A film fest for nihilists, a lightsaber battle downtown, a screenings of a really depressing Christmas movie and more to do and see in L.A. this week for 10 bucks or less.
Around this time last year, UCB hosted the 2015 It Sucked Awards and we were all like, "Yeah, ugh, 2015 — what a shitty year! Can't wait till 2016! Surely that will be a better year in which to be alive!" Holy shit, were we kidding ourselves. From Bowie to Miss Cleo, just about every cool famous person died; a reality TV star with a Twitter addiction became president; a mutant mosquito disease brought Central and South America to their knees; the list truly goes on. With only the symbolism of a new calendar year to put an end to this chapter of relentless misery, we may look back and have a laugh. At the 2016 It Sucked Awards, hosts Devin Field and Marcella Arguello and a slate of comedians — Jacob Wysocki, Ego Nwodim, Christine Bullen, Lou Wilson, Daniel Van Kirk, Shaun Diston, Peter Banifaz, Marques Ray, Beth Appel, Natalie Palamides and Carl Tart — separate the truly terrible from the actual worst of the worst in an awards-style show. The show runs for three performances — and we have a feeling they'll need three performances to cover everything. UCB Sunset, 5419 Sunset Blvd., Hollywood; Fri.-Sun., Dec. 16-18, 9 p.m.; $10. sunset.ucbtheatre.com. —Gwynedd Stuart
If you're tired of waging a War on Christmas but still want to engage in some kind of conflict, tonight's 18th annual Nihilist Film Fest is your recommended dose of noise, nonsense and the belief in nothing. Two hours of short and disquieting films regarding nihilism will be screened courtesy of Festival organizer Elisha Shapiro, who for the past 40 years has furthered the cause of nihilism, crystallized most trenchantly with the 1984 Nihilist Olympics, which included the Lazlo Toth Art Defacing Marathon and the Johanna Went Projectile Vomiting Marathon. Get there early, because at 8:15, Shapiro conducts the Annual Blessing of the Televisions — and that's not nothin.' (Bring your own TV.) Echo Park Film Center, 1200 N. Alvarado St., Echo Park; Fri., Dec. 16, 8 p.m.; free. (213) 484-8846, echoparkfilmcenter.org/events/2016-nihilist-film-fest. —David Cotner
Good or evil, which shall prevail? Glow Sword Battle L.A. 2016 is a colossal battle royale that shall determine once and for all the ultimate fate of our city, our country, indeed our very universe. Participants choose sides and fight it out wielding safe, plastic lightsabers in this ultimate nightfall knockdown (and relatively inexpensive psychotherapy session) produced by alternative public events group Newmindspace, whose admirable aim is to redefine public spaces via "living installations" using favorite childhood activities and super-massive gatherings of people. (Sword fetishists: Each glow sword changes up to six colors and is approximately three feet long.) Pershing Square, 532 S. Olive St., downtown; Fri., Dec. 16, 8-11 p.m.; free. glowbattletour.com/collections/los-angeles. —John Payne
For something more seasonally appropriate, head to Old Town Music Hall's Christmas Festival. Gather 'round the Mighty Wurlitzer pipe organ, watch classic comedy shorts, sing Christmas carols and settle in for 1913's Scrooge, a silent adaptation of A Christmas Carol that's rarely seen or screened. Old Town Music Hall, 140 Richmond St., El Segundo; Fri., Dec. 16, 8:15 p.m.; Sat., Dec. 17, 2:30 & 8:15 p.m.; Sun., Dec. 18, 2:30 p.m.; $10. (310) 322-2592, oldtownmusichall.org. —Michael Nordine
Things look more mysterious when they're underwater, as images become dreamlike when light is filtered translucently through a liquid veil. At Corey Helford Gallery's final group exhibition of the year, "Beneath the New Waves: An Exploration of Underwater Reality and Surreality," more than two dozen artists are lured by siren muses to plunge beneath the surface and pursue the often-mythical and fantastic creatures that lurk offshore. The art ranges from Scott Musgrove's bronze sculpture of an octopus bearing lanterns and Lara Dann's colorfully glowing painting of an underwater nymph to The London Police's fanciful rendition of a cyborg mermaid. Bay Area painter Eric Joyner revels in his favorite totemic obsessions — doughnuts and robots — by placing them deep in a watery tableau. Corey Helford Gallery, 571 S. Anderson St., downtown; reception Sat., Dec. 17, 7-11 p.m.; exhibit runs through Sat., Jan. 14; free. (310) 287-2340, coreyhelfordgallery.com. —James Moreland
Elsewhere in wholesome entertainments, the New Beverly offers up Santa Claus: The Movie as a kiddie matinee. Not to be confused with Tim Allen's The Santa Clause, Jeannot Szwarc's holiday adventure is like an origin story for St. Nick that attempts to answer all our burning questions about how he came to reside in the North Pole and why it is that reindeers are able to fly. David Huddleston plays Santa, with Dudley Moore as an elf and John Lithgow as an evil toy-maker. New Beverly Cinema, 7165 Beverly Blvd., Fairfax; Sat.-Sun., Dec. 17-18, 2 p.m.; $6. (323) 938-4038, thenewbev.com. —Michael Nordine
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Smorgasburg is one of the hottest things going in L.A.'s food world. The Sunday market is an import from Brooklyn, sure, but the best coast version has carved its own path since its summer arrival, highlighting the tastiest of SoCal food, from bánh mì to biscuits, Filipino food to pies. And plenty of oysters. Through December, the weekly food playground gets in the spirit with Holiday Market at Smorgasburg. This week's event will also a be full-fledged holiday market. There will be crafting and face-painting stations and live music, and if you came without kids, you can belly up to the bar for wintry drinks. Plus, there are plenty of booths offering gifty things, and you can drop off unwrapped, new toys for a Toys for Tots donation. And then eat some noodles. Smorgasburg L.A. at Alameda Produce Market, Alameda and Bay streets, downtown; Sun., Dec. 18, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.; free. la.smorgasburg.com. —Katherine Spiers
The bake sale is an easy and delicious way to raise money for a good cause, whether it's a high school debate club or your local animal shelter. The Depressed Cake Shop was begun in 2013 as a way to spread awareness and raise funds for mental health issues by offering sad cookies, melancholy cupcakes and despondent pies. Its L.A. pop-up, organized by Art Against Assault, will feature forlorn delicacies — mostly gray-toned with a hint of hopeful color — from 20 local bakers. All proceeds will go to the Los Angeles LGBT Center's Mental Health Services Program, benefiting the queer community, for whom the holidays can be an especially trying time. The Hive Gallery, 729 S. Spring St., downtown; Sun., Dec. 18, 1-5 p.m.; free. facebook.com/events/345373479163731. —Matt Stromberg
"Breaking News: Turning the Lens on Mass Media" is a starkly timely group exhibition that examines how artists look to the news media for inspiration and create works that comment on the human condition from the 1960s onward. Martha Rosler, Alfredo Jaar, Catherine Opie, South African artist Adam Broomberg and others take images from all points of the 20th-century experience — ranging from news headlines to bourgeois living to in-depth visual studies of people who report the news — and transform them into something greater and more insightful than they ever were expected to be originally. Getty Center, 1200 Getty Center Drive, Brentwood; Tue., Dec. 20, 10 a.m.; runs through April 30; free. (310) 440-7300, getty.edu. —David Cotner
Anyone enamored of Cabaret, All That Jazz and Star 80 looking for a chance to explore Bob Fosse's back catalog will have the chance to do just that thanks to LACMA, where Sweet Charity screens early in the afternoon. Based on Fosse's musical of the same name (which was itself based on Fellini's screenplay for Nights of Cabiria), it stars Shirley MacLaine in the title role of a taxi dancer for whom little is going as planned but hope springs eternal nonetheless. We should all be so lucky. LACMA, 5905 Wilshire Blvd., Mid-Wilshire; Tue., Dec. 20, 1 p.m.; $4. (323) 857-6000, lacma.org. —Michael Nordine