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

Our annual art party Artopia returns on Saturday — this time to Union Station.EXPAND
Our annual art party Artopia returns on Saturday — this time to Union Station.
Star Foreman

The L.A. Trans Chorus performs a Bowie album in its entirety, Elvis impersonators descend on Garden Grove, the Hammer screens movies about dance, and more to do and see in L.A. this week.

fri 8/25

In 1990, Depeche Mode famously caused a riot outside the Wherehouse record store on La Cienega while promoting Violator, their biggest-selling album. In 1988, they played to more than 65,000 people at the Rose Bowl, their biggest concert. Directed by David Dawkins, Chris Hegedus and D.A. Pennebaker (the man behind Monterey Pop, Bob Dylan: Don't Look Back and Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars), the 1989 documentary Depeche Mode: 101 captures not only the band's performance — the 101st of their worldwide Music for the Masses tour — but the eight lucky kids who won a radio contest in New York and got to ride cross-country and meet the group at the show. If you're a Depeche Mode devotee of a certain age, the film is a joyful time capsule of big hair, biker shorts and music back when it was a communal experience IRL. It's also proof that Los Angeles had and will forever have the monopoly on Depeche Mode fandom. Hosted by Eat See Hear, the screening includes host and DJ Richard Blade, who appears in the movie, and food trucks. Rose Bowl, 1001 Rose Bowl Drive, Pasadena; Fri., Aug. 25, 5-11 p.m.; $13-$27. (626) 577-3100, eatseehear.com. —Siran Babayan

iO, the famed improv institution that helped launch the careers of Stephen Colbert, Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Mike Myers and many others, hosts its inaugural Summer Competition Series. Each week through September, three teams of improvisers fight for comedic supremacy. Teams get 20 minutes apiece to perform according to various rules — suggestions from opposing teams, suggestions from audience members, suggestions based off someone's iPod playlist — for a chance to win valuable prizes including flowers, bath soap, name tags or just bragging rights. Tonight's lineup features Spice Goats, Boo Boo Bears and Absolutely Not. iO West, 6366 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood; Fri., Aug. 26, 8 p.m.; free. (323) 962-7560, io-west.com. —Siran Babayan

sat 8/26

A nude texting pop-up, an appearance by found-footage freaks Everything Is Terrible! and a neon light installation by the fabricator who designed the "Celebrate" Forever Stamp represent just a small sampling of the experiences on hand at LA Weekly's very own annual art party Artopia. For the second year, DJ collective dublab helped to curate a line-up of artists and creatives (not to mention DJs) that represents the best and most cutting edge of what L.A. has to offer. This year, Artopia takes over Union Station, a work of art in and of itself. There's also gratis beer, wine, cocktail and food samples — it's going to be way more fun than your average Instagram photo opp. Union Station, 800 N. Alameda St., downtown; Sat., Aug. 26, 8-11 p.m.; $30-$50. artopia.laweekly.com.

Japan's most famous feline export (besides the cat that waves at you in convenience stores) returns to L.A. as Sanrio hosts the grand reopening of its Japanese Village outpost. The front of the store has remained the same — with all the fun Sanrio store stuff from pencil cases to plushes featuring characters like Little Twin Stars, Keroppi and, of course, Hello Kitty — but the back has been transformed into Sanrio Kawaii Mart, Sanrio's take on a convenience store inspired by the brand's pop-up grocery store in Hong Kong. This second weekend of festivities includes appearances by Hello Kitty herself on Friday and Saturday, and an appearance by disgruntled office-working metalhead Aggretsuko on Sunday. Sanrio Japanese Village, 115 Japanese Village Plaza Mall, downtown; Sat., Aug. 26, 10 a.m.-11 p.m. (also Fri. & Sun., Aug. 25 & 27); free, RSVP suggested. facebook.com/events/840973036065875. —Gwynedd Stuart

In the wake of Trump's proposed ban on transgender troops from the military, it's even more crucial to support the trans community. Led by artistic director Lindsey Deaton, the Trans Chorus of Los Angeles is the largest chorus of trans and gender-nonconforming performers in the world. A little more than a year old, the chorus debuted its first staged concert in April at the Los Angeles LGBT center, where 25 members paid tribute to David Bowie, one of music's greatest LGBT icons, by singing the entirety of The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars. Following those sold-out shows, TCLA's singers once again will bring out their inner rock-star aliens in these encore performances of the classic 1972 record, complete with costumes, as well as cover songs by other artists. Los Angeles LGBT Center's Renberg Theatre, 1125 N. McCadden Place, Hollywood; Sat., Aug. 26, 8 p.m.; Sun., Aug. 27, 2 p.m.; $35. (323) 860-7300, lalgbtcenter.org. —Siran Babayan

The Los Angeles Food & Wine Festival may be the biggest (it's certainly the flashiest) food event of the year for high rollers. You medium rollers can buy tickets à la carte, rather than for the whole four-day event. Saturday is the marquee day, featuring the Lexus Grand Tasting Event at Barker Hangar in Santa Monica. Two hundred wineries will be pouring their elixirs, and about 25 chefs — all ready to sign books and take photos — will be serving up food samples. Later that evening, at Live on Grand downtown, about 30 chefs will be on hand, dishing out bites of their best-known dishes, while Wyclef Jean serenades everyone from the stage. Barker Hangar, 3021 Airport Ave., Santa Monica; Sat., Aug. 26, noon-3 p.m.; $175. lafw.com. —Katherine Spiers

Discovering Buster Keaton is like finding gold in your backyard. As a comedian, he can do funny with the best of them (Charles Chaplin, Harold Lloyd), but as a filmmaker keenly aware of the ways in which cinema works on our minds and emotions, he may have surpassed his contemporaries. The American actor, cartoonist, magician and stand-up comedian Paul Dooley knew Keaton personally and professionally, which makes his appearance at the Spielberg on Saturday so special. Three of Keaton's best short films will screen on 16mm: One Week, The Goat and The Playhouse. The indispensable Cliff Retallick will provide live musical accompaniment. Dooley will introduce the program and reminisce about his relationship with the Great Stone Face. Spielberg Theatre at the Egyptian, 6712 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood; Sat., Aug. 26, 7:30 p.m.; $12. (323) 466-3456, americancinematheque.com. —Nathaniel Bell

One of the most mindbogglingly enjoyable cult flicks of the 1980s, John Carpenter's They Live has only gained momentum since its original release, accruing a fan base that worships it variously for its bizarre premise, its Reagan-era capitalist critique and its muscular performance by former wrestler "Rowdy" Roddy Piper. The New Beverly Cinema will screen it at midnight to a sold-out house, but the rabidly curious might want to take their chances in the standby line. OBEY. New Beverly Cinema, 7165 Beverly Blvd., Fairfax; Sat., Aug. 26, 11:59 p.m.; $8. (323) 938-4038, thenewbev.com. —Nathaniel Bell

Bust out the stick-on sideburns for Garden Grove's Elvis Festival on Sunday.EXPAND
Bust out the stick-on sideburns for Garden Grove's Elvis Festival on Sunday.
Hal Wallis Productions

sun 8/27

If you enjoy watching aging men with stick-on sideburns swivel their pelvises, the Elvis Festival in Garden Grove is the place for you. The King of Rock & Roll died 40 years ago this month, and for 18 of those years, a dedicated group of fanatics has hosted this annual day of tribute bands, tribute art and tribute peanut butter–and-banana sandwiches. Besides the slate of professional impersonators, this year's fest features the Crème de la King Finals, a karaoke contest featuring the top 12 singers from previous semi-finals. There's also a gallery of Elvis tattoo art, Elvis collectibles, the King of Cadillacs car show and a performance by Krazy Kirk and the Hillbillies, which may be the best band name ever. Elvis would approve. Main Street between Garden Grove Boulevard and Acacia Parkway, Garden Grove; Sun., Aug. 27, 9 a.m.-6 p.m.; free. (714) 267-4657, facebook.com/elvisfestival. —Gwynedd Stuart

Concerned about Republican efforts to shut down Planned Parenthood, activists Amelia Bonow, Lindy West and Kimberly Morrison launched the viral movement #ShoutYourAbortion in 2015, which, to date, has attracted more than 300,000 users of the hashtag on Twitter. The online forum and various live events around the country attempt to not only destigmatize abortion but to encourage women to share their experiences without ridicule. Tonight, UCB hosts A Very Special ASSSSCAT to Benefit #ShoutYourAbortion. ASSSSCAT is the theater's improv mainstay, which combines resident improvisers with celebrity monologists. The lineup features Andrew Daly, Betsy Sodaro and UCB co-founder Matt Besser, in addition to guest actresses Retta and Jenny Slate, both of whom have appeared on Parks and Recreation, among other film and TV roles. (Slate had a star turn in 2014's Obvious Child, a movie about a stand-up comic who has an abortion.) Bonow and West will be on hand to discuss the social media campaign and answer questions. UCB Sunset, 5419 W. Sunset Blvd., East Hollywood; Sun., Aug. 27, 7 p.m.; $100. (323) 908-8702, sunset.ucbtheatre.com. —Siran Babayan

UCLA concludes its extensive John Huston retrospective with the director's last two films. Prizzi's Honor, an intricately plotted, pitch-dark comedy about two mob assassins (Jack Nicholson and Kathleen Turner) who fall in love and marry, features a showstopping role for Huston's daughter, Anjelica. The Dead, adapted from James Joyce's short story, was directed from a wheelchair as Huston was dying of cancer. It's a deeply moving swan song for one of the most successful careers ever forged in Hollywood. UCLA's Billy Wilder Theater, 10899 Wilshire Blvd., Westwood; Sun., Aug. 27, 7 p.m.; $10. (310) 206-8013, cinema.ucla.edu. —Nathaniel Bell

mon 8/28

In his new book Hollywood Obscura: Death, Murder and the Paranormal Aftermath, author Brian Clune digs into the dirty details of a dozen of L.A.'s most notorious deaths, from the murder of Biggie Smalls to the accidental death of Thelma Todd (or was it an accident?). As the book's subtitle indicates, Clune also details the ghost stories and spooky goings-on that have been reported in the wake of the deaths, for instance, the woman seen peeking out of the window of the Los Feliz mansion where a doctor killed his wife and then himself in 1959. Clune discusses his research at this free event — the squeamish need not apply. The Last Bookstore, 453 S. Spring St., downtown; Mon., Aug. 28, 7:30 p.m.; free, RSVP requested. (213) 488-0599, lastbookstorela.com. —Gwynedd Stuart

The Moth GrandSLAM: Growing Pains features stories from previous StorySLAM champions about how they broke free of whatever cocoon they were hot-rodding in at the time to experience the wrenching transformations that made them better human beings. From explosions in the heart to expulsions from the head, tale tellers Alisha Brophy, Jen Curcio, Rachel Duboff, Katya Duft, Kate Romero, Nick Ross, Josh Silberman, Samuel Spitale, Moses Storm and Matt Struski gather tonight to impart their deathless life lessons so that you, too, may better gird your loins for the changes that are doubtless ahead. The Regent, 448 S. Main St., downtown; Mon., Aug. 28, 8 p.m. (doors 7 p.m.); $25. (323) 284-5727, spacelandpresents.com/event/1527746-moth-grandslam-growing-pains-los-angeles/. —David Cotner

tue 8/29

You might have seen the YouTube video in which renowned violinist Joshua Bell busks in a Washington, D.C., metro station for about 45 minutes, unrecognized by all but one of the 1,000-plus commuters who hurry past him. Unlike some classical musicians, the Indiana native and New York resident doesn't take himself too seriously; he has appeared as himself in several episodes of Mozart in the Jungle and even backed Scarlett Johansson on the austere pop ballad "Before My Time." This evening, Bell ignites Édouard Lalo's sunny Symphonie espagnole with the L.A. Phil, which redoubtable British conductor Bramwell Tovey bookends with Igor Stravinsky's short-but-startling augury Fireworks and the ever-ebullient ballet Petrushka. Hollywood Bowl, 2301 N. Highland Ave., Hollywood; Tue., Aug. 29, 8 p.m.; $1-$154. (323) 850-2000, hollywoodbowl.com. —Falling James

The Hammer Museum hosts a special screening of Dee Rees' Pariah, the 2011 Sundance winner about a Brooklyn teenager's painful journey for sexual fulfillment. Shot in bold, saturated colors, the film is an impressionistic, emotionally authentic depiction of growing up black, gay and female. The screening will be followed by a discussion with writers Tisa Bryant and Ernest Hardy (both teachers at CalArts). UCLA's Billy Wilder Theater, 10899 Wilshire Blvd., Westwood; Tue., Aug. 29, 7:30 p.m.; $10. (310) 206-8013, hammer.ucla.edu. —Nathaniel Bell

At McSweeney's 50th Issue Release Party, authors Brian Evenson, Carson Mell, Kevin Moffett, Corinna Vallianatos and Sarah Walker appear to read new work that commemorates and celebrates 20 years of some of the best contemporary writing from the McSweeney's house of publishing, founded by Dave Eggers. Expect another fine issue of stories, manifestos, comics and other shouts from the abattoir from 50 contributors — everyone from Jonathan Lethem to Sherman Alexie to Carrie Brownstein — gracing this epic monument to artistic creativity that makes the world somewhat bearable sometimes. Skylight Books, 1818 N. Vermont Ave., Los Feliz; Tue., Aug. 29, 7:30 p.m.; free, book is $30. (323) 660-1175, skylightbooks.com. —David Cotner

See Wonder Woman in 70mm on Thursday.EXPAND
See Wonder Woman in 70mm on Thursday.
Warner Bros.

wed 8/30

This week the popular dance film series Shake It Off spotlights a college-bound street dancer and a male stripper. The emerging hit Step has put stepping back in the spotlight, but while the current film focuses on young females striving for college, 2007 hit Stomp the Yard captured the world of stepping competitions in the story of a troubled male street dancer whose college fraternity is deeply involved in stepping competitions. The 2015 film Magic Mike XXL is a sequel to the original story of male strippers, this time blending dance with a buddy road film as the title character comes out of retirement and rounds up a crew for a final finale performance, targeted toward pleasing a primarily female audience. UCLA Hammer Museum, 10899 Wilshire Blvd., Westwood; Stomp the Yard, Wed., Aug. 30, 7:30 p.m.; Magic Mike XXL, Thu., Aug. 31, 7:30 p.m.; free. (310) 443-7000, hammer.ucla.edu. —Ann Haskins

thu 8/31

For every cute video of a cat playing a musical instrument on YouTube, there's a sad video of a cat battling osteoporosis. NerdMelt's new monthly show Follow That combines live comedy with screenings of all kinds of emotional clips from the Internet usually involving handicapped animals, servicemen reuniting with families or babies being able to hear for the first time, in addition to commercials or scenes from film and TV. Hosts Matt Lieb and Jason Webb will ask the audience to pick a video category. Then comedians Mike Lawrence, Sofiya Alexandra, Taylor Tomlinson, Matt Kirshen and Andre Hyland will watch the video and perform stand-up in eight minutes or less inspired by the video, which may or may not reduce them to tears. Bring tissues. Nerdist Showroom at Meltdown Comics, 7522 Sunset Blvd., Hollywood; Thu., Aug. 31, 9-10:30 p.m.; $8. (323) 851-7223, nerdmeltla.com. —Siran Babayan

Summer is a time for studio blockbusters at the multiplex, but for more than 50 years, the Cinecon Classic Film Festival has provided an alternative for vintage movie lovers. The Labor Day weekend tradition includes rare and restored comedies, dramas, musicals, Westerns and animation that date as far back as 1918 and feature such screen legends as Boris Karloff, Bing Crosby, Ethel Merman, Spencer Tracy and Joel McCrea. There also are special programs, celebrity appearances, awards and a memorabilia show at the nearby Loews Hollywood Hotel that displays books, posters, postcards, DVDs and other collectibles. The highlight of this 53rd edition is the opening-night reception and screening of the 1928 silent short Steamboat Bill Jr., starring Buster Keaton, accompanied by a live period score. The film is preceded by a tribute to Keaton friend and 102-year-old actor-director Norman Lloyd (Hitchcock's Saboteur and Spellbound, St. Elsewhere), who, along with actress Patricia Morison, will receive the Cinecon Legacy Award presented by Judd Apatow and Howie Mandel. Egyptian Theatre, 6712 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood; Thu., Aug. 31, 5 p.m. (through Mon., Sept. 4); $40-$50. (323) 461-2020, cinecon.org. —Siran Babayan

A few weeks ago, Wonder Woman surpassed Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel to become the highest-grossing film directed by a woman. (Clearly, the rodents with the high-pitched voices were no match for WW's sword and lasso.) If you're late to the party, the American Cinematheque presents a 70mm print for a one-night-only showing. Director Patty Jenkins' DC Comics adaptation was a hit with critics and audiences alike, owing in no small part to the magnetism of Gal Gadot as the Amazonian demigoddess. Aero Theatre, 1328 Montana Ave., Santa Monica; Thu., Aug. 31, 7:30 p.m.; $15. (323) 466-3456, americancinemathequecalendar.com. —Nathaniel Bell

The original poster to George A. Romero's Knightriders ranks among the finest ever: a knight in full battle regalia (mace-and-chain, feathered helmet — the works) astride a Harley. The movie is ... less good. But the idea has a peculiar fascination, something to do with a group of traveling Renaissance Faire hippies who joust on their motorcycles and live by the Arthurian code. Made in 1980, it feels like the American counterculture's dying gasp. Obviously a personal film for its director, it runs too long at 2½ hours, but there's something sweet about the earnestness of the concept. Laemmle NoHo, 5420 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood; Thu., Aug. 31, 7:30 p.m.; $12. (310) 478-3836, laemmle.com. —Nathaniel Bell


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