What to stream this week: Annette Bening, Jason Aldean, Awkwafina, NKOTB and ‘Blue Eye Samurai’


Awkwafina starring as a game-show-obsessed woman in “Quiz Lady” and the animated historical drama “Blue Eye Samurai” about a mixed-race, revenge-seeking female samurai in Japan are some of the new television, movies, music and games headed to a device near you

Also among the offerings worth your time as selected by The Associated Press’ entertainment journalists are a studio album from Jason Aldean, a new Hulu series made from Charmaine Wilkerson’s novel “Black Cake” and Annette Bening portrays a real-life hero who swam the treacherous passage from Cuba to Key West in 2013.


— It took Diana Nyad more than 30 years and five tries to swim from Cuba to the Florida Keys. “Free Solo” filmmakers Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin’s “Nyad,” streaming Friday on Netflix, dramatizes her feat of endurance, along with the perseverance of her closest friends and collaborators. Bening plays Nyad, who was 60 when she began training herself again for the open-ocean swim. In a stand-out supporting performance, Jodie Foster plays her friend and trainer Bonnie Stoll. In my review, I wrote that there is enough here to help the film “if not swim against the tide of sport-biopic convention then at least ride a swift current to the finish line.”

— In “Quiz Lady,” a 30-something accountant named Anne (Awkwafina) has devotedly watched every episode of “Can’t Stop the Quiz” since she was 4-year-old. After her pug is kidnapped and held for ransom, Anne and her estranged sister Jenny (Sandra Oh) embark on a mission to get Anne on “Can’t Stop the Quiz,” a “Jeopardy!”-like show in which Will Ferrell plays an Alex Trebek-like host. “Quiz Lady” debuts Friday on Hulu.

— The formidable trio of Jessie Buckley, Riz Ahmed and James Allen White anchor director Christos Nikou’s “Fingernails,” a sci-fi drama set in a near-future where couples can use science to determine if they’re meant to be together. In the film, which debuts Friday on Apple TV+, Buckley and White play a couple with a 100% positive score, proving that they’re soulmates. But things get complicated when Buckley’s character hits it off with a colleague (Ahmed).

AP Film Writer Jake Coyle


— Last month, the singer-songwriter Jimmy Buffett, who turned his unique brand of beach bum soft rock and “Margaritaville” escapism into a lifestyle and movement, died. As the music world continues to mourn the loss of a giant, Mailboat and Sun Records have teamed up to release his final album, a posthumous release titled “Equal Strain on All Parts,” recorded earlier this year. It features Paul McCartney, Emmylou Harris, Lennie Gallant, Angelique Kidjo, and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band. Buffett’s light-hearted, goodtime jams live on, as evidenced on the previously released tracks, “My Gummie Just Kicked In” and “Bubbles Up.”

— “Highway Desperado” is the 11th studio album from mainstream country juggernaut Jason Aldean, released on the heels of his first Billboard Hot 100 No. 1 single, the controversy-creating “Try That in a Small Town.” Produced by Michael Knox, Aldean says “Highway Desperado” takes inspiration from his live show. “I think when I look back on it, I built my career early on my live show, and have been on the road touring since I was 18 years old,” Aldean said in a press release. “For us, touring is our favorite part. Getting on the bus and going town to town and playing our shows and doing our thing and seeing the fans… the title for the tour and album was really inspired from that.”

— In 2008, after having been on a hiatus as a group for 12 years, Boston boy band New Kids on the Block returned with a new album, “The Block.” This year, to celebrate the 15th anniversary of the album responsible for the second chapter of their career, NKOTB will release “The Block: Revisited.” It includes four previously unreleased tracks as well as a new remix of their single “Dirty Dancing,” this time featuring a new generation of boy band: Dino, DK, and Joshua of the best-selling K-pop group SEVENTEEN.

— For some, Australian-via-Zimbabwe rapper-singer Tkay Maidza ’s unique vocal tone might be most closely associated with her cover of the 1988 Pixies’ song “Where Is My Mind?” as utilized in an Apple AirPods commercial. (She recasts the song in a style all her own — quite the feat for a track frequently covered and tethered to the final scene in “Fight Club.”) But it’s her original work that deserves attention. “Sweet Justice,” her sophomore album that follows 2016’s self-titled debut and a 2020 EP series — is an eclectic collection of soulful electronics and psychedelic production elevated by her playful flow and smooth vocal tone.

— Lenny Kravitz makes inspiration rock with a soaring new single he made for the upcoming Netflix film, “Rustin.” Kravitz sings and plays drums, bass, piano, Hammond organ and rocks a tambourine on “Road to Freedom,” which plays over the film’s end credits. The movie centers on Bayard Rustin, the civil rights activist and primary architect of the 1963 March on Washington, who often worked tirelessly out of the limelight. The biopic, which arrives in select theaters Friday and lands on Netflix on Nov. 17,

AP Music Writer Maria Sherman


— Before Charmaine Wilkerson’s novel “Black Cake” was published in 2022, Oprah Winfrey secured the TV rights in a bidding war and it’s now a new Hulu series. The first three episodes of “Black Cake” drop Wednesday, with new episodes released weekly. It follows Benny and Byron, adult estranged siblings whose mother has died and left them a mysterious flash drive with the details of her family history, explaining how she arrived in California from the Caribbean in the 1960s. The story also connects to a Caribbean Black cake from their heritage.

— Another popular novel, the WWII-themed “All the Light We Cannot See” by Anthony Doerr, has also been turned into a series. Shawn Levy directs the story of Marie (played by newcomer Aria Mia Loberti) as a blind, young woman in hiding in German-occupied France and a Nazi solder named Werner (Louis Hoffman). He’s an orphan who was drafted against his will and the show explores how they’re linked by a radio broadcast, despite their different backgrounds. The four-episode series also stars Mark Ruffalo and Hugh Laurie and premieres Thursday on Netflix.

— The animated historical drama “Blue Eye Samurai” about a mixed-race, revenge-seeking female samurai in Japan is already getting praise for its use of 2D and 3D artistry. Maya Erskine voices the lead character, Mizu, alongside Masi Oka, George Takei, Randall Park, Kenneth Branagh, Brenda Song, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa and Darren Barnet. “Blue Eye Samurai” drops Friday, Nov. 3 on Netflix.

— Naturalist Sir David Attenborough narrates a long-awaited third installment of the “Planet Earth” series. The new episodes use modern technology including drones, submersibles, and high-speed cameras to capture both awe-inspiring views of nature and the heartbreaking struggles of wildlife because of climate change. “Planet Earth III” debuts Saturday, Nov. 4 on BBC America and AMC+.

— In 2021, National Geographic premiered the limited series called “9/11: One Day in America,” to critical acclaim. A second installment called “JFK: One Day in America” premieres Sunday, Nov. 5. The three-part series has previously unseen testimony from surviving witnesses to create an oral history of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Nov. 22 marks the 60th anniversary of his death. “One Last Day: JFK” will also stream on Disney+ and Hulu a day later.

Alicia Rancilio


— The bad news: Humanity is extinct. The good news: Our robot descendants are fans of human culture. In The Talos Principle II, you are an artificial intelligence on a mission to figure out how people screwed it all up, and maybe avoid repeating their mistakes. The 2014 original, from the Croatian developer Croteam, was one of the more challenging puzzle games of its generation. The studio is promising a wider array of 3D brainteasers in the sequel, with new techniques like gravity manipulation and mind transference — not to mention “questions about the nature of the cosmos and the purpose of civilization.” If you dig mind-benders like Portal and The Witness, you probably already have Talos II on your wish list for Thursday on PlayStation 5, Xbox X/S and PC.

— Another highly regarded European studio, France’s Don’t Nod, is back with another intriguing puzzle game, Jusant. The goal here is to climb to the top of a gigantic, mysterious tower, but as you ascend, you’ll discover different environments and artifacts from a lost civilization. I found it exhausting to just watch the preview, but the developer — best known for the time-twisting adventure Life Is Strange — describes Jusant as “a meditative journey.” And you have an adorable companion, a watery blob named Ballast, to ask for clues when you get stuck. The conquest begins Tuesday on PlayStation 5, Xbox X/S and PC.

Lou Kesten


Catch up on AP’s entertainment coverage here: https://apnews.com/entertainment.

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