Arts & Entertainment

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

The Nun
Film

The Nun

All five of the movies in the extended ‘Conjuring’ universe have been period pieces, but ‘The Nun’ is the first one that – charmingly – feels like it was actually made in a bygone decade. Set in 1952, it’s an atmosphere-drenched salute to the European horror films of the 1960s and ’70s that had characters skulking around ancient catacombs amid profaned religious iconography. There are creepy crypts aplenty and a graveyard with bell-equipped coffins just in case anyone gets buried alive (alas, the transgressive sexuality of the era’s more extreme nunsploitation flicks is off the table). Soulful-eyed Taissa Farmiga is perfectly cast (though the film doesn’t acknowledge her sisterly connection to ‘Conjuring’ vet Vera) as a young novitiate tasked by the Vatican to join a priest (Demián Bichir) on a fact-finding trip to a remote Romanian abbey. One of the clergywomen there has committed suicide, and the duo is joined in its investigation by a French-Canadian villager (Jonas Bloquet) who discovered the corpse and is handy for comic relief. Supernatural evil is afoot and director Corin Hardy musters effective heebie-jeebies from shadowy figures lurking on the edges of the frame. In the absence of much plot or character complexity in the script by Gary Dauberman (‘It’ and the ‘Annabelle’ films), Hardy revels in the opportunity to tell the story as a series of eerie set pieces. Until a computer-enhanced finale somewhat deflates things, he wrings chills from carefully crafted cinemat

Time Out says
3 out of 5 stars
Ten essential books by Malaysians for Malaysians
Things to do

Ten essential books by Malaysians for Malaysians

If you're unfamiliar with Malaysian literature, here are ten books by Malaysian authors ranging from fiction, non-fiction and poetry in both English and Bahasa Malaysia, suitable for beginners

What's the deal with: Malaysia Design Archive
Art

What's the deal with: Malaysia Design Archive

Learn about Malaysia Design Archive's efforts to preserve the visual history of Malaysia

New art spaces and galleries to check out in KL
Art

New art spaces and galleries to check out in KL

We check out some of the newest art spaces and galleries around the city – from Kampung Attap all the way to Klang. Now go earn some #CultureVulture points.

The Meg
Film

The Meg

Imagine a trashy empty-calories combo of ‘Sharknado’ and the gore-and-nudity-heavy ‘Piranha 3D’ – two horror movies loaded with loveable dumbness. Then dial back those expectations by several nautical miles, deep into mild 12A territory, and you have ‘The Meg’, a disappointment for fans of pure summer nonsense (I count myself proudly among them). Developed over decades from a 1997 Michael Crichton–lite science-fiction novel by Steven Alten, the movie is a Jurassic-sized pretender, summoning a 75-foot Megalodon shark – the movie’s CGI is somewhat watery – but little in the way of menace, suspense or even goony laughs. No one is coming to ‘The Meg’ for originality, but connoisseurs of Jason Statham’s lunkheaded charms will find his portrayal of Jonas – a guilt-ridden rescue diver who thinks he’s quit the game until his ex-wife gets trapped on the bottom of the Mariana Trench – limited. (The mope-ragey Sylvester Stallone of ‘Cliffhanger’ would have killed in this.) Accompanying Jonas to a high-tech underwater research station off the Chinese coast are a wise-cracking billionaire investor (Rainn Wilson, soaking his every line in ironic geekery and spoiling the mood) and a somber team of scientists led by Suyin (Li Bingbing), a single mom with an adorable tyke in tow. The funniest moments are fleeting, like the creature’s enormous dorsal fin – as huge as a tent – displacing water with a sound louder than a motorboat, or someone uttering the trailer-ready bit of ridiculousness, ‘

Time Out says
2 out of 5 stars

Latest film reviews and releases

Hotel Artemis
Film

Hotel Artemis

Hollywood’s visions of the future tend to make hellscapes of major cities. Joining the Detroit of RoboCop and the NYC of Escape from New York is Hotel Artemis’s Los Angeles, where the citizens of 2028 riot for water rights and criminals are everywhere. The film’s title refers to a secret emergency room for wounded gangsters over which Jodie Foster’s alcoholic, haunted Nurse presides, with the help of Dave Bautista’s heavy. One night, the patients are joined by LA’s Wolf King (Jeff Goldblum, at the nastier end of his spectrum), the crime boss who owns the hospital, and an injured cop (Jenny Slate) who has a tie to the Nurse’s shady past. It’s an atmospheric setup, with the faded Hotel Artemis offering a nicely seedy backdrop for a cast of good-looking, increasingly antagonistic eccentrics. Offering the closest thing to a moral compass in this den of thieves is the cool and charismatic Sterling K Brown as a badly hurt bank robber. The problem is that screenwriter-turned-director Drew Pearce (Iron Man 3) doesn’t get the buildup-to-payoff ratio right: Before any real conflict takes place, a lot of time is spent establishing characters and situations that don’t really matter. As with its fellow underworld action-thriller John Wick, an elaborate mythology informs these people’s interactions; but while that Keanu Reeves franchise was explosive, the action here is underwhelming. Still, at a tight 90 minutes, Pearce deserves credit for packing the screen with interesting characters,

Time Out says
3 out of 5 stars
Skyscraper
Film

Skyscraper

‘Skyscraper’ is a cacophonous blockbuster, in the Die Hard wannabe (plus obligatory 3D and pricey special effects) mold, the likes of which you’ve probably seen (or perhaps avoided) many times over. Dwayne Johnson plays Will Sawyer, a former FBI Hostage Rescue Team leader currently on assignment in China with his family, in his new job as skyscraper safety assessor. It’s no spoiler to say that this skyscraper, a tech-laden, phallic monstrosity, doesn’t turn out to be so safe, and the film quickly turns into an occasionally tense but mostly predictable tale of a man taking risks to save his family from explosions, devious suits and terrorists. Johnson is obviously a bankable star, and his charisma lightens up a few moments, as when he makes creative use of his character’s prosthetic leg to save himself, and has a satisfied reaction. For the most part, though, touches of humanity are largely absent. Sawyer’s two children are cute, but they’re pretty much pawns in the action scheme here, and we know Johnson will serve a big heroic ending. Sawyer’s wife, Sarah, is largely depicted as a woman in peril–which is a shame, given that she’s played by Neve Campbell, who brought such shrewdness to roles in ‘Scream’ and ‘Wild Things’ back in the ‘90s. Campbell is given a couple moments to shine (as when she shows she knows Chinese, to the surprise of the officers helping her), but they’re few and far between. The most egregious moment in ‘Skyscraper’ just might come during a fight scene

Time Out says
2 out of 5 stars
Ghost Stories
Film

Ghost Stories

'The Exorcist’ meets ‘The League of Gentlemen’ in a triptych of horror tales that’s presided over with assurance and some seriously mordant wit by playwrights-turned-directors Jeremy Dyson and Andy Nyman. They’ve given their own stage play a cinematic reboot that’s both faithful and fresh, without sacrificing any of its macabre intimacy. ‘Ghost Stories’ is smart, surprising and recognisably British, right down to the peeling wallpaper, caravans and analogue tech of its sorta-bygone setting. Its world is weirdly familiar and yet alien. It’s also darn scary. The three storylines’ common denominator is parapsychologist Professor Phillip Goodman (Nyman). In truth, it’s an odd profession for a man whose sole mission is to debunk witnesses to the supernatural. The arrival of a mysterious cassette sends him to meet three victims of ghostly encounters – Paul Whitehouse’s night watchman, Alex Lawther’s nervy teenager, and Martin Freeman’s Scottish financier – and offers harrowing opportunities to change his mind. Nyman neatly charts Goodman’s arc from condescension to icy terror, but it’s Whitehouse and Freeman who steal the show. The former’s chapter takes place in an abandoned factory guaranteed to haunt your dreams, while Freeman’s is an off-balancing mix of cockiness and menace. If the climax feels a touch clichéd, it barely spoils the ride.

Time Out says
4 out of 5 stars
Ant-Man and the Wasp
Film

Ant-Man and the Wasp

The first ‘Ant-Man’ movie succeeded largely because of its less-is-more approach: a livewire heist caper stuffed with Honey-I-Shrunk-the-Avenger-style visual gags. It leant hard on Paul Rudd’s guileless charm as criminal-turned-micro-hero Scott Lang and some scene-stealing turns, spearheaded by Michael Peña as Lang’s motor-mouthed buddy Luis. Diminishing returns bite, though, in a sequel that strains hard to be effortlessly fun but lacks the same helter-skelter irreverence. We meet Lang under house arrest for siding with Captain America in ‘Civil War’ way back, trying again to go straight. Of course, you can’t keep a besuited burglar cooped up for long. Cue grumpy genius Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) and still-underutilised daughter Hope van Dyne (Evangeline Lily) roping him into their quest to save Hank’s long-lost wife Janet (Michelle Pfeiffer, underemployed). For 30 years, she’s been stuck in the Quantum Realm, a place where all logic bends in service of the plot, but Hank may have a way of rescuing her, with Hope’s superhero alter-ego the Wasp helping out. Cue an uninspiring quest and chunks of pseudo-scientific exposition that’ll make sense only to those with degrees in Marvelology. There’s a solid chase sequence, utilising some of San Francisco’s very fine landmarks, but the low-stakes villains, anodyne superbaddie Ghost (Hannah John-Kamen) and out-of-place black marketeer Sonny Burch (Walton Goggins) are anticlimactic after the charismatic dread of Thanos in ‘Avengers:

Time Out says
2 out of 5 stars
See all Time Out film reviews

Film and TV features

Saw Teong Hin interview
Film

Saw Teong Hin interview

Director Saw Teong Hin talks about his latest movie and first Penang Hokkien feature film 'You Mean the World to Me'

Dain Said interview
Film

Dain Said interview

The charismatic filmmaker talks identity, literature and his distaste for nostalgia

U-Wei Haji Saari interview
Film

U-Wei Haji Saari interview

Director U-Wei Haji Saari talks about his latest film, ‘Hanyut’, and the lost art of storytelling

Everything you need to know about ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them’
Film

Everything you need to know about ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them’

From trailers to casting news, details about sequels and the release date – here’s everything you need to know about JK Rowling’s new movie set in the wizarding world of Harry Potter