Arts & Entertainment

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

1917
Film

1917

A pure adrenaline hit of a movie that takes place mostly in the lethal glare of daylight, Sam Mendes’s stunning, sorta-single-take ‘1917’ hits its greatest heights when darkness falls. A single British tommy dusts himself off from a glancing wound, wanders to the window of a broken-down house and, in one invisible cut, emerges magically into the skeletal, hellish remains of a French town. The abandoned settlement glows with orange hues as Thomas Newman’s score hits a rare crescendo. It’s at once an epic piece of filmmaking, the launchpad for the second half of the movie and possibly the greatest ‘person walks into a town’ moment in cinema since Claudia Cardinale in ‘Once Upon a Time in the West’. Needless to say, in a film that only stops to reload, the soldier is soon legging it. ‘Once Upon a Time on the Western Front’, as you could subtitle Mendes’s nerve-fraying rollercoaster of a war movie, is a simple men-on-a-mission dressed up with all the technical bells and whistles at the director’s disposal. The men are Lance Corporals Schofield (George MacKay) and Blake (Dean-Charles Chapman), who are summoned into the trenches for a hurried briefing with Colin Firth’s general. The entire German army, it turns out, has hit reverse to the tune of about 8 miles, holing up behind the Hindenburg Line and waiting for an unsuspecting British attack that will cost the lives of 1,600 men, including Blake’s brother. The mission? To deliver a message to stop the attack before morning. (‘He

Time Out says
5 out of 5 stars
21 Bridges
Film

21 Bridges

‘He is an avenger,’ intones a priest at the beginning of ‘Game of Thrones’ director Brian Kirk’s debut feature, ‘21 Bridges’. It’s hard not to crack a smile at the in-joke. The film’s lead is Chadwick Boseman – aka Black Panther – and it’s the first post-‘Avengers: Endgame’ project (as producers) for directors Anthony and Joe Russo. While you’re waiting for someone to snap their fingers and make half the cast disappear, a heist gets bungled by two crooks and NYPD detective Andre Davis (Boseman) is leading a manhunt for the pair who gunned down eight cops. Boseman lends him a chivalrous quality, doggedly clinging to what’s right in a world that has gone so wrong. It’s the kind of role Gary Cooper used to play, albeit in a dusty western town rather than gritty New York. Harking back to cop thrillers like ‘We Own the Night’ and ‘Training Day’ (but better than both), ‘21 Bridges’ gets all the key elements right – high-stakes heists, breakneck car chases, and a plot that keeps you guessing – and its themes ring with political resonance. White cops fire on unarmed black men, and the plot neatly touches on police brutality and systematic racism. As Black Panther, Boseman is a hero in spandex; here he’s a hero with a badge and gun, who looks the devil in the eye, and stares down the evil in the system. Gary Cooper would definitely approve.

Time Out says
4 out of 5 stars
Spies in Disguise
Film

Spies in Disguise

In ‘Live and Let Die’, a pigeon famously pulls off an unexpected double-take as the villain meets an outrageously over-the-top death at the hands of 007. Other than that, pigeons have been pretty thin on the ground in espionage movies – until now. In this bizarrely premised but often very funny animation, pigeons do the actual spying.The hero of this latest effort from Blue Sky, the studio that behind the ‘Ice Age’ and ‘Rio’ franchises, is uber-cool superspy Lance Sterling (voiced by Will Smith). When he’s framed for the theft of a deadly drone, the only person he can turn to for help is disgraced scientist Walter (Tom Holland), a gadget maker who prefers non-lethal tactics. But when the bullish Lance is accidentally transformed into a pigeon – yes, really – by Walter’s experimental formula, they must work together to stop bad guy Killiam (Ben Mendelsohn) from targeting every intelligence operative in the world. The plot is both overly familiar (drones, spy databases) and thoroughly silly (birds), but its looseness at least allows the charismatic cast to chuck in some solid gags. This debut effort from co-directors Nick Bruno and Troy Quane is therefore far funnier than we might have expected, delivering original riffs on spy clichés and pigeon behaviour (be warned that some of the regurgitation gags may cause actual gagging). It also offers a surprisingly progressive look at covert ops, suggesting that they create a vicious cycle of violence and only worsen the problems the

Time Out says
3 out of 5 stars
Cats
Film

Cats

A little history, kittens: Andrew Lloyd Webber’s megamusical was always vaguely creepy, even to the eyes of fans (including this boy in 1982). It was either sublime or ridiculous or sublimely ridiculous. ‘Cats’, the movie, meanwhile, was long thought an impossible thing and – whaddaya know? – here it is, very much an impossible thing. Tom Hooper’s big-screen version embraces the weirdness. It cherishes the kink with every erect tail twitch and slinky rub-up. The film is too literal for its own good, yet it’s nowhere near the uncanny disaster of the recent hyperrealistic remake of ‘The Lion King’, a nature documentary that burst into song. If you’re able to roll with Robert De Niro’s computerised facelift in ‘The Irishman’, a bewhiskered Judi Dench isn’t going to throw you. Still, did those ‘Cats’ trailers make you bristle? Maybe you’re a dog person. Or not a theatre person. Despite being the target audience, the latter group will have serious problems with this adaptation, which murders some of the songs (‘Mungojerrie and Rumpleteazer’ is criminally reduced to a monotone) and comes close to snapping the already slender throughline, which rests on the naiveté of Victoria (graceful English ballerina Francesca Hayward). She’s a babe in the woods who only wants to learn the intricacies of the Jellicle Ball, a metaphysical contest that will not be explained here. Plot isn’t going to help you. These cats sing and dance – that’s all you need to know. Sometimes the shtick of a perfo

Time Out says
3 out of 5 stars
Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker
Film

Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker

No one's ever really gone... Rey's journey continues and the Skywalker saga concludes in Star Wars

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