9 Cheap and Free Things to Do This Week
Art dedicated to the HBO show Veep, a 4/20 screening of Half Baked and more fun stuff to do this week for 10 bucks or less.
After a year of waiting, we'll finally find out what former vice president and president Selina Meyer is doing now that she's out of the Oval Office, when Veep returns April 16. In anticipation of the comedy's season-six premiere, HBO and Gallery 1988 co-host "The Veep Art Show." (In the past, the Melrose pop-art outpost has organized TV-centric tributes to Seinfeld, Breaking Bad, Arrested Development and Bob's Burgers.) The exhibit features paintings and prints by 25 artists whose renderings interpret all the major players in the series, including the onetime POTUS, her bumbling staff, her trusted personal aide, Gary, and — perhaps one of Veep's most important characters — his Leviathan messenger bag. 1988 Gallery West, 7308 Melrose Ave., Fairfax; Fri., April 17, 7-9 p.m. (runs through April 22); free. (323) 937-7088, gallery1988.com. —Siran Babayan
Since the Easter Sunday 1930 reopening of the restored Olvera Street, people have brought their pets to the plaza on the Saturday before the holiday to participate in the Blessing of the Animals. The roots of the Catholic ceremony are a bit older, dating back to the 4th century, when St. Anthony Abbot, the patron saint of animals, began the tradition after healing a pig. Once intended mainly for livestock and farm animals, now pets of all sizes and species are brought to the event, from dogs, cats, rabbits and ducks to snakes, pigs and llamas. Festivities take place all afternoon, but the blessing by Archbishop José Gomez begins at 2 p.m., with the line forming at 1 p.m. Father Serra Park, 125 Paseo de la Plaza, downtown; Sat., April 15, noon-5 p.m.; free. olveraevents.com/copy-of-blessing-of-the-animals. —Matt Stromberg
Anyone who thinks that a rousing rock opera isn't an appropriate vehicle to depict the events leading up to Christ's crucifixion clearly hasn't seen Jesus Christ Superstar. The 1973 Norman Jewison film, based on the Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice stage production, recounts the story of Jesus' last days, and his conflict with disciple-turned-betrayer Judas, through catchy musical numbers and groovy costumes set against the out-of-this-world landscape of the Negev Desert. Instead of trivializing the biblical story, the film movingly conveys the agony, ecstasy and humanity of Jesus, which is why it remains so popular more than 40 years after its original release. Echo Park Film Center, 1200 N. Alvarado St., Echo Park; Sun., April 16, 8 p.m.; free. (213) 484-8846, echoparkfilmcenter.org/events/jesus-christ-superstar. —Matt Stromberg
Thea Lux, a comedian and writer who performs with iO West's house sketch team It Doesn't Have to Be This Way, launched On Its Feet this month as a way of helping emerging fellow comedians and comedy writers improve their writing skills and market themselves in front of an audience. The part workshop, part reading series invites guests every week to present their penned scripts and pilots, which are read by actors and critiqued by the crowd during a Q&A. This week's installment features "Fluff Piece" by Jessie Stegner, a UCLA MFA student in screenwriting and member of Second City's Really Awesome Improv Show. Stegner also hosts the monthly, all-female The Ladies Room at Three Clubs bar in Hollywood. iO West, 6366 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood; Mon., April 17, 7 p.m.; free. (323) 962-7560, ioimprov.com/west. —Siran Babayan
A tantalizing collaboration between Josef von Sternberg and Marlene Dietrich at LACMA: The Scarlet Empress, a Catherine the Great biopic as grand as its subject. What it lacks in historical accuracy, the 1934 production (described by von Sternberg as a "relentless excursion into style") makes up for in eye-catching production design and a sprawling cast. The transition from Princess Sophia Frederica to Empress Catherine is as much a sexual awakening as it is a rise to power, and it's portrayed in one of the last films unaffected by the Hays Code. LACMA, 5905 Wilshire Blvd., Mid-Wilshire; Tue., April 18, 1 p.m.; $4. (323) 857-6000, lacma.org. —Michael Nordine
Depending on how you look at it, there's either nothing more depressing or nothing more life-affirming than reading your high school diary. Like, it's sad that life ever seemed so bleak but, hey, at least we made it out of adolescence (mostly) unscathed. At the monthly Improv Diary Show, two brave guests read embarrassing diary entries to the audience and then a cast of improvisers acts out scenes based on the reading of the entry. This week's sacrificial lambs: comedian Serafina Costanza and voice-over artist-comedian Ted Evans. M.i.'s Westside Comedy Theater 1323-A, Third Street Promenade, Santa Monica; Wed., April 19, 7:45 p.m.; $5. (310) 451-0850, westsidecomedy.com. —Gwynedd Stuart
If you know Jonathan Demme only from either The Silence of the Lambs or his many music documentaries, you're missing one of the director's most fruitful periods. Something Wild and Married to the Mob exemplify his late-'80s hot streak, both telling of liberated women (Melanie Griffith in Wild, Michelle Pfeiffer in Mob) and the men trying — and failing — to contain their spirits. Few directors can strike as alluring a balance between sexy and serious as Demme, a gift on full display in both films. As an added bonus, chapter six of Fred C. Bannon's 1951 serial Government Agents vs. Phantom Legion will precede the double feature. New Beverly Cinema, 7165 Beverly Blvd., Fairfax; Wed.-Thu., April 19-20, 7:30 p.m.; $8. (323) 938-4038, thenewbev.com. —Michael Nordine
Today is — cough — 4/20 and you want to watch a good stoner movie. Co-written by Dave Chappelle and Neal Brennan, who created Chappelle's Show, Tamra Davis' Half Baked (1998) may not come to mind as quickly as Up in Smoke or Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle, but the plot is perfectly paper thin: Three ganja-smoking goofballs (Chappelle, Jim Breuer and Guillermo Diaz) raise money to bail their friend (Harland Williams) out of jail by selling weed on the street. It's definitely the only movie that features cameos by Snoop Dogg, Willie Nelson, Jon Stewart, Tracy Morgan, Janeane Garofalo, Bob Saget, Stephen Baldwin and Steven Wright, as well as a flying dog, a scene that involves dropping the soap and some pretty memorable lines ("Kenny's butthole was in constant jeopardy"). More important, the film includes an appearance by Tommy Chong, the high priest of potheads, so you have his blessing. The Wiltern, 3790 Wilshire Blvd., Koreatown; Thu., April 20, 7 p.m.; $4.20. (213) 388-1400, wiltern.com. —Siran Babayan
For their fifth collaboration together, inimitable husband-and-wife collaborators John Cassavetes and Gena Rowlands took to the stage. Opening Night finds Rowlands playing an aging actress looking to recapture the inspiration of her youth as she rehearses for her latest Broadway play — an already difficult task exacerbated when a fawning fan dies in front of her eyes. An utter disappointment financially — it opened at the Fox Wilshire Theater on Christmas Day 1977 and never found an audience — Cassavetes' eighth film as writer-director is, like most of his work, wrenching and thrilling all at once. CSUN, 18111 Nordhoff St., Northridge; Thu., April 20, 7 p.m.; free. (818) 677-1200, csun.edu. —Michael Nordine
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