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

Giant bugs take over Union Station on Friday.EXPAND
Giant bugs take over Union Station on Friday.
Warner Bros.

A sci-fi classic screens at Union Station, a magician conjures up some vino, the Griffith Park Beer Garden opens for the season, and more to do and see in L.A. this week.

fri 5/12

What better way to welcome warm weather than with a sci-fi fright flick about ants? Metro Arts continues its sci-fi screening series on Friday with Them!, the 1950s B-movie classic, on Union Station's north patio. In the coming months, those tiny invading armies seeking water droplets and crumbs might make us harried, but right now we can still have fun with the sight of oversized ant-monsters. Years before Mothra, Them! pioneered the insect-as-behemoth monster craze with its giant, ugly creeps. Metro's screening serves a historic purpose, too, as Union Station's rail yard was one of the filming locations. Union Station, 800 N. Alameda St., downtown; Fri., May 12, 8 p.m.; free. (213) 683-6729, unionstationla.com/happenings/metro-art-presents-sci-fi-at-union-station-or-them. —Liz Ohanesian

If your most impressive party trick is eating more than your allowance of chilled shrimp without anyone noticing, it might be time to add something new to the repertoire. At Conjuring Cabaret With Cabernet, former Magic Castle magician Daniel Perez spends 90 minutes teaching some easy, effective ice-breaker magic and bar bets, aka tricks used to win free drinks from unwitting bartenders. Plus, as the event's name suggests, there will be lots of wine for imbibing. Admission includes the lecture, the booze and any props needed for the lesson. And, if you really pick up on those bar bets, you'll recoup the cost of admission in no time. Book Show, 5503 N. Figueroa St., Highland Park; Fri., May 12, 8-10 p.m.; $75, $125 for couples. (213) 438-9551, bookshowla.com. —Gwynedd Stuart

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Since its premiere at the Berlin International Film Festival in 1983, Born in Flames has become a feminist benchmark and a perennial subject of academic inquiry. Lizzie Borden's $40,000 wonder envisions an unspecified future in which women have been dispersed and demoralized, setting the stage for an urban guerrilla to commandeer a national newscast and stoke the flames of revolution. Cinefamily has a 35mm print newly restored by Anthology Film Archives that's sure to do justice to its coarse-grained, street-level aesthetic. Borden will appear in person. Cinefamily/Silent Movie Theatre, 611 N. Fairfax Ave., Fairfax; Fri., May 12, 7:30 p.m.; $14. (323) 655-2510, cinefamily.org. —Nathaniel Bell

sat 5/13

Another weekend, another excuse to gorge yourself on sample-size portions of food! Eat Show 2017 calls itself the Coachella of food fests. No, you won't wind up with sand in your lungs, but you just might be introduced to your new favorite restaurant or bar. The lineup features a mix of big-name and national brands (Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams, Tito's Vodka, Lucky Strike fancy bowling alleys, the Halal Guys), as well as a bunch of local eateries like Emporium Thai, Otium and Kato. There are two sessions — one for lunch and one for dinner — and tickets are limited to 1,500 for each, so no throwing 'bows to get a bite of lasagna from Maggiano's. The Reef, 1933 S. Broadway, downtown; Sat., May 13 11 a.m.-3 p.m. & 5-9 p.m.; $60. theeatshow.com. —Gwynedd Stuart

Los Angeles has a seemingly never-ending supply of creatives, and seldom is that more evident than at the Echo Park Craft Fair. In fact, makers from all over the country travel to L.A. for the two-day event, which takes over Mack Sennett Studios in Silver Lake this Mother's Day weekend. The lineup is always great, and as new artists join the fold, it only gets better. First-timers include Are Studio, Stevie Howell, 69, Une Heure, Danielle Yukari, Clyde, Joseph Brooks Jewelry, Kelci Potter, Lori, Marlow Goods, Martiniano, Nicholas Berkofsky, Nu Swim, Sophie Monet, Studio Cue L.A., DeKor and Orris Perfumery. If you get snacky while shopping, there's food and drink from Moon Juice, Canyon Coffee, Leaves and Flowers, Alejandra's Quesadillas, SOO N, Gorumando, Lori, Morning Glory Confections, Solstice Canyon, Sun Potion and Todo Verde. Mack Sennett Studios, 1215 Bates Ave., Silver Lake; Sat., May 13, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; Sun., May 14, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; $10, $16 two-day ticket. echoparkcraftfair.com. —Gwynedd Stuart

Given L.A.'s nearly year-round perfect weather and cloudless skies, it's somewhat surprising that there are so few outdoor venues to grab a bite or a cocktail, especially east of the 405. That's about to change this weekend when the Griffith Park Beer Garden opens its doors or, rather, its fence gate. Located in one of our city's most bucolic natural settings, the Beer Garden will offer an array of microbrews from Iron Triangle, Garage, Coronado and others, as well as more common ales like Tecate, alongside sausages, pizza and diner fare from the Roosevelt Cafe. One of the best deals will be a flight of four tasters and a brat for $20. The Saturday-only cafe is an ideal spot for a mid-afternoon day drink or a preshow pint before hitting the Greek Theatre, just down the road. Griffith Park Beer Garden, 2650 N. Vermont Ave., Griffith Park; Sat., May 13, noon-dusk; free admission, menu prices. facebook.com/events/140441246486107. ­—Matt Stromberg

"Love means never having to say you're ugly." That's the ingenious tagline for The Abominable Dr. Phibes, a genuinely weird horror pastiche that came out on the heels of Love Story (but didn't get as much Oscar attention, alas). Vincent Price stars as the eponymous character, a horrendously disfigured surgeon who exacts vengeance on the doctors responsible for his wife's death by dispatching them in the manner of the 10 plagues of Egypt. It's all good, ghoulish fun, with eye-catching art deco sets and a climax that anticipates Saw in its macabre invention. New Beverly Cinema, 7165 Beverly Blvd., Fairfax; Sat., May 13, 11:59 p.m.; $8. (323) 938-4038, thenewbev.com. —Nathaniel Bell

Conjuring Cabaret With Cabernet mixes magic and wine on Friday.EXPAND
Conjuring Cabaret With Cabernet mixes magic and wine on Friday.
Courtesy Daniel Perez

sun 5/14

Not every mom's idea of fun for Mother's Day is an overpriced brunch at an overcrowded restaurant. For that certain kind of mother, consider MOMentum Place, an entertaining excuse to enjoy dance, music, aerial, circus and other rustic Cirque du Soleil–style arts in Topanga Canyon's pastoral environs. Curated by Lexi Pearl, this 19th edition of MOMentum Place begins with an optional brunch (noon to 1:30 p.m., $30), or bring your own picnic. It's dining al fresco in the gardens before the action moves for the performances in the Old Globe–style theater constructed into the hillside. Casual clothes, walking shoes, sunblock and a cushion for the benches are advised. Perfect for that kind of mom and that certain kind of offspring. Will Geer's Theatricum Botanicum, 1419 N. Topanga Canyon Blvd., Topanga; Sun., May 14, 2 p.m.; $30, $25 in advance, $15 students, $10 children 12 & under. (310) 455-2322, theatricum.com/2017-momentum-place/. —Ann Haskins

Though he was only born in 2002, Stranger Things actor Finn Wolfhard is the perfect choice to host the retro-themed concert Strange '80s. The soundtrack to the first season of the Netflix series, which returns in October, featured such bands as The Clash, New Order, Joy Division, Echo and the Bunnymen, and Modern English. If you're nostalgic for similar music, tonight's lineup features more than two dozen singers, actors and comedians paying tribute to the decade's biggest pop, rock, metal and new wave songs. Among them are members of The Go-Go's, Anthrax, Slipknot, Velvet Revolver, OK Go, Filter, Taking Back Sunday, Anberlin, Goldfinger, Sugarcult, Deap Vally, Steel Panther and Wolfhard's own band, Calpurnia. They'll be joined by Tenacious D, "Weird Al" Yankovic and Sarah Silverman, in addition to Stranger Things' Chelsea Talmadge, The Goldbergs' Hayley Orrantia and 13 Reasons Why's Dylan Minnette. Proceeds benefit Sweet Relief Musicians Fund, a Fullerton-based nonprofit that provides financial aid, medical care and other assistance to struggling professional musicians. The Fonda Theatre, 6126 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood; Sun., May 14, 8 p.m.; general admission sold out, $100 VIP. (888) 929-7849, fondatheatre.com. —Siran Babayan

Joan Crawford has been getting some good press lately thanks to the success of FX's Feud, but it may take more than that to replace the image that Mommie Dearest burned into the public consciousness. Based on a tell-all memoir by Joan's adopted daughter, Christina Crawford, Frank Perry's camp classic chronicles the abusive matriarchy that became the stuff of Hollywood legend. This Mother's Day screening at the Egyptian Theatre should ensure plenty of uncomfortable post-viewing conversation. Come for the sound parental advice ("No wire hangers ... ever!"), stay for Faye Dunaway's volcanic performance, which transcends trite designations of "good" and "bad." Egyptian Theatre, 6712 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood; Sun., May 14, 7:30 p.m.; $12. (323) 466-3456, americancinemathequecalendar.com. —Nathaniel Bell

mon 5/15

Actor Michael Rapaport's I Am Rapaport: Stereo Podcast is the outlet for the unleashed id of the guy you may know from Deep Blue Sea, that documentary about A Tribe Called Quest, or the violent, non-animated Inside Out. Rapaport's rapport with his audience is ballsy and always entertaining, and with his associate, boyhood friend Gerald Moody, he takes on the topics of the day with compelling verve, whether it's the state of hip-hop, racism at the ballgame or just what's driving his passion at any given moment. This live taping features a Q&A afterward and special guests. El Rey Theater, 5515 Wilshire Blvd., Mid-Wilshire; Mon., May 15, 8:30 p.m. (doors 7:30 p.m.); $20. (323) 936-6400, theelrey.com/events/detail/335627. —David Cotner

UCLA continues its Nitrate Treasures series with You and Me, Fritz Lang's underrated 1938 comedy featuring offbeat musical interludes written by Kurt Weill (The Threepenny Opera). Silvia Sidney and George Raft play a pair of recently paroled criminals who work in a department store staffed exclusively with ex-cons. The movie would be worth seeking out for its own sake, but the promise of a 35mm nitrate print only increases the incentive. The rarest of traditional film bases, this highly flammable substance is treasured among buffs for its luminous, contrast-rich image due to the presence of actual silver in its DNA. UCLA's Billy Wilder Theater, 10899 Wilshire Blvd., Westwood; Mon., May 15, 7 p.m.; $9. (310) 206-8013, cinema.ucla.edu. —Nathaniel Bell

tue 5/16

If you agree that there's nothing wrong with being an alcohol enthusiast, tonight's bartenders panel discussion and book signing for Adrienne Stillman's Where Bartenders Drink is the place to be to hear the collected wisdom from the big shots who serve up all those tiny bubbles. From the booze at SkyBar in West Hollywood to the cocktails at the Chimneysweep Lounge in Sherman Oaks, Stillman understands the vibrancy of L.A.'s bar scene, as she's chronicled more than 700 watering holes across 60 countries. Following the discussion, the Collectif 1806 brain trust serves up cocktails mixed by the notorious Nathan Burdette. Arcana Books on the Arts, 8675 Washington Blvd., Culver City; Tue., May 16, 6-8 p.m.; free with RSVP. (310) 458-1499, arcanabooks.com/blog/2017/Apr/11/book-signing-panel-where-bartenders-drink-may-16th-6-8. —David Cotner

LACMA continues to celebrate Dolores Del Rio with a Tuesday matinee of her 1935 Warner Bros. musical In Caliente. The beautiful and talented Mexican-born star plays a dancer who falls for the critic who wrote her a scathing review — a slim plot on which to hang some fetching numbers, including "The Lady in Red." This song is known to include, in the best Busby Berkeley tradition, a chorus line of martini shakers. LACMA, 5905 Wilshire Blvd., Mid-Wilshire; Tue., May 16, 1 p.m.; $4. (323) 857-6000, lacma.org. —Nathaniel Bell

Democracy Now's Amy Goodman presents her new book on Thursday.EXPAND
Democracy Now's Amy Goodman presents her new book on Thursday.
Courtesy Amy Goodman

wed 5/17

The National Book Awards, one of the country's most prestigious literary awards, honor fiction, nonfiction, poetry and young people's literature categories every November. The Skirball Cultural Center's An Evening With the National Book Awards, hosted cabaret-style with cocktails and hors d'oeuvres, gathers three such past winners and finalists from 2015 and 2016. Moderated by former L.A. Times book critic David Ulin, the program includes readings by winner Robin Coste Lewis (Voyage of the Sable Venus), finalist Viet Thanh Nguyen (Nothing Ever Dies: Vietnam and the Memory of War) and finalist Karan Mahajan (The Association of Small Bombs), as well as a Q&A and book signings. Skirball Cultural Center, 2701 N. Sepulveda Blvd., Brentwood; Wed., May 17, 8 p.m.; $15, $10 members, $8 students. (310) 440-4500, skirball.org. —Siran Babayan

For 12 years following the 1992 L.A. riots, hundreds of low-income, mostly Latino farmers used the 14-acre South Central Farm at 4051 S. Alameda St., one of the largest urban farms in the country, to grow fresh produce for their families and the community. In 2006, after a series of complicated legal battles with the land developer and the city of Los Angeles, the farmers were evicted from the lot, which was bulldozed and still sits vacant. Scott Hamilton Kennedy's 2008 Oscar-nominated documentary, The Garden, tracked the protesters as they fought — and eventually lost — to keep their land, with help from politicians, civic leaders and celebrities including Daryl Hannah, Willie Nelson, Martin Sheen, Danny Glover, Joan Baez and Rage Against the Machine's Zack de la Rocha. In conjunction with the exhibit "Hammer Projects: Andrea Bowers," the Hammer Museum hosts a screening of the film and a discussion with the director. Hammer Museum, 10899 Wilshire Blvd., Westwood; Wed., May 17, 7:30 p.m.; free. (310) 443-7000, hammer.ucla.edu/programs-events/2017/05/the-garden. —Siran Babayan

Olvera Street has a long history of offering great food. It's the oldest part of town, according to many metrics, but the great restaurant renaissance started in 1930, when the city and private donors led by Christine Sterling rebuilt the "puebla" into a destination, heavy on the food. The Secret City L.A. walking tour Taste of Olvera Street visits the restaurants, stands and stalls that keep the visitors coming. You'll be eating taquitos, for sure. Everything is included in the price except drinks, so bring some cash if you want a margarita or two. Meet in front of La Luz del Día at the south end of Olvera Street. 1 Olvera St., downtown; Wed., May 17, 6-7:30 p.m.; $50. eventbrite.com/e/taste-of-olvera-street-tickets-33743527800. —Katherine Spiers

Laemmle screens Divorce Italian Style at three locations as part of its Anniversary Classics series. One of the funniest European films of the 1960s, this salacious comedy features Marcello Mastroianni as an aristocratic lothario who attempts to coordinate an affair between his boring wife and a local painter so he can discover and murder them in the act, get off on a light sentence, and marry his cousin. (Divorce in Italy is illegal, you see.) A brilliant lampoon of Sicilian social scruples, Pietro Germi's film ages gracefully thanks to an Oscar-winning screenplay and Mastroianni's hilarious turn as a parody of male chauvinism. He would return to that mold, albeit in a more nuanced form, in Fellini's . Laemmle Royal, 11523 Santa Monica Blvd., West L.A. (also at the Playhouse 7 and Town Center 5); Wed., May 17, 7 p.m.; $13. (310) 478-3836, laemmle.com. —Nathaniel Bell

thu 5/18

In the din of competing voices clamoring for attention during the recent presidential election cycle, it was most often Amy Goodman's that rang true, offering a lucid, calm and rationally humanist perspective amid all the partisan hysteria. As Donald Trump ramps up his push to extend a massive oil pipeline through the Standing Rock Indian Reservation, the Democracy Now! host has continued to focus her attention on the situation, much as she did last year when most of the national media studiously ignored the impassioned protests of Native Americans and environmentalists. Goodman weighs in on the current state of our disunion and discusses her latest book, Democracy Now!: Twenty Years Covering the Movements Changing America, along with co-author Denis Moynihan. Skylight Books, 1818 N. Vermont Ave., Los Feliz; Thu., May 18, noon; free, book is $16. (323) 660-1175, skylightbooks.com. —Falling James

In 1987, Fisher-Price came out with the PXL-2000, a cheap, black-and-white camcorder that recorded low-quality footage onto audiocassettes. Originally marketed as a toy, the PXL-2000 quickly became popular among video artists and experimental filmmakers, who were drawn to its point-and-shoot simplicity and lo-fi aesthetic. In 1990, Gerry Fialka founded PXL THIS, the first festival to showcase Pixelvision films, as they've become known. Now in its 26th year, it bills itself as the second oldest film festival in L.A. — not bad for movies made with a $100 camera originally intended for kids. The event features a broad cross-section of cineastes, from influential underground filmmakers to preteen amateurs to homeless auteurs, highlighting the camera's potential to democratize cinema. Echo Park Film Center, 1200 N. Alvarado St., Echo Park; Thu., May 18, 8 p.m. (doors at 7:30 p.m.); $5. (213) 484-8846, echoparkfilmcenter.org/events/pxl-this-26. —Matt Stromberg

The Aero Theater hosts a three-night, five-film salute to Oliver Stone, starting with Nixon, his weighty 1995 biopic starring Anthony Hopkins as the disgraced POTUS. Stone's sympathy for his flawed protagonist (a childhood hero, according to interviews) carries the three-hour picture through a sweeping, fragmentary narrative, asking us to see in this powerful yet pitiable man a mirror image of ourselves and our nation. Stone will appear to introduce the picture. Aero Theatre, 1328 Montana Ave., Santa Monica; Thu., May 18, 7:30 p.m.; $12. (323) 466-3456, americancinemathequecalendar.com. –Nathaniel Bell


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