Holly to Bolly: Star Wars splits critics, Cosby lawyers battle it out and more


Star Wars splits critics ahead of UAE premiere

The latest entry in the Star Wars franchise divided film critics on Tuesday, but is expected to bring in more than $300 million (£236.8 million) at the global box office this weekend despite a social media boycott campaign over its perceived political slant. Reviewers either loved or hated Disney's Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Rolling Stone magazine praised its "emotional, loopy, let's-put-on-a-show spirit that made us fall in love with the original trilogy," but the New Yorker called it "lobotomised and depersonalised." Rogue One will premiere in the Middle East at the Dubai International Film Festival on Wednesday night – see our other stories for details. The film arrives in theatres a year after the main cast of the original 1977 film reunited for The Force Awakens, which went on to take more than $2 billion (Dh735 billion) at the box office. Box office analysts expect Rogue One, which starts its worldwide rollout on Wednesday, to do smaller business overall but to gross a bumper $300-$350 million on its opening weekend. - Reuters


Cosby lawyers battle it out

Lawyers for Bill Cosby and Pennsylvania prosecutors clashed angrily in court on Tuesday over whether the defense team was deliberately trying to intimidate women who have accused the entertainer of sexual assault. Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele contended defense attorneys were trying to “manipulate” Cosby’s upcoming criminal trial by publicly naming the 13 accusers prosecutors want to call to prove Cosby was a serial abuser of women. Cosby’s reputation as a family-friendly entertainer has suffered from allegations by about 50 women that he sexually assaulted them in a series of alleged attacks dating back decades. The actor, 79, only faces criminal charges in the Pennsylvania case involving Andrea Constand, a former basketball coach at his alma mater. Cosby has denied wrongdoing. - AP


Priyanka Chopra appointed UNICEF global Goodwill Ambassador

Actress Priyanka Chopra was appointed the newest UNICEF global Goodwill Ambassador at an event in New York City on Monday, December 12. The announcement was made by footballer David Beckham and British child actress Millie Bobby Brown at an event to celebrate 70 years of UNICEF’s efforts to safeguard the children of the world. Speaking at the event, Chopra, 34, said, “My wish for children is freedom. The freedom to think, the freedom to live... We ask you to join us today to become the collective voice of the oppressed children across the world in our fight against the injustices that they have to endure everyday.” Also present at the event were actors Jackie Chan and Orlando Bloom. * Sonali Kokra

West meets Trump. World stops.

Kanye West met Republican President-elect Donald Trump on Tuesday to discuss what he said were “multicultural issues” including bullying, education and violence. West’s meeting at Manhattan’s Trump Tower sent social media into a frenzy and fueled speculation about a possible performance at Trump’s January 20 inauguration or an informal administration role for the rapper. West, 39, said on Twitter he had wanted to meet Trump “to discuss multicultural issues.” “These issues included bullying, supporting teachers, modernising curriculums, and violence in Chicago,” tweeted the singer who was raised in Chicago. “I feel it is important to have a direct line of communication with our future President if we truly want change.” The 15-minute meeting was the first major outing by West and generated his first tweets since he was released on November 30 after a week in a Los Angeles psychiatric hospital with an unexplained condition. It quickly became the top trending topic on Twitter. - Reuters


Beckham proud of son’s charity work

Former England soccer captain David Beckham said he was surprised and proud that his 11-year-old son, Cruz, had taken it upon himself to raise money for charity by releasing a Christmas single. Cruz Beckham followed in the musical footsteps of his mum, fashion designer and former Spice Girl Victoria, by releasing If Everyday Was Christmas last week, with all proceeds from the single going to British children's charity, Make Some Noise. "He's been listening to his dad and his mum and saying how important it is to help others," David Beckham, a United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) ambassador, said in New York on Monday at a 70th anniversary celebration for the charity. "I was quite amazed by that because he's 11 years old and to realise how important it is to give back at that age is something special." David Beckham was joined at the UNICEF celebration, held at the United Nations headquarters, by actors Jackie Chan, Orlando Bloom and Priyanka Chopra. - Reuters


Will Smith channelled personal grief for Collateral Beauty role

Will Smith had already begun researching his role for Collateral Beauty when he learned that his father was terminally ill. Smith said at the film's world premiere in New York on Monday that he had to channel the emotions of that tragic news into a demanding film role. Smith's father, Willard Carroll Smith Jr., died on November 7. "My father was diagnosed and given six weeks, so you know, to be hit with that in the process and then what we decided to do was just use the preparation of the character to actually deal with what my father was experiencing," Smith said. "It became our way of saying goodbye, essentially. It was a really beautiful confluence of art and life." Smith stars in the film as a father who suffers a great tragedy and begins to question the point of existence. "It is such a beautiful concept. It's a guy that experiences a loss and gets furious at the universe, and writes these letters to Love, Time and Death, and his mind is so twisted that he mails the letters. And then, Love, Time and Death respond. You know, it's that beautiful Christmas twist to it, but dealing with real issues," Smith said. Collateral Beauty received it's Middle East Premiere on Tuesday night as part of the Dubai International Film Festival.


Sonam Kapoor opens up over abuse

Bollywood actress Sonam Kapoor said during an actress' roundtable with Indian journalist Rajeev Masand that she had been molested as a child and that it was a traumatic incident. Other actresses that were a part of the roundtable were Vidya Balan, Alia Bhatt, Anushka Sharma and Radhika Apte. The conversation was in context with Balan's recently released film, Kahaani 2, which deals with the subject of child sexual abuse. While the roundtable is expected to be aired in entirety later this week, the promo was released on Monday, 12th December. * Sonali Kokra


Director: S.J. Clarkson

Starring: Dakota Johnson, Tahar Rahim, Sydney Sweeney

Rating: 3.5/5

Kill Bill Volume 1

Director: Quentin Tarantino
Stars: Uma Thurman, David Carradine and Michael Madsen
Rating: 4.5/5

Profile of Bitex UAE

Date of launch: November 2018

Founder: Monark Modi

Based: Business Bay, Dubai

Sector: Financial services

Size: Eight employees

Investors: Self-funded to date with $1m of personal savings

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