What to do this weekend in L.A. Critics Picks: March 23 - 29, 2018

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.

Claire Foy (“The Crown”) stars in a new psychological thriller at the movies, and local musicians are releasing some great music.

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

Claire Foy. (Bleecker Street / AP)


Claire Foy gives a terrific performance as a businesswoman who may or may not be losing her mind in Steven Soderbergh’s shrewd, scary and stealthily political psychothriller, resourcefully shot entirely on an iPhone camera. (Justin Chang) Read more

Justin Chang

Los Angeles Times Movie Critic

Wallace K. Harrison, Philip Johnson, Pietro Belluschi, Eero Saarinen, Max Abramovitz and Gordon Buns

The Opera House’

A warm and surprisingly emotional documentary about the creation of New York’s half-a-century-old Metropolitan Opera House that turns out to be not just about the building but also opera in general and creativity across the board. Read more

Kenneth Turan

Film critic

Natalie Portman. (Paramount Pictures / AP)


Natalie Portman plays a biologist who joins an all-female expedition into the heart of an environmental disaster zone in this eerily beautiful and hypnotically unsettling mind-bender from “Ex Machina” writer-director Alex Garland. (Justin Chang) Read more

Justin Chang

Los Angeles Times Movie Critic

Italy Exlroad, right. (Giora Bejach)


Though the foreign language committee members who didn’t include “Foxtrot” in the final five vying for this year’s Oscar should frankly be ashamed at the omission. Director Samuel Maoz’s “Foxtrot” is ambitious and daring in the way it combines intense emotional drama, surrounding a death in the Israeli Army, with visual pizzazz and bursts of unexpected surrealism. An intricate, dazzling cinematic dance starring top Israeli actor Lior Ashkenazi, “Foxtrot” is profound and moving and wild and crazy at the same time, telling a specific story and offering an emotional snapshot of the toll constant war can take on a nation’s psyche. There are no answers here — there couldn’t be — but “Foxtrot” understands the importance of asking the questions. Read more

Kenneth Turan

Film critic

Michael B. Jordan, left, and Chadwick Boseman. (Matt Kennedy / Marvel / Disney)

Black Panther

A superhero movie whose characters have integrity and dramatic heft, filled with engaging exploits and credible crises grounded in a vibrant and convincing reality, laced with socially conscious commentary as well as wicked laughs, this is the model of what an involving popular entertainment should be. And even something more. Read more

Kenneth Turan

Film critic

Other recommendations:

'Call Me By Your Name'

Timothée Chalamet and Armie Hammer give superb performances as two young men falling in love in the northern Italian countryside in this rapturously beautiful collaboration between director Luca Guadagnino and screenwriter James Ivory. (Justin Chang) Read more

'Lady Bird'

As warm as it is smart, and it is very smart, this portrait of a high school senior year marks actor-screenwriter Greta Gerwig's superb debut as a solo director and yet another astonishing performance by star Saoirse Ronan. (Kenneth Turan) Read more

'The Shape of Water'

Magical, thrilling and romantic to the core, a sensual and fantastical "Beauty and the Beast" tale with moral overtones, Guillermo del Toro's film plays by all the rules and none of them, going its own way with fierce abandon.(Kenneth Turan) Read more

'Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri'

Uncommon writer-director Martin McDonagh and a splendid cast toplined by Frances McDormand, Woody Harrelson and Sam Rockwell present a savage film, even a dangerous one, the blackest take-no-prisoners farce in quite some time. (Kenneth Turan) Read more

Brett Gray and Sierra Capri. (John O Flexor / Netflix)

On My Block’

Imagine if “Sixteen Candles” got a modern-day ‘hood makeover. New wave has given way to hip-hop, bullies are gang members, not jocks, and geeks aren’t just great at science — they can determine a weapon’s caliber, sight unseen. “That was a .38,” one yells to another as they run from the sound of random gunfire at a party. “No, it sounded like a .45,” argues the other. Another gunshot rings out. “.357,” they say in unison. “On My Block” is clearly not “Degrassi High.” The new Netflix coming-of-age comedy premiering Friday follows four childhood friends from a tough Los Angeles neighborhood as they enter high school. (Lorraine Ali) (Netflix, any time) Read more

Lorraine Ali

Television Critic

Rosie Perez and Josh Radnor. (Peter Kramer / NBC / AP)


Rise” is a season-long drama about a high school production of the musical “Spring Awakening.” That it is inspired by a work of nonfiction — Michael Sokolove’s “Drama High: The Incredible True Story of a Brilliant Teacher, a Struggling Town, and the Magic of Theater” — does not keep it from being cliched and corny, and that it is cliched and corny does not mean that it fails to do its job. Created by Jason Katims, who ran “Friday Night Lights” and created “Parenthood” (both also on NBC), and Jeffrey Seller, a producer of “Hamilton,” it wants you to feel, by gad, and feel you will. Like the network’s hit weepy “This Is Us,” “Rise” is a series in which people lead more or less ordinary lives — there are no murders to solve, no monsters to slay, no ballpoint tracheotomies to perform — in a more or less naturalistic setting while feeling many things. (Robert Lloyd) Read more

Robert Lloyd

Television critic

Krysten Ritter. (David Giesbrecht / Netflix)

Marvel’s Jessica Jones’ Second season

Arguably the most popular character of Netflix-Marvel’s superhero franchise, Jessica Jones finds the fiercest battle is internal when she returns for a second season of “Marvel’s Jessica Jones.” The superhuman strength she once hid is now public knowledge after her epic battle in Season 1 with mind-controlling madman Kilgrave (David Tennant). Jones (Krysten Ritter) fell under his spell, and he used her formidable force as a weapon, threatening New York and humanity, until she ultimately defeated him. Now the press, law enforcement and the public can’t decide what to think of Jones, the hard-drinking PI whose superhero “costume” is often the same rumpled jeans and T-shirt she slept in the night before. (Lorraine Ali) Read more

Lorraine Ali

Television Critic

Marcc Rose. (Richie Knapp / USA / TNS)

Unsolved: The Murders of Tupac and The Notorious B.I.G.’

USA Network’s scripted, true crime series is set around hip-hop’s golden age, the 1990s and early 2000s, when artists such as Lauryn Hill, Nas, and Jay-Z broke music and color barriers with game-changing albums. It looks at the demise of the genre’s top talent, young men both cut down before age 26. It’s a compelling and fresh look at two of the most famous cold cases in entertainment history. (Lorraine Ali) Read more

Lorraine Ali

Television Critic

Lucius Baston, left, and Donald Glover. (Quantrell D. Colbert / FX)


FX’s returning half-hour dramedy, which won top Emmy and Golden Globe honors for its first season, follows three young-ish men trying to make it in an age of depleted music revenues and free streaming. The gold of hip-hop’s golden era has been melted down and pawned, essentially. Their half-realized aspirations and desperation make this second visit to “Atlanta” a painfully funny follow-up to a debut season that seemed hard to top. (Lorraine Ali) Read more

Lorraine Ali

Television Critic

Other recommendations:

'Seven Seconds'

Veena Sud, who developed AMC’s “The Killing,” has a new series, “Seven Seconds,” 10 episodes to binge on Netflix starting Friday. That is easy to do, graced as it is with well-wrought characters, wonderful performances, a keen sense of place and weather, and the old familiar questions of who gets justice, if anyone gets justice, and who receives their comeuppance. Sud teases your desire for answers, even as answers are not really her point. Viewers familiar with her previous show will find thematic and structural elements repeated, and many of its pleasures — to use that word advisedly, but not ironically. Once again, a crime is the occasion for character study. At its center is the now-wary, now-warmer relationship of two partnered investigators, although their peculiar traits have been differently apportioned between assistant prosecutor KJ Harper (Clare-Hope Ashitey) and Det. Joe “Fish” Rinaldi (Michael Mosley). (Robert Lloyd) (Netflix, any time) Read more

A few good shows

Though some critics seem to specialize in raking bad shows over the coals, what makes the job worthwhile for me is the chance to lift up the deserving underdog, both for the sake of a show that might last a little longer with promotion, but also for the sake of the world the show might make a little better. Some series dear to me have recently returned. They fly at least a little under the radar, although each has managed multiple seasons and been among the best shows on all the platforms that can conceivably be called television. Here are four that merit your attention. (Robert Lloyd) Read more

'This Close'

“This Close” makes a bit of history as the first television series created, written by and starring deaf artists. (Each one of those things may be historic on its own.) Not surprisingly, the show, from and featuring Shoshannah Stern and Josh Feldman, first called “Fridays,” was born on the web, the place you go when, because you want something done, you have to do it yourself. A second version, titled “The Chances,” was produced under the aegis of the youth-oriented entertainment house SuperDeluxe; it was featured at Sundance in 2017, as part of the festival’s short-form episodic showcase. And a year later, here we are. It was a long road, but it was worth it. Stern and Feldman play best friends Kate and Michael. Kate works for a PR firm; she speaks, read lips and can hear a little (when her hearing aids work — we get an audio impression of what it’s like when they don’t). Michael, who doesn’t speak, is a graphic novelist with an award-winning book under his belt. (Robert Lloyd) (Anytime, Sundance Now) Read more

'Here and Now'

"Here and Now" is a 10-episode series from Alan Ball, whose previous shows for the network were "Six Feet Under" and "True Blood" and whose "American Beauty" screenplay won him an Oscar before that. Once again, we are in a world of glamorous depression and soft-edged epiphany, encompassed now in the photogenic city of Portland, Ore. with its rivers and bridges and soft, gray, depressive and flattering light. (Pot is also legal there, and it is a device in more than one plotline.) People unacquainted with Portland might believe that real estate prices are such that these characters could afford to live in the places we see them live, but this is in line with the series' — and, let's face it, television's — inauthentic way with reality. Holly Hunter, swallowing her Southern accent, plays Audrey Bayer, a former therapist now operating a one-woman something-or-other called the Empathy Initiative. "Not a lot escapes me," she says, though things do. Husband Greg Boatwright (Tim Robbins), whom she met on the Berkeley front lines back in the day, is a philosophy professor who in the distant past wrote a crossover million-seller, "The Layman's Guide to the Here and Now." (Robert Lloyd) (Sundays, HBO) Read more

'Altered Carbon'

“Altered Carbon” adapts Richard K. Morgan’s 2002 novel into a 10-episode television series starring Joel Kinnaman as space-warrior turned detective Takeshi Kovacs. Its strategy, not unique among science fiction stories, is to adapt the tone and tropes of hard-boiled detective fiction to futuristic sci-fi, which is why its rainy, neon-noir vision of San Francisco some centuries hence (now called Bay City) may remind you strongly of “Blade Runner.” In the crazy future Morgan envisions, brought to colorful life by series creator Laeta Kalogridis (“Terminator Genisys”), human consciousness is downloaded into a “stack,” a gizmo slid into every person’s cervical vertebrae at age 1. These stacks can be swapped into new bodies — or “sleeves” — when the old ones break. Additionally, the information they contain can also be “needlecast” across great distances into waiting empty vessels, allowing instant travel not merely between Atchison and Topeka, but Earth and distant planets, where there is a sort of Imperial Stormtroopers versus Rebel Alliance thing going on. (Robert Lloyd) Read more

'Queer Eye'

The latest old show to be resurrected for a new generation is Bravo's Emmy-winning "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy," later, and presently, just "Queer Eye." The series took off from the premise that (some) gay men might have something to teach (certain) straight people about self-presentation and self-understanding, and that the world would be better for watching this happen. As a fan of the Bravo series, I approached the reboot with trepidation. The original cast — Carson Kressley, Kyan Douglas, Thom Filicia, Jai Rodriguez and Ted Allen, who have stayed more and/or less in the public eye since the show went off the air in 2007 — had a special combination of personalities and talents that added up to a greater whole. The new crew is, on the whole, not as droll as the original — the hair-flipping Van Ness is the designated Kressley, the chatterbox joker — but they are full of life and ideas, of fun and feelings, which they are ready to discuss. Indeed, the Netflix "Queer Eye" has been arranged to provide moments of revelation and education for the Fab Five as well; their own feelings and back stories have been stirred into the mix. As before, some of the best scenes take place in transit, as the week's subject and one or two of the team just talk, as they travel to or return from checking out clothes, buying a mattress, trimming a beard. (Robert Lloyd) (Netflix, Anytime) Read more


In the excellent, intriguing and occasionally action-packed “Counterpart,” a contemporary Cold War thriller has been erected on a science-fiction foundation: An experiment 30 years ago accidentally split reality into two, as lightning might split a tree. These separately evolving planes have remained connected by a passage — in Berlin, appropriately enough — a supernatural Checkpoint Charlie kept secret from almost everyone in either world. An apparatus has grown up around maintaining this portal. At the bottom of this bureaucracy are clueless “interface” men, who speak codes they don’t understand to men who don’t understand them. Howard Silk (J.K. Simmons) is one of these. One day, he is called upstairs by his young, somewhat callow boss (the excellent Harry Lloyd) and introduced to his “other,” an outwardly identical Howard from the other world who is at once his twin and himself. Mind blown! (Robert Lloyd) (Sunday, Starz) Read more

'The Alienist'

Part "Gangs of New York," part "The Knick" and part "Mindhunter," TNT's "The Alienist" pairs gruesome, serial killer carnage with horse-and-carriage charm for this psychological thriller set in 19th century Manhattan. The 10-episode limited series, which premieres Monday, is as much about a murder investigation as it is about the roots of our present-day ideas on gender, mental illness and socio-economics. Adapted from Caleb Carr's bestselling 1994 novel, "The Alienist" takes viewers through the filthy tenements and opulent parlors of 1896 New York, exploring the baby stages of forensic science, modern psychology and feminism along the way. (Lorraine Ali) Read more

Jaimi Paige. (Jeff Lorch)

A Streetcar Named Desire’

Michael Michetti’s revitalizing production shakes out the cobwebs of this Tennessee Williams classic. Before the play even begins, it’s clear that this is not the New Orleans of yore but an updated version that’s more diverse and technologically with it. The drama, of course, lives or dies by the quality of the acting, and Jaimi Paige’s Blanche, Maya Lynne Robinson’s Stella and Desean Kevin Terry’s Stanley are all extraordinary. Ends Sun., April 1. Read more

Boston Court, 70 N. Mentor Ave., Pasadena

Charles McNulty

Theater critic

Other recommendations:

'King Lear'

Compelling lead performances and a deep understanding of the tragedy’s enduring relevance illuminate Shakespeare’s cautionary tale of an aging, tempestuous, narcissistic ruler who craves adulation, exiles those who question him and neglects the suffering of those on the fringes of society. (Philip Brandes) (Ends Sun., April 1) Read more

Rubicon Theatre, 1006 E. Main St., Ventura


Through the persona of a deceased disfigured woman, Pat Kinevane’s riveting solo performance employs the Irish gifts of gab and storytelling to explore norms and realities surrounding the beauty, exclusion and mortality that lie below surface appearances. (Philip Brandes) (Through March 30) Read more

Odyssey Theatre, 2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd., West L.A.

‘Alright Then’

Orson Bean and Alley Mills, one of L.A. theater’s most visible couples, thank the heavens for their later-life marriage in a feel-good show about love and gratitude. They share stories from their at-times rocky upbringings to set the scene for the miracle of their meeting, making each other laugh and shedding grateful tears. (Daryl H. Miller) (Ends Sun., April 15) Read more

Pacific Resident Theatre, 703 Venice Blvd., Venice

'Cambodian Rock Band'

South Coast Repertory presents the world premiere of Lauren Yee’s raucous, heartwarming new play about a rock band in Phnom Penh in 1975 — just before the infamous Khmer Rouge seized control. The adventurously structured script switches between the 1970s and 2008, when a young Cambodian American woman stumbles onto a secret about her father’s past. The talented actors double as the band, performing songs by the real-life Cambodian and American band Dengue Fever. (Margaret Gray) (Ends Sun., March 25) Read more

South Coast Repertory, Julianne Argyros Stage, 655 Town Center Dr., Costa Mesa

‘The Chosen’

Learning to see past differences and getting to know the person underneath is a lesson for all time in Chaim Potok’s 1940s-set novel, adapted by Potok and Aaron Posner. The tale of an unexpected friendship between Brooklyn teens from different strains of Judaism is given a poignant staging, with particularly fine performances by Sam Mandel as the youthful narrator and, unforgettably, Alan Blumenfeld as a charismatic rabbi. Ends Sunday, June 10 Read more

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

'A Delicate Ship'

Anna Ziegler peels away the layers of her characters to their pulsing human core in this practically perfect memory play, a fateful romantic triangle that commences in the simplest situation and escalates to the dire. Under Andre Barron’s appropriately delicate direction, the cast, which includes Paris Perrault and Philip Orazio, is superb, but it is Josh Zuckerman who dazzles in a tour-de-force turn as a wayward yearner whose cheekiness covers hidden depths of anguish. (F. Kathleen Foley) (Ends Sat., March 24) Read more

'El Niño'

After two decades of writing a play a year, Justin Tanner dropped from sight six years ago. He’s returned, thank goodness, with another laugh-out-loud tale of dysfunction. This one, presented by Rogue Machine, involves the sniping reception that a down-on-her-luck writer receives when she tries to set up camp on her parents’ couch. Director Lisa James and a cast of Tanner regulars know precisely how to mine the humor. (Daryl H. Miller) (Ends Sunday, April 22) Read more

Rogue Machine, the MET Theatre, 1089 N. Oxford Ave., L.A.


Under the direction of his long-time collaborator, Jim Culleton, Irish actor Pat Kinevane displays the meditative absorption and suppleness of a yoga master in this solo show, an examination of society's shabby treatment of the elderly as seen through the perspective of four nursing home residents. Kinevane captures the desolation of old age with an uproarious gallows humor that is distinctively Irish, shattering conventional theatrical molds in a unique theatrical experience that challenges the mind — and the heart. (Ends April 1) (F. Kathleen Foley) Read more

Odyssey Theatre, 2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd., West Los Angeles

‘Henry V’

Co-directors Julia Rodriguez-Elliot and Geoff Elliott play fast and loose with the Bard in their breathlessly truncated production, which features an authoritative Rafael Goldstein in the title role. Intrepid vandals in the high church of Shakespeare, they may spray paint out a passage or two but keep the meaning intact in a richly articulate staging that never flags in energy and style. (F. Kathleen Foley) (Ends Fri., April 6) Read more

A Noise Within, 3352 E. Foothill Blvd., Pasadena

‘I Am Not a Comedian… I’m Lenny Bruce’

In this meticulously researched solo biography tracing the life and prosecution of the groundbreaking early 1960s comic provocateur, actor Ronnie Marmo and director Joe Mantegna offer subsequent generations not only a sense of who Bruce was but more importantly why he mattered. (Philip Brandes) (Ends Sunday, May 13) Read more

Theatre 68, 5112 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood

'Priscilla Queen of the Desert' (2013)

The eponymous vehicle for fabulously dressed, bantering drag queens has pulled up at the Pantages at last. The heart of this jukebox musical lies, not surprisingly, in the jukebox, featuring eye-popping, drag-inflected renditions of dance-club anthems such as "It's Raining Men," "MacArthur Park" and "I Will Survive." (Margaret Gray) (Ends May 6) Read more

Pantages Theatre, 6233 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood


The writer and performer Sarah Jones (best known for her Tony-winning “Bridge and Tunnel”) has brought her latest solo show to the Geffen. Even if “Sell/Buy/Date" weren’t a compelling piece of theater and a provocative examination of the effects of pornography and prostitution on our society, watching Jones repeatedly disappear into a series of diverse and utterly persuasive characters would be worth the price of a ticket. (Margaret Gray) (Ends Sun., April 15) Read more

Geffen Playhouse, Audrey Skirball Kenis Theater, 10886 Le Conte Ave., Westwood

Toni Braxton. (Astrid Stawiarz / A&E / Getty Images)

Album ‘Sex & Cigarettes’

For Toni Braxton, maturity is no guarantee of stability. “I can’t believe it — we’re going through this again,” the veteran R&B artist sings in “Sex & Cigarettes,” about a woman whose unfaithful partner has stopped even trying to hide what he smells like when he climbs into their bed. “We’re too old, and I thought you’d outgrown this.” An uncluttered piano ballad with plenty of room for Braxton’s throaty vocals, “Sex & Cigarettes” is the title track from the singer’s strong new album, her first following a four-year stretch she spent focusing on her television career and dealing with the effects of lupus. Read more

Mikael Wood

Pop Music Writer

Mark Oliver Everett from Eels. ( Juan Naharro Gimenez / Redferns / Getty)

Five must-hear spring releases from L.A.-area artists

Whether chasing past glories or embracing the thrills of the here and now, music fans curious about the sounds of Southern California will find a predictably diverse bunch of melodies and rhythms this season. Below, five cool Los Angeles releases that will storm spring. Read more

Randall Roberts

Pop music critic

Josephine Wiggs, left, Kim Deal, Kelley Deal and Jim Macpherson. (Marisa Gesualdi)

All Nerve’

How many comeback albums can one band make — and in how many different forms? Kim Deal, the only constant member in the Breeders’ three-decade history, seems determined to find out. “All Nerve” is the first record in 10 years from this pioneering alternative rock group, which Deal formed in 1989 while she was also playing bass in the Pixies. Yet it hardly marks the first time Deal has un-called it quits: “Title TK,” from 2002, revived the Breeders (albeit with a fresh lineup) nine years after the band broke through commercially with 1993’s “Last Splash.” For “All Nerve,” Deal reconvened the players who created “Last Splash,” themselves a different bunch from the group behind the Breeders’ debut. (Mikael Wood) Read more

Mikael Wood

Pop Music Writer

Chadwick Boseman. (Matt Kennedy / Marvel Studios-Disney / AP)

Black Panther’ soundtrack

There’s a scene in “Black Panther” — director Ryan Coogler’s breathlessly awaited Marvel Comics adaptation that promises to smash box-office records when it opens Thursday night — in which a bad guy busy raining fire from the passenger seat of a getaway car commands his driver to turn on some music. “It’s not a funeral,” the bad guy sneers, and suddenly we’re being pummeled by “Opps,” a throbbing, darkly futuristic hip-hop tune by a trio of rappers led by Compton’s Kendrick Lamar, who put together the movie’s all-star soundtrack and appears on each of its 14 songs. The villain’s line is a bleak joke of course, but he’s dead-on about his surroundings: “Black Panther” is most definitely not a funeral — and its wildly creative music accounts for much of its vital life force. (Mikael Wood) Read more

Mikael Wood

Pop Music Writer

Inara George. (Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

Album: ‘Dearest Everybody’

Before Inara George was a musician, she spent four years as the daughter of one. Well respected today in Los Angeles pop circles for her solo work and for her many collaborations — including the Living Sisters and the Bird and the Bee — George wasn’t even 5 when her father, Little Feat frontman Lowell George, died unexpectedly of a heart attack in 1979. The tragedy — Lowell was only 34 — went some way toward defining Inara’s childhood, says the singer, who grew up in Topanga Canyon with her mother. As she began writing her own songs, though, Inara became determined to establish a presence outside her father’s legacy. On “Dearest Everybody,” her fourth solo album, George, 43, finally turns her attention to the death of the man known for founding one of rock’s cleverest, most idiosyncratic bands. (Mikael Wood) Read more

Mikael Wood

Pop Music Writer

Other recommendations:

Album: 'Soul of a Woman'

Sharon Jones struggled as a singer for too long to let anything interfere with her success when it finally arrived. That’s the impression you get from “Soul of a Woman,” the final album this tough, leather-lunged R&B belter made before she died in 2016 of pancreatic cancer. Due Friday, nearly a year to the date after her death, the 11-track set was recorded in the wake of some serious professional accomplishments, including Jones' first Grammy nomination and an acclaimed documentary that examined her unlikely breakthrough at age 40 following years of unnoticed labor in gospel choirs and wedding bands around New York. At the same time, Jones' body was slowly failing her. Bosco Mann, who produced "Soul of a Woman" and plays bass in the singer's longtime backing band, the Dap-Kings, says they scheduled their studio sessions around her treatment plan. (Mikael Wood) Read more

Album 'Reputation'

For Taylor Swift, love — or the idea of it — has always represented a refuge, an escape, a shelter in a storm. When she emerged, just over a decade ago, romance was a means of lifting herself out of the too-smallness of high school; later, its enduring promise cushioned her after any number of messy breakups. Swift's idealizing impulse resonated with fans, who were using her music the same way she was using her imagination, and she quickly became one of the biggest and most closely observed pop stars on the planet. Now, on her sixth studio album, "Reputation" love is an antidote to the celebrity she so doggedly cultivated (and then fumbled as soon as everyone was watching). (Mikael Wood) Read more

Album 'The Thrill of It All'

Who is Sam Smith kidding? “Every time you hurt me, the less that I cry,” he sings, vowing to guard his fragile heart, in “Too Good at Goodbyes,” the gospel-inspired opener from his new studio album, “The Thrill of It All.” But if there’s anything this young British soul star has made clear since he emerged five years ago, it’s that he’ll never, ever run out of tears. (Mikael Wood) Read more

Tim Buckley recordings

In early September 1969, the dynamic singer and songwriter Buckley played three nights at the Troubadour in West Hollywood. A tireless explorer influenced more by Nina Simone than Bob Dylan, he was accompanied during the gigs by himself and musicians playing a Fender Rhodes electric organ, electric and acoustic guitars, bass, drums and congas. Reissue producers Bill Inglot and Pat Thomas recently unearthed a bounty of tapes from those three nights in September, some of which already had been mined for an earlier concert recording, “Live at the Troubadour 1969.” The results of their effort can be found on “Greetings From West Hollywood” and “Venice Mating Call,” which come out Oct. 13. the two new releases, the former available on LP and the latter on compact disc, present wondrously remastered, previously un-issued versions from those Troubadour nights. (Randall Roberts) Read more

Chef Morihiro Onodera. (Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)


Morihiro “Mori” Onodera may have the most passionate fans in the universe of Los Angeles sushi, partisans who swapped pictures of his dishes on sites like Chowhound long before Instagram existed, blissed out at his deeply slashed sayori and tended to see praise of any other sushi chef as a backhanded swipe at their hero. I have been called out over the years not for dismissing Onodera but for not praising him quite highly enough. How did he wind up behind the counter at Shiki, a fancy Beverly Hills restaurant opened to showcase luxury Japanese food products? I’m not sure. But for now, it may be enough that he is there, building menus around well-caught wild fish and organic farmer’s market produce. Read more

Jonathan Gold

Restaurant critic

A dessert at 189 by Dominique Ansel. (Christina House / Los Angeles Times)

189 by Dominique Ansel

The new Cronut — could it be the “avocado toast” at the new Dominique Ansel bakery, a trompe l’oeil confection of avocado ice cream, frozen ricotta and shortbread that looks more like the real thing than the actual avocado toast on offer? The ice cream-stuffed marshmallow blow-torched to order so that it resembles a cross between a campfire s’more and a baked Alaska on a stick? Or even the milk bread at the restaurant 189 by Dominique Ansel upstairs — a construction of soft bread cubes dusted with cotija cheese and filled with puréed corn that somehow tastes like the best street corner elote in East L.A. If you glance at food magazines, you know about Dominique Ansel. He’s the guy who started the kouign-amann fad a few years ago, the one that obligated every ambitious pastry chef in America to learn how to make the intricately folded Breton pastry. Read more

189 the Grove Drive, Los Angeles

Jonathan Gold

Restaurant critic

Nancy Silverton, left, Genet Agonafer and Suzanne Tracht. (Mariah Tauger / For The Times)

Jonathan Gold’s top 10 L.A. food trend predictions for 2018

1. Women in the kitchen Not so long ago, female-led kitchens in Los Angeles were so common as to seem almost unremarkable, and the era when the best restaurants were presided over by the likes of Nancy Silverton, Suzanne Goin, Evan Kleiman, Dominique Crenn, Lydia Shire, Mary Sue Milliken, Susan Feniger, Suzanne Tracht, Odette Fada, Sossi Brady, Monique King, Xiomara Ardolina, Genet Agonafer and Josie Le Balch, among so many others, was among the greatest in the history of American cooking. The history of new California cooking to a certain point was the story of women’s cooking in the state, and a chefs’ cookbook shelf without the works of Kleiman, Goin, Alice Waters and Judy Rogers is not really a shelf at all. Read more

Jonathan Gold

Restaurant critic

Grilled prime hanger steak. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

Marché Moderne

The new Marché Moderne has all the accouterments of a grand modern restaurant, the vast open kitchen and the oversized flower arrangements; the enormous bowls of crushed ice holding Champagne; the heavy Laguiole steak knives and the vintage red Berkel, the ‘50s-era meat slicer that every chef knows is the most glamorous way to shave transparent curls of meat from a well-aged ham. Important courses are rushed to the table in gleaming copper saucepans, which most of the customers have probably priced out at Williams-Sonoma. Tablecloths are ironed and white. The high, beamed ceilings are of the sort you might expect in an Aspen ski chateau. Most of the customers valet park although there is free strip mall parking literally three steps away. Read more

Marché Moderne, 7862 E. Pacific Coast Highway, Newport Beach

Jonathan Gold

Restaurant critic

Other recommendations:

Jonathan Gold's 10 best dishes of 2017

I’m wondering whether there has ever been a dining year quite like 2017 here in Los Angeles. The most interesting new kitchens seemed to be either in fantastically expensive tasting menu restaurants or in food courts; they stock their wine lists with either dreary classics or puzzling natural wines; and fill their pantries with farmers market vegetables or the product of their own backyards. Some of the best food came from what marketing people call brand extensions, others from the world of haute cuisine. As always, inspiration came from nearly every part of the world. Can 2017 be summed up in 10 dishes — 10 dishes that don’t happen to include well-done steak, double ice cream and Big Macs inhaled in silence? We’ll try. Read more

Jonathan Gold’s 101 Best Restaurants 2017

Let us address the spaceship in the docking port here — not everybody is going to be ecstatic that we are naming Vespertine the best restaurant in Los Angeles. The entire experience at Vespertine, from the lack of right angles in the dining room, to the throbbing four-note soundtrack, to the overwhelming abstraction of the food, to the stunning cost of dinner, is going to drive many of you insane. Yet looked at as an artwork, where the architect Eric Owen Moss, the ceramicist Ryota Aoki and the musicians in the post-rock band This Will Destroy You are as vital to the experience as the chef, Vespertine is in its way perfect. Read more

Sari Sari Store

I have stopped by Sari Sari Store five times in three days, and I’m not sure if I should be admitting this to you or to a therapist. My colleagues and I have probably adored Sari Sari Store a little too much lately, partly because we’re as likely to become crushed out on a new restaurant as a 14-year-old is on the latest Zayn track, and partly because the idea of a Filipino-style lunch counter run by République’s Margarita and Walter Manzke is just too much, especially in downtown L.A.’s Grand Central Market. Read more

Sari Sari Store, Grand Central Market, 317 S. Broadway, Los Angeles


If you gaze long into Nothingness, or at least into the San Gabriel Sichuan restaurant of that name, the Nothingness that stares back at you is likely to include steamed whole fish, braised lamb with jelly noodle, and pig feet with hot pepper. The steam rising from hot pots may suggest an infinite void, but only for that moment before the vivid red of the roiling broth becomes visible through the mist. Also, I imagine the empty world does not smell quite so strongly of garlic and toasted chiles. Why is there something rather than nothingness? Because the presumption of nonexistence does not allow for the possibility of live crawfish steamed in chile sauce, while Nothingness the restaurant does. Does existence precede essence? I haven’t read a lot of philosophy since college, but I maintain that the snap of the shell, the softness of the flesh, indicate that it probably does. Read more

288 Nothingness, San Gabriel Blvd., Suite 103/104, San Gabriel


A juane is an unusual dish in the Peruvian repertoire, a huge, overstuffed tamal from the headwaters of the Amazon, a kind of combo meal made in its area of origin as a convenient takeaway lunch for travelers. Juanes take their name from John the Baptist — the bulging roundness is said to resemble the severed head of the saint on a plate — and they are often served on his saint’s day. When wrapped in the traditional bijao leaf, the late chef Felipe Rojas-Lombardi wrote, it looks a little like a hobo’s bundle on the end of a stick. You can stow almost anything in a juane before you boil it — rice and chicken, yuca root, plantains, hearts of palm, ground peanuts, sometimes boneless fish. At Rosaliné, the buzzy new Peruvian restaurant on Melrose, Ricardo Zarate makes his with chickpeas, hard-boiled eggs and pork shanks. Bijao is a little hard to find in California, so he steams everything in banana leaves. Read more

Rosalinén, 8479 Melrose Ave., West Hollywood

"The Divine Spouse," Miguel Cabrera. (LACMA)

Best art in 2017: Our critic’s top 10 exhibitions, plus one very big worry

Good things of course continue to happen in museums — in L.A., most notably, the Getty-funded initiative to underwrite a slew of exhibitions of Latino and Latin American art, the emergence of the long-sleepy California African American Museum as a lively destination and the announcement that a museum will be built at UC Irvine specifically to trace the development of California art. Here, in chronological order of their openings, are the 10 best museum exhibitions I saw in Los Angeles this year. Read more

Christopher Knight

Art critic

Other recommendations:

Catherine Wagner: Near Abstraction

Wagner’s photographs make brilliant conversation with the paintings of Giorgio Morandi, with his medium as well as her own. Each of her pictures presents the shadow of a tabletop arrangement of bottles, vases, bowls and cups, shot in Morandi's Bologna studio, using light filtered through colored gels. The images are luxurious chromatic soaks, photographs that hint and whisper, based on paintings that plainly assert. (Leah Ollman) (Through March 31) Read more

Gallery Luisotti, Bergamot Station, 2525 Michigan Ave., Santa Monica.

Vija Celmins

This quietly gripping show, the first in L.A. for Celmins in more than a decade, concentrates on recent work — paintings, drawings, sculpture and prints. Imagery that Celmins has mined for 50 years prevails (rippling oceans and star-flecked night skies), but there are also thrilling, newer directions represented, such as “reverse” night skies, and an exquisite mapping of the veiny cracks of a glazed ceramic surface. Celmins’ focus on outward appearances registers, ultimately, as a deeply personal, interior process. (Leah Ollman) (Through March 31) Read more

Matthew Marks Gallery, 1062 N. Orange Grove and 7818 Santa Monica Blvd., West Hollywood.

Robert Irwin

Now approaching 90, the painter-turned-pioneering-artist-of-light-and-space continues to astonish. Irwin has reimagined the gallery’s 5,000-square-foot ground level space as an immaculate, immersive sculpture. The environment reinvents itself — or rather, we reinvent it, perceptually — through shifts in light and perspective. This is Irwin at his catalytic best. (Leah Ollman) (Through April 21) Read more

Sprüth Magers, 5900 Wilshire Blvd., L.A


Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire

Just after donning our virtual reality headsets — and before pulling down the visors to completely surrender to a digital galaxy — four of us would-be rebels were given one major rule: no running. No running? No problem. As a skeptical admirer of virtual reality technology, I’m accustomed to the disorientation and even feelings of motion sickness that come from wearing any of the multiple headsets I have in my apartment. So while “Secrets of the Empire” promises excitement — namely a battle with Stormtroopers amid a space station built on a potentially unstable lava-filled planet — I was mainly worried that I’d eaten too much for lunch. A few minutes into the attraction, however, something unexpected happened. I started running. Read more

Todd Martens

Video game critic

"Cuphead." (Studio MDHR)


Video games often help define new entertainment frontiers, be they interactive, immersive or centered on virtual or augmented realities. Yet “Cuphead” resurrects a few nearly forgotten advances — namely the lost art of hand-drawn animation and the abandoned joy of big band jazz. Though the fast-paced and brutally difficult action game looks to bygone eras, its everything-old-is-new-again tone doesn’t exactly feel retro. By channeling the insanity of Walt Disney Pictures’ “Silly Symphonies” and the surreal but rough-around-the-edges work of Fleischer Studios, “Cuphead” possesses an anything-goes childlike weirdness with a sinisterly adult edge. Read more

Todd Martens

Video game critic

"Monument Valley 2." (Ustwo)

Monument Valley’

Some of the most popular modern fairy tales are played rather than told. Ustwo’s “Monument Valley” spun a story about a quiet princess — Ida — who worked, often alone, to restore a colorful, geometric habitat, one inspired equally by the meticulously designed illustrated architecture of M.C. Escher as well as the joy of optical illusions. Since its release in 2014, that experience has been downloaded more than 30 million times. Gray feels confident that “Monument Valley” succeeded in its mission statement. Now the design firm is back with a new game, one that once again wants to shift the mainstream awareness of what games can — and should — accomplish. On Monday, Ustwo unveiled “Monument Valley 2,” a sequel that aims to take the calm and abstract shapes and ruins of the first title and inject even more emotional depth. Read more

Todd Martens

Video game critic

Other recommendations:

The Nintendo Switch

Not since the debut of its original Nintendo Entertainment System has the Japanese company released a home video game console with as much potential to shake up how we play as the Nintendo Switch, which is out Friday. Thirty years ago, Nintendo reinvented the video game medium. Not only did the NES lead to such genre-defining interactive entertainment as “Super Mario Bros.” and “The Legend of Zelda,” but it also liberated games from the arcade and brought them to the American living room. Where they could increasingly be played for hours, days, weeks, months. Rather than intense, cliffhanger-like action that demanded the next 25 cents, home games had pace, tempo and rudimentary stories. They were also accessible — no obscenely pricey home computer or trip to a teenage-infested arcade needed. The Switch takes that livability to another level. It is a home video game console that’s connected to a television. But it’s also a hand-held device designed for ultimate mobility. And at least one of its games barely requires the use of a screen at all. Read more

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


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

'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