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

This year's Artopia is set to be even better than the last one.
This year's Artopia is set to be even better than the last one.
Nanette Gonzales

An art party at the top of a downtown skyscraper, a conversation with Pussy Riot, a comedic primer on ballot initiatives and more fun stuff to do and see in L.A. this week.

fri 11/4

Feel free to talk with your mouth full at Taste Talks L.A., a three-day conference of chefs, food writers, restaurateurs and "Milkshake" singer and celebrity chef Kelis. From Bricia Lopez of Guelaguetza and Good Food host Evan Kleiman to pastry visionary Isa Fabro and Los Angeles Magazine's Patric Kuh, the rich pageant of L.A.'s cuisine makes its triumphal appearance at this feast to end all feasts. The weekend's highlight is an All-Star BBQ, with a dozen grill stations featuring bands, chefs and personalities eagerly waiting to put their meat in your mouth. The Line Hotel, 3515 Wilshire Blvd., Koreatown; Fri., Nov. 4, 8:30-10:30 p.m.; Sat., Nov. 5, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sun., Nov. 6, noon-9 p.m.; $49-$495. (213) 381-7411, losangeles.tastetalks.com. —David Cotner

The Deer Hunter, still the best and most wrenching Vietnam movie, nears the end of its four-day residency at the New Beverly. Robert De Niro, Meryl Streep, Christopher Walken (who won a richly deserved Oscar for his performance) and John Cazale's characters hail from a coal-mining town in Pennsylvania, and it isn't until they return home — or, in some cases, don't — that the war's full effects take hold. The film was directed by Michael Cimino, whose Academy Awards for Best Picture and Director earned him the freedom to do whatever he wanted. What he wanted to do was Heaven's Gate, of course, which was such a critical and financial disappointment that it all but ruined his career. New Beverly Cinema, 7165 Beverly Blvd., Fairfax; Fri.-Sat., Nov. 4-5, 7:30 p.m.; $8. (323) 938-4038, thenewbev.com. —Michael Nordine

sat 11/5

The arts-and-culture event of the year is back and this time it's higher than ever. Artopia is taking over the OUE Skyspace in downtown L.A. (aka the top three levels of the US Bank Building, aka the place where the SkySlide is) for an evening of visual art, performance art, experiential art, VR, magic and, of course, bites and cocktails. Curated by online radio station Dublab and L.A. Weekly managing editor Drew Tewksbury, the roster includes site-specific dance performances from Heidi Duckler and Teresa "Toogie" Barcelo, video installations from Human Resources and Philip Rugo, an air sculpture by Doron Gazit, sculpture by Kiel Johnson and Curime Batliner, a 3-D installation by Elsewhere, experiential performance art by Jeepneys and a lot more. Vendors from Smorgasburg L.A. are serving bites and Effen vodka is providing the boozy beverages. Oh, and the SkySlide will be open. OUE Skyspace, 633 W. Fifth St., downtown; Sat., Nov. 5, 8-11 p.m. (VIP hour from 7-8 p.m.); $35, $30 in advance; VIP $60, $55 in advance. microapp.laweekly.com/artopia/2016. —Gwynedd Stuart

Philip Glass' opera Akhnaten rises from the tomb in a much-praised production by director Phelim McDermott of Improbable theater company. Part of Glass' "Portrait" trilogy operas including Einstein on the Beach and Satyagraha, Akhnaten traces the titular pharaoh's ascension to the throne along with his bride Nefertiti, and his vision of a monotheistic world that leads to his violent deposing. Redolent of incense, mold and fire, Glass' score is among his most compelling, full of churning rhythms and spine-tingling choral sections (sung in biblical Hebrew, ancient Egyptian and Akkadian) composed using texts taken from ancient hymns, letters and prayers. Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, 135 N. Grand Ave., downtown; Sat., Nov. 5 & 19, 7:30 p.m.; Thu., Nov. 10 & 17, 7:30 p.m.; Sun., Nov. 13 & 27, 2 p.m.; $29-$309. (213) 972-8001, laopera.org. —John Payne

Torrance's Mitsuwa Marketplace has great Japanese food year-round, but this weekend at Rising Tohoku Food Fair it will be focusing on the delights of Tohoku, a northeastern region of Japan. That was the area hit hardest by the 2011 earthquake — think of this as its coming-out party, as it reminds folks that it's ready for visitors again. There will be toy-making workshops, dance performances and photo ops with the life-sized region mascots (Musubi-maru, Haneton and Momorin), but the focus is on the food. Purchase tuna sashimi, eel bento boxes and Tohoku-grown meat and vegetables, as well as a number of desserts. Mitsuwa Marketplace, 21515 S. Western Ave., Torrance; Sat.-Sun., Nov. 5-6, 10 a.m.-7 p.m.; free. mitsuwa.com/event/rising-tohoku-food-fair-torrance-san-jose-stores. —Katherine Spiers

At Pow! The Ultimate Interactive Cosplay Burlesque Show, expect to see sendups of your favorite comic book, film, TV and video game characters up close. Devil's Playground, the burlesque company known for its outrageous parodies, such as the long-running show Star Girls, is leveling up with a new cosplay extravaganza at Koreatown's intimate Monte Cristo. Expect dancers to pop off the stage, shimmy down the pole and even hang from the air throughout the 90-minute show. The lineup reads like a who's who of L.A. burlesque, with Leigh Acosta, Audrey Deluxe, Diamondback Annie, Leggy Lass Greenleaf and many more scheduled to perform. Whether your passion is burlesque or video games, this is the place to geek out on Saturday night. Monte Cristo, 659 S. Westmoreland Ave., Koreatown; Sat., Nov. 5, 10 p.m.; $30. courtneycruz.net. —Liz Ohanesian

Speaking of Best Picture– and Director–winning Vietnam movies, Platoon celebrates its 30th anniversary at Cinefamily. Writer-director Oliver Stone is an actual veteran of the disenchanting conflict, which is reflected in the raw quality of his semiautobiographical account. Film critic Matt Zoller Seitz, who recently published a book about Stone, will appear to discuss Platoon alongside Deadwood alum/Vietnam vet Jim Beaver. Cinefamily/Silent Movie Theatre, 611 N. Fairfax Ave., Fairfax; Sat., Nov. 5, 5 p.m.; $14. (323) 655-2510, cinefamily.org. —Michael Nordine

There are two main kinds of Renée Zellweger movies: the early- to mid-2000s prestige pictures (Chicago, Cold Mountain) and the romantic dramedies that first made her a star (Jerry Maguire). Bridget Jones's Diary typifies the latter, and though Zellweger's return to her trademark franchise hasn't been a pop-culture phenomenon on the level of its predecessors, at least the original isn't going anywhere. It screens at Electric Dusk Drive-In, complete with the neurotic voice-over narration and bizarre love triangle rounded out by Hugh Grant and Colin Firth. Electric Dusk Drive-In, 2930 Fletcher Drive, Glassell Park; Sat., Nov. 5, 6:30 p.m. (doors at 5); $10 lawn, $14 car, $60 VIP. (818) 653-8591, electricduskdrivein.com. —Michael Nordine

Celebrate the cuisine of Japan's Tohoku region on Saturday.EXPAND
Celebrate the cuisine of Japan's Tohoku region on Saturday.
Courtesy Rising Tohoku Food Fair

sun 11/6

As Elon Musk plans his escape to the Red Planet, choreographer Melissa Barak and her Barak Ballet are way ahead of him thanks to NASA's Mars Rover project. Inspired by the dazzling photos the rover has sent back and the prospect of human inhabitants, Barak created Eos Chasma, set to a pulsing score by Pulitzer Prize–winning composer Julia Wolfe. Though it premiered at Virginia's Richmond Ballet, Eos Chasma's local debut is sponsored by none other than Pasadena's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the home of the Mars Rover project. A JPL scientist will be part of a postperformance discussion and JPL has provided some of those ravishing photos for a lobby display. ARC Pasadena, 1158 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena; Sun., Nov. 6, 2 p.m. (also Sat., Nov. 5, 8 p.m.); $25. barakballet.org. —Ann Haskins

More than just a festival, Mercado Sagrado is a live manifestation of the SoCal gypsy-chic lifestyle. Not only does the health-conscious marketplace feature an impressive array of eco-friendly artisans and organic food vendors, it also offers dozens of fascinating workshops, lectures, live music performances, film screenings, sound baths and more. For instance, Maja D'Aoust, aka the White Witch of L.A., discusses the eerie commonalities connecting the I Ching, DNA and artificial intelligence, while Amanda Ackerman of Plant Language lectures on "Flower Essences for Empaths." For Angelenos, the festival is a reminder that we're not undergoing a bohemian renaissance, because the culture itself never really went away. Paramount Ranch, 2903 Cornell Road, Agoura Hills; Sun., Nov. 6, 10 a.m. (also Sat., Nov. 6); $25 per day, $40 weekend pass (presale only). mercado-sagrado.com. —Tanja M. Laden

mon 11/7

Upcoming Events

After spending nearly two years in prison for staging a protest performance in a Moscow Orthodox church, Maria Alyokhina and other members of feminist punk band Pussy Riot have established themselves as poster girls for Russian dissent, touring the world and continuing to speaking out about prison reform, police brutality, LGBT rights, media censorship and other issue in their country. (The group just recently released an English-language video, "Straight Outta Vagina," filmed in L.A., and have launched MediaZona, an independent Russian news outlet.) Co-presented by Spaceland and Shepard Fairey, Pussy Riot in Conversation features Alyokhina, Fairey, MediaZona reporter Sasha Bogino and former Bratmobile singer Allison Wolfe. On this election eve, Alyokhina will no doubt discuss not only injustices in Russia but also U.S.-Russia relations, as well as oppression in the rest of the world. The Regent Theater, 448 S. Main St., downtown; Mon., Oct. 7, 7:30 p.m.; $17.50-$35.50. (323) 284-5727, theregenttheater.com. —Siran Babayan

Tomorrow is Election Day, and you know which presidential candidate you're voting for. But what about all the California propositions? Have you studied the state's 200-page-long voter guide? Should we ban the death penalty (Propositions 62 and 66)? Ban plastic bags (Proposition 65 and 67)? Legalize pot (Proposition 64)? Require condoms in adult films (Proposition 60)? If you're undecided or confused, UCB's Late Night Proposition Cram Sesh! is here to help. Hosted by Karen Baughn, 40 UCB teams and solo comedians present their pro, con or neutral takes on each of the 17 initiatives while performing sketches, improv and even songs that will make you laugh and leave you feeling informed. UCB Sunset, 5419 W. Sunset Blvd., Hollywood; Mon., Nov. 7, 10:30 p.m.; $5. (323) 908-8702, sunset.ucbtheatre.com. —Siran Babayan

The China Onscreen Biennial continues with Xu Haofeng's The Final Master at REDCAT. Xu is well known as a novelist; he co-wrote Wong Kar-wai's The Grandmaster, and he brings his ear for dialogue to this martial-arts picture set in the early 1930s. The Final Master will be preceded by Nightfall on Shanghai, a previously lost short film by Chantal Akerman that sets the cityscape to a cover of "Nights in White Satin." REDCAT, 631 W. Second St., downtown; Mon., Nov. 7, 8:30 p.m.; $11. (213) 237-2800, redcat.org. —Michael Nordine

Pussy Riot's Maria Alyokhina talks politics on Monday.
Pussy Riot's Maria Alyokhina talks politics on Monday.
Courtesy of Center for the Art of Performance at UCLA

tue 11/8

In recent months, Doug Benson and friends have talked over a movie about a demonic possession (The Conjuring 2), a movie about a bunch of a-hole magicians who can rob banks or something (Now You See Me 2) and a movie about an alcoholic superhero (Hancock). On Tuesday, the pot enthusiast and comedian takes on something even crazier: this GD presidential election. At Doug Interrupts 2016, Benson and special guests will sit themselves down on a sofa in the front row and comment as the results roll in. Depending on how things go, you just may need a laugh. Cinefamily, 611 N. Fairfax Ave., Beverly Grove; Tue., Nov. 8, 7 p.m. (a potluck dinner begins at 6 p.m.); free with registration (which doesn't guarantee admission). (323) 330-4412, cinefamily.org. —Gwynedd Stuart

Civic Engagement: Democracy in Action is an Election Day symposium that examines how responsibly citizens interact with important issues of the day. An initiative of artworxLA and TaskForce, Civic Engagement brings in students to see what they think about this election cycle, if they still have faith in democracy and what kind of artistic inspiration they draw from the current noxious political atmosphere. Children, as they say, are our future — make them into artists and we might actually have a future worth experiencing. Los Angeles Public Library, Mark Taper Auditorium, 630 W. Fifth St., downtown; Tue., Nov. 8, 11 a.m.; free. (323) 465-1404, artworxla.org/event/civic-engagement-democracy-in-action-public-presentation. —David Cotner

Escape the uncertainty and malaise of Election Day with an early-afternoon reminder of the Greatest Generation. Long before Clint Eastwood came along with Letters From Iwo Jima, Allan Dwan dramatized the World War II battle with Sands of Iwo Jima; John Wayne earned an Oscar nomination for his performance in the film, which is regarded as less straightforwardly rah-rah than you'd expect of a WWII drama starring the Duke. Bonus fact: Sands of Iwo Jima is credited with introducing the term "lock and load" into the popular lexicon. LACMA, 5905 Wilshire Blvd., Mid-Wilshire; Tue., Nov. 8, 1 p.m.; $4. (323) 857-6000, lacma.org. —Michael Nordine

wed 11/9

Eric Idle and John Cleese last appeared together in L.A. in 2014 — the year Monty Python celebrated its 40th anniversary with a string of shows in London — to chat about Cleese's memoir, So, Anyway.... The book discussion inspired the two to reteam for their current tour, John Cleese & Eric Idle: Together Again at Last ... for the Very First Time. In the show, Idle, who lives in L.A., and Cleese reminisce about meeting at Cambridge University in the early 1960s and Python's origins; perform old sketches, including some pre-Python material; sing songs, such as the happy sing-along "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life" from Life of Brian; and answer audience questions. With no hope of another Python reunion in sight, and the sad news of fellow member Terry Jones' recent dementia diagnosis, it's all the more crucial to catch these two comedic legends on the same stage while you can. Also at Pasadena Civic Auditorium, Fri., Nov. 11. Fred Kavli Theatre, Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza, 2100 E. Thousand Oaks Blvd., Thousand Oaks; Wed., Nov. 9, 7:30 p.m.; $63.50-$103.50. civicartsplaza.com. —Siran Babayan

Brian De Palma was a force of nature in the 1970s; ditto his most famous protagonist. Though a Stephen King adaptation (and one of the best at that), Carrie is also unmistakably De Palma: Psychodrama, sex and violence commingle in the unsettling manner that is his trademark. It's also terribly sad, which is sometimes forgotten when discussing the nerve-jangling, pig's blood–covered climax set during the prom from hell. To celebrate the film's 40th anniversary, Stephen Farber will hold a Q&A with members of the cast and crew. Ahrya Fine Arts Theater, 8556 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills; Wed., Nov. 9, 7:30 p.m.; $13. (310) 478-3836, laemmle.com. —Michael Nordine

thu 11/10

Born at the tail end of the 19th century, Buckminster Fuller was a man ahead of his time. After being expelled from Harvard twice, Fuller went on to become a pioneering designer, architect, inventor, theorist, environmental activist and utopian futurist whose ideas continue to be influential over three decades after his death. Sam Green's documentary The Love Song of R. Buckminster Fuller is a film as enigmatic and original as its subject. Part movie and part performance, Thursday's screening is accompanied by onstage narration from Green himself, alongside indie-rock legends Yo La Tengo, who will be performing their original score live. Skirball Cultural Center, 2701 N. Sepulveda Blvd., Brentwood; Thu., Nov. 10, 8 p.m.; $75 premium, $50 general, $40 members. (877) SCC-4TIX, skirball.org/programs/film/sam-green-and-yo-la-tengo-love-song-r-buckminster-fuller. —Matt Stromberg

To commemorate Veterans Day, Bryan Doerries' Theater of War presents a reading of Sophocles' Ajax by Doerries, Michael Imperioli and Heather Goldenhersh. Doerries, who wrote last year's memoir The Theater of War: What Ancient Tragedies Can Teach Us Today, runs the Brooklyn-based public health project, which translates Greek dramas and other classic text into everyday language and stages them as a form of therapy to servicemen, veterans, drug addicts, victims of natural disasters and at-risk people. Actors including Jake Gyllenhaal, Paul Giamatti, Jesse Eisenberg, Martin Sheen, David Strathairn, Frances McDormand, Alfred Molina and Eric Bogosian have appeared in past performances, which have taken place in prisons and military bases all over the world, including Guantanamo Bay. The reading is followed by a panel discussion. Hammer Museum, 10899 Wilshire Blvd., Westwood; Thu., Nov. 10, 7:30 p.m.; free. (310) 443-7000, hammer.ucla.edu/programs-events/2016/11/theater-of-war. —Siran Babayan

Dostoevsky's short story "White Nights" has been adapted for film more than a dozen times, with Robert Bresson's Four Nights of a Dreamer standing out as one of the most memorable. (See also: James Gray's Two Lovers starring Joaquin Phoenix, Gwyneth Paltrow and Vinessa Shaw.) A more romantic outing from the usually austere filmmaker, Four Nights tells of the relationship that forms between a man and woman who meet in Paris as one of them is about to commit suicide. CSUN, 18111 Nordhoff St., Northridge; Thu., Nov. 10, 7 p.m.; free. (818) 677-1200, csun.edu. —Michael Nordine


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