Arts & Entertainment

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

Art

Secret art spaces in Singapore

More stores and eateries are carving out spaces for local artists – we discover five unexpected art galleries

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Film

The BFG

A little orphan girl is snatched from her bed late at night by a big-hearted vegetarian giant and whisked off to an unwelcoming land of over-sized cannibals in Roald Dahl's much-cherished 1982 book 'The BFG'. For this movie version, aimed squarely at small kids who love the book, Steven Spielberg, working with the late 'ET' writer Melissa Mathison, runs with the lean meat of Dahl's tale.  Mark Rylance is the benevolent giant who pours dreams and nightmares into the ears of sleeping humans and who joins forces with the Queen (Penelope Wilton) to put a stop to the threat of flesh-eating giants. Spielberg makes surprisingly few embellishments to Dahl's story, yet he tones down some of the more vicious bone-crunching and is more interested in the wonder of dreams than the terror of nightmares. This is a faithful, charming (if a tiny bit sluggish) version that mixes live action with the same motion-capture technique that Spielberg used for 'The Adventures of Tintin' in 2011. There are a handful of heart-stopping moments, not least when Sophie (Ruby Barnhill) is snatched from her bed by those enormous fingers coming through the window. But there are points, too, when you can see the technology working, which might leave you wondering if digital invention can ever really match the imaginative leaps inspired by the printed word. Still, the giant that Spielberg has created with actor Mark Rylance is testament to how fast this technology is moving: he's a fleshy marvel, full of pers

Time Out says
  • 4 out of 5 stars
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Theatre

Interview: Joanna See Too, Chinese Theatre Circle

Is Chinese opera a dying art form? We meet with Joanna See Too Hoi Siang, the leading artist behind one of Singapore's last Cantonese opera troupes to find out

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Theatre

Three plays to catch at Singapore Theatre Festival

Taboos and the underbelly of society take centre-stage at this year’s Singapore Theatre Festival – we share three highlights

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Art

Big Bang Data

After travelling to cities such as London and Barcelona, Big Bang Data makes its Asian debut with an immersive, in-depth exhibition presenting the impact technology has had on our lives. ‘Twenty-four Hrs in Photos’ is a large-scale installation that shows nothing can be private in a public domain: visitors walk through mounds of photos that were uploaded to Flickr over a 24-hour period. And in ‘Black Shoals: Dark Matter’, observe constellations of stars that twinkle according to real-time financial market fluctuations.

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Latest film reviews and releases

Film

Ghostbusters

The all-female reboot of ‘Ghostbusters’ is here – pumped-up, subversive and often very funny. But before any fanboys make the leap from viciously criticising the trailer to viciously criticising the movie itself, let’s get a reality check on the 1984 original: breezy, blessed with a Bill Murray performance that captures him at his loosest, but hardly a work of genius – it was a wispy ‘Saturday Night Live’ skit propped up by zingers and special effects. For this new ‘Ghostbusters’, director Paul Feig (‘Bridesmaids’), working with his regular screenwriter Katie Dippold, has dropped the deadpan, blue-collar schlubbiness of Murray and the gang. But he adds a sharp sense of sorority, turning this rethink into something appealing on its own terms. This is a stealth battle of the sexes that involves mansplaining college deans, a haughty New York mayor and a phalanx of male soldiers – all neutralised by a core team of four imaginative women. Melissa McCarthy and Kristen Wiig play Abby and Erin, co-authors of an embarrassing paranormal study, the 460-page ‘Ghosts from the Past: Both Figuratively and Literally’, who are drawn back together after Erin’s academic career fizzles out. Evil vapours haunt New York’s underground, bringing a tough subway worker (Leslie Jones) into the fold. For a moment we think they’re returning to the old Tribeca firehouse – but the rent’s way too high, so they settle for an office over a Chinese restaurant. But it’s Kate McKinnon’s rascally, plastic-goggled

Time Out says
  • 4 out of 5 stars
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Film

Alice Through the Looking Glass

This follow-up to Tim Burton’s 2010 ‘Alice in Wonderland’ brings back most of the same team (though Burton has stepped back to be a producer), and the same high-energy and bucketful of 3D digital effects approach. Mia Wasikowska returns as the eminently sensible Alice, who has been adventuring on the high seas since we last saw her (a little anachronistically, considering this is the 1800s). Now she must battle male chauvinism to follow her dreams back on dry land. The story bears little relation to Lewis Carroll’s novel. Instead, screenwriter Linda Woolverton aims for a sequel that also serves as a prequel, with plenty of flashbacks to the past lives of the Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp), White Queen (Anne Hathaway) and Red Queen (Helena Bonham Carter). It’s Alice’s job, after tumbling through the mirror and returning to Underland, to negotiate with a brand new character, volatile almost-villain Time (Sacha Baron Cohen, on high-camp, slightly grating form) to save Hatter, who’s dying from a broken heart. The film’s pace barely leaves you time to think – blink and you’ll lose the plot. But there’s plenty of imagination here to honour the spirit of Carroll’s topsy-turvy tales, even if the emotional resolutions are of a distinctly twenty-first-century sort.

Time Out says
  • 3 out of 5 stars
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Film

Finding Dory

While 'Finding Dory' is crammed with the kind of visual pleasures we’ve come to expect from Pixar, the story doesn’t always reach the heights of invention upon which the animation giant has built its reputation. The film lacks the psychological probing of 'Inside Out', the existential ponderings of 'Wall-E', the gentle, stoic sadness of 'Up'. But it’s still a moving sequel to 2003’s 'Finding Nemo', following the adventures of Dory (voiced by Ellen DeGeneres), the adorably ditzy amnesiac tang fish, as she hunts for the Californian family she suddenly remembers losing. There’s a neat symmetry here: In 'Finding Nemo', a father, Marlin (Albert Brooks) looked for his lost son (Alexander Gould); now a grown-up daughter searches for her parents. The switch, though, has a resultant lack of urgency: there’s more dramatic tension when a child goes missing than when a parent is suddenly remembered by their adult offspring. Dory rediscovers her childhood home in a corner of the California Marine Life Institute, a place for oceanic study presided over by the disembodied, omniscient voice of Sigourney Weaver, playing herself (think of those museum-guide gadgets narrated by celebrities). Weaver brings a wonderfully surreal note that'll sail over the heads of younger viewers – she’s a welcome presence in a film that has less-than-the-usual number of gags pitched at older viewers. In keeping with the film’s subtle celebration of difference, Dory grew up in a place where damaged aquatic life i

Time Out says
  • 4 out of 5 stars
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Film

Warcraft

The role-playing video game ‘World of Warcraft’ was a clunky Frankenstein thing, cobbled together from the most obvious parts of countless fantasy franchises. So a certain level of respect is due to ‘Moon’ director Duncan Jones for attempting to inject new life – and a hint of relevance – into this tired, so-last-decade concern. Sadly, his best intentions aren’t enough: like its ten-foot anti-heroes the orcs, ‘Warcraft’ is noisy, lumbering and not terribly bright. Much of the problem lies with the cast – Travis Fimmel is a walking charisma void as strapping warrior Anduin, a sort of Aragorn without the personal charm (Aragormless?). He’s the land of Azeroth’s best hope against those murderous, dimension-hopping orcs, and he’s backed by a plucky band of equally forgettable white dudes with bad hair: Dominic Cooper as well-meaning dullard King Llayne, Ben Schnetzer from ‘Pride’ as trainee wizard Khadgar and Ben Foster, totally misused as the magical Guardian. Their snaggle-toothed orc foes have a touch more personality: despite being buried under layers of CGI, Toby Kebbell gives real warmth to Durotan, the chieftain for whom randomly massacring humans doesn’t always guarantee a good time. He also embodies Jones’s most interesting and tricky conceit – that newcomers to your land might not all be there to wreck the place (though, the film implies, most of them probably are). The total absence of originality here is notable, but it needn’t have been a problem: with a tighter plot

Time Out says
  • 2 out of 5 stars
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Film

The Conjuring 2

Do you believe in ghosts? The answer could seriously affect your enjoyment of this old-school supernatural sequel. If it’s yes, you’re in for a fun night at the movies: a smart, convincingly creepy account of a ‘real-life’ haunting. If it’s a no, you may find this a far less comfortable experience: a story of the exploitation – abuse even– of four young children by a group of shameless hucksters, portrayed here as heroes. ‘The Conjuring 2’ knows which side its bread is buttered on. There’s barely a scintilla of doubt in this reworked chronicle of the Enfield haunting case that gripped London in the late 1970s. When Peggy Hodgson (Frances O’Connor) and her four children begin experiencing strange phenomena in their suburban home – rattlings, clatterings and old-man apparitions – they call on Ed (Patrick Wilson) and Lorraine Warren (Vera Farmiga), hotshot paranormal investigators from across the pond. Even they, at first, experience a moment’s pause, but then youngest daughter Janet (Madison Wolfe) starts speaking in growls, things start flying around the living room and before you can say ‘Hollywood overkill’ Lorraine’s whipping out her Bible and yelling at the spirits to leave the poor mites alone. After ‘Insidious’ and ‘The Conjuring’, director James Wan has his method down. The scares are effective and the camerawork is superb, all lurking long shots and short sharp shocks. Wan is fully aware of the austerity-era parallels in his story, and the period detail is surprisingly

Time Out says
  • 3 out of 5 stars
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Film

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows

Sea turtles can live for more than 150 years. Ninja turtles? God help us. With any luck, whatever steroids this lot are taking to make them look freakishly pumped-up (like giant cucumbers dressed as extras from ‘Mad Max’) will shave a few years off. Anything to save us from more ear-splittingly relentless, unmistakably cheap-looking movies like this.  'TMNT: Out of the Shadows' is the second film in the rebooted franchise about the heroes in a half shell. This time around the turtles are sneaking out of their secret sewer to take on arch nemesis Shredder (Brian Tee), who has broken out of prison to take down the planet in an insulting-even-to-kids plot that involves DNA, black holes, portholes to another dimension and blob villain Krang. Forget cowabunga, this is cowadunga. Still, the Oscar for Most Shamefully Contrived Scene goes to the scriptwriters for managing to get franchise eye-candy Megan Fox into a sexy schoolgirl kilt, which, any shorter, would land the film with an 18 rating.

Time Out says
  • 1 out of 5 stars
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Top art museums and galleries in Singapore

Art

National Gallery Singapore

The former City Hall and Supreme Court buildings have been refurbished to become the National Gallery

Users say
  • 5 out of 5 stars
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Film

Objectifs Centre for Photography & Filmmaking

Regular courses and workshops at this filmmaking and photography hub

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Art

ArtScience Museum

Art and science coexist in the same space at Marina Bay Sands

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Things to do

Gillman Barracks

A cluster of galleries take over this former military encampment

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Things to do

MINT Museum of Toys

A private museum with the largest collection of vintage toys in Southeast Asia

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Art

Singapore Art Museum

20th-century Asian visual art housed in a colonial building

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