New On Screen: January

Start the year off with enigmatic personalities, high drama and an energetic musical remake.

By Yong Shu Chiang      11 January 2022

The Electrical Life Of Louis Wain

Out In Cinemas 20 January (Available at Shaw Theatres)

Stars: Benedict Cumberbatch, Claire Foy, Taika Waititi

The eccentric 19th-century English artist Louis Wain (Cumberbatch), who created colourful, intricate and even psychedelic illustrations of animals, especially cats, was thought by some to be mad. Not only ill-advised but literally insane, as Wain lived in a time where keeping cats as pets was unusual, as were drawings and paintings of them. His artistic career was encouraged by his sisters’ governess (Foy), who would become his wife. But as Wain’s fame grew, so did the public scrutiny of his mental state.

Benedict Cumberbatch: No stranger to success

An engaging, often excellent and sometimes enigmatic actor, the 45-year-old is poised for more awards and accolades in the new year.

Sherlock, Hamlet, Frankenstein, Turing, Hawking, Edison, Khan, Assange, Grinch, Smaug and Strange.

Some of the most notable roles that Benedict Cumberbatch has taken on, rather successfully, can be recognised by just single-word names – after all, they have been illustrious names in literature, culture and history.

For many of his fans, it was the Englishman’s absorbing performance as Sherlock Holmes in the BBC series that brought him to their consciousness. To the wider public, he is, of course, the Marvel superhero Doctor Strange, latterly seen in Spider-Man: No Way Home.

An accomplished stage actor, Cumberbatch had some of his earliest big-screen roles in period dramas, such as Amazing Grace (2006) and Atonement (2007), where he had a small but pivotal role as a family friend.

He would go on to voice the dragon Smaug in the Hobbit film series, play the cult-favourite character of Khan in Star Trek Into Darkness (2013), before taking his Academy Award-nominated turn as the British scientist Alan Turing in The Imitation Game (2014).

That remains his only Oscar nomination to date, although he may be recognised again soon for his leading role in Jane Campion’s new Western, The Power of the Dog, which is attracting much acclaim ahead of the awards season.

Before he weaves his magic again in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, scheduled for May 2022, you can see him soon in The Electrical Life of Louis Wain, where he plays a brilliant artist whose vision may have been ahead of its time.

West Side Story

Out Now In Cinemas (Available at Shaw Theatres)

Stars: Ansel Elgort, Rachel Zegler, Ariana DeBose

Director Steven Spielberg’s adaptation of the 1957 stage musical of the same name, which became a 1961 classic film, is an ambitious and culturally diverse effort full of colour, energy, drama and romance. Based on source material that had been billed as a New York City re-imagining of Romeo and Juliet, this new film is centred on a young man Tony (Elgort), who meets and falls for a girl named Maria (Zegler). Complicating matters for the star-crossed lovers are their rival gangs, the Jets and the Sharks.

King Richard

Out In Cinemas 27 January (Available at Shaw Theatres)

Stars: Will Smith, Saniyaa Sidney, Demi Singleton

Before they became champions and household names, before they revolutionised the way women’s tennis was played, and before they knew how good they could be, there was one man behind it all. Richard Williams (Smith) not only coached future Grand Slam winners Venus and Serena Williams (Sidney, Singleton), he was also a loving father who believed they were destined for greatness. Despite obstacles of race and class, “King” Richard helped his girls dream big – and made those dreams come true.   

SAFRA members enjoy special rates at Shaw Theatres. For more info, go to www.safra.sg/promotions/shaw-theatres

The Journalist

Out 13 January, Netflix

Stars: Ryoko Yonekura, Go Ayano, Ryusei Yokohama

A spin-off of the Japanese Academy Prize-winning 2019 film of the same name, this series follows the actions of a muckraking reporter, Anna (Yonekura), who seeks to uncover corruption that could destroy the lives of others and bring down the government. As the maverick journalist refuses to conform and starts to discover some inconvenient truths about a brewing scandal, a “person of influence” watches her investigation with interest and a cat-and-mouse saga ensues.


Out 13 January, HBO Go

Stars: John Cena, Jennifer Holland, Freddie Stroma

Professional wrestling star John Cena plays the title character, a costumed crusader with a talent for destruction, who aims to achieve peace at any cost – no matter how many people he has to kill to get it. As he embarks on covert missions to deal with a series of so-called bad guys, assisted by his government handler Harcourt (Holland), a fellow vigilante named Vigilante (Stroma), and a few other social misfits, the irony of his personal mission statement is not lost upon him as he re-examines his purpose.

The Tragedy Of Macbeth

Out 14 January, Apple TV+

Stars: Denzel Washington, Frances McDormand, Corey Hawkins

Based on one of the most renowned and performed plays of William Shakespeare, this retelling of what’s often dubbed as “The Scottish Play” in theatre circles has Oscar winners Washington and McDormand in the lead roles of Lord and Lady Macbeth. As the story goes, the nobleman is convinced by three witches that he would one day become the King of Scotland. Set on a murderous path, he and his wife pursue their ambitions ruthlessly, fulfil the prophecy, and descend into chaos, paranoia and insanity.