Table of Contents
Going Out: Cinema
Well-regarded British director Michael Pearce (Beast) directs the always likable Riz Ahmed in a close encounter of the traumatic kind, as a military veteran with issues attempts to save his kids from a big ol’ bug invasion, in a drama harking back to cold war paranoia era of 1950s sci-fi.
There are plenty of films about the father-son relationships, but here’s one about the less-explored dynamic of nephew-uncle bonding. Starring Joaquin Phoenix and shot in black and white by celebrated cinematographer Robbie Ryan, C’mon C’mon is the latest from talented indie darling Mike Mills.
The latest chapter in the fascinating and varied career of actor-director Justin Chon, who played high-school sidekick Eric in the Twilight franchise and is in a K-pop parody band called Boys Generally Asian. Here he stars in and directs a drama about the invidious practice of deporting of immigrant adoptees in the US.
Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City
It’s 25 years since Capcom debuted the first Resident Evil game on consoles around the world, and the mutated game/film horror franchise has since proven as indestructible as any of the misbegotten creatures conceived in the Umbrella Corporation labs. Here comes another slice – this time, a reboot starring Kaya Scodelario. Catherine Bray
Going Out: Gigs
Electrowerkz, London, 9 December
DayGlo Australian rapper Madiza has been busy reintroducing herself after a dalliance with a major label went awry. Expect this brief UK jaunt, including shows supporting fellow agit-pop practitioner Ashnikko (7 & 8 Dec), to showcase her career-stabilising Last Year Was Weird EP series. Michael Cragg
6 to 9 December; tour starts London
Having broken through in 2018 with UK drill anthem Homerton B, east London rapper Unknown T has spent the last three years building on that success. Earlier this year, his second mixtape, Adolescence, reached the UK Top 10, boosted by collaborations with the likes of AJ Tracey and M Huncho. MC
Colchester Arts Centre, Sun 5 December; Cambridge Modern Jazz, Fri 10 December
Like such jazz vocal legends as the late Mark Murphy and Betty Carter, and the very active Kurt Elling, Welsh singer/pianist Ian Shaw brings the quirks and character tics of everyday living into poignant, ironic, and often euphoric focus. Shaw tours his smart and soulful one-man show during December. John Fordham
Royal Festival Hall, London, 4 December
Not Bach’s seasonal favourite, but James MacMillan’s Christmas Oratorio, receiving its UK premiere courtesy of the London PO and its Choir, conducted by Mark Elder. The texts for the 100-minute work come from the Christian liturgy for the choruses, and poems by Southwell, Donne and Milton for the arias. Andrew Clements
Going Out: Art
National Gallery, London, 10 December to 18 April
The painter and conceptual artist who created Barack Obama’s official portrait turns his eyes on the National Gallery collection. In particular he has been contemplating its grand European landscapes, from Claude’s sunny Med to the stormier worlds of JMW Turner, offering his own pointed remakes in this eagerly awaited exhibition.
Bethlem Museum of the Mind, Beckenham, 4 December to 14 April
The cat cartoons of Louis Wain were popular in his lifetime and still are – but in later life he became ill. As a resident of “Bedlam” he went on painting cats. This show at Bethlem Royal Hospital’s excellent museum shows how his animal art may have helped him and other patients.
Salvador Dalí to Jenny Saville
Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art (Modern One), Edinburgh
This showcase of recent aquisitions by the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art is a Greatest Hits of the 20th and 21st centuries. Among the delights are an armchair with a tail by the surrealist Dorothea Tanning, a ghostly all-white version of Dalís Lobster Telephone, and an exquisite Bridget Riley.
Saatchi Gallery, London, to 13 January
Brian Eno is among the artists exploring the healing power of beauty. Art has been used in hospitals since the middle ages when Rogier van der Weyden and Matthias Grünewald helped heal and console the sick. See how Eno and friends continue their work at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital. Jonathan Jones
Going Out: Stage
2Northdown, London, 8 December
She’s only 23, but Ania Magliano already has the cool, calm and collected stage presence of a standup veteran; her permanently amused style, however, has Gen Z written all over it. Catch the Footlights alum at her wryly titled evening of new material, Absolutely No Worries If Not. Rachel Aroesti
National theatre: Olivier, London, 4 December to 22 January
Husband-and-wife team Rufus Norris and Tanya Ronder have created a new musical based on Sleeping Beauty that focuses on the fairy tasked with putting the princess to sleep. Starring Rosalie Craig, whose voice could fill the Olivier theatre 10 times over.
A Chorus Line
Curve, Leicester, to 31 December
Michael Bennett’s musical sees 18 actors put through their paces during auditions for a Broadway musical – and is worth it just to hear What I Did for Love one more time. It is directed by Nikolai Foster and stars Adam Cooper and Carly Mercedes Dyer. Miriam Gillinson
Curious Vogue Ball
Dance City, Newcastle upon Tyne, 4 & 5 December
A celebration of north-east LGBTQ+ culture and voguing. Expect fierce and fabulous fashions and a party atmosphere. Everyone’s welcome and on Sunday there’s even a family ball for all ages. Lyndsey Winship
Staying In: Streaming
And Just Like That …
9 December, 9pm, Sky Comedy
Prepare for 00s nostalgia overload: 17 years after Sex and the City’s TV incarnation hung up its Manolos, Carrie and co are back and brunching again. They may now be in their 50s – and a trio (no Samantha) – but they’re still navigating complicated New York lives, often in complicated clothes.
You Don’t Know Me
5 December, 9pm, BBC One
An apparently cut-and-dried murder trial is almost over – until Hero, the accused, decides to make a closing speech. This compulsive four-parter, adapted from criminal defence barrister Imran Mahmood’s 2017 novel, combines courtroom mechanics with a twisty love story.
Superman & Lois
4 December, 5.40pm, BBC One; full series on iPlayer
Considering the comic book’s unearthly grip on pop culture shows no sign of abating, it was only a matter of time before we got a domestic drama about the tribulations of bringing up children in the DC Universe: this one amusingly juxtaposes superhero duties with run-of-the-mill family minutiae.
6 Dec, Netflix
When it comes to the screen-based arts, cinema is no longer automatically top of the tree. Director David Fincher’s new series aims to rectify the slight dip in movie-going’s magic with a series of video essays, in which critics and writers explain how specific films changed their lives. RA
Staying In: Games
Out 8 December
This series of science-fiction shooters has been a reliable source of alien-destroying fun since 2001, even if it does take itself a bit seriously from time to time.
Out 7 December
A black-and-white platform game that takes aesthetic cues from silent cinema and cyberpunk, in which you must escape the towering machinery of an oppressive, dystopian city. Keza MacDonald
Staying In: Albums
Polo G – Hall of Fame 2.0
Released in June, rapper Polo G’s third album, Hall of Fame, followed single Rapstar to the top of the US charts. To help cement the 22-year-old’s stellar 2021 he’s released a victory lap in the shape of this deluxe edition, which adds 14 new songs to the original’s 20 tracks.
Arca – Kick series
Last year’s Kick i, the fourth album from Venezuela’s avant-pop experimentalist, is joined this week by a flurry of followups. Kick ii features the hollowed out, Sia-assisted ballad Born Yesterday, while in Kick iiii Shirley Manson and Planningtorock are drawn into Arca’s unique musical world.
Khalid – Scenic Drive
Designed as a stopgap ahead of next year’s third album proper, the Scenic Drive mixtape shows the 23-year-old, six-time Grammy-nominated Texan returning to his roots. Billed as a companion piece to 2018’s Suncity, lead single Present channels that EP’s laid-back, old school R&B feel.
LP – Churches
New York’s Laura Pergolizzi, AKA LP, returns with her sixth album of emotive pop. A songwriter for hire for the likes of Rihanna, Cher and Céline Dion, Pergolizzi saves her biggest, most heartfelt moments for herself, as showcased by Churches’ pulsating early single The One That You Love. MC
Staying In: Brain food
Out now, Disney+
The 2018 rescue of a Thai football team from a flooded cave is soon to be given the Hollywood treatment from director Ron Howard – until then, this documentary chronicles the high-stakes mission, with testimony from the rescuers.
Music on a Clear Möbius Strip
Maths YouTube channel Numberphile recruits Oxford professor Marcus Du Sautoy for this head-spinning lecture on the intrinsic mathematics of music – as illustrated by works of Bach that can be played both forwards and backwards.
Eye of the Duck
Taking its title from David Lynch’s theory that each film has a scene that encapsulates the mood of its whole, hosts Dom Nero and Adam Volerich present this fascinating podcast, analysing everything from Goodfellas to School of Rock. Ammar Kalia