Los Angeles Plays Itself Cal Arts professor and filmmaker Thom Andersen’s 2003 film essay about the myriad uses of the City of Angels as both location and character in everything from “Rebel Without a Cause” to “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?” and “The Big Sleep” to “L.A. Confidential” is a must-see for Angeleno film-nerds. Exhaustive in his research and defense of his beloved hometown, Andersen presents a novel take on the Hollywood establishment’s (mis)use of the city’s Modernist treasures. Discussion with Anderson after the film. American Cinematheque, Aero Theatre, 1328 Montana Ave., Santa Monica, . Sep. 3, 7:30 p.m. $12; $8 for Cinematheque members.
Tuesday Matinees Vincente Minnelli’s 1943 directorial debut, Cabin in the Sky, adapted from the 1940 stage musical, was the rare all-black film marketed to mainstream audiences. The indomitable Ethel Waters is a powerhouse as Petunia Jackson, the godly and righteous wife of the gambling scamp, Little Joe Jackson (Eddie “Rochester” Anderson), whose very soul she’s out to save. Co-stars include Lena Horne as the seductive , Louis Armstrong as the Trumpeter, and Rex Ingram as Lucius (a.k.a. Lucifer Jr.). LACMA, Bing Theater, 5905 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, . Sep. 5, 1 p.m. $4; $2 for members and ages 65+.
Afternoon Classics at New Beverly Cinema The rep house kicks off its Wednesday matinee series with Alfred Hitchcock’s tensely comic 1951 thriller, Strangers on a Train. Robert Walker, in his last great screen performance (he died shortly after the film’s release), plays Bruno, the urbane psychopath who plans a quid pro quo murder with Guy (Farley Granger), a married tennis pro who is desperate to marry another woman. The stylish nail-biter was adapted from the Patricia Highsmith novel by Raymond Chandler among others. Marion Lorne is a standout as Bruno’s befuddled but adoring mother. New Beverly Cinema, 7165 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles, . Sep. 6, 2 p.m.
Movie Night at the Wiltern Part of the appeal of Easy Rider, the ultimate counterculture biker movie, is the fantastic soundtrack with songs from the Jimi Hendrix Experience, the Byrds, the Band and of course, Steppenwolf. This special screening features the Easy Rider Live Band playing the classic tracks. Stars Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper co-wrote the Academy Award-nominated and reportedly largely improvised screenplay with Terry Southern, with Hopper also directing. was also nominated for his performance as an alcohol-bedeviled civil rights lawyer with a Cheshire Cat grin and a seersucker suit, who teams briefly with the long-haired biker duo. The Wiltern, 3790 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, . Sep. 8, 7:30 p.m. $30-$50.
Laurel & Hardy Festival The bowler-hat bedecked pair are as divisive as the Three Stooges. You either love them or you don’t, but there are enough Stan and Ollie fans to keep this annual series one of the most popular weekends on the Old Town Music Hall’s calendar. This year features a compilation of the legendary duo’s silent and sound shorts. Old Town Music Hall, 140 Richmond St., El Segundo, . Sep. 8, 8:15 p.m.; Sep. 9, 2:30 and 8:15 p.m.; Sep. 10, 2:30 p.m. $10; $8 for ages 62+. No credit cards.