New On Screen: December

Cosy up this festive season to a musical legend, a dramatic retelling of a real-life disaster, and new seasons of drama serials.

By Yong Shu Chiang      9 December 2022

I Wanna Dance With Somebody

Out in cinemas 29 December (Available at Shaw Theatres)

Stars: Naomi Ackie, Stanley Tucci, Ashton Sanders

Before Mariah Carey, before Celine Dion, and before all the musical divas who have come forth since, there was the incomparable Whitney Houston. Produced by Houston’s long-time producer and friend, Clive Davis, the film chronicles the life and times of a musical legend, a singer who was once called the “greatest singer” Tony Bennett had ever heard, and who died tragically in 2012 at the age of 48. Houston is played by British actress Ackie, while Davis (Tucci) and Houston’s former husband, Bobby Brown (Sanders), are also featured in the film.

SAFRA members enjoy 1-for-1 Weekend Movie Tickets at Shaw Theatres till 18 Dec 2022. Purchase a full priced ticket online at $14.50 and enjoy the second ticket for free! For more info, go to safra.sg/promotions/1-for-1-shaw

 Naomi Ackie: Becoming Whitney

A relative unknown, despite having had roles in the Star Wars franchise and the beloved sci-fi series Doctor Who, the British actress will next play an all-time musical great.

It is perhaps a bit unfair to call Naomi Ackie an unknown.

After all, she played former Stormtrooper Jannah in 2019’s Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, had a notable role in the comedy series Master of None, and was in an episode of the cult British sci-fi series Doctor Who, opposite Peter Capaldi. 

At least for Star Wars aficionados, Ackie was a figure of fascination for her role, as Jannah was rumoured to be the daughter of Lando Calrissian. 

But for those who have yet to get acquainted with the 30-year-old British actress, Ackie will soon be hitting the screen in a dream role, playing the late Whitney Houston in the upcoming biopic, I Wanna Dance With Somebody. 

The film, produced by Houston’s former record producer, Clive Davis, and written by the noted biopic screenwriter Anthony McCarten (The Theory of Everything, Darkest Hour, Bohemian Rhapsody), promises to be a launchpad for greater things for Ackie.

Having first cut her teeth on stage, Ackie had her breakthrough film role one year after appearing on Doctor Who, when she had a part opposite Florence Pugh in the award-winning drama, Lady Macbeth (2016).

She would go on to appear in the well-reviewed dark comedy series, The End of the F***ing World, in 2019, before sharing the screen with comedians Aziz Ansari and Lena Waithe in Master of None. 

Ackie, who was born and raised in London, can next be seen in Mickey7, a sci-fi film directed by Bong Joon-ho of Parasite fame. In it, her co-star Robert Pattinson plays Mickey, an expendable employee who is fated to die and regenerate on a colonisation mission to a distant ice planet.

Notre-Dame On Fire

Out in cinemas 8 December (Available at Shaw Theatres)

Stars: Samuel Labarthe, Jean-Paul Bordes, Mikael Chirinian

The famed Notre-Dame cathedral, which has stood for more than 600 years on an island in the Seine River, is renowned for its portrayal in the literary tale of The Hunchback of Notre-Dame. A shining example of French Gothic architecture, and one of the symbols of Paris, it suffered the biggest blaze in its history in April 2019, when a fire broke out in the attic under the cathedral’s roof. Scores of people, including 400 firefighters, arrived to save the beloved landmark, as the nation – and the world – watched with bated breath.

Avatar: The Way Of Water

Out in cinemas 15 December (available at Shaw Theatres)

Stars: Zoe Saldana, Sam Worthington, Sigourney Weaver

More than a decade after the events of Avatar, which saw the native blue-skinned Na’vi, and a number of human allies including Jake Sully (Worthington), fight off an aggressive and destructive interstellar mining expedition, peace has reigned for a while. The Sully clan – Jake, Neytiri (Saldana) and their children – have settled on Pandora. However, trouble brews as the technologically advanced corporate colonisers from Earth return, intent on resuming their mission. With the odds stacked against them, the Sullys and their loved ones seek help from another clan.

Slow Horses S2

Out now, Apple TV+

Stars: Gary Oldman, Kristin Scott Thomas, Jack Lowden

After surviving a plot to sweep a botched operation under the carpet, and to pin the blame on them, the “slow horses” – a group of MI5 secret service rejects – of Slough House return to lend their unwanted assistance to an investigation. Led by their surly but brilliant head, Jackson Lamb (Oldman), the agents get wind of the mysterious death of a veteran former agent. They soon discover that the dead agent is linked to a number of Russian sleeper operatives in the United Kingdom, and that a terrorist attack may be imminent.

Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan S3

Out 21 December, Prime Video

Stars: John Krasinski, Wendell Pierce, Michael Kelly

A CIA analyst who’s a former Marine, Jack Ryan (Krasinski) is a member of the Terror Finance and Arms Division, where his role is in counterterrorism. When in Rome working as a case officer, Ryan gets a tip about a secret plan to restore the Soviet Empire. When he ventures into the field to verify the scheme, he gets implicated in a conspiracy and is accused of treason. Suddenly a man on the run, he finds himself racing against time and evading both the authorities and shady characters, as he tries to foil the evil plan.

Alice In Borderland S2

Out 22 December, Netflix

Stars: Kento Yamazaki, Tao Tsuchiya, Nijiro Murakami

A young misfit named Arisu (Yamazaki) is obsessed with video games. One day, he finds himself and some friends in an alternate version of Tokyo. In the desolate landscape, he discovers others who are similarly unaware of why they had been brought to this place, including a mountain climber named Usagi (Tsuchiya), whom Arisu teams up with. Together, they have to compete in dangerous games to survive. And to return to their own reality, the reluctant players realise they have to unravel the mystery of the “Borderland” first.

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