New this week: 'Nine Perfect Strangers,' Lorde and 'Annette'

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This combination photo shows promotional art for Annette, premiering Aug. 20 on Amazon Prime, left, The Chair, a series premiering August 20 on Netflix and Reminiscence, a film premiering August 20 on HBO Max. (Amazon Prime/Netflix/HBO Max via AP)

Here’s a collection curated by The Associated Press’ entertainment journalists of what’s arriving on TV, streaming services and music platforms this week.


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— What's your appetite for grandiose meta-musicals starring Adam Driver, Marion Cotillard and a puppet baby named Annette? Mileage will almost certainly vary, but Leos Carax's “Annette," which opened the Cannes Film Festival last month, is certainly one of the most original movies of the year. After a brief run in theaters, it debuts Friday on Amazon Prime Video, bringing Carax's audacious and tormented opera into millions of homes. It will surely startle some who happen upon it. Just exactly what is this mechanical marionette singing about? But Carax's dark, dreamy vision, from a script and score by Ron and Russell Mael of the band Sparks, will reward those swept up in it with a startling and ultimately devastating tragedy about art and parenthood that reaches profound heights just as does bizarre fantasy. In her review, AP Film Writer Lindsey Bahr called it “a movie best experienced rather than described.”

— "Nothing is more addictive than the past," says Hugh Jackman's Nick Bannister in the sci-fi thriller “Reminiscence." The film, written and directed by Lisa Joy (co-creator of HBO's “Westworld”) is set in a near-future of rising seas and deep nostalgia for an earlier world. In it, a romance leads Bannister down a dark trail into the past. “Reminiscence” debuts Friday in theaters and on HBO Max.

— In the flood of documentaries about COVID-19, Nanfu Wang's “In the Same Breath” was one of the first out of the gate. The film, which premiered in January at the Sundance Film Festival, debuts on HBO Wednesday and on HBO Max on Thursday. Wang, the Chinese-born American director of “One Child Nation," documents the early stages of the pandemic in Wuhan and China's attempts to shape the narrative around the virus. With the help of some local cinematographers in China, Wang juxtaposes that with the initial response in the U.S. and by President Donald Trump. For Wang, the personal tragedies of the pandemic and the governmental failures span both worlds.

—- AP Film Writer Jake Coyle


— Two ground-breaking female singers, both Hall of Famers, are putting out new albums and reminding fans to bring their flowers now. Rock pioneer Wanda Jackson, the tiny lady with the big voice who toured with Elvis and Jerry Lee Lewis, is releasing her final record, “Encore,” on Friday with help from fellow Rock Hall of Famer Joan Jett. Known for her growl on songs like “Let’s Have a Party” and “Fujiyama Mama,” Jackson, 83, retired from touring in 2019, but fans can still hear her tear it up on songs with Jett, Elle King and Angaleena Presley. Meanwhile, Country Music Hall of Famer Connie Smith is back with her 54th album, “The Cry of the Heart,” out on Aug. 20, that shows why she remains one of the most lauded vocalists in country music. Smith was the first female country artist to land her debut single at No. 1, the classic “Once a Day.” On her new record she teams up again with her husband, Marty Stuart, as producer and hit songwriter Dallas Frazier.

— Lorde is ditching the disc for her new third studio album “Solar Power,” out on Friday. Instead of CDs, fans can buy a plastic-free music box that contains a download card and other extras. The young star from New Zealand said in a press release that she wanted “an environmentally kind, forward-thinking alternative to the CD.” Lorde, who broke out with her Grammy-winning song “Royals,” worked again with producer Jack Antonoff for her new album. She’s due to begin a world tour in February 2022 with stops in New Zealand, Australia, Canada and the United States.


— Nicole Kidman, David E. Kelley and Liane Moriarty teamed for the hit 2019 HBO miniseries “Big Little Lies.” The dynamic trio are back for Hulu’s “Nine Perfect Strangers,” produced by Kelley and based on Moriarty’s eponymous novel about a health resort, the promisingly named Tranquillum House, that caters to stressed-out guests in search of better lives and selves. Kidman plays its director, Masha, who takes a unique approach to her work, with Melissa McCarthy, Michael Shannon, Regina Hall and Samara Weaving in the cast. The first three episodes debut Wednesday, with the remaining five released weekly.

— And now for something different: The Disney+ series “Growing Up Animal” follows the “intimate and extraordinary adventure” of babes from the womb, through birth and to their wobbly first steps. Each of the six episodes features a different mom as she protects and nurtures the offspring that rely on her and their own survival instincts. Narrated by Tracee Ellis Ross and debuting Wednesday, the series stars infant chimps, sea lions, elephants, African wild dogs, lions and grizzlies. Say awww.

— Sandra Oh is in charge in Netflix’s “The Chair” as Professor Ji-Yoon Kim, the first woman to head the English department at a small university that’s facing big budget woes. There’s thornier trouble to come, both on campus and at home for single mom Ji-Yoon. Oh’s skill at balancing comedy and drama is on full display, backed by an equally adroit cast that includes Jay Duplass, Nana Mensah and impeccable veterans Holland Taylor and Bob Balaban. The show, from creator Amanda Peet and “Game of Thrones” producers D.B. Weiss and David Benioff, debuts Friday with six episodes.

— AP Television Writer Lynn Elber


This story has been updated to correct the spelling of Nanfu Wang's name.


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