Critics’ Picks: Dec 30, 2016 - Jan 5, 2017

Los Angeles Times entertainment, arts and culture critics choose the week’s most noteworthy openings, new releases, ongoing events and places to go in and around Southern California.

This week, Annette Bening and Adam Driver bring the drama at the movies. Plus, our critics take a look back at the year’s top theatrical events and classical music performances.

Click through to explore more and, where applicable, find directions to venues.

Adam Driver in "Paterson." (Mary Cybulsky / Amazon Studios & Bleecker Street)

Paterson’

Jim Jarmusch’s wonderfully serene and beguiling movie is a portrait of a young artist refining his craft, drawing impressions from his everyday existence and coaxing them into a pleasing and provocative shape. Read more

Justin Chang

Los Angeles Times Movie Critic

Natalie Portman in "Jackie." (Stephanie Branchu)

Jackie’

Star Natalie Portman as Jackie Kennedy and director Pablo Larraín brilliantly pull back the curtain on one of the most public of private lives. Read more

Kenneth Turan

Film critic

Annette Bening and Billy Crudup in "20th Century Women." (Merrick Morton / A24)

20th Century Women’

Mike Mills’ lovingly fictionalized snapshot of his late-1970s adolescence belongs to Annette Bening and her marvelously suggestive and layered performance. Read more

Justin Chang

Los Angeles Times Movie Critic

Isabelle Huppert in "Things to Come." (Sundance Selects)

Things to Come’

The great Isabelle Huppert and director Mia Hansen-Love combine for a film about a woman newly on her own. Its quiet satisfactions very much sneak up on you. Read more

Kenneth Turan

Film critic

Adam Driver, left, and Andrew Garfield in "Silence." (Kerry Brown / Paramount Pictures)

Silence’

Martin Scorsese’s wrenching adaptation of Shūsaku Endō’s 1966 novel, about 17th century Portuguese priests experiencing a crisis of faith in feudal Japan, ponders the dogmas and mysteries of Christian faith with astonishing rigor and seriousness. Read more

Justin Chang

Los Angeles Times Movie Critic

Millie Bobby Brown in "Stranger Things." (Netflix)

Best on TV in 2016

New series I loved in 2016, in no particular order: “Baskets” and “Atlanta”; “Insecure”; “Better Things”; “Stranger Things”; “Crash Course: Philosophy”; “Full Frontal with Samantha Bee”; “The Good Place”; “Berlin Station”; “Lady Dynamite” and “Dice”; “Easy” and “High Maintenance.” Read more

Robert Lloyd

Television critic

Sameerah Luqmaan-Harris and Sterling K. Brown in "Father Comes Home From the Wars, Parts 1, 2 & 3."

Best theater of 2016

In a year in which a woman won the popular vote and almost became president of the United States (I’m doing glass half-full here), female theater artists galvanized our stages. The producing landscape is still far from a level playing field, and the fight for equality undeniably suffered quite a few setbacks during the ugly election season, but all the more reason then to celebrate these theatrical triumphs. Read more

Charles McNulty

Theater critic

Jose Llana and Laura Michelle Kelly in "The King and I." (Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)

The King and I’

This tour of the Tony-winning revival of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s classic musical, which recapitulates Bartlett Sher’s stunning original staging, features Laura Michelle Kelly as the elegant but scrappy Anna, Jose Llana as the comically poignant King of Siam, and a mother lode of classic tunes, rendered with brio by an exceptional cast. If you’re at all a fan of classic American musicals, this particular production is a joy – a real gift that proves a bracing pick-me-up in trouble times. Ends Saturday, Jan. 21. Read more

Pantages Theatre, 6233 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood

F. Kathleen Foley

Theater reviewer

Other recommendations:

'Bakersfield Mist'

Based on an actual incident, Stephen Sachs' delightful and provocative comedy pits a boozy Bakersfield trailer dweller who has supposedly discovered an authentic Jackson Pollock at a local thrift shop against the intellectually snide art expert who has been sent to evaluate her find. In this reprise of his 2011 production, Sachs, who also directs, has once again cast delightful husband-and-wife acting team Jenny O’Hara and Nick Ullett as surprisingly equal adversaries in his intellectually well-balanced dialectic. For those who missed the production the first time around, this is a welcome opportunity to redress that oversight. (F. Kathleen Foley) (Ends Feb. 26) Read more

The Fountain Theatre, 5060 Fountain Ave., L.A.

The Los Angeles Master Chorale in "Tears of St. Peter." (Christina House / Los Angeles Times)

The best classical music performances of 2016

Yuja, Mirga, Mahler, Lenny, Louis, Luis and more. A year of the naked, the dead and the saved. The young and old and forgotten. A year in which 10 won’t do… Read more

Mark Swed

Music critic

Providence (Mariah Tauger / For the Times)

Jonathan Gold’s 101 Best Restaurants, 2016

White chocolate is the new black. A serious chef farms her own vegetables. Silver Lake is the new Brooklyn. Tokyo is the new Paris. And it is possible to eat superbly well in Los Angeles without knowing any of that, because we are at the nexus of a great center of world trade and a fine agricultural region, and the best meal of the year could as well come from that place in the mini-mall by the 99 Cents Only store as from that place with the thousand-bottle wine list and the chef that you’ve seen on TV. Read more

Jonathan Gold

Restaurant critic

Chef Jonathan Whitener. (Katie Falkenberg / Los Angeles Times)

Here’s Looking at You

Here’s Looking at You is a corner bistro from Jonathan Whitener and Lien Ta on the site of a former cheesesteak shop, all Edison bulbs, neo-midcentury cabinetry and a blend of post-punk and old-school hip-hop that has become to this kind of restaurant what Sade and David Byrne’s Brazilian compilations were to the last generation. Whitener comes to Here’s Looking at You from a stretch as chef de cuisine at Animal, the meaty, eclectic restaurant that redefined Los Angeles cuisine. And it is easy to see traces of Animal in Whitener’s cooking. Read more

Jonathan Gold

Restaurant critic

Other recommendations:

Everson Royce Bar

Everson Royce Bar isn’t really a restaurant. To be fair, it doesn’t even try to be a restaurant – the word Bar is in its name. When you glance at the menu, the food takes up slightly less real estate than its shortlist of shots, and if you are a drinker of a certain bent, your attention is likely to linger on the sherry-cask Japanese whiskey than it is on the shrimp roll and the chicken thighs. Beard Award-winning chef Matt Molina is more or less serving regular bar snacks here, but superbly well, like the kitchen equivalent of a band like Metallica doing a covers set just because it can: steamed buns with pork belly, smoked potato taquitos, shrimp rolls and flaky, extra-rich biscuits with maple butter that happen to be about the best things it is possible to eat with bourbon. Read more

Everson Royce Bar, 1936 E. 7th St., Los Angeles

Gus’s Fried Chicken

You’re probably going to want to try Gus’s Fried Chicken. Because it’s pretty remarkable stuff, even in chicken-obsessed Los Angeles: a burnished red-gold, pieces bigger than they are small, whose peppery heat at first seems mild, even nonexistent, until it starts creeping up a few bites in, a heat that makes you glad you have a pint of sweet iced tea by your side. You may be thinking of Nashville hot chicken, the kind you can stand in line for at Howlin’ Ray’s in Chinatown, but this isn’t that — you don’t worry whether you’ve renewed your life insurance after a wing or two, and the crunch, although considerable, is of a completely different sort. Classic Nashville chicken has a complex, multilayered crunch that maintains much of its integrity even after a day or two in the fridge. Gus’s chicken is more of a batter-fried phenomenon, with a thin, fragile crust that shatters under your teeth, releasing a flood of scalding juice. Read more

Gus’s Fried Chicken, 1262 Crenshaw Blvd., Los Angeles

Favorite Asian fried chicken joints

Does Los Angeles live by Nashville hot chicken alone? No — not as long as there’s a universe of Asian fried chicken too. Read more

Kettle Black

Kettle Black is a new Italian restaurant from Beau Laughlin and his team, who also own Sawyer and the juice bar Clover on the block. The chef is Sydney Hunter III, who has been cooking in Los Angeles for 15 years or so, many of them at the right hand of Ludovic Lefebvre. Hunter’s Italian cooking is sure but eccentric, hewing to no particular regional cuisine and slightly edgy in its way, favoring a sweet-sour flavor palette, lots of crunch, and chiles used as much for fragrance as they are for heat: pizza, good handmade pastas, and fat purple slices of Japanese eggplant passed through the fire just long enough to add a bit of smokiness. Read more

Kettle Black, 3705 Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles

Tempura Endo

There has never been a tempura restaurant in Los Angeles quite like Tempura Endo, the first American branch of a Kyoto, Japan, institution that dates to 1910. The restaurant occupies a modest storefront next door to a Japanese knife shop and right by a rental car yard. The location, although it is in the Beverly Hills triangle, has never been noted for fine dining – I remember a sushi bar that seemed really to specialize in sukiyaki. Tempura Endo is the other kind of tempura bar – an exquisitely expensive place that exists to serve intricate omakase dinners, well-calibrated multi-course meals presented with the detail and attention to seasonality of kaiseki, the lightness and purity you might not associate with two hours of deep-fried food. Read more

Tempura Endo, 9777 S. Santa Monica Blvd., Beverly Hills

Nersses Vanak

It is cold in Los Angeles. Rain is in the air. What you want to be eating is dizi, an Iranian lamb and chickpea stew, flavored with turmeric and dried lime — a popular street food dish from Tehran that seems to have a tonic effect against the chill. And for dizi, you should probably be at Nersses Vanak, a slightly faded restaurant in an industrial district of Glendale, where dizi, served with long-pickled garlic, platters of fresh herbs, and hot slabs of flatbread snatched smoking from the grill, is always the thing. Read more

Nersses Vanak, 6524 San Fernando Road, Glendale

Lucas Cranach the Elder, "The Pharaoh's Hosts Engulfed in the Red Sea (detail)," 1530. (LACMA)

Renaissance and Reformation: German Art in the Age of Dürer and Cranach’

LACMA’s show does an excellent job of translating 16th century German culture into a revealing 21st century exhibition. The museum has a reputation for organizing important shows of German art, mostly from the modern era, and “Renaissance and Reformation” impressively extends the range. Ends March 26. Read more

LACMA, 5905 Wilshire Blvd., L.A.

Christopher Knight

Art critic

The Branchini Madonna. (Norton Simon Museum)

The Shimmer of Gold: Giovanni di Paolo in Renaissance Siena’

Giovanni di Paolo was barely 24 when he painted the so-called Branchini Madonna, a wonderfully weird confection of big, doll-like figures framed within a furious flutter of cherubim wings. The work is among the great treasures of Pasadena’s Norton Simon Museum. Currently, however, the monumental painting is installed across town as the centerpiece of this small but engrossing one-room exhibition. Ends Sunday, Jan. 8. Read more

The Getty Center, 1200 Getty Center Drive, L.A.

Christopher Knight

Art critic

U.S. District Courthouse. (Mark Boster/ Los Angeles Times)

Architecture’s top 10 for 2016

This was a year in which Los Angeles shook off some ambivalence about its own status as a dense, tall, post-suburban city — and in which the profession of architecture continued to embrace, reassess and excavate its own history. It was also a year in which architecture critics, thankfully, saw enough completed high-profile buildings — after several years in which the aftereffects of the 2008 crisis kept that supply low — to consider putting more than one on their year-end lists. Read more

Christopher Hawthorne

Architecture critic

U.S. Courthouse Downtown

The $350-million, 633,000-square-foot federal courthouse, designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, between Hill Street and Broadway, across the street from The Times, is an unusually polished work of civic architecture — especially by the standards of Los Angeles, where well-wrought public buildings have been comparatively rare in recent decades. Ten stories high, with broad shoulders and careful posture, it takes the form of a cube sheathed in walls of glass. Read more

Christopher Hawthorne

Architecture critic

Other recommendations:

'Mickalene Thomas: Do I Look Like a Lady?'

The artist’s installation is an unabashed love letter to African American women. A two-channel video projection plays in a dim space furnished in the style of a 1970s living room and lined with large, silk-screened portraits of prominent entertainment figures: Diahann Carroll, Diana Ross, Pam Grier, Naomi Sims. It is a celebration of black women asserting and defining themselves through media; it is also a powerful statement about the intersection of gender and race. (Sharon Mizota) (Ends Feb. 6) Read more

'Uprooted: Japanese American Farm Labor Camps'

During WWII, when FDR signed Executive Order 9066 in 1942, Japanese Americans were forced to evacuate not only their homes but their farms. The government rustled up the labor to work them, and then put the evacuees to work on other farms to fill in for labor called away by the war. FSA photographer Russell Lee documented the farm labor camps and his photographs, in this quietly devastating exhibition, restore dignity to a population wholly stripped of it by government decree. (Leah Ollman) (Ends Sunday, Jan. 8)

Japanese American National Museum, 100 N. Central Ave., L.A.

Toba Khedoori

Nothing rests easily in Khedoori's work, its drama typically tamped down — even in a romantic, wall-size painting of billowing black clouds. They hang in the air, a pregnant pause, quietly setting a stage for something momentous to happen. Khedoori starts with a primary paradox of art, in which an image is also an object. Playing with contradictions intrinsic to Modernist painting, she comes up with enchanting, unexpected hybrids. (Christopher Knight) (Through March 19) Read more

LACMA, 5905 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles

John McLaughlin Paintings: Total Abstraction

McLaughlin’s painting retrospective is the most moving and viscerally beautiful exhibition to be installed in BCAM since the building opened eight years ago. This is the first time a major institution has mounted a proper, full-scale retrospective. That such an indispensable painter didn’t merit one until 40 years after his death tells you all you need to know about how passed over this brilliant artist has been. In fact, I’ve been waiting those same 40 years for it. Through April 16. (Christopher Knight) Read more

LACMA, 5905 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles

Allison Miller

The artist’s rock-solid paintings in “Screen Jaw Door Arch Prism Corner Bed” greet visitors to the Pit and the Pit II with the kind of confidence — natural and unpretentious — that makes you want to get to know them and perhaps become friends (David Pagel) (Ends Saturday, Dec. 31) Read more

The Pit and the Pit II, 918 Ruberta Ave., Glendale

Non-fiction

The small exhibition is an elegiac tone poem, spoken in visual shades of black. With just 10 works by eight artists, it presents no defined thesis but resonates beyond its modest scale. (Christopher Knight) (Through March 31, 2017) Read more

The Underground Museum, 3508 W. Washington Blvd., Los Angeles

Kay Sekimachi: Simple Complexity

Sekimachi works in an astonishing range of materials but is primarily known as a fiber artist. This handsome, at times breathtaking show touches down lightly across the range of her nearly 60-year output. (Leah Ollman) (Ends Sunday, Jan. 8) Read more

Craft and Folk Art Museum, 5814 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles

'The Shimmer of Gold: Giovanni di Paolo in Renaissance Siena'

Giovanni di Paolo was barely 24 when he painted the so-called Branchini Madonna, a wonderfully weird confection of big, doll-like figures framed within a furious flutter of cherubim wings. The work is among the great treasures of Pasadena’s Norton Simon Museum. Currently, however, the monumental painting is installed across town as the centerpiece of this small but engrossing one-room exhibition. Ends Sunday, Jan. 8. Read more

The Getty Center, 1200 Getty Center Drive, L.A.

Jennifer Steinkamp: Still-Life

The computer generated animation is a doozy. The Los Angeles artist’s virtuoso display of computer wizardry transforms the darkened chamber into a trip both heady and pleasurable. As fun to experience as it is fascinating to contemplate (David Pagel) (Ends Saturday, Jan. 7) Read more

ACME, 2939 Denby Ave., Los Angeles

Klea McKenna: Automatic Earth

McKenna brings a performative physicality to the photographic process. Her ravishing images start with rubbings of tree stumps, made in the dark of night using photographic paper. She exposes those rubbings in the darkroom by flashlight, creating images with the self-evidentiary power of photograms and the evocative magnitude of sacred text (Leah Ollman) (Ends Saturday, Jan. 7) Read more

Von Lintel Gallery, 2685 S. La Cienega Blvd., Los Angeles

Playstation VR. (Justin Sullivan / Getty Images)

Playstation VR

I’m Batman. I’ve waited years — since the release of 1989’s “Batman” — to say those words and mean them. Considering that I’ve spent the bulk of my professional life writing rather than building a superhero’s physique, it seemed unlikely, save for Halloween, that such a day would come. This year we saw the release of the Oculus Rift and HTC’s Vive, which makes it possible to put on a pair of goggles and disappear into a digital landscape — as long as you have a high-priced, top-of-the-line computer. Now with Sony’s PlayStation VR, an add-on to the PlayStation 4 so many of us already have hooked up to our TVs, virtual reality is coming to the masses. Read more

Todd Martens

Video game critic

"Virginia" (MCT)

Virginia’

The opening screen of the new Variable States video feature “Virginia” welcomes players to a small town named Kingdom. It’s laid before us as if it were a board game, with little trails leading to a cave or a gas station, a schoolyard or an observatory, all presented with the simple, cheery look of a brightly filled-in coloring book. Come in, stay awhile and bask in the beauty of small-town life, it seems to say. Press play, however, and things get twisted, and not with the typical things-are-not-what-they-seem subversion. Read more

Todd Martens

Video game critic

Other recommendations:

Nintendo Switch

The Wii U era is over. On Thursday morning, Nintendo unveiled its new console, the Nintendo Switch. Long code-named the Nintendo NX, the Nintendo Switch is a hybrid of sorts. The system, which will use cartridges rather than discs, will work with television sets. But it also will allow for portable use — a home gaming system that will work in the family room and on the go. Read more

'No Man's Sky'

Fourteen minutes and 54 seconds. I'm on a distant planet, and I need to get to my spaceship. Yet "No Man's Sky" is telling me that the vessel is a 14-minute, 54-second hike away. So I settle into the couch. But after three minutes of strolling through a salmon-colored rocky surface — and admiring some lavender plant life — I need a break, perhaps for good. This was the second time in one week I had quit "No Man's Sky." That's because there's another, more important number to mention when it comes to discussing "No Man's Sky": 18.4 quintillion. That is, there are more than 18.4 quintillion planets to discover in "No Man's Sky." You will not live long enough — here on Earth, that is — to collect them all. Read more

'Mirror's Edge Catalyst'

Imagine if the world were filtered through the home screen of a smartphone. Picture opening your eyes to an image overloaded with headlines and messages. Notifications no longer buzz, they flash before you. "Warning," the display blinks in the lower right, "your bank balance is low." This is the view of Faith, early in "Mirror's Edge Catalyst." Having just been released from prison, Faith may not be happy with her financial prospects, but she definitely isn't too keen with the sensory overload of this futuristic, uncomfortably modern society. "Is this what the employees see all the time?" she wonders. In the world of "Mirror's Edge Catalyst," there aren't citizens so much as employees — workers for one of a handful of conglomerates that controls the world. You are identified not by your ethnicity or your interests but your job. Read more

'Abzu'

There are peculiar stone structures in the shape of sharks throughout the game "Abzu." They exist not to be investigated or warn of foreboding territory ahead. Instead, these objects are built for meditating. Have a seat, they beckon, and take in marine life. Play voyeur to a whale, a jellyfish, a shark or any number of undersea inhabitants. While "Abzu" is far from a documentary or a simulation, perhaps no other video game has ever been so singularly focused on re-creating the vast, majestic and mysterious nature of an aquatic universe. It does this with no voice, no text and no conflict. Your character in "Abzu" cannot "die" in the traditional video-game sense. Instead, the game centers on postcard-worthy imagery — swarming, silver schools of fish or sparkling green leaves or warm, orange coral — and Austin Wintory's thoughtful, patient score. Read more

'The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds'

Another long-standing Nintendo franchise gets spruced up. Like "Mario 3D," the look and controls are familiar, the tone is entirely new, as this action-adventure emphasizes smarts and exploration over tedious dungeon crawling. Read more

'Severed'

Early in the game "Severed," one of the more striking images you'll see this year in a video game appears. A woman of mixed-race descent stands before a mirror, her yellow dress bloody, her arm a stub and her eyes wide in shock. The world is bright and blocky — a handcrafted-looking universe that seems constructed of paper, but immediately the tone drifts toward melancholic. The art almost appears lifted from a Día de los Muertos display, and though this is the beginning of the journey for young Sasha, it also feels like the beginning of an end. Read more

Svetlana Alexievich. (Markus Schreiber / AP)

Zinky Boys: Soviet Voices From the Afghanistan War’

I perceive the world through the medium of human voices,” Svetlana Alexievich declares near the end of “Zinky Boys: Soviet Voices From the Afghanistan War,” explaining both her method and her point of view. For Alexievich — who in October became just the third nonfiction writer and 14th woman to receive the Nobel Prize in literature — testimony may be as close as one can get to faith. “We’ve worshipped many gods,” she writes in this slender but vivid account, told in the voices of survivors of the Soviet Afghan war. “Some have been consigned to the scrapheap, others to museums. Let us make Truth into a god! A god before whom each of us shall answer according to his own conscience, and not as a class, or a university year, or a collective, or a people….” Read more

David Ulin

Book critic

Other recommendations:

'The Bazaar of Bad Dreams'

Stephen King, I've come to think, is at his most adept when writing in the midlength range. His big novels — "The Stand," "It," "11/22/63" — have always felt a little baggy to me, while his shortest work (he has published more than 200 stories, gathered in a number of collections) can feel sketchy, more idea than nuanced narrative. That middle zone, however: His finest efforts emerge from this territory, shorter novels "Misery," "Joyland" and "The Shining," novellas such as "The Body" or the chilling "A Good Marriage." In this material, King has the breadth to do what he does best, which is to evoke the very human underpinnings of terror, while also remaining constrained by certain limitations of space. As he explains in "The Bazaar of Bad Dreams," which gathers 20 pieces of fiction, along with brief reflections on their composition, "Only through fiction can we think about the unthinkable, and perhaps obtain some sort of closure." The key word there is not the unthinkable in which King traffics but "closure," the closure of the midrange form. Read more

'Unfaithful Music & Disappearing Ink'

New wave rocker, country crooner, balladeer, collaborator and showman: Elvis Costello has been all of these and more in the course of what is now a 40-year run. Of all the first-generation punkers, he remains (with Patti Smith and possibly David Byrne) among the few who can claim the longevity and diversity of, say, Bob Dylan or Joni Mitchell, both of whom appear in this book. Like minds, perhaps, or water seeking its level. Either way, this is the company to which Costello belongs. And yet, if "Unfaithful Music & Disappearing Ink" has anything to tell us, it is that its author remains a fan. Here he is, for instance, on his first experience singing with Paul McCartney, a rehearsal duet on "All My Loving": "I locked on to the vocal harmony the second time around, as I'd done a thousand times before while singing along to the record. It never really occurred to me that learning to sing either vocal part on a Beatles record was any kind of musical education. I was just a kid singing along with the radio in our front room." Or this, recalling a good-natured cutting contest, trading lyrics with Bob Dylan: "It was just fun to be in the ring with the champ for a minute or two." Read more

'City on Fire'

A long book represents an act of faith. On the writer's part, to be sure: The faith that he or she has something to say that's worth all the hours it will take for us to hear it, that it won't dissolve in ephemera and flash. But on the reader's part, also: The faith that we can trust the writer, that there will be a payoff, that it will add up. Certainly, this is the challenge faced by Garth Risk Hallberg's first novel, "City on Fire," which, clocking in at more than 900 pages, seeks to re-create, in panoramic fashion, the New York City of the late 1970s. Hallberg's book, of course, is much anticipated, for its length, its scope and its deal (he sold the book for $2 million) — but all of that is beside the point. The only criteria worth considering is whether, or how, the narrative works, the extent to which it draws us in. Read more

'M-Train'

First, let's clear up a misconception: Patti Smith's "M Train" is not a sequel to her 2010 National Book Award-winning memoir "Just Kids." In fact, "M Train" is not a memoir at all, except in the loosest sense — a book of days, a year in the life, a series of reflections, more vignettes than sustained narrative. By saying that, I don't mean to be critical, for vignettes are what Smith does best. Read more

'So You Don't Get Lost in the Neighborhood'

Patrick Modiano opens his most recent novel, "So You Don't Get Lost in the Neighborhood," with an epigraph from Stendhal: "I cannot provide the reality of events, I can only convey their shadow." It's an almost perfect evocation of the book, not to mention Modiano's career. The French writer, who won the Nobel Prize last year for a body of work as deft and beautiful as any in postwar European literature, is an excavator of memory — not only his own or those of his characters (many of whom bear, as J.D. Salinger once observed of his fictional alter ego Seymour Glass, "a striking resemblance to — alley oop, I'm afraid — myself"), but also that of Paris. That's why his fiction resonates so deeply; it occupies an elusive middle ground between place and personality. Read more

'Bad Sex'

Among my favorite aspects of Clancy Martin's second novel, "Bad Sex," is that it is not about bad sex; in fact, the sex is relentless, passionate. Rather, it is about all the bad stuff sex — or sexual obsession — can make us do. Narrated by Brett, a recovering alcoholic who betrays her sobriety, and her marriage, for a yearlong affair with her husband's banker Eduard, the book records the spiral, the ripple effect, of transgressive behavior, the way that once we slip the bounds of propriety, it can be ever more difficult to find a passage back. Read more

(Monica Wang Photography)

Reservoir

Just in time for the holiday shopping season, a new boutique has opened on Robertson Boulevard marrying East and West Coast style. Reservoir is the concept of New York City transplants Aliza Neidich and Alissa Jacob and features a well-edited mix of clothing, accessories and home goods with an easy sophistication made for L.A., including Ryan Roche hand-knit sweaters, Denis Colomb ponchos, Ellery sleek crepe dresses and tops, Solid and Striped denim jumpsuits, Madeworn tees, Newbark shearling slides, Dosa patchwork totes and Wendy Nichol fringed leather bucket bags. Read more

Reservoir, 154 S. Robertson Blvd., Los Angeles

Booth Moore

Fashion critic

Other recommendations:

'Sporting Guide: Los Angeles, 1897'

With famed film mogul Sam Goldwyn as her grandfather, Liz Goldwyn's family name is practically synonymous with old-school Hollywood glamour. But it's Los Angeles before it became the capital of the motion picture industry that's the subject of the style maven's new book, "Sporting Guide: Los Angeles, 1897" (Regan Arts). The work of historical fiction looks back on the city's seedier past, with loosely connected stories about the madams, prostitutes, orphans, hustlers and tramps who roamed Alameda, Los Angeles and Spring streets. I chatted with Goldwyn about what drew her to this time period in L.A., her impressions of the book's rough characters, and what role women had in a culture where prostitution was tolerated. Read more

'Killer Heels: The Art of the High-Heeled Shoe'

Ladies, the next time you are teetering on high heels, you can blame men. But not for the reason you think. In Western fashion, high heels were popularized by men, starting in the court of Louis XIV where a talon rouge (red heel), identified a member of the privileged class centuries before Christian Louboutin made red soles the calling card of his luxury shoe brand. That's just one of the tasty tidbits in "Killer Heels: The Art of the High-Heeled Shoe," an exhibition scheduled to run through Dec. 13 at the Palm Springs Art Museum that examines the fashion accessory we all love to hate, including its history, its relation to gender identity, sex appeal and power. Read more

Palm Springs Art Museum, 101 Museum Drive, Palm Springs