The Pasadena Chalk Festival is on Sunday — and it's totally free.
The Pasadena Chalk Festival is on Sunday — and it's totally free.
Photo by Star Foreman

9 Cheap and Free Things to Do This Week

A sidewalk-art fest, a screening of a "Rowdy" Roddy Piper classic, a talk with Chuck Klosterman and more to do and see in L.A. this week, all for 11 bucks or less.

They Live
 has come here to chew bubble gum and kick ass — and it's all out of bubble gum. John Carpenter's 1988 cult classic feels as cutting as ever (if not more so) in the current election cycle, with "Rowdy" Roddy Piper's greatest screen performance serving as a populist yawp for all disenchanted Americans to echo. The Nuart's midnight screening on 35mm is apropos of the film itself, which always felt like a secret the Man didn't want you to know about. Nuart Theatre, 11272 Santa Monica Blvd., West L.A.; Fri., June 17, 11:59 p.m.; $11. (310) 473-8530, landmarktheatres.com—Michael Nordine

Tasty comestibles from esoteric eateries are in plentiful supply at Chinatown Summer Nights, a super-pleasant hang under the moon and stars in one of the most people-friendly places in town. Among the things to do: Watch Chinese chefs demonstrate their cooking magic; grab dinner and a drink from the vast fleet of L.A.'s wildly eclectic food trucks and craft brew boosters; check out the outdoor video projections and hands-on Chinese cultural activities presented by local organizations and museums; dance your bootay off to the sonic sorcery of KCRW DJs Anthony Valadez and Raul Campos, as well as local bands at the L.A. Weekly live music stage. 943-951 N. Broadway (Central and West Plazas), downtown; Sat., June 18, 5 p.m.,-mid. (also July 16 and Aug. 20); free. chinatownsummernights.com. —John Payne

For nearly 25 years, the Pasadena Chalk Festival — the largest street-painting festival in the world — attracts more than 100,000 onlookers admiring some 600 artists as they create soon-to-be-washed-off masterpieces that pay tribute to everything from rock stars and cartoon characters to politicians and family members. The two-day event features live music, a children's area, an art gallery, silent auction and Pasadena Police classic car show, as well as Sunday's awards ceremony, which includes Best in Show, Best Use of Color, Best 3-D Effect and Most Humorous. Proceeds benefit the Light Bringer Project, a Pasadena nonprofit arts organization. Paseo Colorado Mall, 375 E. Green St., Pasadena; Sat.-Sun., June 18-19, 10 a.m.-7 p.m.; free. pasadenachalkfestival.com. —Siran Babayan

Not every movie about the movies is an uplifting tale of cinema's transportive power. In some of them, people simply want to watch a film and be sad. That's the case in Tsai Ming-liang's Goodbye, Dragon Inn and Lisandro Alonso's Fantasma, both of which are set in movie theaters (in Taipei and Buenos Aires, respectively) and center around a single screening. King Hu's Dragon Inn is the "star" of Tsai's film, while Alonso's own Los Muertos is an elusive presence in his. UCLA's Billy Wilder Theater, 10899 Wilshire Blvd., Westwood; Sun., June 19, 7 p.m.; $10. (310) 206-8013, cinema.ucla.edu—Michael Nordine

For the past four years, New York political comedy show Electoral Dysfunction has attracted a mix of comedians and political pundits, including Brian Lehrer (host of radio's The Brian Lehrer Show), Lizz Winstead (co-creator of The Daily Show), Dee Dee Benkie (political strategist, former aide to President George W. Bush) and others. Each week, they sit down for a debate on current events, then perform an improv scene based on their discussion. After recently bringing the event to L.A., co-creator Nate Starkey hosts the lineup, featuring Lucas Hazlett, Julie Sharbutt, Haley Finnegan, Scott Eckert, Ashley Ward, Sean Conroy, Brigid Boyl, Carey Wedler, Amir Zendehnam, Nate Williams and James Mastraieni. UCB Sunset, 5419 W. Sunset Blvd., Hollywood; Mon., June 20, 10:30 p.m.; $5. (323) 908-8702, sunset.ucbtheatre.com. —Siran Babayan

But what if we're wrong? The question endures within the human perception of reality, making the entire concept a kind of perpetual riddle. You remember — the Earth was flat, and then it wasn't. In his new book, But What If We're Wrong?, Chuck Klosterman (Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs) discusses our current reality with some of the greatest creative thinkers of our age, as if it's the distant past. The minds of David Byrne, Junot Díaz, Richard Linklater, Neil deGrasse Tyson and others indulge in a bit of imaginative retrospection on today's ideas of time, gravity, dreams and less abstract ideas such as the future of sports and experience of television. Klosterman appears for an in-store reading and Q&A. Skylight Books, 1818 N. Vermont Ave., Los Feliz; Tue., June 21, 7:30 p.m.; free, book is $26. (323) 660-1175, skylightbooks.com. —Neha Talreja

One of the most renowned stage-to-screen musicals of the 1930s, Show Boat screens as part of LACMA and Outfest's Classically Queer: LGBTQ Directors in Hollywood's Golden Age. James Whale — best known for directing FrankensteinThe Invisible Man and Bride of Frankenstein — helmed the production, partly as an attempt to rid himself of his association with genre fare; Show Boat excepted, that endeavor was largely unsuccessful. Set over the course of 40 years and prominently featuring an actual boat on which shows are performed, it stars Irene Dunne as the new focus of her family's floating stage show. LACMA, 5905 Wilshire Blvd., Mid-Wilshire; Tue., June 21, 1 p.m.; $5. (323) 857-6000, lacma.org—Michael Nordine

Though he's rarely afforded the opportunity to showcase it these days, Nicolas Cage has one of the most dynamic ranges of any living actor. As much is evident in the New Beverly's curious double feature of Valley Girl and The Wicker Man, which show the actor at his most restrained and unhinged, respectively. Lest you think Cage isn't in on The Wicker Man's bees-and-honey joke, allow the man himself to assure you: "You don't go around doing the things that character does — in a bear suit — and not know it's absurd. It is absurd." New Beverly Cinema, 7165 Beverly Blvd., Fairfax; Tue., June 21, 7:30 p.m.; $8. (323) 938-4038, thenewbev.com—Michael Nordine

We may not be spending four years with Bernie anytime soon, but you can at least spend a couple hours with a different one at the Aero. Weekend at Bernie's plays alongside the original Fun With Dick and Jane as part of the Aero's ongoing tribute to Ted Kotcheff, who directed both comedies. He'll be joined by Bernie's star Jonathan Silverman for a discussion between the films, both of which screen on 35mm. Aero Theatre, 1328 Montana Ave., Santa Monica; Thu., June 23, 7:30 p.m.; $11. (323) 466-3456, americancinemathequecalendar.com. —Michael Nordine


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