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

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
Human Flow
Film

Human Flow

When we talk about ‘the refugee crisis’, which one do we mean? Is it the flow of people from north Africa to Italy on death-trap boats? The perilous journeys made overland from the Middle East through Turkey, or across water to Greece? The 'jungle' at Calais? The makeshift town at Templehof in Berlin? And what about the crises in Pakistan, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Macedonia and Iraq? It's this headswirling reality that drives Chinese artist Ai Weiwei’s mountainous, sprawling, chaotic doc. He aims not to unpick one, or a few, of these localised nightmares but to capture the global horror of the current reality of being a refugee in just one film. It’s impossible, of course, and you could be forgiven for worrying that Ai is being glib by giving little time to individuals and individual crises by hopping around the globe. But as he moves from country to country, appearing on camera himself as a curious, engaged observer, mostly unobtrusively, and always liberally supplying statistics, newspaper quotes, talking heads and less formal ground-level interactions with refugees, his campaigning film has a combined power that’s overwhelming and instructive. ‘Human Flow’ is rooted in specific current national and political situations, yet it offers a portrait of forced human movement and suffering that feels almost timeless. Anyone expecting an artist’s film in style and ideas might be surprised: there’s something conservative, even artless, about the way the film moves from story to s

Time Out says
4 out of 5 stars
Hereditary
Film

Hereditary

Never take pity on a film critic. Instead, let it suffice to say that I look forward to you seeing 'Hereditary' and then joining me in having several sleepless nights peering into dark corners and gnawing your fingernails off. A harrowing story of unthinkable family tragedy that veers into the realm of the supernatural, 'Hereditary' takes its place as a new generation's 'The Exorcist' — for some, it will spin heads even more savagely. As with so much inspired horror, from 'Rosemary's Baby' to 2014's psychologically acute 'The Babadook', the movie gets its breath and a palpable sense of unraveling identity from a fearless female performance, this time by Toni Collette, the revered Australian actor capable of sustained fits of mania. (To watch her in 'The Sixth Sense' or 'Velvet Goldmine' is to only get a taste of how deep she goes here.) Collette plays Annie, an artist who constructs uncannily realistic dioramas: miniature rooms that embody the film's theme of a larger, malevolent entity playing with human toys. We zoom into those rooms, where Annie is keeping it together after the recent death of her by-all-accounts severe mother. Dressed in funeral blacks are her husband, Steve (Gabriel Byrne), her oldest child, Peter (Alex Wolff), a teenage stoner, and distracted young Charlie (the awesomely concentrated Milly Shapiro, a Tony winner for 'Matilda: The Musical'). Something is wrong with Charlie. Every head cock, tongue cluck and eerie stare into the middle distance will hav

Time Out says
5 out of 5 stars
Ocean’s 8
Film

Ocean’s 8

A cooler-than-thou band of criminals, a smoothly executed grand heist, flawless costumes. Expanding on the handsome attributes of the Ocean’s franchise with a radiant cast and sufficient NYC groove, ‘Hunger Games’ director Gary Ross’s ‘Ocean’s 8’ gives glossy multiplex entertainment a good name. Fully loaded with Anne Hathaway’s (often underutilised) comedic chops – her cunning movie-star character is the film’s secret weapon – and various high-profile cameos (Heidi Klum, Anna Wintour, Kim Kardashian, you name it), it packs in ample carats of glitz beyond its diamonds and sequinned designer gowns.Sandra Bullock plays Debbie Ocean, an ex-con proudly filling the shoes of her brother Danny (George Clooney, here only in spirit). She masterminds a complex scheme to steal a majestic Cartier necklace at New York’s elite fundraiser the Met Gala. Among her recruits are former associate Lou (an impeccably-suited Cate Blanchett) and the eccentric fashion designer Rose Weil (Helena Bonham Carter), who’s yearning to resurrect her waning career by dressing the impishly seductive Daphne Kluger (Hathaway) for the exclusive event. Also in the squad are Mindy Kaling’s jewellery connoisseur, Sarah Paulson’s Vogue insider, Awkwafina’s sly con and the ultra-charismatic hacker Nine Ball (Rihanna, like you’ve never seen before.)‘Ocean’s 8’ sticks to the formula, though Ross never quite matches the breezy vigour of the Soderbergh-directed trilogy, but the jokes land and there’s a satisfying twist to

Time Out says
4 out of 5 stars
Incredibles 2
Film

Incredibles 2

Superheroes may save the world, but parenthood requires skills far more advanced than extendable limbs. Brad Bird’s Incredibles 2—Pixar’s most spirited sequel since Toy Story 3—lovingly expresses this certainty through a bighearted familial portrait wrapped in ’60s-inspired design. But the film’s disarming appeal lies in its simpler moments of domesticity, in which the members of the all-superhero Parr family lift each other up and fight for relevance in a world of indifference. Still underground with criminalized superpowers and a destroyed home, Mr. Incredible (Craig T. Nelson), Elastigirl (Holly Hunter), and their children, Violet, Dash and the explosive baby Jack-Jack, quietly live in a dingy motel. Their luck turns when a pair of wealthy siblings—the naive Winston and brainy inventor Evelyn (Bob Odenkirk and Catherine Keener)—offer them a chance to restore the Supers’ reputation. While the sensible Elastigirl serves as the fearless face of the mission, Mr. Incredible hilariously Mr. Moms his way through the kids’ homework, boy troubles and newly emerging superpowers. When the state-of-the-art villain Screenslaver disturbs the picture, the entire crew, including the previous film’s charismatic ice maker Frozone (Samuel L. Jackson), joins the good fight. Incredibles 2 comes supercharged with timely, sophisticated themes around societal apathy and gender parity. While slightly overplotted in its finale, the sleek sequel still glows with grown-up wit, with craft and humor

Time Out says
4 out of 5 stars
Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom
Film

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

This fun, pacy addition to the dino disaster franchise doesn’t do much that’s particularly new – though what it does, it does with a fair whack of panache. That’s largely thanks to gifted Spanish director JA Bayona, who brings to bear the macabre touches that made ‘The Orphanage’ such a spooky treat. Short of bringing Mr DNA back as a flesh-craving zombie, ‘Fallen Kingdom’ is as close as the ‘Jurassic’ movies are going to come to a horror film and it gels nicely with a franchise that’s always had a gleefully sadistic streak. It’s at its most fun when things (limbs, mainly) are going bump in the dark in a third act that pays homage to classic horror films. Kicking off where ‘Jurassic World’ left off, we find cloning corporation InGen picking up the pieces after the catastrophic collapse of its dinosaur park. Not only is Isla Nubla now overrun with prehistoric critters, the island’s dormant volcano is erupting – seriously, were there no islands without volcanos? – and about to make them all extinct again. Cue dino rights activist Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard, swapping the heels for boots this time) and wisecracking raptor trainer Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) to help with the seemingly suicidal rescue mission and share some feisty chemistry. Jeff Goldblum’s Dr Ian Malcolm returns with doomy warnings about where all this Dino Lives Matter fervour will lead.   There’s more than an echo of ‘Jurassic Park: Lost World’ in all this, right down to the gnarly and extremely edible m

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