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

Downtown Bookfest returns to Grand Park on Saturday.
Downtown Bookfest returns to Grand Park on Saturday.
Courtesy Javier Guillen for Grand Park

An art extravaganza in Pasadena, a book extravaganza downtown and more fun things to do in L.A. this week.

fri 3/10

ArtNight Pasadena is the city's twice-yearly tradition of free art, music and other entertainment, which last fall attracted 28,000 visitors. Eighteen of the area's art and cultural institutions extend their hours, and some will have food trucks parked outside. It's a sizable spread, so you can either walk to the venues or take advantage of complimentary shuttle rides, whether you want to listen to soul music at the Jackie Robinson Community Center, hear poetry at the Pasadena Museum of California Art or admire works by Rembrandt, Van Gogh, Degas and Picasso at the Norton Simon Museum. Various locations, Pasadena; Fri., March 10, 6-10 p.m.; free. artnightpasadena.org. —Siran Babayan

With a tragic, romantic plot that focuses on two lovers swept up in the conflicts of rival gangs in New York City, West Side Story has always been emotionally darker and more unexpectedly violent than other musicals from Hollywood's Golden Age. Composer Leonard Bernstein and lyricist Stephen Sondheim infused storyteller Arthur Laurents' makeover of Romeo and Juliet with memorably passionate songs, and Jerome Robbins artfully choreographed the fight scenes with a soaring, balletic bravado. Many remember as the definitive version the 1961 film with Natalie Wood and Richard Beymer, but in this new production directed by Richard Israel, the musical returns to the immediacy of its Broadway roots with a vibrant cast that includes Ashley Marie (as Maria), Eddie Egan (Tony) and Marlene Martinez (Anita). Valley Performing Arts Center, 18111 Nordhoff St., Northridge; Fri., March 10, 8 p.m.; Sat., March 11, 3 & 8 p.m.; Sun., March 12, 3 p.m.; $33-$75. (818) 677-3000, valleyperformingartscenter.org. —Falling James

It's surely a coincidence that the Aero is screening Gaslight so soon after Donald Trump took office — it's not like they played The Great Dictator the day of his inauguration or anything. George Cukor's psychological slow burner is paired with another drama of manipulation, Sudden Fear, with an introduction by The Love Witch director Anna Biller. Ingrid Bergman (who won an Oscar) and Joan Crawford (who earned a nomination) are the beguiled wives in question; if they made it out OK, maybe there's hope for the rest of us? Aero Theatre, 1328 Montana Ave., Santa Monica; Fri., March 10, 7:30 p.m.; $11. (323) 466-3456, americancinemathequecalendar.com. —Michael Nordine

They Live has come here to chew bubble gum and kick ass — and it's all out of bubble gum. John Carpenter's 1988 cult classic feels as cutting as ever (if not more so) given the current administration, with the late, great "Rowdy" Roddy Piper's greatest screen performance serving as a populist yawp for all disenchanted Americans to echo. Cinefamily's midnight screening on 35mm is apropos of the film itself, which always felt like a secret the Man didn't want you to know about. Cinefamily/Silent Movie Theatre, 611 N. Fairfax Ave., Fairfax; Fri., March 10, 11:59 p.m.; $12. (323) 655-2510, cinefamily.org. —Michael Nordine

sat 3/11

Denizens of D.C. have to wait another couple weeks for their cherry blossom festival to kick off, but here in Southern California, the pink buds are already in bloom. This is the second weekend of Descanso Gardens' Cherry Blossom Festival, celebrating this spectacular symbol of the arrival of spring. Besides scheduled walks through the cherry blossoms, this weekend's festivities include origami-folding workshops, Japanese cuisine for purchase in the Camellia Lounge and taiko drumming from On Ensemble. Advance reservations are required. Descanso Gardens, 1418 Descanso Drive, La Cañada Flintridge; Sat.-Sun., March 11-12, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.; $9 adults, $6 students & seniors, $4 children. (818) 949-4200, descansogardens.org. —Gwynedd Stuart

This year, Downtown Bookfest at Grand Park is partnering with the City of L.A. Department of Cultural Affairs' Big Read to celebrate the poetry of Emily Dickinson. The annual literary gathering highlights the work of L.A.-based writers and publishers with daylong readings, spoken word and activities featuring members of 826LA, Get Lit Players and others. You can catch performances by Mayda Del Valle, David Prather and Cut Chemist + Hymnal, take part in a book-making workshop inspired by Dickinson's collection of 400 plant specimens, pose for pictures in a Victorian-themed photo booth or write poems on vintage typewriters. And if you want to skip a trip to the bookstore, Red Hen Press, Skylight Books and Get Lit Publications will sell books and other souvenirs in pop-up bookshops. Grand Park, 200 N. Grand Ave., downtown; Sat., March 11, noon-5 p.m.; free. grandparkla.org/event/downtown-bookfest. —Siran Babayan

Born in the United Kingdom and based in Hong Kong, artist Simon Birch created the nonprofit 14th Factory Foundation in order to produce art experiences that serve as vehicles for social change. The 14th Factory has come to Los Angeles, transforming a huge lot and 150,000-square-foot warehouse into a maze of modular micro-exhibitions. Sixteen international artists give us their take on the current political climate, with everything from architecture, photography, video, design and performance art to painting, sculpture, installations and other mixed-media works. The 14th Factory Pop-Up Space, 440 N. Avenue 19, Lincoln Heights; Sat., March 11, 10 a.m.-10 p.m. (runs through April 30; hours vary; closed Mondays); $18, $15 in advance. (323) 223-3474, the14thfactory.com. —Tanja M. Laden

UCLA offers a night of Classic Animated Shorts From Paramount, with 35mm restorations of such old-timey favorites as Raggedy Ann and Raggedy Andy, A Cartoon Travesty of the Raven and Educated Fish. Max and Dave Fleischer are responsible for the lion's share of cartoons being showcased, while stop-motion innovator George Pal will be represented by his 1941 short Rhythm in the Ranks. Adult Swim this is not, but the charm and ingenuity of animation circa the 1930s and '40s is hard to replicate — especially when it's shown on actual film stock. UCLA's Billy Wilder Theater, 10899 Wilshire Blvd., Westwood; Sat., March 11, 7:30 p.m.; $10. (310) 206-8013, cinema.ucla.edu. —Michael Nordine

ARRAY @ the Broad presents Ousmane Sembène's Black Girl, a vital work of African cinema and an enduring look at the pain of constantly being made to feel Other. About a young woman who travels from Senegal to France to work as a domestic servant, where she experiences racism both overt and subtle, it introduced the man now regarded as "the father of African film" to the international cinema community and laid the groundwork for a generation of productions to follow. Selma and 13th director Ava DuVernay curates the ongoing series, which includes same-night access to the Broad starting at 5:30 p.m. REDCAT, 631 W. Second St., downtown; Sat., March 11, 8 p.m.; $20. (213) 237-2800, redcat.org. —Michael Nordine

sun 3/12

Famed Star Trek actor and community leader George Takei is the subject of the Japanese American National Museum's latest exhibit, "New Frontiers: The Many Worlds of George Takei." The display's timeline follows the L.A.-born Takei's life and career, from his family's incarceration in the Japanese-American internment camps in California and Arkansas during WWII and his many film and TV roles to his outspoken gay activism and stints in public service, including serving on the Southern California Rapid Transit District. Among the collection's personal items are photographs, artwork, scripts, awards, campaign materials from Takei's 1973 bid for a seat on the Los Angeles City Council and the torch he carried in the leadup to the 1984 Summer Olympics in L.A. Japanese American National Museum, 100 N. Central Ave., downtown; Sun., March 12, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. (runs through Aug. 20); $10, $6 seniors & students, free children under 5. (213) 625-0414, janm.org. —Siran Babayan

Laserium was once a quintessential SoCal experience, running for almost 30 years at the planetarium at Griffith Observatory until it shut down for renovation in 2002. You got high and saw a laser light show in a theater, a communal experience that might seem quaint in an era of streaming entertainment on mobile devices. But what better time than now to get whacked out, forget about your problems and watch laser beams and animation choreographed to some of the druggiest rock music ever recorded? Founded by creator Ivan Dryer in 1973, the Van Nuys–based company still produces events all over the world. Tonight, Laserium and Spaceland co-present laser tributes to The Beatles, followed by Pink Floyd's The Dark Side of the Moon and Nine Inch Nails. You can attend one show or — if you're feeling very comfortably numb — sit through all three. The Regent Theater, 448 S. Main St., downtown; Sun., March 12, 5, 7 & 9 p.m.; $16.50-$18, $40-$45 for all three shows. (323) 284-5727, theregenttheater.com. —Siran Babayan

Upcoming Events

Part of the 1960s postmodern dance movement centered at New York's Judson Church, Trisha Brown's 50-year career defies easy categorization and explains why UCLA's weeklong Trisha Brown Retrospective Project in 2013 in venues ranging from the Getty rooftops to the Royce Hall's stage only whetted appetites for more. Again organized by CAP UCLA, over the past week Trisha Brown: In Plain Site Los Angeles has hosted site-specific public performances, mostly free, all over town at art institutions that signed on to be sponsors as well as sites for Brown's unpredictable, inventive, thoughtful and often witty choreography. This weekend's finale moves from the Getty Center (Friday) to LACMA (Saturday) and winds up at Hauser Wirth & Schimmel, a recent addition to the Arts District, housed in a repurposed flour factory. The free public performance is followed by a big-ticket benefit for CAP UCLA. Hauser Wirth & Schimmel, 901 E. Third St., downtown; Sun., March 12, 4:30 p.m.; free. cap.ucla.edu. —Ann Haskins

Neither Diary of a Mad Housewife nor Play It as It Lays is available on DVD, making the New Beverly's 35mm double bill all the more alluring. Frank Perry's two literary adaptations — one from Sue Kaufman, the other from Joan Didion's landmark L.A. novel — were released within a few years of each other, exploring early-'70s malaise from the perspective of beleaguered women at their wits' end. New Beverly Cinema, 7165 Beverly Blvd., Fairfax; Sun., March 12, 6:30 p.m.; Mon., March 13, 7:30 p.m.; $8. (323) 938-4038, thenewbev.com. —Michael Nordine

Six years later, no movie has come close to surpassing The Tree of Life as the most transcendent movie of this strange, surreal decade. If you've never seen Terrence Malick's instant all-timer on the big screen, the Egyptian offers a chance to correct that cosmic oversight as part of a weekend tribute to the philosophically minded writer-director. From the backyard of a small home in Texas to the birth of the universe, The Tree of Life literally has it all (including dinosaurs). Egyptian Theatre, 6712 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood; Sun., March 12, 7:30 p.m.; $11. (323) 466-3456, americancinemathequecalendar.com. —Michael Nordine

See art at 14th Factory
See art at 14th Factory
Simon Birch, Meteor

mon 3/13

Space plays host to some of mankind's most fantastic dreams and aspirations, from walking on the moon to the eventual colonization of other planets. Incidentally, it's also the setting of one of the most terrifying movies ever made, the 1997 critical and box office failure–turned–cult classic Event Horizon. A team of astronauts goes in search of a lost craft and its crew, and discovers that sometimes black holes lead to places that are better left unexplored. In honor of the film's 20th anniversary, horror con and fan site Mad Monster hosts a screening at TCL Chinese Theatres. It's guaranteed to make you cover your eyes, if only to make sure your eyeballs are still in their sockets. TCL Chinese Theatres, 6925 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood; Mon., March 13, 9 p.m.; $13. madmonster.com/features/movienight. —Gwynedd Stuart

tue 3/14

Sometimes the most pivotal figures in art are its enthusiasts. Legendary art dealer Virginia Dwan speaks with LACMA director Michael Govan, minimalist art expert James Meyer and modern art aficionado Stephanie Barron about her life and times running galleries in Westwood (1959-67) and New York (1965-71), the logistics and arcana behind her boredom-shattering exhibitions of everyone from Edward Kienholz to Yves Klein and Robert Smithson, and how she got her hands dirty cheerleading the dawn of land art. It's a more expansive aspect of the "Los Angeles to New York: Dwan Gallery, 1959-1971" exhibition, which opens March 19. Bing Theatre at LACMA, 5905 Wilshire Blvd., Mid-Wilshire; Tue., March 14, 7 p.m.; free (ticket required). (323) 857-6010, lacma.org/event/virginia-dwan. —David Cotner

Comedian-actor John Early is all over the place these days. Last year he played a vapid, gay millennial on TBS' recently renewed comedy Search Party, starring Arrested Development's Alia Shawkat and co-created by Michael Showalter, and appeared on Netflix's sketch series The Characters. This year Early teamed up with frequent creative partner Kate Berlant for Vimeo web anthology 555, co-produced by Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim. Similar to the monthly variety show Showgasm he hosted in his native New York, Early kicks off a monthly residency at the Satellite. Tonight's lineup features stand-up by Sam Jay, Frankie Quinones and Baskets actress Martha Kelly, in addition to music by house band BUCK. The Satellite, 1717 Silver Lake Blvd., Silver Lake; Tue., March 14, 9 p.m.; $8. (323) 661-4380, thesatellitela.com. —Siran Babayan

Thirty-six years and 17 Oscar nominations ago, Meryl Streep was The French Lieutenant's Woman. Featuring two affairs in one, Karel Reisz's adaptation of the novel by John Fowles stars Streep and Jeremy Irons as actors whose illicit romance takes place both in front of and behind the camera — both with disastrous consequences. LACMA screens it on 35mm in the early afternoon, the perfect time to sneak into the theater with a secret lover of your own. LACMA, 5905 Wilshire Blvd., Mid-Wilshire; Tue., March 14, 1 p.m.; $4. (323) 857-6000, lacma.org. —Michael Nordine

wed 3/15

Ronna and Beverly, the respective creations of L.A. comedians/writers Jessica Chaffin and Jamie Denbo, are the archetypal talkative, overbearing Jewish matriarchs. Since 2011, Ronna Glickman (the raspy-voiced one) and Beverly Ginsberg (the one who wears two pairs of glasses and a Lainie Kazan wig) have hosted a biweekly podcast in which they sing their children's praises in their native Boston accents, crack wise about current events and interview celebrities. (On a recent episode, they likened living in America after Donald Trump's win to sitting shiva. "The nation gained a collective 4½ pounds," they joked.) Past guests have included Jon Hamm, Amy Poehler, Maya Rudolph, Russell Brand, Eli Roth, Matthew Perry, Mindy Kaling and Jeff Garlin. They also boast about having co-authored their best-selling, nonexistent book, You'll Do a Little Better Next Time: A Guide to Marriage and Re-marriage for Jewish Singles. For their first live taping at Largo, they sit down with America Ferrara and Paul F. Tompkins to gab and offer plenty of unsolicited advice. Largo at the Coronet, 366 N. La Cienega Blvd., Beverly Grove; Wed., March 15, 8 p.m.; $30. (310) 855-0350, largo-la.com. —Siran Babayan

thu 3/16

The brutal beating of Rodney King by LAPD officers is frequently cited as being an impetus for the L.A. Riots, which took place 25 years ago this April. Less frequently do people remember Latasha Harlins, a 15-year-old girl who was shot in the back of the head by Korean convenience store clerk Soon Ja Du after a dispute over orange juice. Du was tried and convicted of voluntary manslaughter, and was sentenced to probation and community service and had to pay a $500 fine but served no prison time. In honor of Harlins and girls who have or will suffer similar fates, the California African American Museum hosts a panel discussion called #BlackGirlsMatter, featuring Brenda Stevenson, professor of history, UCLA; Funmilola Fagbamila, professor, activist, and an original member of Black Lives Matter; Shamell Bell, UCLA doctoral candidate and an original member of BLM; Tia Oso, national organizer, Black Alliance for Just Immigration; Denise Harlins, Latasha's aunt; and Britni Danielle, Ebony Magazine. CAAM, 600 State Drive, Exposition Park; Thu., March 16, 7-9 p.m.; free with RSVP. (213) 744-2024, caamuseum.org. —Gwynedd Stuart

Tonight's screening of Tony Conrad: Completely in the Present is the West Coast premiere of Tyler Hubby's documentary on Conrad, whose art involved the leading lights of the American avant-garde — La Monte Young, Lou Reed — for more than 50 years, disseminating new ideas and strange noises into popular culture at large. If that's not enough, Henry Rollins will moderate a postscreening conversation between Hubby and artist Tony Oursler, and then Kim Gordon of Sonic Youth will play everyone off with a passel of drones in honor of the man now playing in his own Theatre of Eternal Music. It's all part of the Broad and the Ace's ongoing Un-Private Collection series. The Theater at Ace Hotel, 929 Broadway, downtown; Thu., March 16, 8 p.m.; $18. (213) 623-3233, acehotel.com/calendar/losangeles/un-private-collection-tony-conrad-completely-present. —David Cotner


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