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

Check out lowriders, hot rods and Kustoms at the Cinco de Mayo Car Show on Sunday.
Check out lowriders, hot rods and Kustoms at the Cinco de Mayo Car Show on Sunday.
Courtesy the Bomb Club So.Cal

Cinco de Mayo taco madness at La Plaza de Cultura y Artes, an enamel pin art show, an animal fundraiser hosted by Paul Scheer, and more fun stuff to do and see in L.A. this week.

fri 5/5

On May 5, 1862, a ragtag group of Mexican soldiers enjoyed an improbable victory over the better-outfitted French forces in the Battle of Puebla, so now a bunch of Americans commemorate the day by eating tacos and drinking beers. Isn't history funny that way? There's no better place to do those aforementioned things than at Hecho in L.A. Taco Madness, a Cinco de Mayo taco bonanza at La Plaza de Cultura y Artes. Vendors including Mariscos Jalisco, Chichén Itzá Restaurant, Tacos Punta Cabras and Churro Boss will have eats available for purchase, and I Love Micheladas will be on the scene slinging mix to add to your Golden Road beer. Mexican-American DJ trio Metralleta de Oro and DJ Que Madre spin songs so you can dance off the tacos. And then eat more tacos. La Plaza de Cultura y Artes, 624 N. Main St., downtown; Fri., May 5, 6 p.m.-mid.; free. facebook.com/events/1845723565689543. —Gwynedd Stuart

Yes, it's customary to eat Mexican food on Cinco de Mayo (see above), but if you've got smoked meats on the brain, flee to the far reaches of L.A. County for BBQ & Beer Festival. The festivities kick off Friday with a beer-centric evening featuring free craft beer samples from local and national breweries. Saturday is all about the BBQ: Nosh on ribs and things from Busy Bee Cafe, Black Sugar Rib Company, It's in the Sauce BBQ and others, while sipping suds from national and SoCal breweries, like Angel City and Golden Road. All three days feature live music, but Sunday's focal point is the blues, with tunes from Tommy Castro and the Painkillers. Central Park, 27150 Bouquet Canyon Road, Santa Clarita; Fri., May 5, 5:30-9:30 p.m.; Sat., May 6, noon-8 p.m.; Sun., May 7, noon-6 p.m.; $40 Fri., $10 Sat. & Sun. bbqandbeerfestival.com. —Gwynedd Stuart

Upcoming Events

The death of Abbas Kiarostami last year deprived the world of one of its greatest cinematic artists. Despite this loss, Iran and its immediate neighbors continue to be a center for inventive filmmaking. One voice to recently emerge from the region is Navid Mahmoudi, whose Parting was selected as the official Afghan entry for Best Foreign-Language Film at the 2017 Academy Awards. This account of a young couple attempting to reach Europe in order to escape economic adversity has all the hallmarks of classical humanist storytelling. The film is part of a monthlong series at UCLA called In Transit: Refugees on Film, curated by Jan-Christopher Horak. With the refugee crisis continuing to rage throughout the Middle East and North Africa, this timely story puts a human face on a pressing social issue. UCLA's Billy Wilder Theater, 10899 Wilshire Blvd., Westwood; Fri., May 5, 7:30 p.m.; $10. (310) 206-8013, cinema.ucla.edu. —Nathaniel Bell

sat 5/6

For its fifth edition, the L.A. Dance Festival has gone on steroids, expanding to three weeks with a bumper crop of 45 choreographers spread over seven shows at two venues. The festival is well known as the annual event to catch up with established and emerging local dance, but this year producer Deborah Brockus has assembled an expanded roster with pretty much all of the big-name local companies and choreographers. Master classes and centralized company auditions launched the festival last weekend, but this weekend begins the Fringe performance component at the festival's traditional home near downtown; next week the action moves to West L.A. for the Main Stage shows. Diavolo Performance Space at the Brewery, 616 Moulton Ave., Lincoln Heights; Fri., May 5, 8:30 p.m.; Sat., May 6, 7 & 9:30 p.m.; Sun., May 7, 6 & 8 p.m.; $25-$30. ladancefest.org. (Also at Theater Raymond Kabbaz, 10361 W. Pico Blvd., Century City; Thu., May 11, 7:30 p.m.; Fri.-Sat., May 12-13, 8 p.m.; Sun., May 14, 6 p.m., $25-$40. theatreraymondkabbaz.com.) —Ann Haskins

Pin collecting never went away; people have long been gathering the tiny souvenirs as an extension of their love of places like Disneyland and events like the Olympics. Still, enamel pins are having a moment right now, and Gallery Nucleus is showcasing the arty variety of these collectibles with its first Pin-Pal-Palooza. The Alhambra hot spot for pop culture–related shows has assembled a hefty group of vendors, including 100% Soft, Joe Ledbetter, Kimchicat and more, to set up shop inside the gallery on Saturday afternoon. Of course, they'll have pins for purchase, in addition to other items. At press time, illustrator Kevin Jay Stanton is known to be releasing a new pin for this event; other pin debuts will be announced via Gallery Nucleus' socials. Gallery Nucleus, 210 E. Main St., Alhambra; Sat., May 6, noon-7 p.m.; free. (626) 458-7482, gallerynucleus.com. —Liz Ohanesian

Founded in 1999 by Melya Kaplan, the Santa Monica–based nonprofit Voice for the Animals promotes animal protection through education, rescue and legislation; recently, the foundation has been attempting to move a Malaysian-born elephant named Billy from the L.A. Zoo, his home since 1989, to a sanctuary where he can roam more freely. For the organization's annual fundraiser, comedian Paul Scheer hosts Wait Wait, Don't Kill Me!, a quiz-style comedy show (in the style of NPR's Wait Wait ... Don't Tell Me!), where guest panelists Craig Ferguson, June Diane Raphael, Whitney Cummings, Casey Wilson and Lily Tomlin, an honorary board member, will compete in various animal-themed games. UCLA Royce Hall, 340 Royce Drive, Westwood; Sat., May 6, 8 p.m.; $25-$100. (310) 392-5153, vftafoundation.org. —Siran Babayan

Controversial U.K. director Peter Watkins followed up his Oscar-winning The War Game with Privilege, one of the most deliriously inventive films of 1967. This oddly compelling time capsule imagines a near future wherein the youth are in thrall to a charismatic pop star (Paul Jones of British group Manfred Mann), who in turn is controlled by a nefarious super-state. Diving into the emerging youth culture with Marxist glee, Watkins comes up with a scathingly surreal satire of capitalism, religion and rock & roll. Cinefamily/Silent Movie Theatre, 611 N. Fairfax Ave., Fairfax; Sat., May 6, 10:30 p.m.; $12. (323) 655-2510, cinefamily.org. —Nathaniel Bell

sun 5/7

In 2014, the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film began including statistics on female composers in its Celluloid Ceiling Report, and the results were groan-inducing, showing that only 1 percent of the music in the top 250 films of that year was composed by women. That number had risen by the 2016 report — but only to 3 percent. The Future Is Female: A Concert for Women in Film counters those dire statistics. Here, 10 women who work in various aspects of the film and television music world will showcase their original compositions, played by the Hollywood Chamber Orchestra. They include Tori Letzler, a young composer known for her work as a singer on projects like American Horror Story: Coven and Batman v Superman; and Vivian Aguiar-Buff, who founded her own studio after working on projects like Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Big Hero 6. Ann and Jerry Moss Theater, 3131 Olympic Blvd., Santa Monica; Sun., May 7, 8 p.m.; $15. (310) 828-5582, fifconcertsandevents.com. —Liz Ohanesian

Los Angeles' love affair with the automobile goes back decades, from the era of classic Cadillacs to the latest nitrous-fueled whips. Featuring a broad range of vehicles including lowriders, hot rods and Kustoms, the Cinco de Mayo Car Show welcomes a diverse group of car enthusiasts, car clubs and solo owners to celebrate SoCal's auto obsession. Located on the grounds of the Santa Anita Race Track, the event will feature live music, DJs, Aztec and folklorico dancers, food vendors and a designated area for kids. If you want to take a break from all the chrome and glass to enjoy a more organic form of locomotion, horse races also will be taking place on-site. Santa Anita Park, 285 W. Huntington Drive, Arcadia; Sun. May 7, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; free to attend, $30 to register a car. santaanita.com/events/cinco-de-may-car-show. —Matt Stromberg

A big fat beach read of a movie, Giant more than lives up to its title. Released in 1956, George Stevens' multigenerational saga of a Texas oil family still impresses with its awesome widescreen vistas, and its racial politics have aged surprisingly well. Featuring Rock Hudson, Elizabeth Taylor and James Dean (in his final performance), and culminating in one of cinema's most exciting fistfights, the film is as irresistible as gossip. The New Beverly Cinema is breaking out a 35mm IB Tech print, so the colors should really pop. New Beverly Cinema, 7165 Beverly Blvd., Fairfax; Sun., May 7, 6:30 p.m.; Mon.-Tue., May 8-9, 7:30 p.m.; $8. (323) 938-4038, thenewbev.com. —Nathaniel Bell

Love enamel pins? Head to Gallery Nucleus in Alhambra on Saturday.
Love enamel pins? Head to Gallery Nucleus in Alhambra on Saturday.
Courtesy Gallery Nucleus

mon 5/8

In honor of that gray area where celebrity meets "they're just like us," authors Donovan Brandt, Mary Mallory and Stephen Sylvester present Hollywood at Play: The Lives of the Stars Between Takes. A rollicking compendium of movie stars doing normal things to pass the time on set or just enjoying ordinary life away from the spotlight, these images, from the collection of Eddie Brandt's Saturday Matinee, also capture a time that would otherwise be lost to the ages. Some highlights: young Marilyn Monroe, Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney putting on a show at a pool party, and Steve McQueen and his beloved motorcycle. Book Soup, 8818 Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood; Mon., May 8, 7 p.m.; free, book is $24.95. (310) 659-3110, booksoup.com. —David Cotner

If you're big on world ballet but light on frequent-flyer miles, Laemmle's Culture Vulture series has you covered. This week, it's piping in the Paris Opera Ballet's performance of Felix Mendelssohn's A Midsummer Night's Dream, based on Shakespeare's immortal comedy of marriage, magic and fairies. (For those of you who snoozed through your high school lit classes, this is the one with Puck.) Featuring choreography by George Balanchine and sets by Christian Lacroix, this promises to be a highlight of the series. Laemmle Royal, 11523 Santa Monica Blvd., West L.A. (also at the Claremont 5, Playhouse 7 and Town Center 5); Mon., May 8, 7:30 p.m.; $15. (310) 478-3836, laemmle.com. —Nathaniel Bell

tue 5/9

ABC's new family sitcom Speechless, currently in its first season, centers on a not-so-wealthy couple living in upscale Newport Beach raising three kids, including a teenager with cerebral palsy, who communicates by using a board attached to his wheelchair and with help from a school aide. Hosted by the Paley Center for Media, An Evening With Speechless features an episode screening and discussion with the cast and crew, including actors Minnie Driver, John Ross Bowie, Mason Cook, Micah Fowler, Kyla Kenedy and Cedric Yarbrough, in addition to executive producers Scott Silveri, Melvin Mar and Jake Kasdan. The Paley Center for Media, 465 N. Beverly Drive, Beverly Hills; Tue., May 9, 7 p.m.; $25. (310) 786-1000, paleycenter.org. —Siran Babayan

Usually, artists have the luxury of time when they create their art — but not tonight, when they sally forth into the breach for Art Battle Los Angeles. At this construction derby of live painting, artists use brushes, knives and other devices to whip out a work of art in 20 minutes. During this process, they're observed by potential patrons, who immerse themselves alongside the artists in the act of creation. At the end of each round, the audience votes for the best new works and bids silently on each of the subsequent masterpieces that will really tie the living room together. Boomtown Brewery, 700 Jackson St., downtown; Tue., May 9, 7 p.m.; $20, $15 advance. (213) 617-8497, artbattle.com/events/ab1611-los-angeles. —David Cotner

LACMA's Tuesday Matinees series disinters a 16mm print of Madame Du Barry, a lavish 1934 retelling of the life of the infamous courtesan (played by Mexican-born Hollywood star Dolores del Rio) who became Louis XV's last mistress. Ernst Lubitsch elegantly traversed this territory in a landmark silent film, but this impeccably coiffed comedy, made in the year the Motion Picture Production Code kicked in, remains well worth seeing. LACMA, 5905 Wilshire Blvd., Mid-Wilshire; Tue., May 9, 1 p.m.; $4. (323) 857-6000, lacma.org. —Nathaniel Bell

wed 5/10

Everyone knows Phil Rosenthal as the creator of Everybody Loves Raymond, but what you may not know is that for one season he had his own food travel show on PBS, I'll Have What Phil's Having (soon to air on Netflix). The series followed Rosenthal as he tried the cuisine in Paris, Barcelona, Tokyo, Hong Kong and parts of Italy, as well as in his home turf of Los Angeles, with help from Ray Romano, Martin Short, Norman Lear, Paul Reiser, Allison Janney, Roy Choi and Ludo Lefebvre. Moderated by food writer Lara Rabinovitch, Ph.D., Skirball Cultural Center's Hollywood at the Table features Rosenthal and Lefebvre discussing "life in the creative and culinary spotlights." Lefebvre, chef and co-owner of restaurants Trois Mec, Petit Trois and Trois Familia, will sign his first cookbook, 2005's Crave: The Feast of the Five Senses. Skirball Cultural Center, 2701 N. Sepulveda Blvd., Brentwood; Wed., May 10, 8 p.m.; $15. (310) 440-4500, skirball.org. —Siran Babayan

Czech cinema was a force to be reckoned with in the 1960s, when the counterculture spread throughout Europe and inspired some of the most delightfully anarchic comedy of its era. Today, the European Union continues to turn out plenty of social critique, as Jan Hrebejk's The Teacher demonstrates. Opening in 1983, the film follows a teacher in a suburban middle school who bullies her students and blackmails their parents. It sounds like one of the must-sees of the American Cinematheque's fourth annual Starring Europe: New Films From the EU 2017 series. A discussion with the director will follow the screening. Aero Theatre, 1328 Montana Ave., Santa Monica; Wed., May 10, 7:30 p.m.; $12. (323) 466-3456, americancinemathequecalendar.com. —Nathaniel Bell

thu 5/11

Before Woodstock, Glastonbury and Coachella, there was the Monterey International Pop Festival. Held over three days in June 1967 in Monterey, it was the first American rock festival and the breakout stage for Janis Joplin, Otis Redding and Ravi Shankar, as well as The Who and the Jimi Hendrix Experience, who, as the famous story goes, tossed a coin to see which would perform first. The Grammy Museum's current exhibit, "Monterey International Pop Festival: Music, Love and Flowers, 1967," features co-producer Lou Adler's personal artifacts, in addition to items belonging to Joplin, Hendrix, Shankar, The Grateful Dead and other concert artists and photographs by Henry Diltz, Tom Gundelfinger O'Neal, Elaine Mayes and Ed Caraeff. The display is among many 50th-anniversary events happening this year, including the Monterey International Pop Festival in June and the re-release of D.A. Pennebaker's 1968 documentary, Monterey Pop. Grammy Museum, 800 W. Olympic Blvd., downtown; opens Thu., May 11, 10:30 a.m.-6:30 p.m. (through Oct. 22); $12.95, $11.95 seniors & students, $10.95 children, free under 5. (213) 765-6800, grammymuseum.org/exhibits/current-exhibits/monterey-pop. —Siran Babayan

Despite the tequila-soaked antics of many an American spring breaker, Cinco de Mayo is not simply an excuse to party. Nor is it, as many north of the border have mistakenly assumed, Mexico's Independence Day (that would be Sept. 16). Instead the holiday commemorates the 1862 Battle of Puebla, in which an outmanned and outgunned Mexican force managed to vanquish the invading French army, then considered the finest in the world. A symbolic rather than strategic victory, the battle was a source of pride and unity for the Mexican people, and the holiday still inspires such feelings in Mexicans around the world. Rafa Lara's 2013 film Cinco de Mayo: La Batalla depicts the political machinations and military strategy behind the conflict with plenty of the action-packed battle scenes that we've come to expect from this kind of historical epic. Centro Cultural Cinematográfico México, 2401 W. Sixth St., Westlake; Thu., May 11, 4:30 p.m.; free. facebook.com/events/1085577774879760. —Matt Stromberg

CSUN's John Cassavetes retrospective nears its completion with Love Streams, one of the director's most blisteringly emotional works. Cassavetes himself steps in front of the camera to play a best-selling author adrift in booze and paid companionship, while his wife/muse Gena Rowlands provides a counterbalance as his loving but unstable sister. Marked by ruthless honesty and clarity of expression, the film climaxes with one of the most heartbreaking final scenes in 1980s American cinema, effectively lowering the curtain on a remarkable independent career. CSUN, 18111 Nordhoff St., Northridge; Thu., May 11, 7 p.m.; free. (818) 677-1200, csun.edu. –Nathaniel Bell


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