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December streaming guide: Will Smith’s back, Harry and Meghan, Irreverent and much more

Source: YouTube/Apple Plus

In his first TV and radio interviews since the infamous Oscars slap nine months ago, US actor Will Smith is on the campaign trail for his new slave movie, Emancipation.

He says he will understand if people think it’s too soon to see another of his movies after he slapped comedian Chris Rock on stage, but hopes the power of the film will draw audiences back in.

And maybe, along the way, he will be redeemed.

“I’m hoping that the material – the power of the film, the timeliness of the story – I’m hoping that the good that can be done would open people’s hearts at a minimum to see and recognise and support the incredible artists in and around this film,” Smith told Fox 5 in Washington DC.

Before the March 27 slap during the 94th Academy Awards, Emancipation was expected to be a major Oscar contender, the expectation being that Smith was well on the way to back-to-back best actor wins after King Richard.

“But, immediately after the wild one-two of Smith slapping Rock, and then winning Best Actor for King Richard, the film’s future was thrown into doubt, with Apple TV+ floating the possibility of pushing its release until 2023,” wrote Rolling Stone.

Smith on the set of Emancipation. Photo: Apple TV+

Emancipation tells the story of Peter (Smith), a man who escapes from slavery and evades cold-blooded hunters and the swamps of Louisiana to find freedom.

The official synopsis says the film is inspired by the 1863 photos of “whipped Peter”, taken during a Union Army medical examination, which appeared in Harper’s Weekly.

One image, known as “The Scourged Back”, shows Peter’s mutilated back and the horrific picture helped stiffen the resolve of Union forces and the North to win the Civil War and end slavery.

“The people on this team have done some of the best work of their entire careers, and my deepest hope is that my actions don’t penalise my team. At this point, that’s what I’m working for,” he said.

Now the film, which will premiere globally December 9 on Apple TV+  and become eligible for next year’s Oscars, is in the hands of its audience.

Smith has been banned for 10 years from all Academy events so he’ll be watching from a suite at the nearby Beverley Hilton … or at home.

Richard Branson. Photo: Foxtel/Binge

Branson: Foxtel/Binge, December 2

Two weeks before British billionaire and Virgin founder Richard Branson was scheduled to make a historic July 2021 flight as the first passenger to reach space in his own spacecraft, he sat down to talk about his life and the risks ahead.

Acclaimed filmmaker Chris Smith takes us on an expansive and intimate 70-year journey, covering Branson’s upbringing as the son of a spirited, tough-love mother in Britain to his pursuits of extreme daredevilry.

We get an insight into how his businesses grew, feeding “an insatiable, lifelong thirst for high-stakes adventure,” says Branson, and we hear from family, associates and journalists along the way.

The four-part series promises to reveal “the ups and downs of a man driven by risk taking in both his business and personal life, reflecting on the costs and rewards of his lifelong, relentless optimism and boundary-pushing”.

The Reunion: Stan, December 2

The Reunion is an adaptation of Guillaume Musso’s bestselling novel La Jeune Fille et La Nuit.

Starring Ioan Gruffudd (Fantastic Four), Ivanna Sakhno (Pacific Rim Uprising) and Grégory Fitoussi (Spiral), the mini-series is set in the picturesque French Riviera at a high school reunion, where three former friends reconnect.

Needless to say, it doesn’t go to plan.

Slow Horses Season 2: Apple TV+, December 2

Starring Academy Award winner Gary Oldman, Slow Horses finds long-buried Cold War secrets emerge which threaten to bring carnage to the streets of London.

When a liaison with Russian villains takes a fatal turn, our hapless heroes must overcome their individual failings and raise their spy game in a race to prevent a catastrophic incident.

Irreverent tells the story of a runaway armed robber who lands in a small community in northern Queensland in disguise … as a priest.

Irreverent: Netflix, December 4

Irreverent, filmed at Mission Beach in Queensland, has been described as a “fish out of water story with a big twist”.

We all love a redemption story and this one celebrates the power of community in a world that needs more of it.

Starring Colin Donnell (Chicago Med, Arrow) as the robber/priest Mack/Paulo, PJ Byrne (The Boys, Big Little Lies) as Mackenzie Boyd and Kylie Bracknell (Redfern Now, Black is the New White) as Piper, the series has some action, humility, humour and a cast of locals.

Liam Gallagher: Knebworth 22: Paramount+, December 7

If you’re a Liam Gallagher fan, this feature-length documentary highlights the Oasis frontman’s return to the famed concert venue in June this year, 26 years after the band’s historic 1996 shows.

The entire concert is streaming in full alongside the documentary on Paramount+.

“I’m still in shock that I got to play Knebworth two nights, 26 years after I played it with Oasis. I’m still trying to get my head around it,” Gallagher said.

“To have played to multiple generations at the same venue so many years apart was beyond biblical. I’m so glad that we documented it.

“Knebworth for me was, and always will be, a celebration of the fans as well as the music. Enjoy the film and let’s do it again in another 26 years.”

Harry and Meghan: Netflix
Volume I: December 8 (Episodes 1-3)
Volume II: December 15 (Episodes 4-6)

For the series simply titled Harry and Meghan, Netflix reportedly paid Harry and Meghan, who now live in California after exiting royal duties in the UK in late 2020, more than $100 million to share the story of their life together.

Coincidentally, the first teaser trailer dropped globally while older brother Prince William and the Princess of Wales landed in Boston for the second Earthshot Awards on December 1.

Over six episodes, we’ll get an intimate portrait of their lives as they shed light on why they decided to share their story for the first time.

“Why did you want to make this documentary?” the couple is asked in the promo.

“No one sees what’s happening behind closed doors,” Harry says. “I had to do everything I could to protect my family.”

Shaq: Binge, December 8

This four-part sports documentary series details the life and career of NBA Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal, with new episodes dropping every Thursday.

Featuring a series of revealing interviews with O’Neal, Shaq tells the story of a basketball legend unlike any other, whose larger-than-life personality transcended the sport and transformed him into a cultural icon.

“We kept this documentary real from the start, and I do feel like it is the most honest look into my life and career up until this point. This process allowed me to reflect publicly in a way I haven’t before, and I’m so proud of the work everyone has done to put it all together,” Shaq says.

Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio: Netflix, December 9

One of our all-time favourite childhood stories about a little wooden boy enjoyed a short spell in cinemas and is now available to stream.

Daniel Craig is not coming back as 007, but as Detective Benoit Blanc in Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery. Photo: Netflix

The Volcano: Rescue from Whakaari: Netflix, December 16

Executive-produced by Ron Howard and Leonardo DiCaprio, this documentary chronicles the minute-by-minute accounts of the volcanic eruption on White Island in New Zealand, in 2019.

Done in collaboration with the local community, it puts the people who experienced this tragedy first, allowing them to tell their own stories in their own way.

Through first-hand video and audio by those on the island and surrounding area, the film depicts the tragic moments of those caught in the eruption, plus the survivors and the people who came to their rescue.

Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery: Netflix, December 23

In this hotly anticipated follow-up to Rian Johnson’s Knives Out, Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery sees Daniel Craig return as Detective Benoit Blanc as he attempts to solve a murder mystery.

Of course, this is a new cast of colourful suspects who each harbour their own secrets, lies and motivations.

Roald Dahl’s Matilda The Musical: Netflix, December 25

Australian Tim Michin’s Matilda The Musical, based on the story by Roald Dahl, is an inspirational musical tale of an extraordinary girl who discovers her superpower and summons the remarkable courage, against all odds, to help others change their stories, while taking charge of her own destiny.

This brand new take on the Tony and Olivier award-winning musical will keep those “revolting children” occupied all summer!

The Last Year of TV: Binge original, December 31

A show we all need to watch, for various reasons.

Host Mitch McTaggert takes a look back at the good, the bad and the cringe of everything that happened on Australian television this year.

Enjoy!

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