Matthew Barney's Cremaster cycle screens at the Hammer: See Tuesday.
Matthew Barney's Cremaster cycle screens at the Hammer: See Tuesday.
Photo by Michael James O'Brien

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

fri 4/17

Aleksei German's swan song, Hard to Be a God, finally makes it to Los Angeles courtesy of Cinefamily. The three-day engagement begins tonight at 7:30. German's engrossing sci-fi yarn takes place on the planet Arkanar some 800 years in the future, though it resembles nothing so much as Europe in the Dark Ages. Words can hardly express how putrid and off-putting this milieu is, but the Russian auteur (as well as his wife and son, who finished the film after his death) makes it equally engrossing. Cinefamily, 611 N. Fairfax Ave., Fairfax; Fri., April 17, 7:30 p.m.; $12. (323) 655-2510, cinefamily.org—Michael Nordine

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The 17th annual Festival of Film Noir heads into its final weekend at the Egyptian with one of its rarest offerings yet: El Vampiro Negro (The Black Vampire) and a combined screening of No Abras Nunca Esa (Never Open That Door) and Si Muero Antes de Despertar (If I Should Die Before I Wake). Vampiro is an Argentine reimagining of Fritz Lang's M, while the latter two comprise an anthology film based on Cornell Woolrich's short fiction. Though initially meant to be a single film, they were released independently of one another; this presentation is the first time they've been shown in their proper form. None of these has ever been shown with English subtitles, nor are they available on DVD. To sweeten the deal even further, all are screening on newly struck 35mm prints and noir expert Eddie Muller will be on hand to introduce them. Egyptian Theater, 6712 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood; Fri., April 17, 7:30 p.m.; $11. (323) 461-2020, americancinemathequecalendar.com. —Michael Nordine

Artistic director Louis Robitaille and his Les Ballets Jazz de Montréal are classically trained but dancing on the contemporary cutting edge. Last season this Canadian company, with its young, vibrant dancers, sold out shows at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, prompting this encore visit. The program includes Cayetano Soto's Zero in On (2010), Andonis Fionadakis' Kosmos (2014) and Rodrigo Pederneiras' Rouge (2014), a sampling of the ensemble's eclectic repertoire. Bram Goldsmith Theater at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, 9390 N. Santa Monica Blvd., Beverly Hills; Thu.-Sat., April 16-18, 8 p.m.; $39-$99. (310) 746-4000, thewallis.org. —Ann Haskins

Les Ballets Jazz de Montréal: See Friday.
Les Ballets Jazz de Montréal: See Friday.

sat 4/18

Consider this your weekly reminder to partake in the Hou Hsiao-hsien retrospective currently taking place at UCLA, with showings at REDCAT and the American Cinematheque's two outposts soon to follow. Today's movie is The Puppetmaster, which examines the life of Li Tian-lu. Li was Taiwan's best-known and most highly regarded puppeteer, a unique skill he was forced to put to propagandistic use during Japan's occupation of his country in World War II. Hou is one of the most revered filmmakers of his generation and The Puppetmaster is one of his most acclaimed films, so plan to be in the Billy Wilder Theater at 7:30. Billy Wilder Theater, 10899 Wilshire Blvd., Westwood; Sat., April 18, 7:30 p.m.; $10. (310) 206-8013, cinema.ucla.edu.

Gastro-loving party planners Drink Eat Play are dedicated to bringing together fun, food and drink, and the inaugural L.A. Cocktail Classic might just be their swankiest soiree yet. The elegant affair takes advantage of homegrown California ingredients to make cocktails as fresh-tasting as possible. L.A.'s best mixologists serve up artisanal drinks using local spirits such as Ascendant, Twisted Manzanita, Kill Devil and Ballast Point. But alcohol would be nothing without great ambiance. The event transforms the legendary Park Plaza's multiple ballrooms into themed environments, including a whiskey-filled speakeasy and a vodka room that doubles as an "LED forest." A Latin-themed courtyard serves up mezcal and tequila, while another space pays tribute to one of L.A.'s historic haunts, the erstwhile Cocoanut Grove. Park Plaza Hotel, 607 S. Park View St., Westlake; Sat., April 18, 9 p.m.-1 a.m.; $75, includes cocktails (food sold separately). (213) 381-6300, drinkeatplay.com/cocktailclassic. —Tanja M. Laden

The big comeback of the humble zine may be the most surprising movement of the digital era, and Saturday's zine/small press launch party at the Craft and Folk Art Museum is testament to that. Amidst the noise of Tumblr, Twitter and Facebook, artists and writers have taken to, once again, spreading their work through print publications made in small quantities. These DIY endeavors are creating quite a buzz, thanks to events such as L.A. Zine Fest. The team behind that annual event has hooked up with Highland Park's Pop-Hop Books & Print to curate a new zine and small press section inside the museum store. With a collection including works from artist John Pham and Blk Grrrl Book Fair co-founder Teka-Lark Fleming, the section is poised to showcase a strong cross-section of local creativity. Saturday's launch event will feature a zine workshop, readings and a "zine drive," where people can sell their works on consignment. Craft and Folk Art Museum, 5814 Wilshire Blvd., Mid-Wilshire; Sat., April 18, noon-4 p.m.; free. (323) 937-4230, cafamshop.org/blog. —Liz Ohanesian

Whether you're looking for a new trick or a chance to add to your book collection, the Magic Castle Swap Meet might satisfy your shopping needs. Vendors will have a selection of new and used items geared toward performers of various skill levels. The best part, though, isn't the swap meet itself. Known for its exclusivity, the Magic Castle will be open to the public for this event. There's no need to beg your friend with a connection to get you through the doors. The Magic Castle, 7001 Franklin Ave., Hollywood; Sat., April 18, 9 a.m.-3 p.m.; $8 for nonmembers. (323) 851-3313, magiccastle.com. —Liz Ohanesian

Artist Richard Kraft creates public performances that subvert art-world paradigms by bringing visual culture into the street. In his latest, 100 Walkers, a veritable army in dark suits and colorful, unique sandwich boards fans out in search of unexpected encounters. 100 Walkers unfurls across West Hollywood in honor of the city's 30th anniversary of incorporation and its commitment to public art as well as walking. Volunteers (there's still time to sign up!) are to assemble in the library parking lot under the Shepard Fairey mural in advance of a 2 p.m. start time, while a reception for participants and onlookers takes place in the adjacent West Hollywood Park from 1 to 3 p.m. If you prefer to let your fingers do the walking, follow the actors' progress on Twitter using #100WalkersWeHo. West Hollywood Public Library, 625 N. San Vicente Blvd., West Hollywood; Sat., April 18, 2-5:30 p.m.; free. (323) 848-6400, onehundredwalkers.com. —Shana Nys Dambrot

L.A. Times Festival of BooksEXPAND
L.A. Times Festival of Books
Courtesy of the L.A. Times

sun 4/19

A quintessential Los Angeles experience for 20 years now, the L.A. Times Festival of Books is the largest literary festival in the country. This year, authors appearing include Octavia Spencer, Patton Oswalt, Maria Bello, Lorraine Bracco, Candice Bergen, Jon Cryer, Billy Idol, Charles Spencer, Tommy Lasorda, Joyce Carol Oates, Richard Riordan, Tavis Smiley, T.C. Boyle and L.A. Weekly Film Critic Amy Nicholson. The festival also boasts workshops on traveling, cooking demonstrations with celebrity chefs and discussion panels on writing and publishing, in addition to an art exhibit, live music, film screenings, readings, poetry and children's activities. New to the schedule is the Los Angeles Times Ideas Exchange on Sunday, featuring Malcolm Gladwell in conversation with Times film critic Kenneth Turan. USC, Sat., April 18, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; Sun., April 19, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; free, paid tickets for certain events. (213) 740-2311, events.latimes.com/festivalofbooks. —Siran Babayan

Pop-Up Magazine combines true stories from print journalists, filmmakers, radio producers, photographers and illustrators, and unfolds just like a magazine — but onstage. The event has sold out auditoriums in its native San Francisco and made its L.A. debut at the Theatre at Ace Hotel last November. The event now returns to the Ace, where contributors will include photographer Alec Soth, New Yorker staff writer Dana Goodyear and Fusion's Alexis Madrigal. (Some of the stories premiered at last month's TED conference.) The host and creator is Douglas McGray, editor in chief of California Sunday Magazine, which now is delivered with Sunday editions of newspapers across the state. Theatre at Ace Hotel, 937 S. Broadway, downtown; Sun., April 19, 7:30 p.m.; $27-$50. popupmagazine.com. —Zachary Pincus-Roth

The Crest has been playing tribute to Alfred Hitchcock all month, with today's 5 p.m. screening of Psycho helping wind things down. What's sometimes lost in discussion of the movie and its gloriously dark plot twist — which, if you've managed to avoid until now, makes this opportunity to see the film on the big screen all the more urgent — is how sad it really is. Hitchcock is rightly famous for his mastery over suspense and anticipation, but in few of his other films does the emotional underpinning feel so tragic. The Crest, 1262 Westwood Blvd., Westwood; Sun., April 19, 5 p.m.; $10. (310) 470-1508, crestwestwood.com—Michael Nordine

Los Angeles Filmforum presents an encore screening of Thom Andersen's The Thoughts That Once We Had for anyone who missed its REDCAT premiere last month. Andersen, a CalArts professor and luminary of our fine city's cinema culture, will be present to discuss his latest film essay, which is based in part on the writing of Gilles Deleuze. Unlike Los Angeles Plays Itself — essential viewing for all Angeleno cinephiles, and finally available on DVD and Blu-ray as of last year — The Thoughts That Once We Had looks beyond city limits as it delves into various aspects of film history. Spielberg Theatre at the Egyptian, 6712 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood; Sun., April 19, 7:30 p.m.; $10. (323) 377-7238, lafilmforum.org—Michael Nordine

Artist Rosten Woo has developed a narrative tour of the Bowtie Parcel, that post-industrial lot along the L.A. River that the state has owned for 12 years and kept off-limits until Clockshop started using it as an outdoor project space a year ago. Woo’s project debuts this Sunday, and visitors can pick up pamphlets or download an audio guide that leads them through the parcel while discussing pollution or the politics of landscape design. Scholar Dan Wuebben will be there to talk about the visual effects power lines have on the way we experience landscapes. 2800 Casitas Ave., Glassell Park; Sun., April 19, 4 p.m.-sunset. (323) 522-6014, clockshop.org—Catherine Wagley

Simon Amstell
Simon Amstell

mon 4/20

The last time he appeared at Largo, for his Numb tour in 2012, British stand-up comic Simon Amstell described himself as simultaneously "professionally funny" and "lonely, disconnected and depressed." Anglophiles likely will remember Amstell as former host of the long-running music-game show Never Mind the Buzzcocks, as well as the star of his own semi-autobiographical BBC2 series, Grandma's House, in which he played a gay former TV host living with his neurotic and intrusive Jewish family. Amstell recently appeared on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, in which he greeted the audience with "I love America. You guys really know how to treat white people." Largo at the Coronet, 366 N. La Cienega Ave., Beverly Grove; Mon., April 20, 8 p.m.; $30. (310) 855-0350, largo-la.com. —Siran Babayan

Kidlat Tahimik's semi-autobiographical Perfumed Nightmare plays REDCAT at 8:30. The Filipino auteur wrote, directed, produced and starred in his debut feature, about a bus driver who aspires to travel to America and become an astronaut. Tahimik will appear in person to discuss the film, which no less an authority than Werner Herzog has called "one of the most original and poetic works of cinema made anywhere in the '70s." REDCAT, 631 W. Second St., downtown; Mon., April 20, 8:30 p.m.; $11. (213) 237-2800, redcat.org—Michael Nordine

"Making Strange: Gagawaka + Postmortem" is an exhibition juxtaposing two distinct but related bodies of sculptural and assemblage work by contemporary Indian artist Vivan Sundaram — both addressing issues of fashion, culture and mortality through the inventive use of nontraditional materials. Gagawaka presents a series of 27 unique pieces of "couture" with an avant-garde allure, constructed from hospital surgical supplies such as bandaging, plastic pill packs, masks and X-rays. Stranger still are the anthropomorphic mannequin-based assemblies in Postmortem, which highlights the precariousness of bodily existence. This afternoon, Sundaram is joined by co-curators Saloni Mathur and Miwon Kwon for a special exhibition walk-through. Fowler Museum at UCLA, 308 Charles E. Young Drive North, Westwood; Mon., April 20, 5-6:30 p.m.; free with required RSVP to corriesiegel@arts.ucla.edu. Exhibition continues Wed., Fri.-Sun., noon-5 p.m.; Thu., noon-8 p.m.; through Sept. 6. (310) 825-4361, fowler.ucla.edu. —Shana Nys Dambrot

tue 4/21

Don't look at this week's screening of Matthew Barney's Cremaster cycle of films on this coast as some kind of riposte to his former partner Björk's much-criticized MoMA exhibit happening on the opposite one. Instead it's best to see these five films as two decades' worth of unbridled id madness. They have everything: a satyr with ingrown horns, Norman Mailer as Harry Houdini, the Chrysler Building as dramatic character and gelatinous gonads. The 35mm screenings culminate with Barney's discussion on Friday with UCLA professor Kenneth Reinhard, plus a West Coast premiere screening of River of Fundament, a new film by Barney and composer Jonathan Bepler, at Royce Hall on Saturday, April 25, at 5 p.m. Hammer Museum, 10899 Wilshire Blvd., Westwood; Cremaster cycle Tue.-Thu., April 21-23, 7:30 p.m.; discussion Fri., April 24, 7:30 p.m.; free. (310) 443-7000, hammer.ucla.edu. —David Cotner

Elvis plays a rocker named Rusty Wells in Girl Happy, this week's Tuesday Matinee at LACMA. Rusty and the rest of his band mean to travel to Florida for spring break, a fine-sounding plan that gets upended when the mobster who runs the Chicago nightclub they're performing in extends their booking. When the gangster's daughter runs off to Florida for her own vacation, Rusty contrives to follow her under the guise of keeping an eye on her. We have it on good authority that song, dance and general merriment ensue. LACMA, 5905 Wilshire Blvd., Mid-Wilshire; Tue., April 21, 1 p.m.; $5. (323) 857-6000, lacma.org. —Michael Nordine

wed 4/22

Quentin Tarantino films are characterized by snappy dialogue, farcical blood spills and '70s soundtracks, so it's not always clear how seriously we should take their larger thematic issues. When flicks such as Inglourious Basterds and Django Unchained deliberately provoke viewers with their depictions of racial politics, it's hard to tell where the director's actual moral compass lies. To parse these issues, join cultural theorist Adilifu Nama as he discusses and signs Race on the QT: Black­ness and the Films of Quentin Tarantino. Book Soup, 8818 W. Sunset Blvd., West Hol­ly­wood; Wed., April 22, 7 p.m.; free, book is $22.95. (310) 659-3110, booksoup.com. —Lucy Tiven

In The Murder Ballad, theater meets the blues: See Thursday.
In The Murder Ballad, theater meets the blues: See Thursday.
Photo by Steve Gunther

thu 4/23

First performed in the brothels of New Orleans' seamy Storyville district, Jelly Roll Morton's 1938 blues suite The Murder Ballad was shocking then, and it still is today. It's a hard-bitten tale of hungering lust, bloodthirsty covetousness and the misery that comes of it all. The song's interpretation by L.A. avant-garde theater troupe Poor Dog Group is a movement-based work that spotlights Jessica Emmanuel's intensely physical portrait of the ballad's woman betrayed, her coiling, aggressive felinity and emboldened voice updating our shopworn notions about race, sexuality and madness. REDCAT, 631 W. 2nd St., downtown; Thu.-Sat., April 23-25, 8:30 p.m.; Sun., April 26, 7 p.m.; $20-$25, students/REDCAT members $16-$20, CalArts students/faculty $10-$12. (213) 237-2800, redcat.org. —John Payne

This is an odd event for L.A. Opera: It's mainly a screening of director Mario Bava's 1961 sword-and-sandal klassik Hercules in the Haunted World, about Hercules trying to conquer vampires, starring bronzed bodybuilder Reg Park. In addition, L.A.-based composer Patrick Morganelli has created a new operatic score called Hercules vs. Vampires, which will be played along with the film. Performers from the Domingo-Colburn-Stein Young Artist Program will sing the actors' voices while a 26-piece orchestra plays. Hercules' heroic battle to rescue his sweetheart from dastardly bloodsucker Christopher Lee is in sumptuous Technicolor. Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, 135 N. Grand Ave., downtown; Thu., April 23, 8 p.m.; Sat., April 25, 7 & 10 p.m.; Sun., April 26, 2 p.m.; $24-$46. (213) 972-8001, laopera.org. —John Payne

For more events see laweekly.com/calendar.

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