attempts to re-edit it following a disappointing domestic release, the filmmaker eventually abandoned the project in favor of his teaching gig at UCLA. A master of lavish mise-en-scène, von Sternberg brought to each of his films an arresting visual sense that's no less remarkable half a century later. The King Steps Out will be shown on 35mm, Ana-ta-han on 16mm. New Beverly Cinema, 7165 Beverly Blvd., Fairfax; Sun., April 17, 6:30 p.m.; Mon., April 18, 7:30 p.m.; $8. (323) 938-4038, thenewbev.com—Michael Nordine

mon 4/18

It's one thing when you have to deal with your neighbors after they've found out you've got chickens in your condo — but when Joseph Stalin moves in? Longtime L.A. Weekly drama critic Steven Leigh Morris reads from his new book, Fowl Play ($16, Padaro Press), a surreal confection in which art not only imitates life, it makes it incredibly annoyed. As metaphors go, the chickens that frame Morris' book, subtitled "A Novel in Three Acts," are effective and trenchant. Siri, how do you say "hilarity ensues" in Russian? Skylight Books, 1818 N. Vermont Ave., Los Feliz; Mon., April 18, 7:30 p.m.; free. (323) 660-1175, skylightbooks.com. —David Cotner

Celebrating its 20th year, the COLCOA French Film Festival returns to L.A. for nine days of premieres. The fest screens both new films, such as opening night's North American premiere of Monsieur Chocolat, a biopic about the first black star of the French stage, and old films, including the world premiere of the restored version of Jean-Paul Rappeneau's WWII farce A Matter of Resistance starring Catherine Deneuve. On Tuesday, April 19, the fest hosts Blind Date With a French Film, its annual free screening of a surprise movie. It just might be love. Directors Guild of America, 7920 Sunset Blvd., Hollywood Hills West; Mon., April 18-Tue., April 26; $13 per screening. colcoa.org. —Gwynedd Stuart

REDCAT pays tribute to an avant-garde icon with Radical Intimacies: The 8mm Cinema of Saul Levine. Levine, who's crafted more than 100 small-gauge films in a career spanning 50-plus years, will appear in person to discuss the smattering of work on display. Said offering includes Light LicksPortrayals and other examples of his tactile, improvisatory corpus. REDCAT, 631 W. Second St., downtown; Mon., April 18, 8:30 p.m.; $11. (213) 237-2800, redcat.org—Michael Nordine

Tercell Waters of Complexions Contemporary Ballet is bendy and good. See him/them Friday through Sunday.
Tercell Waters of Complexions Contemporary Ballet is bendy and good. See him/them Friday through Sunday.
Photo by Jae Man Joo

Upcoming Events

tue 4/19

Writers Bloc presents Mary Norris discussing her book, Between You & Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen, with L.A. Times columnist and radio host Patt Morrison. Norris recounts the 30-plus thankless years she's worked as a proofreader and copy editor at the New Yorker. In this part memoir, part grammar guide — pronouns, hyphens, spelling, four-letter words — Norris looks back on the string of jobs she had before joining the New Yorker in 1978 as a "page OK'er" and one of the "prose goddesses," the venerable magazine's style standards and some of the famous writers she's copy edited, including John Updike, Pauline Kael and Philip Roth. Goethe-Institut Los Angeles, 5750 Wilshire Blvd., Miracle Mile; Tue., April 19, 7:30 p.m.; $20. writersblocpresents.com. —Siran Babayan

Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn float downriver and have a better time than just about anyone else involved with World War I in The African Queen, John Huston's classic adventure. He's a riverboat captain who never met a gin joint he didn't like; she's a missionary who never met a soul she didn't want to save. You can probably guess what happens next, but that's not to say The African Queen hasn't earned its reputation — considering the funereal mood of most action-oriented fare made today, Huston's deft balance of drama and swashbuckling is to be admired. Bogart won his only Oscar for this performance. LACMA, 5905 Wilshire Blvd., Mid-Wilshire; Tue., April 19, 1 p.m.; $5. (323) 857-6000, lacma.org—Michael Nordine

wed 4/20

UCB's annual 420 Show celebrates the herb-honoring holiday with all things weed all night long. First, UCB co-founder Matt Besser and guests bring you "comedy, music and trippy shit" in The 420 Show With Matt Besser. Later, the six-man comedy troupe of Bath Boys Presents: Foggy Noggin performs "inside a stoner's brain," followed by Stoned Scenes with Big Grande, in which the club's top cast members stage famous scenes and monologues from film and TV while under the influence. Finishing out the evening is Weed Cram, where more UCB actors, writers and directors create an entirely new sketch show also while high. UCB Sunset, 5419 W. Sunset Blvd., Hollywood; Wed., April 20, 4:20 p.m.; $5. (323) 908-8702, sunset.ucbtheatre.com. —Siran Babayan

Cheech and Chong's Up in Smoke is to 4/20 what It's a Wonderful Life is to Christmas. A movie about two stoners driving around and looking for premium pot in a van made out of weed couldn't get any more iconic. If you're sober enough to leave the house tonight, man, you can see the legendary comedians in the hazy flesh in Cheech & Chong — 420 Celebration. Richard "Cheech" Marin (still in a beanie, tank top and suspenders) and Tommy Chong (still wearing a bandana) perform a mix of new and classic comedic bits and songs, and no doubt they'll get all political on marijuana laws. The event also includes opening comedian (and Chong's wife) Shelby Chong. The Novo by Microsoft, 800 W. Olympic Blvd., downtown; Wed., April 20, 9 p.m.; $35.50-$59.50. (213) 765-7000, thenovodtla.com. —Siran Babayan

Play chess with men in tights at the Huntington's Shakespeare Day on Saturday.
Play chess with men in tights at the Huntington's Shakespeare Day on Saturday.
Courtesy the Huntington

thu 4/21

A choicely oddball venue spices up a screening of director-photographer Olivia Wyatt's Sailing a Sinking Sea, a feature-length experimental documentary about the Moken people of Burma and Thailand. The film explores the mythology-rich life of the seafaring Moken, who spend eight months of the year in thatch-roofed wooden boats, navigating the mermaid-populated waters among several islands dotted with dancing denizens and sea shanties on stilts. The film is scored by Drag City's righteous psych-jazz ambientistas Bitchin Bajas, who'll perform a live set following the screening; there's also a Q&A with the director and DJ sets by Dublab's Frosty and Arshia Haq. Velaslavasay Panorama, 1122 W. 24th St., University Park; Thu., April 21, 8 p.m.; $20. $18. (213) 746-2166, panoramaonview.org. —John Payne

Who says there's nothing good to eat in the Valley? The Taste of the Valley is the San Fernando Valley's largest wine tasting and food festival, now entering its 17th year of operation. This year's event will feature food from more than 45 restaurants and beverage tastings from 120-plus wineries, spirits producers and craft brewers. Proceeds from the festival will benefit the Valley Cultural Center, which supports local arts and community programming. Westfield Topanga, 6600 Topanga Canyon Blvd., Canoga Park; Thu., April 21, 5-8:30 p.m.; $55 advance, $65 at the door. (818) 594-8740, valleycultural.org/the-taste-of-the-valley. —Garrett Snyder

Between Bernie's "are you ready for a political revolution" battle cry, our delirious coast-to-coast illuminati-oligarchy paranoia and the right wing's delicious, fist-shaking outrage over "paid professional protesters," Micah White's new book, The End of Protest: A New Playbook for Revolution, could not have arrived at a more propitious moment. White, one of Occupy's original Zucotti Park spearheads, has perpetrated a rich reflection on our quagmire of culture, corruption and the future of activism, politics and spirituality, which provides compelling context and proposes a call to action at a critical point in time when misery-infused doom seems like the prevailing national menu selection. Vroman's Bookstore, 695 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena; Thu., April 21, 7 p.m.; free, book is $20. (626) 449-5320, vromansbookstore.com. —Jonny Whiteside

Matters pertaining to past and present, life and death and almost everything exist on a sliding scale in the fictional worlds of Apichatpong Weerasethakul, many of which are sly political reveries about his native Thailand. Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives, which would be his crowning achievement even if it hadn't won the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival in 2010, makes its fantastical elements (reincarnation, talking fish) feel familiar and even comforting. It stands as one of the best, most beguiling films in recent memory — and certainly the only one featuring ghost monkeys. CSUN, 18111 Nordhoff St., Northridge; Thu., April 21, 7 p.m.; free. (818) 677-1200, csun.edu. —Michael Nordine

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