New this Week: ‘Kung Fu,’ ‘Rebel’ and ‘Thunder Force’
Here’s a collection curated by The Associated Press’ entertainment journalists of what’s arriving on TV, streaming services and music platforms this week.
— Against the odds, Melissa McCarthy and her husband, filmmaker Ben Falcone, have managed to put out two movies during the pandemic. Last November came HBO Max’s “Superintelligence,” about a regular woman (McCarthy) joined with a megalomaniacal artificial intelligence (voiced by James Corden). This time, in “Thunder Force,” McCarthy is again thrust into saving the planet. In the Netflix film, McCarthy and Octavia Spencer play women given superpowers — accidentally in the case of McCarthy’s character — to defend Chicago from supervillains (Bobby Cannavale, Jason Bateman). It debuts Friday.
— In “Mayor,” director David Osit profiles local government in a land typically seen through a national lens. Osit trails Musa Hadid, the charismatic and mustachioed mayor of the Palestinian city of Ramallah, as he tirelessly deals with many of the issues of any municipality — can Ramallah brand itself like, as one advisor mentions, Minnesota’s “Land of 10,000 Lakes”? — while wrestling with the more extreme, geopolitical issues endemic to the West Bank. It’s a funnier film than you’d imagine, as Osit observes the sometimes farcical, sometimes painful plight of a beset community that proves that, at least in Ramallah, not all politics are local. “Mayor” began streaming Monday on the Criterion Channel.
— Many of the Oscar-nominated shorts are already available to stream, but one worth watching — “Two Distant Strangers” — lands on Netflix on Friday. In it, directors Travon Free and Martin Desmond Roe use a “Groundhog Day”-style time loop to dramatize the repetitive trauma of police brutality. Brooklyn rapper Joey Bada$$ plays a New Yorker who awakes happily again and again in a woman’s apartment. But every time he leaves to go home to feed his dog, an altercation with a police officer is unavoidable and tragic.
— AP Film Writer Jake Coyle
— Taylor Swift’s defining 2008 album, “Fearless,” helped her break through onto the pop charts with successes like “You Belong with Me” and “Love Story.” The album went on to win four Grammys, including her first album of the year honor. So it’s fitting that “Fearless,” though it was her sophomore release, is the first project she has re-recorded after her masters were sold off. “Fearless: Taylor’s Version” will be released Friday and includes 27 songs, including 13 from the original album. Keith Urban appears on the songs “That’s When” and “We Were Happy,” while “You All Over Me” features Maren Morris.
— On Friday, the legendary Merry Clayton is releasing her first album in over 25 years. Aptly titled “Beautiful Scars,” the album arrives seven years after Clayton had both her legs amputated following a car accident. The Grammy winner, who has recorded with everyone from The Rolling Stones and Bob Dylan to Carole King and Stevie Wonder, started discussions about recording new music in the hospital. “Beautiful Scars” features new songs written by Diane Warren and Chris Martin and covers of classics by Sam Cooke and Leon Russell.
— AP Music Editor Mesfin Fekadu
— Ernest Hemingway and doctor-writer Oliver Sacks get the Burns’ touch in new PBS documentary films — the latter from Ric Burns, the former from his brother, Ken, and collaborator Lynn Novick. “Hemingway,” airing Monday through Wednesday, delves into the famed novelist’s works and life to reveal the “complicated man behind the myth.” Friday brings “Oliver Sacks: His Own Life,” airing on PBS’ “American Masters.” Ric Burns interviewed Sacks shortly after he was diagnosed with the cancer that claimed his life in 2015, and spoke to many who knew him. (Check local listings for times.)
— Olivia Liang stars in CW’s “Kung Fu,” a reimagining of the 1970s series in which David Carradine played a Shaolin monk in the Old West. In the reboot debuting 8 p.m. EDT Wednesday, Liang plays Nicky, a contemporary Chinese American who traded college for education at a monastery in China. Returning to her San Francisco hometown, she discovers it and her parents are at the mercy of a gang. Joining her to fight them are her sister (played by Shannon Dang), an ex-boyfriend (Gavin Stenhouse) and new love interest (Eddie Liu). Oh, and the assassin who killed Nicky’s Shaolin mentor is after her.
— Katey Sagal is a woman on a mission, or missions, in “Rebel,” an ABC drama series debuting 10 p.m. EDT Thursday. Sagal plays Annie “Rebel” Bello, a legal advocate who lacks a law degree but has an abundance of passion for causes and people in need of a champion. John Corbett plays her husband, with Andy Garcia as the lawyer Rebel is teamed with. The series takes inspiration from Erin Brockovich, who was portrayed in a 2000 film by Oscar-winning Julia Roberts, as the real-life activist is today.
— AP Television Writer Lynn Elber
Catch up on AP’s entertainment coverage here: https://apnews.com/apf-entertainment.