Arts & Entertainment

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

Extraction
Film

Extraction

Until recently, Netflix might have been hoping this watchable but workmanlike action-thriller would draw in viewers fresh from a new Bond movie and looking to plonk down on their sofas and re-up on stunts, shadowy killers and a jaded protagonist fond of a drink or two. Fast forward a couple of months and – thanks to the lockdown – ‘Extraction’ is the new Bond film – or at least, as close as we’re going to get to it. Which, for all its muscular action sequences and extravagant pyrotechnics, is not very. In Chris Hemsworth, it does at least boast a bona-fide A-lister doing a passable 007 audition. He plays a world-weary Australian mercenary with the improbable name of Tyler Rake. After a brief flash forward, we meet him downing a beer, lobbing himself 30 metres off a cliff and meditating at the bottom of the lake below. As you do. Rake has a tragic backstory and, it quickly transpires, a bit of a death wish. Essentially, he’s Mel Gibson’s Martin Riggs in ‘Lethal Weapon’, only without the mad eyes and volumising shampoo. As the title implies, Rake is on a rescue mission: the sensitive son of an Indian drug baron, Ovi (Rudhraksh Jaiswal), has been abducted by Bangladesh crime lord Amir Asif (Priyanshu Painyuli) and secreted somewhere within the dusty city limits of Dhaka – and he has to find him and get him out. ‘Get your hands on this kid, it’s gonna get complicated,’ his handler warns him. ‘It’s always fuckin’ complicated’ comes the reply. We meet Amir downing a bottle of juice

Time Out says
3 out of 5 stars
The Invisible Man
Film

The Invisible Man

A #MeToo horror film that couldn’t be any more timely if it shuffled into a courtroom with a Zimmer frame, ‘The Invisible Man’ retools HG Wells’s seminal sci-fi novel into a tart statement on toxic men and their gaslighting ways. It’s not flawless – the supporting characters are thinly sketched and intrepid plotholers will have a field day – but it’s surprisingly smart and, crucially, it has Elisabeth Moss to cover the bits that aren’t.  Moss can pull off Joan Crawford brittle and Sigourney Weaver badass, and she holds it all together as Cecilia, an architect traumatised by her abusive tech entrepreneur husband, Adrian Griffin (Oliver Jackson-Cohen). Within the opening moments, she’s drugged him, scaled the walls of their modernist seaside slab and legged it. Soon, Griffin is reported dead by suicide. But is he? And why have things started going bump in the night? Is there a Hubbadook at large, tormenting her from beyond the grave? Aussie writer-director Leigh Whannell (‘Saw’), doubling Sydney for San Francisco, is a natural fit for the material. ‘The Invisible Man’ is respectful to the classic Universal monster movie with which it shares its name (look out for a cameo from those trademark bandages), but this is no reverential retread. It has ideas of its own, specifically around the way an abusive relationship can turn a life into a prison.  Its greatest coup, though, is in gaslighting the entire audience. You’ll find yourself scouring the frame for this malign force in the

Time Out says
4 out of 5 stars
Onward
Film

Onward

Pixar is known for tackling the chewy stuff head on – death, the end of childhood, a rodent running a restaurant – but even so, the central conceit of its new fantasy adventure takes some adjusting to. A pair of grieving elf brothers turn to magic to reanimate, for 24 emotional hours, the dad they never really knew. But the spell is broken halfway through, leaving them with, well, half a dad. With only the legs operational and the missing top half flopping around under layers of clothes, the three bluff their way through a quest to find a magical gem and finish the job. A rat that can cook? Sure. A loose remake of ’80s corpse-com ‘Weekend at Bernie’s’? Did not see that coming. The quest’s surprising third wheel offers the movie’s funniest moments – there’s a drink-driving gag that you’re point-blank never explaining to your kids – but it’s the two teenage brothers who provide its heart and soul. Director Dan Scanlon (‘Monsters University’) has popped across the Disney lot and raided Marvel for the pair: Tom Holland voices the initially magic-wary, study-focused Ian; Chris Pratt has a blast as his older brother Barley, a larger-than-life loafer with his head in the kingdom’s long-abandoned lore (he drives a van called Guinevere). He’s on ‘the world’s longest gap year’ grumbles their mum (Julia Louis-Dreyfus), who just wants help keeping unicorns away from the garbage. Set in a fantastical land populated by evolved cyclops, fauns, mages and all manner of mythical fauna who have

Time Out says
3 out of 5 stars
Little Women
Film

Little Women

Greta Gerwig has directed only two films that are solely her own but she’s already become a brand. That’s in evidence within the first five minutes of ‘Little Women’, a huggably self-deprecating take on the Louisa May Alcott classic. Brashly confident Jo (Saoirse Ronan, from Gerwig’s debut film ‘Lady Bird’, still uncorking those soulful stares that outclass the competition) sits in the office of a New York publishing house. Because it’s the 1860s, she has to pretend she’s trying to sell the work of a friend. But a parental editor (Tracy Letts, also from ‘Lady Bird’) sees through this and has mercy on her. He reads, pencil in hand. ‘Make sure she’s married at the end – or dead,’ he concludes, somewhat approvingly. Jo, elated, runs down a city block, just like Gerwig did in ‘Frances Ha’. If this isn’t the ‘Little Women’ you remember, either on page or screen, that’s understandable. But it’s likely the one you felt, and that’s more important. Gerwig, who should be celebrated as both an evolving screenwriter (the bold adaptation is hers) and a shrewd formal stylist, cuts to the thematic essence of the novel – sisterhood and coming of age, but also nostalgia and mourning your own past – and finds a visual language for it. Alcott’s saga of the four March sisters has been divided and restitched by Gerwig into two interwoven halves. Girlish energy suffuses the warmly lit scenes of their Massachusetts teenhood (Daddy’s away, fighting the Civil War), days chockablock with attic theatr

Time Out says
5 out of 5 stars
Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn)
Film

Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn)

Little good came out of 2016’s ‘Suicide Squad’, but one of its few bright points was Margot Robbie’s anarchic Harley Quinn. Now she gets another shot at the spotlight in this spin-off directed by Cathy Yan (‘Dead Pigs’), who lets her heroine’s mania guide her through a story that’s scrappy, weird and ultimately fun as hell. Quinn has broken up with her long-time beau, the Joker, and now faces a seething Gotham underworld unprotected. She must scramble to survive her enemies, particularly crime kingpin Roman Sionis (Ewan McGregor), aka Black Mask, and his right-hand man (Chris Messina), introduced via a scene of shocking sadism. She makes a deal with Roman that should keep her alive but it puts her up against disillusioned cop Renee Montoya (Rosie Perez) and the idealistic Danah Lance/Black Canary (Jurnee Smollett-Bell), a singer at Roman’s club. They’re all after a young orphan (Ella Jay Basco as the character who, in the comics, becomes Batgirl). Oh, and someone’s shooting mob guys with a crossbow. The mysterious Huntress (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) may or may not be involved. You’ll need that deep breath you just took, because the film’s first act mirrors Harley’s incoherent, time-hopping narration in its explanations of who’s who and what’s what. But once that is untangled, ‘Birds of Prey’ is wildly entertaining. McGregor goes full psycho as Black Mask, a foppish ‘trustafarian fuckwad’, all Elton John suits and Skeletor masks. But it’s really the ladies’ show. Robbie’s tur

Time Out says
4 out of 5 stars

Latest film reviews and releases

Playing with Fire
Film

Playing with Fire

There’s a longstanding tradition in Hollywood that if you put an uber-macho beefcake in a situation where they have to care for a child, it’s a recipe for hilarity. A man? Looking after a child? What next! Admittedly it can work (‘Kindergarten Cop’) but more often than not, it doesn’t (‘Race to Witch Mountain’ and ‘The Tooth Fairy’). And that’s certainly the case with ‘Witch Mountain’ director Andy Fickman’s latest dead-eyed family film. In this slapdash, slapstick comedy, real life action man John Cena stars as a ‘Smoke Jumper’ – a firefighter who parachutes into to tackle wildfires in California. He’s a duty-bound tough-guy type, living in the shadow of his fire-chief father’s legend. He’s shacked up in the firehouse with three other devoted, and loveable meatheads (Keegan-Michael Key, John Leguizamo, and Tyler Mane), and his pet mastiff, Masher – yes even the dog has to be hyper-masculine. While applying for a promotion, Cena and his hapless crew end up rescuing three siblings from a burning log cabin, and chaos ensues. It’s all nappy and fart jokes, accompanied by Cena inexplicably removing his t-shirt every five minutes to show off his rippling physique. The firehouse is trashed in a series of set pieces by the overly curious tykes, but, lo and behold, their antics teach these emotionally pent-up men that opening your heart is the path to true happiness. Judy Greer also makes an appearance as Dr Amy Hicks, Cena’s token love interest and budding herpetologist. She’s the

Time Out says
1 out of 5 stars
Terminator: Dark Fate
Film

Terminator: Dark Fate

The headline on this latest addition to the ‘Terminator’ franchise – a Hollywood series that’s creaking like an aging T-800 with stiff joints – is that it reunites the people who made it great in the first place: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Linda Hamilton and James Cameron (though not original co-producer Gale Anne Hurd). They’re back for ‘Dark Fate’, promising to straighten all those crooked timelines and deliver some honest-to-goodness shock and awe. On paper at least, that’s a tantalising prospect. In reality, however, the involvement of James Cameron is limited to a story and producer credit – and it’s hard to imagine the story took him longer than an ‘Avatar 2’ lunch break to whip together. The set-up and structure are so similar to 1991’s landmark ‘Terminator 2: Judgment Day’, ‘Dark Fate’ could almost be called a remake. It’s a watery facsimile of that movie, full of nods and winks to iconic moments long past. ‘Deadpool’ director Tim Miller is the latest filmmaker to try to bring freshness to these reheated beats, and there are some promising flashes early on. That iconic shot of terminators skull-crunching their way across an apocalyptic landscape transforms into a tranquil beachside scene in one smooth edit. The tension at the heart of these ‘Terminator’ movies was always between the clutch of terrified, clued-up survivors and the oblivious masses, and the moment captures it neatly. The setting, 27 years after ‘Judgment Day’, then shifts south of the U.S. border where a

Time Out says
2 out of 5 stars
Charlie's Angels
Film

Charlie's Angels

Director Elizabeth Banks takes the helm as the next generation of fearless Charlie's Angels take flight. In Banks' bold vision, Kristen Stewart, Naomi Scott, and Ella Balinska are working for the mysterious Charles Townsend, whose security and investigative agency has expanded internationally. With the world's smartest, bravest, and most highly trained women all over the globe, there are now teams of Angels guided by multiple Bosleys taking on the toughest jobs everywhere. The screenplay is by Elizabeth Banks from a story by Evan Spiliotopoulos and David Auburn.

Maleficent: Mistress of Evil
Film

Maleficent: Mistress of Evil

An overstuffed follow-up to 2014’s skilful Sleeping Beauty’ spin-off ‘Maleficent’, Joachim Rønning’s (‘Kon-Tiki’) sequel finds one worthy reason to exist in Michelle Pfeiffer’s wicked Queen Ingrith. As the nemesis to Angelina Jolie’s red-lipped siren, Pfeiffer gives us exactly what we want: the venomous Catwoman attitude she brought to ‘Mother!’. Intimidating in costume designer Ellen Mirojnick’s pearl-encrusted threads, Pfeiffer strides into character – her Ingrith plots to overtake the realm, poisoning the familial bond between its young queen, Aurora (a graceful Elle Fanning), and her misunderstood godmother, Maleficent (Jolie, glamorous and imposing). Will Ingrith’s villainy destroy the duo’s love, which the first film so thoughtfully built?Even if you have an idea how that question gets answered, Pfeiffer’s deceitful empress (with flower allergies) keeps things entertaining enough. The rest of the package isn’t as inspired, despite Patrick Tatopoulos’s fanciful production design that recalls a lesser ‘Avatar’, and all the cute, flickering things hovering around. A smitten Prince Phillip (Harris Dickinson), engaged to Aurora, sometimes downgrades the otherwise central Maleficent from feared potentate to anxious empty-nester. There’s also an underground clan of creatures that includes Chiwetel Ejiofor’s horned Conall, living in hiding from human threat. It all leads to a noisy finale that wears out its welcome. (You’ll crave more of the quieter battle from an earlier dinn

Time Out says
3 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