An Ava DuVernay doc screens at Union Station,The Bechdel Cast celebrates women in film, a NoHo tiki bar hosts a holiday market, and more to do and see in L.A. this week for $10 or less.
Metro Art screens Ava DuVernay's 2008 movie, This Is the Life, at Union Station, the last in a series of documentaries about L.A. directed by women. In 1989, B. Hall and her son launched weekly open-mic nights at the Good Life Café and health-food market in South Central as a safe and creative alternative to gangster rap for up-and-coming MCs. The only rule? No profanity. The open-mic nights ended in 1995, and the café closed in 1999. In her debut film, the Oscar-nominated DuVernay (Selma, 13th, OWN's Queen Sugar) interviews the hosts, regulars, DJs, graffiti artists and noncommercial but influential freestyling rappers who were part of the scene, such as Jurassic 5, Freestyle Fellowship, Abstract Rude, Volume 10, Medusa and Figures of Speech, which included DuVernay. The event features an introduction by B. Hall. Union Station, 800 N. Alameda St., downtown; Fri., Dec. 1, 8-10 p.m.; free. unionstationla.com. —Siran Babayan
Noah Baumbach's The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) is the latest, most mature variation on the writer-director's favorite theme: the sublime difficulty of family. (This he shares with his friend and frequent collaborator, Wes Anderson). Distributed by Netflix after a strictly limited theatrical run, the film returns to the big screen for a special engagement at the New Beverly. A scabrous and sometimes sentimental filial drama, it also doubles as an excuse for Baumbach — a preternaturally gifted wordsmith — to sharpen his verbal knives. New Beverly Cinema, 7165 Beverly Blvd., Fairfax; Fri., Dec. 1, 8 p.m. (through Dec. 7, times vary); $8. (323) 938-4038, thenewbev.com. —Nathaniel Bell
Never turned your dream into a million-dollar business? Cheer up. At the Museum of Failure, a touring, pop-up exhibit that first opened in Sweden this summer, success is overrated. Founded by Swedish clinical psychologist Dr. Samuel West, this shrine to lame ideas highlights more than 100 technological, medical and scientific products dating back to the 17th century that had a short shelf life. Items such as the Segway, Google Glass, BIC for Her pens, Harley-Davidson's Hot Road cologne, Colgate's beef lasagna frozen dinner, board game Trump: The Game and Coca-Cola Blak's coffee-infused soda, because apparently you can be too overcaffeinated. A+D Architecture and Design Museum, 900 E. Fourth St., downtown; thru Feb. 4; Wed., 2-6 p.m.; Thu. & Fri., 2-8 p.m.; Sat. & Sun., noon-7 p.m.; $7, $5 seniors & students, free children. (213) 346-0734, failuremuseum.com. —Siran Babayan
Comedians Jamie Loftus and Caitlin Durante examine the historical and ongoing problem of female stereotypes in movies in their comedy-meets–film criticism podcast, The Bechdel Cast. Each week for the past year, the two hosts have invited a guest to choose a popular title and analyze the female leads and other topics according to the Bechdel Test, a set of criteria created in 1985 by cartoonist Alison Bechdel. A piece of fiction passes the test if it features at least two women talking to each other about something other than a man. Past titles have included The Wizard of Oz, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Groundhog Day, Coming to America, Dirty Dancing, Beetlejuice, Titanic, The Matrix and Clueless. Not surprisingly, less than 20 percent of their picks have met the required standards. For their first live taping in L.A., Loftus, Durante and Debra DiGiovanni will discuss that '80s high-rise, terrorist-killing action classic Die Hard. In case you don't remember, nearly all the female characters are hostages. Nerdmelt Showroom, 7522 Sunset Blvd., Hollywood; Sat., Dec. 2, 7-8:30 p.m.; $10. (323) 851-7223, nerdmeltla.com. —Siran Babayan
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L.A.-based artist Patrick Martinez mines elements of pop culture, graffiti, hip-hop and the urban environment to focus on urgent social issues, both on a local and national level. These have included his series of colorful Pee-Chee folders adorned with scenes of police brutality and outrage, as well as corner store–style neon signs emblazoned with evocative rap lyrics or political phrases, one of which was purchased by Drake. It said: "Less Drake, More Tupac." For his first solo museum show in L.A., "America Is for Dreamers," Martinez will be exhibiting paintings that incorporate stucco, tile, ceramic and neon, as if layered sections of the L.A. streetscape were hung on the wall. Eschewing sanitized Hollywood domesticity for a more realistic vision of L.A. life, Martinez questions to whom the "American dream" is really available. Vincent Price Art Museum, 1301 Avenida Cesar Chavez, Monterey Park; Sat., Dec. 2, 5-7 p.m.; thru April 7; free. (323) 265-8841, vincentpriceartmuseum.org. —Matt Stromberg
There are a few ways to take the stress out of holiday shopping. You can say "fuck it" and buy everyone you know Amazon gift cards from the comfort of your underpants/own home. Or you can casually peruse groovy works by local artists while a surf-rock band plays Christmas music and you sip a mai tai. The Tonga Hut hosts Tiki Wonderland 12, a holiday market with a Polynesian twist. Artists including Clee Sobieski, Ron Monster, Eric October, Stilettoed Devil and loads more display their wares, while beachy cover band High Tide plays The Ventures' Christmas album. Durangos Tacos will be on hand serving classic Mexican fare. Way more fun than buying gift cards from bed. Tonga Hut Tiki Lounge, 12808 Victory Blvd., North Hollywood; Sun., Dec. 3, 2-10 p.m.; free. (818) 769-0708, tongahut.com. —Gwynedd Stuart
The long and distinguished career of Mexico's Arturo Ripstein is ripe for rediscovery. His classic Western Tiempo de Morir — made when the director was only 21 — was given a weeklong run at Laemmle's Ahrya Fine Arts before premiering on Blu-ray and DVD. Now, AMPAS has programmed an evening dedicated to one of Ripstein's finest films, Deep Crimson, as part of Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA, a series of screenings and conversations exploring the work of Latino and Latin American filmmakers over the last half-century. A true-crime saga told in elegant long takes, this pitch-black comedy displays the director's formidable poker face in full view of the sordidness of life. Ripstein and writer Paz Alicia Garcíadiego are scheduled to appear for a discussion following the screening. Samuel Goldwyn Theater, 8949 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills; Mon., Dec. 4, 7:30 p.m.; $5. (310) 247-3000, oscars.org. —Nathaniel Bell
Phantom Lady, one of the key works of film noir, plays as part of LACMA's Tuesday Matinees series. Apart from the densely shadowed camerawork courtesy of director Robert Siodmak and cinematographer Elwood Bredell, the film also features a fiendishly clever plot hatched by Cornell Woolrich (the Edgar Allan Poe of postwar pulp fiction), on whose novel it's based. A man is accused of killing his wife and his sole alibi is a mysterious lady he met in a saloon. But no one ever saw her. Or so they claim. That's only the opening act of this twisty B-movie treasure. LACMA, 5905 Wilshire Blvd., Mid-Wilshire; Tue., Dec. 5, 1 p.m.; $4. (323) 857-6000, lacma.org. —Nathaniel Bell