L.A.'s annual virtual reality extravaganza, comedy with Kevin Nealon, an art show dedicated to Veep and more to do and see in L.A. this week.
fri 4/14

Los Angeles' virtual reality extravaganza is back. On Friday and Saturday, VRLA takes over the L.A. Convention Center with an all-new look into the emerging technology. You don't need to know much about VR or its cousin, augmented reality, to immerse yourself in the spectacle. Students and pros may want to sit in on the educational and industry-centric sessions, but anyone else will want to stick to the exhibit hall, where big companies and tiny startups display the latest in gear and content. Rick & Morty co-creator Justin Roiland, who co-founded the VR studio Squanchtendo last year, is one of this year's keynote speakers, as is Unity CEO John Riccitiello. The Easter-weekend event also is host to a mixed reality egg hunt. Los Angeles Convention Center, 1201 S. Figueroa St., downtown; Fri.-Sat., April 14-15, 10 a.m.-7 p.m.; $30-$299. virtualrealityla.com. —Liz Ohanesian

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

The great thing about the American Cinematheque's ongoing Hollywood Feud: Bette vs. Joan series is that you don't have to pick sides and the only way to lose is by not attending. That's certainly true of the Egyptian's double feature of The Star (on 35mm) and Johnny Guitar, with the latter film in particular standing as one of the strongest entries in either luminary's enduring body of work. Nicholas Ray's moody Western stars Crawford as a saloon keeper who becomes the target of a lynch mob after being framed for murder; The Star earned Davis one of her 11 Oscar nominations (she won two, Crawford one). Egyptian Theatre, 6712 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood; Fri., April 14, 7:30 p.m.; $11. (323) 466-3456, americancinemathequecalendar.com. —Michael Nordine

Often lost in the praise for Raiders of the Lost Ark and contempt for Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is any mention of the second movie in the series, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. That might be because it's neither a classic in its own right nor memorably bad, but the franchise's middle child is at least notable for being the most violent (it's partly responsible for the creation of the PG-13 rating). Steven Spielberg's second archeological adventure finds Indy in India, where he's tasked with finding a trio of mystical stones and exoticizing the natives for American moviegoers' enjoyment. Nuart Theatre, 11272 Santa Monica Blvd., West L.A.; Fri., April 14, 11:59 p.m.; $11. (310) 473-8530, landmarktheatres.com. —Michael Nordine

sat 4/15

Thanks to our current administration, George Orwell's 1984 has re-entered the literary zeitgeist. Sales of the classic 1949 novel about a fictional oppressive regime have increased on Amazon. And on April 4 — the same day the story's protagonist, Winston, writes his first diary entry — United State of Cinema organized screenings at nearly 200 art house theaters across the country, as well as in Canada and Europe, of director Michael Radford's movie adaptation, which was released in 1984, and starred John Hurt and Richard Burton (in his last film role). Tonight, Trepany House hosts a staged reading of the entire novel by an eclectic lineup of actors and musicians, including Kate Micucci, Brendon Small, Ron Lynch, Hunter Jackson, John Ennis, Dana Snyder and Olivia Olson. Proceeds benefit Standing With Standing Rock, which opposes the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline. Trepany House at the Steve Allen Theater, 4773 Hollywood Blvd., Los Feliz; Sat., April 15, 10 a.m.-11 p.m.; $12. (323) 666-4268, trepanyhouse.org. —Siran Babayan

India is an enormous subcontinent with a wide range of dance styles reflecting its many cultures. L.A. hosts many performances but usually only one or two of India's many styles of dance are shown. Dance India! Four Visions offers an unparalleled opportunity to experience the variety of South Asian dance with excellent local troupes, as well as guests from India. The scheduled performances range from Odissi from Eastern India, now performed by males but originally limited to female temple dancers; Kathak from Northern India, which evolved from elaborate court performances for the maharajas; Mohiniyattam from Kerala in Southern India, known for its undulating moves and here adapted to music from Swan Lake and Carmen; and Bharata Natyam, another style from Southern India rooted in philosophy and fable. At 6 p.m., a free bonus performance in the plaza greets early arrivals. Aratani Theatre, Japan America Cultural Center, 244 S. San Pedro St., downtown; Sat., April 15, 7 p.m., $15-$35. festivalofsacredmusic.org/dance-india. —Ann Haskins

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

The Terminator movies have gotten so bad that we'd probably be better off if a T-1000 traveled through time to put them out of their misery, but that wasn't always the case. And though The Terminator isn't as awe-inspiring or dazzling as its sequel, the first chapter in James Cameron's man-vs.-machine series is as ruthless and efficient as Arnold Schwarzenegger's cybernetic assassin. The Aero screens the original as part of its tribute to the gone-too-soon Bill Paxton, whose small but memorable role gives the same impression as most of his appearances: that Paxton was a uniquely magnetic presence of the sort we're not likely to see again anytime soon. Aero Theatre, 1328 Montana Ave., Santa Monica; Sat., April 15, 7:30 p.m.; $11. (323) 466-3456, americancinemathequecalendar.com. —Michael Nordine

If you're still not over the Undertaker retiring, pro wrestling taking over Cinefamily for a night may bring you solace. Said event's title — Get High and Watch Wrestling With Ron Funches & X-Pac — tells you almost everything you need to know about it other than which matches will be showcased (Pentagon Jr. vs. the Black Lotus Triad, anyone?) and which to-be-announced special guests might be joining the wrestling-obsessed comedian and former member of D-Generation-X. Cinefamily/Silent Movie Theatre, 611 N. Fairfax Ave., Fairfax; Sat. April 15, 9:30 p.m.; $20. (323) 655-2510, cinefamily.org. —Michael Nordine

sun 4/16

Waldo, Carmen Sandiego, Christ — you've found them all, so keep your streak going when you bring the family to the Santa Anita Park Easter Egg Hunt. The San Gabriel Valley's largest egg hunt returns for general overall amusement in a series of six hunts happening alongside the action on the track. The Easter Bunny will be there to greet all the little jockeys, but please do not try to put a saddle on him because the Easter Bunny does not like that very much. Also check out the family fun zone, bouncy castles, pony rides and more in this seasonal salute to candy and divine resurrection. Santa Anita Park Infield, 285 W. Huntington Drive, Arcadia; Sun., April 16, 12:30 p.m.; $40. (626) 574-7223, santaanita.com. —David Cotner

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

Your bud hippie Jesus is coming to the Echo Park Film Center on Sunday.; Credit: Universal Pictures

Your bud hippie Jesus is coming to the Echo Park Film Center on Sunday.; Credit: Universal Pictures

mon 4/17

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

tue 4/18

LA LAW (Los Angeles Ladies Arm Wrestling) stages theatrical sporting events that empower women and provide monetary support to community organizations. Their annual Spring Brawl is a rowdy night of athleto-tainment that combines arm wrestling, theater and social justice to raise funds for Project Q, a nonprofit that helps LGBTQIA and homeless youth combat bullying, develop self-esteem and find an identity through hair styling. The roller derby–esque bash is LAW's fifth birthday celebration, and, yes, there will be cake. Loads of fun and laughs are in store, but be forewarned that the arm wrestling is the real deal –– be careful in those ringside seats. Bring cash to bet on your favorite wrestler. Bootleg Theater, 2220 Beverly Blvd., Westlake; Tue., April 18, 7-9 p.m.; $10-$25. (323) 598-0412, bootlegtheater.org. —John Payne

One of the more consistently funny and creative comedians to emerge from Saturday Night Live — where he played Tarzan, bodybuilder Franz and that guy who had to tell his wife that Massive Headwound Harry was coming to the party — Kevin Nealon graces the stage tonight in Kevin Nealon and Friends, an evening for laughing at the frailties and foibles of our beautiful, crummy world. With a persona that's alternately dadlike, doofusy and discerning, Nealon's jokes turn on a dime with hilarious reversals and reveals, boasting some of the most impeccable timing of any comic working in stand-up today. Largo, 366 N. La Cienega Blvd., Beverly Grove; Tue., April 18, 7 p.m.; $30. (310) 855-0350, largo-la.com. —David Cotner

Another 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

wed 4/19

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

thu 4/20

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

Though the recent string of sexual harassment and racial discrimination lawsuits filed against Fox News is no laughing matter, Fox News the Musical takes a humorous swipe at the right-wing news network. Directed by Eric Phillips, who also wrote the book, the show features sketch and improv actors Janae Thompson, Jordan Stidham, Ted Reis, Jolie Adamson, Erin Brownett, Jordan Brown, Samantha Labrecque, Rachanee Lumayno, Colton Iverson, Jordan Todd Brown and Rama Vallury singing original songs (music by Bradley Brough and Joanna Castle Miller, lyrics by Miller and Phillips). Set in Fox News' headquarters in New York, the plot follows a young, secretly liberal African-American intern, who climbs the corporate ladder and unwittingly exposes the corporation's media bias. Along the way she meets characters with not-so-thinly-veiled names such as Glen O'Ranity. Secret Rose Theatre, 11246 Magnolia Blvd., North Hollywood; Thu., April 20, 8 p.m. (also Fri.-Sun., April 21-23); $20. (818) 762-2272, foxnewsthemusical.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

LA Weekly