Arts & Entertainment

Your complete guide to Penang's art exhibitions, theatre plays, musicals, comedy, movie reviews and film trailers

Penang's best art galleries
Art

Penang's best art galleries

Your art appreciation begins now

50 things to do in Penang: Arts and culture
Things to do

50 things to do in Penang: Arts and culture

Here's how you can channel your inner culture vulture

Street art by Ernest Zacharevic
Art

Street art by Ernest Zacharevic

A look at Penang's most photogenic graffiti art

Independent bookshops in Penang
Shopping

Independent bookshops in Penang

Where you can score some inspirational reads

Street art in Penang
Art

Street art in Penang

A guide to George Town's glorious street art

Latest film reviews and releases

La La Land
Film

La La Land

The young writer-director Damien Chazelle has followed his Oscar-winning drama 'Whiplash' with another entirely novel film steeped in the world of music. His soaring, romantic, extremely stylish and endlessly inventive 'La La Land' is that rare beast: a grown-up movie musical that's not kitschy, a joke or a Bollywood film. Instead, it's a swooning, beautifully crafted ode to the likes of Jacques Demy's 'The Umbrellas of Cherbourg' and Stanley Donen's 'Singin' in the Rain' that plays out in the semi-dream world of Los Angeles and manages to condense the ups and downs of romantic love into a very Tinseltown toe-tapping fable. 'La La Land' boasts stars to fall in love with: Ryan Gosling is Seb, a brooding pianist and jazz purist who dreams of running his own nightclub, while Emma Stone plays Mia, a more sunny studio-lot barista and aspiring actor who dreams of putting on her own plays. The film follows them from winter to fall and back to winter as they meet, argue, flirt, fall in love and face a growing conflict between their personal passions and romantic hopes. There are tender and imaginative moments to die for: Stone mouthing along to a cover version of 'I Ran' at a pool party; the pair watching their legs discover the power of tap while sitting on a bench; the two of them flying into the stars and waltzing while visiting Griffith Observatory - a moment inspired by a trip to see 'Rebel Without a Cause'. There are songs, there are dances (and Gosling and Stone prove easy n

Time Out says
  • 4 out of 5 stars
Arrival
Film

Arrival

'Sicario' director Denis Villeneuve's colour-drained, mournful sci-fi drama 'Arrival' plays like a more mainstream filmmaker got his hands on Jonathan Glazer's experimental alien masterpiece 'Under the Skin' and added moments of international intrigue, hints of romance, memories of past grief and shots of soldiers stomping about just in case the heady avant-garde stuff all got too much. There are plenty of smart ideas and bravura visuals in this maudlin, ponderous and slightly ridiculous tale of aliens coming to Earth, adapted from a Ted Chiang short story. But to enjoy the film's arresting musings on language, time and how much we can ever understand others, you'll have to close your eyes and ears to the wealth of schlocky hokum surrounding them. An ambiguous, moody prologue layered with Jóhann Jóhannsson's Michael Nyman-esque score begs us to take 'Arrival' seriously long before there's any talk of heptapods. Dr Louise Banks (Amy Adams, strong and sombre) is alone in a lakeside house with only images of her past life for company: she once raised and lost a daughter. Then the sci-fi kicks in: alien pods are hovering above several sites around the globe, and the US government hauls in Louise, who is a top linguist, and a theoretical scientist (Jeremy Renner, a bit of a spare part) to help them to understand what's going on. Their mission is to enter these creatures' giant egg-shaped craft and to discover what the pair of seven-legged uglies inside want and what they're doing

Time Out says
  • 3 out of 5 stars
Allied
Film

Allied

What’s your pleasure: a frothy spy romance or a grim World War II drama? How about both at once? ‘Allied’ sets itself up as a modern day answer to ‘Casablanca’: the early scenes are set in the Moroccan city under German occupation, and like the beloved Bogart ’n’ Bergman classic it combines a star-studded love story with a dark depiction of betrayal. But director Robert Zemeckis (‘Forrest Gump’) is no Michael Curtiz. Where ‘Casablanca’ glided seamlessly from swooning passion to stark reality, ‘Allied’ lumbers like an out-of-control tank, crushing any semblance of subtlety. Luckily the film has plenty of charms, chiefly the sight of Brad Pitt filling out a flight suit and Marion Cotillard oozing glamour on his arm. Pitt is Max Vatan, a Canadian sent to Morocco to murder the German ambassador. Cotillard is Marianne Beausejour, a French agent tasked with easing his assimilation into Vichy high society. Their marriage is only pretence – at least until the job’s done, at which point Max invites Marianne to return to London and be his wife for real. Cue domestic bliss? Not quite. Perhaps it’s a deliberate nod to those Hollywood oldies, most of them shot on LA backlots, but ‘Allied’ feels entirely fake. Even under German rule it’s hard to imagine a North African city as spotless as this. But nothing is as unconvincing as Pitt and Cotillard’s relationship. If you believe the old ‘Friends’ maxim that a lack of on-screen chemistry means definite backstage sparks, this pair’s entente

Time Out says
  • 3 out of 5 stars
Assassin's Creed
Film

Assassin's Creed

Gamers will know exactly what ‘Assassin’s Creed’ is; everyone else will need a little introduction to this solemn, brutal adaptation of the huge-selling computer game. Offering more than its fair share of head-scratching moments, it stars Michael Fassbender as a time-hopping member of the ‘Assassins’ – a secret order said to be at loggerheads for centuries with the Knights Templar over possession of the sacred apple from the Garden of Eden. If this freestyle plundering of medieval and religious history sounds a bit like ‘The Da Vinci Code’, it is, just a little. But as we hop between Madrid, London and Texas in 2016 and Andalusia in 1492 (with a quick stop in 1986 California) this is darker, more straight-faced and humour-free territory than Dan Brown. A collision between moody, smoky swords-and-daggers historical fantasy and sleek-lined modern-day sci-fi, the overall dimension-shattering vibe is more like ‘The Matrix’. We meet Fassbender in two time periods. In 1492, he’s an assassin set on forcing the ruling sultan (Khalid Abdalla) into submission. In 2016, he’s a convicted criminal, Callum Lynch, rescued from the jaws of execution by a shadowy, Madrid-based scientific organisation run by Sofia (Marion Cotillard) and her father Rikkin (Jeremy Irons). Where ‘Assassin’s Creed’ demands full attention is the concept of ‘DNA memory’ that links both periods. We watch as Callum essentially plays a virtual-reality experience controlling himself in the past, while in the wings Sof

Time Out says
  • 3 out of 5 stars
A Monster Calls
Film

A Monster Calls

Or 'Pan's Labyrinth 2: The Oscar Years'. When Spanish filmmaker JA Bayona's debut 'The Orphanage' was released back in 2007, many proclaimed him the rightful heir to Guillermo del Toro: creepy and inventive, the film bore a notable debt to the Mexican maestro's chilly masterpiece of wartime horror, 'The Devil's Backbone'. Bayona's follow-up, the disaster movie 'The Impossible', may have quieted those voices temporarily, but expect them to rise again, full-throated, when 'A Monster Calls' arrives in cinemas. Adapted by author Patrick Ness from his dour, dreamlike not-quite-kids'-book about an imaginative boy who conjures a writhing, ent-like tree-monster to help him deal with his mother's worsening cancer, this ambitious, often awkward, intermittently striking fairytale-horror-cum-disease-drama feels like the movie Del Toro would produce if he was suddenly struck down with Oscar fever.13-year-old Connor (Lewis MacDougall) is finding life a struggle: his mother Lizzie (Felicity Jones) is dying by degrees, his grandma (a miscast Sigourney Weaver) is brittle and loveless and his dad (Toby Kebbell) only makes the trip back from America when it suits him. So when a 40-foot monster (granite-voiced by Liam Neeson) tears itself out of a nearby yew tree and comes rampaging into Connor's life, he's glad of the distraction. But why has the beast come? To steal him away? To save his mum? Or just to tell him a series of prettily animated fairy stories?It's hard to know who the audience mig

Time Out says
  • 3 out of 5 stars
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Film

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

This breakaway Star Wars movie – set some time just before the first film – is a punchy standalone action tale about a spunky resistance group within the Rebel Alliance.

Time Out says
  • 4 out of 5 stars
See all Time Out film reviews