22 Best Things to Do in L.A. This Week
Bjork's foray into VR opens at the Reef on Friday.
Andrew Thomas Huang
Bjork's virtual reality exhibition opens at the Reef, comedians tell stories they wouldn't want their moms to hear, East L.A. gets its first comic con, and more fun stuff to do and see in L.A. this week.
Björk's performance at Walt Disney Concert Hall on May 30, part of the Los Angeles Philharmonic's larger Reykjavik Festival, is sold out, but you can still watch Iceland's most famous star in "Björk Digital." Even better, the virtual reality experience allows you to see the singer on an Icelandic beach and in the highlands, at a concert in Tokyo and from the inside of her mouth. The touring exhibit's centerpiece is six VR videos for songs off her current album, Vulnicura, namely "Stonemilker," "Black Lake," "Quicksand," "Mouth Mantra," "Family" and "Notget." The exhibit also includes a "Biophilia" room that features apps and custom-made musical instruments, and a "Cinema" room where additional, career-spanning videos directed by Michel Gondry, Spike Jonze, Alexander McQueen and others will be screened. The Reef, 1933 S. Broadway Ave., downtown; Fri., May 19, 10 a.m.-9 p.m. (continues through June 4); $35. (800) 526-2784, laphil.com. —Siran Babayan
Dubbed the "Dean of American Cookery" by The New York Times in 1954, James Beard was a restaurateur, author of 20 cookbooks and host of the first TV food program in 1946. The Huntington screens PBS' upcoming James Beard: America's First Foodie (airing May 19), a documentary that chronicles Beard's life and career, from his childhood in Portland, Oregon, and relationship with Julia Child to the establishment of the James Beard Foundation Awards, considered the "Oscars of Food," which have handed out prizes to Wolfgang Puck, Martha Stewart, Mario Batali and Anthony Bourdain. The film is followed by a discussion, moderated by John Birdsall, featuring director Beth Federici and producer Kathleen Squires, as well as fellow restaurateur Mary Sue Milliken and baker Jim Dodge. The program also includes a reception with Beard-inspired appetizers, and wines and beers from Oregon. Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens, 1151 Oxford Road, San Marino; Fri., May 19, 6-9 p.m.; $85. (626) 405-2100, huntington.org. —Siran Babayan
Even as grown-ass adults, there are certain things we don't want our moms to know we did. Like the time I said I was going to the movies to see Coyote Ugly with my girlfriends but went instead to my boyfriend's house to do ecstasy (ha ha, just kidding, Mom). Nikki Levy and Jake Webb's show Don't Tell My Mother is dedicated to exactly those sorts of moments. This edition, the Mama's Day Extravaganza, features funny (and true) stories from The JV Club's Janet Varney, Lyric Lewis (MAD TV), Jen Kober (Snap Judgment) and Kirby Howell-Baptiste (Love), plus music by No Small Children. Ready to have your very own child who'll lie to you? California Cryobank will be on hand to raffle off a vial of sperm. Don't worry, we won't tell your mom. Busby's East, 5364 Wilshire Blvd., Mid-Wilshire; Fri., May 19, party begins at 7 p.m., show begins at 8 p.m.; $25. dtmm-show.com/mama. —Gwynedd Stuart
The Nuart is touting Andrei Tarkovsky's Stalker as "one of the most immersive and rarefied experiences in the history of cinema," and it's not overreaching. For four straight days, the theater will screen Janus Films' new digital restoration of the 1979 Soviet masterwork, giving viewers a chance to visit "the Zone" — the liminal space sought by the characters where time seems to touch the eternal and men's deepest desires are laid bare. The story falls within the precincts of the sci-fi genre, but Tarkovsky is more concerned with inner space, as any random shot will reveal. The patience required of the viewer is amply rewarded by one of the most transcendent codas in all of film. Nuart Theatre, 11272 Santa Monica Blvd., West L.A.; Fri.-Mon., May 19-22, 1, 4:30 & 8 p.m.; $9-$11. (310) 473-8530, landmarktheatres.com. —Nathaniel Bell
Love comic book conventions but don't want to deal with the crowds and hype that took over after the nerds became cool? If so, make plans to head to El Gallo Plaza on Saturday for the inaugural East L.A. Comic Con. Founded by longtime comics fans, including the owner of San Gabriel's Nostalgic Books and Comics, the newest event on the convention circuit puts the books back in the spotlight, where they belong. Guests include Alejandro R. Gamboa and Bernyce Talley (Monty Gomez is the Luchador), Richard Soto and Bruce Logan (The Legend of El Lobo), Jenn Corella (Womanthology), and more. Still, there are more than just comics here. Expect cosplay, podcasting and even appearances from members of Lucha Underground. El Gallo Plaza, 4545 E. Cesar E. Chavez Ave., East L.A.; Sat., May 20, 11 a.m.-7 p.m.; free. eastlacomiccon.com. —Liz Ohanesian
If it crawls, you'll find it at the Natural History Museum's 31st Annual Bug Fair, the largest bug fair in North America. The museum's most popular weekend event hosts more than 50 exhibitors displaying exotic insect collections, tarantulas, centipedes and millipedes, as well as honey, silk, jewelry and themed artwork. You can interact with members of the research and collections staff, while kids watch an insect parade, go on nature walks or take part in hands-on activities. If you want to add more protein to your diet, entomophagists David George Gordon and Aly Moore prepare crunchy bug snacks in a "bug chef cook-off." Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, 900 Exposition Blvd., Exposition Park; Sat.-Sun., May 20-21, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.; $12, $9 seniors and students, $5 children, free younger than 2. (213) 763-3466, nhm.org. —Siran Babayan
Sure, the SoCal BBQ Bash & Expo is an excuse to pig out on smoked meats, but it's also a celebration of barbecue culture in full. Tickets get you in the door; VIP gets you a meal, too. But a lot of people are coming to this festival to learn about barbecue, and the sessions cost $100 each: For that you'd get a cooking class with Neil Strawder, the proprietor of Big Mista's, or Sterling Smith, an award-winning pit master from Arizona. This is an official Kansas City Barbeque Society event, which means there's a competition — and winning is a big deal. Featured are a professional series and an amateur version, so if you make the best chicken and/or the best ribs in the neighborhood, consider gathering a crew and competing. Otherwise, just come to eat. Pomona Fairplex, 1101 W. McKinley Ave., Pomona; Sat., May 20, 11 a.m.-6:30 p.m.; $15 and up. (909) 865-4070, socalbbqbash.com. —Katherine Spiers
The sphinxlike Louise Brooks is a figure movie buffs have jealously kept to themselves. She was a great Hollywood star, but her most famous films were made in Germany. The American Cinematheque's one-night tribute to Brooks will feature two new, 2K digital restorations. Diary of a Lost Girl reunited her with G.W. Pabst, director of the powerfully erotic Pandora's Box, which provided Brooks with her definitive role. In Beggars of Life, Brooks disguises herself as a hobo and goes on the lam after killing her abusive stepfather. Both are opportunities to get acquainted with one of the silent screen's most fascinating personas. Show up at 6:15 p.m. for a live musical performance by The Chapwinds, a new wind ensemble specializing in film music. Egyptian Theatre, 6712 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood; Sat., May 20, 7:30 p.m.; $12. (323) 466-3456, americancinemathequecalendar.com. —Nathaniel Bell
Jonathan Demme's Stop Making Sense screens in Santa Ana on Monday.
LitFest Pasadena spotlights authors from the neighborhood and beyond, at its annual, communitywide literary gathering, taking place in and around the Pasadena Playhouse and Vroman's Bookstore. Among the 100-plus writers and presenters scheduled to appear are Noel Alumit, Heidi Durrow, Naomi Hirahara, Janis Hirsch, Micheline Aharonian Marcom, Carolina A. Miranda, Luis J. Rodriguez, Lisa Teasley and festival co-founder Jervey Tervalon, as well as L.A. Times food critic and Pulitzer Prize–winner Jonathan Gold discussing "The Legacy of Julia Child," a talk about the famous, Pasadena-born chef. New this year is the Flights of Fantasy Story Theatre at the Pasadena Public Library, as well as Sci-Fest L.A., which features readings by finalists of the Roswell Award. As always, the schedule also includes panels on such topics as "Conflict Zone Reporting for Young Female Journalists," "The Humor & Heartbreak of L.A." and "Writing in the Time of Black Lives Matter." Pasadena Playhouse, 39 S. El Molino Ave., Pasadena; Sat., May 20, 11 a.m.-10 p.m. & Sun., May 21, 11 a.m.-5 p.m.; free. litfestpasadena.org. —Siran Babayan
Don't pretend you're too highbrow for reality TV; we all watch it with the curtains drawn, even the middle-aged catfights on Bravo's The Real Housewives franchise. For the past eight years, executive producer Andy Cohen, the man behind Top Chef, Project Runway, Queer Eye for the Straight Guy and Kathy Griffin My Life on the D-List, has also hosted Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen, interviewing the network's stars, actors and other celebrities. For the first time, Cohen brings his late-night talk show to Los Angeles for a week of live tapings. So now's your chance to hear firsthand who's shading whom on your favorite shows. Palace Theatre, 630 S. Broadway, downtown; Sun., May 21, 11 p.m. (through May 25); free. (213) 488-2009, on-camera-audiences.com. —Siran Babayan
Expect the goings-on in that New Orleans apartment to be explicitly physical as Tennessee Williams' A Streetcar Named Desire receives a steamy treatment by Scottish Ballet. Blanche DuBois still relies on the kindness of strangers as she sets tragedy in motion when she takes up residence with her sister and fuming hunk of a brother-in-law. On a minimalist set that shifts to convey various locales, choreographer Annabelle Lopez Ochoa and director Nancy Meckler provide flashbacks to expand Blanche's backstory, promising the addition of a female perspective to Williams' ever-fascinating drama. The British critics called the ballet "a risk that paid off, definitely a keeper." Music Center Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, 135 N. Grand Ave., downtown; Fri.-Sat., May 19-20, 7:30 p.m. & Sun., May 21, 2 p.m.; $34-$125. musiccenter.org. —Ann Haskins
Only in L.A. do you see the words "Raymond Burr Centennial" garnishing a theater program. The burly character actor is best known as TV's beloved Perry Mason, but his numerous film roles prove that he was equally adept at playing slimy heavies. Check him out in Hitchcock's Rear Window, in which he blends pathos with menace as a neighbor suspected of a grisly murder and dismemberment. His final standoff with Jimmy Stewart is a classic of suspense staging — a moment of pure terror pierced by the surprisingly existential delivery of the line: "What do you want from me?" Life's too short to miss out on a movie this great, so don't wait until the Burr sesquicentennial to see it. Aero Theatre, 1328 Montana Ave., Santa Monica; Sun., May 21, 7:30 p.m.; $12. (323) 466-3456, americancinemathequecalendar.com. —Nathaniel Bell
John Ford's final Western, Cheyenne Autumn, is best appreciated after watching his previous three dozen or so, but even a neophyte can cherish its elegiac mood. The civil rights struggles of the early 1960s hang over the story of a cavalry officer (Richard Widmark) assigned to transport a group of Cheyenne back to their reservation. A downbeat film with a heavy social conscience, the film suggests an act of penance by a director whose representation of Native Americans had been widely criticized. The New Beverly presents an IB Tech print in a crisp salute to Ford's artistry. New Beverly Cinema, 7165 Beverly Blvd., Fairfax; Sun., May 21, 6:30 p.m.; Mon., May 22, 7:30 p.m.; $8. (323) 938-4038, thenewbev.com. —Nathaniel Bell
When director Jonathan Demme passed away last month, we lost a truly original voice in contemporary cinema, one whose diverse oeuvre included mainstream hits like Silence of the Lambs and Philadelphia, alongside more offbeat fare like the intimate, ensemble piece Rachel Getting Married. Before all that, however, Demme made Stop Making Sense, "one of the greatest rock movies ever," according to Rolling Stone. Shot over the course of three Talking Heads concerts in 1983, the film captures all of the band's New Wave quirkiness and infectious energy. Beginning with a solo, acoustic performance of "Psycho Killer" by frontman David Byrne, the rest of the band gradually takes the stage, building to an unexpectedly funky finale, thanks to guest musicians including drummer Steve Scales, guitarist Alex Weir and P-Funk keyboardist Bernie Worrell. With artful cinematography, theatrical performances and, of course, a killer soundtrack, this is a film that begs to be seen on the big screen. The Frida Cinema, 305 E. Fourth St., Santa Ana; Mon.-Tue., May 22-23, 8 p.m.; $10, $7 members; $8 seniors, students and military. thefridacinema.org/event/stop-making-sense-monday. —Matt Stromberg
Between 2012 and 2015, a Syrian teen named Mohammed Qutaish created Future Aleppo, an installation that reimagined a modern, idyllic version of his hometown, which has been devastated by Syrian civil war since 2011. Qutaish now lives with his family in a refugee camp in Turkey; a four-by-four-foot version of the 3-D model was first displayed in New York's Mmuseumm in 2016. Qutaish built his project using cardboard, glue, colored pencils and watercolors, and erected not only historic sites such as Aleppo's Citadel — a medieval, fortified palace that's considered one of the oldest landmarks in the world — but also restaurants, gardens, rooftop pools, solar panels and helicopter pads. Skirball Cultural Center, 2701 N. Sepulveda Blvd., Brentwood; Tue., May 23, noon-5 p.m. (continues through Aug. 18); free. (310) 440-4500, skirball.org. —Siran Babayan
Matthew Aucoin is a 27-year-old musical wunderkind who conducts, composes and plays piano. Last year, he was named L.A. Opera's first artist-in-residence and conducted the company's visually flamboyant production of Philip Glass' Egyptian fantasy, Akhnaten. Next year, he'll conduct his own Civil War–era work about Walt Whitman, called Crossing, for L.A. Opera, but this month Aucoin is leading a series of free, traveling recitals, "Mozart: Truth Through Beauty," in which he debunks the composer's public image and returns the focus to his actual music. Singers from L.A. Opera's Domingo-Colburn-Stein Young Artist Program revive operatic selections drawn from Mozart's short career. Brand Library & Art Center, 1601 W. Mountain St., Glendale; Tue., May 23, 7 p.m.; free. (818) 548-2051, laopera.org. —Falling James
Orson Welles co-wrote, supervised and, according to several historians, mostly directed Journey Into Fear after completing his sophomore feature, The Magnificent Ambersons. Although obscure (i.e., not on DVD), it's a highly entertaining thriller in the noir style. Joseph Cotten, who also worked on the screenplay, plays a munitions expert pursued by secret agents across the Atlantic. Among the film's clever touches is a complexly choreographed shootout involving a series of window ledges — an extravagant piece of mise-en-scène that showcases the master's baroque hand. LACMA, 5905 Wilshire Blvd., Mid-Wilshire; Tue., May 23, 1 p.m.; $4. (323) 857-6000, lacma.org. —Nathaniel Bell
The Found Footage Festival returns to L.A. for the eighth time on Thursday.
Courtesy Joe Pickett and Nick Prueher
Whether he's portraying a transgender parent on Transparent, acting up as George Bluth Sr. on Arrested Development or stealing scenes as the memorably creepy sidekick Hank Kingsley on The Larry Sanders Show, actor Jeffrey Tambor has always managed to imbue even the most ridiculous and unlikable characters with an inherent mixture of unselfconscious humor, offhand charisma and even vulnerability. Tambor maintains a certain sad-sack charm and adds a welcome, heavy dose of self-deprecation in his new book, Are You Anybody? A Memoir, which is alternately a sentimentally hilarious look at his life and an insightful handbook for actors trying to make it past the audition. The autobiography is replete with such witty non sequiturs and bon mot asides as "A Bounce commercial became a defining moment in my life." Skylight Books, 1818 N. Vermont Ave., Los Feliz; Wed., May 24, 7:30 p.m.; free. (323) 660-1175, skylightbooks.com. —Falling James
After hosting The Late Late Show on CBS for nine years, Craig Ferguson returned to TV to preside over the network's short-lived, recently canceled game show Celebrity Name Game. Ferguson is still talking to famous guests, only now on SiriusXM. He launched his daily radio show, The Craig Ferguson Show, in his Los Angeles home in February, and after only a few months, the Scottish actor and comedian has interviewed the likes of Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Morgan Freeman, Seth Meyers, Larry King, Kristen Bell, Sarah Paulson, Hugh Laurie and his former co-star on The Drew Carey Show, Drew Carey. For the show's first live taping, Ferguson sits down with guests Thomas Lennon and Mary Lynn Rajskub. Largo at the Coronet, 366 N. La Cienega Blvd., Beverly Grove; Thu., May 25, 8 p.m.; $30. (310) 855-0350, largo-la.com. —Siran Babayan
Feeling nostalgic for fuzzy, poorly edited VHS footage of exercise and instructional videos, local commercials, public access shows and home movies? Since 2004, Nick Prueher and Joe Pickett have been salvaging tapes from garage sales and thrift stores for their New York–based Found Footage Festival tour and DVDs. Pickett and Prueher (a former researcher on The Late Show With David Letterman) screen their vintage finds, while providing commentary, even where-are-they-now updates on their videos' subjects. For their latest tour, the hosts share new oddities from the Found Footage Festival Vol. 8 DVD, featuring more than 30 years' worth of VHS archives from Letterman's show, including the mating rituals of ferrets, Pete Rose talking to kids, Mickey Rooney teaching acting and Burt Reynolds doing racist impressions of Indians and Native Americans. Downtown Independent Theater, 251 S. Main St., downtown; Thu.-Fri., May 25-26, 8-10 p.m.; $15. foundfootagefest.com. —Siran Babayan
Barbra Streisand's Oscar-winning turn as Fanny Brice propelled her to instant stardom. To see her sing such numbers as "People" and "Don't Rain on My Parade" is to understand why. She summed it up best: "When I sing, people shut up." Laemmle's NoHo is showing Funny Girl as part of its Throwback Thursday series. Eat[See]Hear is partnering with the theater, which means a gourmet food truck will be close by. Laemmle NoHo, 5240 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood, Thu., May 25, 7:30 p.m.; $11. (310) 478-3836, laemmle.com. —Nathaniel Bell
Of the zillions of horror films cluttering the public domain, Messiah of Evil stands out like a severed thumb. Thom Andersen may have inadvertently boosted its reputation when he edited it into his celebrated documentary Los Angeles Plays Itself, but its eye-catching title also can be glimpsed on a theater marquee in Annie Hall. Dreamed up by husband-and-wife writing-directing team Willard Huyck and Gloria Katz (American Graffiti), the story has something to do with a woman searching for her missing father and instead finding a cult of Californian undead played mostly by unemployed NASA workers. The Cinefamily screens this seriously funky, uniquely terrifying '70s artifact in 35mm. Cinefamily/Silent Movie Theatre, 611 N. Fairfax Ave., Fairfax; Thu. May 25, 7:30 p.m.; $12. (323) 655-2510, cinefamily.org. —Nathaniel Bell
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