‘Barbenheimer,’ the biggest cinematic event of the summer, is fantastic

Margot Robbie drives a pink convertible as Ryan Gosling sits in the backseat.
Ryan Gosling as Ken, left, and Margot Robbie as Barbie sing in “Barbie.”
(Warner Bros. Pictures)

Lately, I’ve been obsessed with the choreography in Troye Sivan’sRush” music video and Parris Goebel’s Nike Women collaboration. The erotic encounters in Sivan’s music video are often interrupted by fast rhythmic movement choreographed by Sergio Reis that turns a quartet of men into 2D vignettes that are mesmerizing and addictive to watch. And Goebel’s latest collab is incredibly inventive in its formations on stage that include a series of treadmills and an ever-evolving hive of dancers in pink. Enough gushing on the latest choreo trends. I’m Steven Vargas, your L.A. Goes Out host, and here are the top events for this upcoming weekend recommended by the crew (sign up here for the newsletter):

Weekly Countdown

Two men in suits stare at each other.
Cillian Murphy, (right, with Robert Downey Jr.) stars as J. Robert Oppenheimer in “Oppenheimer.” The film, about the development of the atomic bomb, hits theaters at the same time as Greta Gerwig’s “Barbie,” offering the perfect double feature.
(Melinda Sue Gordon / Universal Pictures)

1. ‘Barbenheimer’
Come on, Barbie, let’s go ... make an atomic bomb? The summer’s highly anticipated double feature is finally here. If you’ve been living under a rock, Greta Gerwig’sBarbie” and Christopher Nolan’sOppenheimer” hit theaters Friday and offer the perfect opportunity to spend the entire day at the movies. “Oppenheimer,” led by Cillian Murphy, tells the story of how American physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer developed the atomic bomb during World War II. Once you’ve finished taking a somber stroll through American history, step out of the theater and put on your best pink pumps for “Barbie.” The movie about the popular doll stars Margot Robbie as Barbie and Ryan Gosling as Ken. This modern-day story follows Barbie as she begins to question her life in Barbieland and searches for something more. As Hollywood faces two strikes for the first time in 63 years, this summer highlight offers a communal celebration of cinema. Tickets are selling fast, so plan your day-long movie experience today. You can find upcoming showtimes on Fandango or wherever you prefer to purchase movie tickets.


A family gathered in a kitchen on stage.
Jasmine Ashanti, left, Roslyn Ruff, LisaGay Hamilton and Samantha Miller in “Stew” at Pasadena Playhouse.
(Mike Palma)

2. ‘Stew’
Take a whiff of what’s cooking in Zora Howard’sStew,” now playing at Pasadena Playhouse. The play, a finalist for the 2021 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, takes you inside a family kitchen. Mama (LisaGay Hamilton) and her kids Lillian (Roslyn Ruff), Lil’ Mama (Samantha Miller) and Nelly (Jasmine Ashanti) are up early to cook the family’s famous stew for a big event. As the soup starts to boil, so does the family history. Soon, past grief and old resentments billow out. “Stew” brings three generations of Black women under one roof for a story that is equally humorous and haunting. The show runs until Aug. 6 and tickets range from $40 to $117. More information can be found on Pasadena Playhouse’s website.

A painting of a person hitting a tennis ball with a racket.
Honor Titus, “Second Serve,” 2023. Oil on canvas, 84 x 72 in.
(Jeff McLane / Honor Titus / Gagosian)

3. ‘Honor Titus: Advantage In’
Gagosian presents Honor Titus’Advantage In.” The new exhibition at the Beverly Hills art gallery features paintings that reframe culturally significant moments in cinema, music, sports and literature. Titus takes familiar imagery and incorporates people of color in the contexts of leisure and luxury. For example, in works like “Prosperity” and “Second Serve,” he shows athletes on a tennis court participating in the game with triumphant gestures and movements. His paintings also catch the viewer’s eye with their bold colors. “Advantage In” comes recommended by The Times’ Deborah Vankin. Urs Fischer’sDenominator,” a large-scale installation that brings decades of advertising history onto a constantly shifting cube of LED screens, will be presented across the street from the Gagosian gallery. There will be a free opening reception at Gagosian for both exhibitions from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday. Gagosian Beverly Hills is open from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. More information on “Advantage In” can be found on the gallery’s website.

Performers line up on stage at the Ford, cast in blue and purple lighting.
WORDTheatre’s last performance at the Ford was “In the Cosmos” in 2017. Now they’re returning with “JAZZ Re-EVOLUTION” on Saturday.
(Timothy Norris)

4. Jazz Re-Evolution
WORDTheatre, in partnership with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, presents “Jazz Re-Evolution.” The evening brings together artists from different mediums, from musicians to actors, to share the work of jazz legends. The night includes performances of the songs of legendary jazz musicians Buddy Bolden and Nina Simone, and theatrical readings of work by luminaries like W.E.B. DuBois and Zora Neale Hurston. Altogether, the night curated, produced and directed by Cedering Fox presents an exciting look into the history of jazz. WORDTheatre is known for bringing together a star-studded lineup, and this time is no different. Performers include Tracie Thoms, Antonique Smith, Keith David and Jason George. The show is from 8 to 10 p.m. Saturday at the Ford in the Hollywood Hills and remaining tickets range from $30 to $60. More information can be found on the WORDTheatre and Ford websites.


An artist crafting a sculpture of Bruce Lee.
Master Chu‘s sculpture of Bruce Lee is available to view at Chu Tat Shing’s exhibition “Divine Land, Enduring Legends” at the Chinese American Museum.
(Chinese American Museum)

5. Divine Land, Enduring Legends
The Chinese American Museum honors the 50th anniversary of Bruce Lee’s death with an exhibition that centers around the debut of a life-size sculpture of the kung fu legend. “Divine Land, Enduring Legends” is the first U.S. exhibition of work by internationally renowned artist Master Chu Tat Shing. Aside from Master Chu’s sculpture of Lee, the exhibition will also include other historical figures and the artist’s “Chinese Cursive Calligraphy” sculptures — contributing to the 40-plus sculptures and paintings on display. The exhibition is free and available to view at the Pico House across from the Chinese American Museum until Sunday. More information can be found on CAMLA’s website.

Bonus round: ‘On the Wings of Hermès’

Soar into a magical and immersive universe of fashion. Luxury design house Hermès presents “On the Wings of Hermès,” a performance filled with cinema, dance and design that is an ode to daydreaming. During the performance, you’ll see Hermès bags dance across a stage and gloves turn into finger puppets. The show choreographed by Michèle Anne de Mey and directed by Jaco Van Dormael feels like a dizzying dream from Rodeo Drive. The piece by the French fashion house is created with Mey’s Astragales dance company and celebrates the theme of “lightness” through a tale based on the Greek mythological horse Pegasus — a winged stallion sired by Poseidon. Shows are free and take place at the Barker Hangar in Santa Monica. “On the Wings of Hermès” runs until Sunday. Shows are at 1:30, 3:30 and 6 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday. More information can be found on Hermès’ website.

On my mind

A woman is surrounded by dancers in bright dresses with outstretched hands.
Dutch National Ballet performed “Frida” by Annabelle Lopez Ochoa at the Music Center from July 14 to 16.
(Hans Gerritsen)

On Sunday, I went to the Music Center in downtown L.A. to see “Frida” performed by the Dutch National Ballet. The piece choreographed by Annabelle Lopez Ochoa and composed by Peter Salem documented pivotal moments in Frida Kahlo’s life to tell the story of her art. “Frida” isn’t an exact retelling of Kahlo’s life, but an abstract depiction of it. The sections of the ballet either shared specific incidents — including a bus accident at 18 years old and her tumultuous marriage to fellow painter Diego Rivera — or took a dive into her psyche. Each section is led by a chorus of skeletons guiding you through the story.

Ochoa’s choreography is heavily influenced by Latin culture. As Frida (performed by Maia Makhateli and Salome Leverashvili) extended her hands while being lifted, they fluttered, mimicking a fan or furl of a dress. As she and her 10 male Fridas (10 dancers who represent her various portraits) took the stage, they tossed and twirled the ends of their bright Tehuana dresses in a fashion similar to ballet folklórico. It’s these small yet impactful alterations to traditional ballet that transport the viewer into Frida’s life and culture. It makes the ballet familiar and comforting for Latino audiences.

Three dancing skeletons hold up a woman.
Dutch National Ballet performing the ballet “Frida.”
(Hans Gerritsen)

In the darkest moments of Frida’s life, she grows dependent on painkillers and becomes severely depressed. Works “The Two Fridas” and “The Broken Column” came to life through Dieuweke Van Reij’s set and costume design, depicting Kahlo’s declining health. As the ballet came to an end, her memories swirled around her. The 10 male Fridas, the animals and the skeletons all collided, resurfacing choreography performed earlier in the show. With a heart-wrenching, voiceless scream, Frida let out her final breath. What was left behind was a colorful world of art that continued to move. Ochoa’s portrait of Kahlo still haunts me today and makes me question how well I really knew the prolific Mexican artist. “Frida” is a never-ending invitation into Kahlo’s life that lives beyond the final bow.

Go out speed round

An abstract oil on linen painting.
Julia Jo, “Mother’s Ruin,” 2023. Oil on linen, 96 x 96 x 2 in.
(Julia Jo / James Fuentes)

Go out before it closes: James Fuentes in Hollywood presents Julia Jo’s latest exhibition, “Point of No Return.” Originally set to close Saturday, the exhibition has been extended to July 29, offering more time to check it out. The show features a series of large-scale paintings inspired by relatable memories from Jo’s personal life — from love triangles and family tensions to pressures of gender performance. Her expressive brushstrokes craft a mesmerizing portrait of dark hues. The gallery is free and open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Details on the exhibition can be found on James Fuentes’ website.

Go out for free: The summer of Shakespeare continues at Griffith Park. Independent Shakespeare Co. presents “Julius Caesar” at 7 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday until July 30. The production offers a modern spin to the classic tale about how propaganda and technology can manipulate the populace. You can register for the free performance on the company’s website. Independent Shakespeare Co. will also be performing “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” from Aug. 9 to Sept. 3. More information on the shows can be found online.

Go out and craft: Get a taste of printmaking with Craft Contemporary in Mid-Wilshire. The art gallery will be holding a fabric printmaking workshop led by Carrie Burckle from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday. During the workshop, Burckle will guide you through the process of creating multilayer surfaces by using block and screen-printing techniques. Tickets cost $135 for non-members and $125 for members. Details can be found on Craft Contemporary’s website.

Go out with the kids: John Lewis Thunderheart, the cow, is turning three on Sunday! Take the kids to the Gentle Barn, an animal sanctuary in Santa Clarita, to celebrate with Thunderheart and 500 of his best human friends. Thunderheart has a heartwarming story; he was born with pneumonia in a slaughterhouse and rescued by the Gentle Barn, where he was nursed to health by the nonprofit’s co-founders Jay Weiner and Ellie Laks. Tickets range from free to $25 and more information can be found on the sanctuary’s website.

Darren Criss in a colorful pattern shirt with his hands behind his head in front of a yellow background.
Darren Criss will be performing a series of contemporary pop and Broadway classics at the Ford on Sunday.
(Darren Criss / The Ford)

Go out on a date: Take a break from the “Glee marathon and spend the evening at the Ford in the Hollywood Hills with Darren Criss. The actor, songwriter and performer will be singing contemporary pop and Broadway classics, along with new material from his upcoming EP. He’ll even ask the crowd for requests for various spontaneous performances. Remaining tickets to the show at 7:30 p.m. Sunday range from $36 to $46. More information can be found on the Ford’s website.

Go out all day: Marvel at dinosaurs at the Jurassic World Live Tour that is making its way to Arena in downtown L.A. Friday to Sunday. The live experience immerses you amid the team of scientists working to save the dino Jeanie, a Troodon, from a tragic fate. Along the way, you’ll meet other dinosaurs — including fan-favorite Bumpy. Tickets start at $22 and more information can be found on the Jurassic World Live Tour website.

Go out all night: The Skirball Cultural Center in Brentwood is offering a sunset concert by Billy Valentine. The blues and R&B singer will cover iconic protest songs by artists that include Stevie Wonder, Prince and Marvin Gaye. The evening will also include a performance by DJ Linafornia. The concert is from 8 to 10 p.m. Thursday, and the galleries and concessions will be open from 6:30 to 10 p.m. The event is free and first come, first served. Check out all the details on Skirball’s website.

Go out all weekend: Rising Japan, the only Japanese music festival in L.A., will take place at Marina Green Park in Long Beach from Saturday to Sunday. The music festival features two outdoor stages and is packed with Japanese food, music and culture. Performers include Def Tech, Iakopo, WST, Rihwa, Kaoru Miyazaki and EPITHYMiA. Tickets range from $60 to $180 for a one-day pass and $110 to $330 for a two-day pass. More information can be found on the festival’s website.

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I’m all ears!

That’s all I’ve got for this week. Follow our feed of recommendations and itineraries on Instagram and Twitter, and if you have recs of your own, send them to