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Keep an eye out

Profound comedies, a long-awaited sequel and biopics of all kinds — what’s coming to your screen this month

Profound comedies, a long-awaited sequel and biopics of all kinds — what’s coming to your screen this month
What to watch in December. Images: Maverick Life / Supplied

Maverick Life’s pick of films and series to look out for in December 2022 on Netflix, Showmax, Prime Video, Apple TV+ and in cinemas.

On Circuit

Nanny: in cinemas and releasing on Prime Video 16 December

A visually dramatic psychological horror fable about a Senegalese woman (Anna Diop) who emigrates to New York and finds work looking after the daughter of a wealthy couple. She hopes that the pay from her new job will help her start a life in the US, but as she learns more about the family she works for, she is progressively haunted by the absence of her own child who she had to leave behind. Immigrant horror stories have become a popular Hollywood staple. They’re sometimes kept at arm’s length, “softened” for a Western palate. Nanny is an example of how empathy can make a personal journey relatable and convey complex character stories and themes. 


Avatar: The Way of Water: 16 December

The underwater sequel to James Cameron’s massive otherworldly sci-fi epic is finally here after more than a decade. The story is also set more than a decade after the original, following Jake Sully’s efforts to lead his new people and keep his family safe. Among the first to see the film was renowned director Guillermo del Toro (Nightmare Alley, Cabinet of Curiosities), who immediately took to Twitter to passionately and barely intelligibly sing the film’s praises.



Sr.: 2 December

A kind and candid documentary portrait of US underground filmmaker Robert Downey Sr. Robert Downey Jr, who featured in his maverick father’s movies as a child, comes full circle, documenting their relationship in Downey Sr’s final three years of life. As well as the expected homage to Downey Sr’s satirical counterculture movies, director Chris Smith embraces the sentimentality of the project and salutes Downey Sr’s legacy, the rebellious creative spirit that has permeated through and saved his family. 


BARDO, False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths: 16 December

Five-time Academy Award-winner Alejandro G Iñárritu (Birdman, The Revenant) directs and co-writes this pseudo-autobiographical comedy drama. It’s epic (long), immersive (riddled with symbolism), visually stunning (totally trippy), and courageously experimental (arguably a little indulgent). A celebrated journalist and documentary filmmaker in LA (Daniel Giménez Cacho) receives a prestigious award which compels him to look back on his career and return to his home in Mexico, a dual journey of mind and body which pushes him to a surreal existentialism.


Roald Dahl’s Matilda the Musical: 25 December

After the success of the Royal Shakespeare Company’s stage adaption of Roald Dahl’s beloved story of a precocious girl’s discovery of the power of her extraordinary curious mind, the production has been repackaged for the screen. With Matthew Warchus once again directing, and the same original music by hilarious musical genius comedian Tim Minchin, the songs are sharp and brilliantly executed, albeit slightly over-theatrical. Kids will definitely get a kick out of the dynamic, cheeky performances, and if you have a taste for over-the-top child-driven musicals like Annie or Willy Wonka and The Chocolate Factory, so will you.


White Noise: 30 December 

A chaotic black comedy directed by Noah Baumbach (Marriage Story, Fantastic Mr Fox, The Squid and the Whale) and adapted from Don DeLillo’s 1985 postmodern satire White Noise. An American couple (Adam Driver and Greta Gerwig) and the children of their large contemporary family tumble through the normalcy and lunacy of daily life. A train accident that casts chemical waste over his town acts as a catalyst to answering the mysteries of love, death and the uncertainty of our world.  



The Wolf of Snow Hollow: 1 December

A horror comedy about a small mountain town slowly losing it as each month mangled bodies are discovered after the full moon. Overworked, raising a teenage daughter and worried about his ailing father, officer Marshal refuses to accept the insane notion of werewolves despite the growing evidence. The ideas you might have about werewolf movies hold little relevance to this thematically sharp film that is an allegory for toxic masculinity. It’s strong enough metaphorically to not have to pander for laughs or jump-scares, they’re just there as an added bonus. 

Planet Sex with Cara Delevingne: 2 December

British model and actress Cara Delevingne travels the world exploring sexuality and gender to better understand how both genetics and cultural behaviours shape these boundless amorphous forces that play such central roles in human life. During the six-episode series, Delevingne takes a masturbation masterclass; visits an “ethical” porn set; makes art using her vagina; donates her orgasm to science; hits up a women-only sex club and more. With the help of sex scientists and people who experience gender differently, everywhere from Beirut to Barcelona to Johannesburg, the series aims to answer big questions about sex. 

TikTok, Boom: 8 December 

TikTok was initially viewed with a certain frivolity compared to other notable social media platforms, but with more than two billion downloads it is the most downloaded app of all time and its impact cannot be ignored. This documentary examines the socio-political, economic, and cultural effects of this China-based tech giant, featuring influencers like Spencer X, Feroza Aziz, and Deja Foxx. As well as examining its “mysterious” algorithms, the film posits how an online platform built around instant gratification and swarm psychology forecasts escalating manipulation and dishonesty from both content creators and the platform itself.

Blindspotting: 14 December

A spin-off sequel series of the critically acclaimed 2018 comedy-drama of the same name (also on Showmax) about gentrification in Oakland and how one person’s imprisonment ripples through a community. The series follows Ashley’s existential crisis, brought on by the incarceration of her partner of 12 years. The arrest forces Ashley and their son to move in with her mother and half-sister, as well as many other changes. Daveed Diggs matches the sincerity and humorous social commentary of his original film, and the series has already been renewed for a second season.

Respect: 22 December

South African Liesl Tommy (Mrs Fletcher, The Walking DeadJessica Jones) directs this biopic about Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul. The film adheres a little too devotedly to the biographical music film formula, so Franklin’s heart-breaking and triumphant story suffers in brief moments of cliché, but fittingly, Oscar-winning lead actor Jennifer Hudson (who was recommended by Franklin herself after she saw Dreamgirls) demands respect for her immersive performance and a voice that could match the intensity of her beloved subject.

Rassie: 23 December

Produced by the makers of Chasing the Sun and Two Sides (both also streaming on Showmax) this documentary traces the journey of fan-favourite Rassie Erasmus to becoming SA Rugby’s director of rugby. The film hits at a time when he could certainly use some good press, having been in trouble for about a year now because of his reckless tweeting of refereeing inconsistencies that resulted in negative outcomes for the Springboks, for which he was recently banned from touchline and media engagements for two matches.

Together Together: 26 December 

An unexpectedly profound comedy about a young woman (Patti Harrison from Shrill and I Think You Should Leave with Tim Robinson) who becomes the surrogate for a dorky single man in his 40s (Ed Helms from The Hangover and The Office). The strangers soon realise that they have very different perceptions of the journey they’ve embarked on together. Despite a premise that seems derivative or predictable, the film defies expectations, and while it doesn’t give all the answers, it asks insightful questions you may otherwise not have thought to ask. 


Kimi: 29 December

A dark techno-thriller directed by Oscar-winner Steven Soderbergh about the insidious creeping of convenient technologies into our lives. Zoë Kravitz plays an agoraphobic Seattle tech worker who overhears evidence of a crime due to its unintentional recording on a home smart device. Think Woman in the Window but edgier and glammed up a little. Inspired by a real legal case in which an Amazon Echo smart speaker provided incriminating evidence of a double murder case in the US, the film is not as far-fetched as it may seem. It’s also one of the rare films made during the pandemic which incorporates the coronavirus into its world.


Apple TV

Emancipation: 9 December

During the Civil War, a photograph taken in 1863 was widely circulated by abolitionists as brutal proof of the cruelty of slavery. It was a portrait of Gordon “Whipped Peter”, a former slave, sitting with his lacerated back to the camera. An uncharacteristically stoic Will Smith plays Peter in this historical action based on his true story of escaping a plantation in Louisiana and fleeing north to join the Union Army. DM/ML

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