The weekend is just around the corner, and you're probably keen to put your feet up and enjoy some downtime. What better way to relax than with some great tunes, a great movie, or a real page turner? If you're looking for some suggestions, we put together a collection of some of the best stuff out there right now.
Movies and TV
Here are some of the movies and TV shows the Windows Central team is enjoying this week.
Recommended by Zac Bowden, senior editor
After watching Edgar Wright's new movie, Baby Driver, I really wanted to go on an Edgar Wright movie spree. So, I picked up Hot Fuzz, one of his legendary movies starring Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. It's two hours of comedy gold!
Ghost in the Shell
Recommended by Jez Corden, Xbox editor
Ghost in the Shell is a brief but explosive classic anime, recently remastered in HD for its twenty-fifth anniversary, and it's available on the Microsoft Store.
In a future where the entire world is connected via brain implants and other cybernetic enhancements, a hacker known only as the 'Puppet Master' has become a huge terrorist threat, due to his ability to hack into people's minds.
The cyborg officers of Section 9 pursue the Puppet Master across a futuristic Tokyo, but their encounters lead at least one of them, Major Motoko, to question the very nature of her robotic existence.
Ghost in the Shell is an utter classic that remains a staple of any anime fan's library to this day. But even if you're not a fan of the medium, fans of deep sci-fi should definitely check this one out.
Keeping Up with the Joneses
Recommended by Al Sacco, managing editor
I'll start by saying Keeping up with the Joneses is NOT a good movie. In fact, it's really quite bad. Now that that's out of the way, I like the flick. It's light and silly and full of awkward jokes. And the leading cast is composed of three very good-looking folks (Gal Gadot, a.k.a., Wonder Woman; Isla Fisher; and Jon Hamm) and one very schlubby-yet-funny dude (Zach Galifianakis).
The movie's premise is also dumb: a new couple moves into an idyllic suburban neighbor, quickly bonds with another stereotypically boring 'burbs couple, and hilarity ensues when it turns out the new couple has ulterior motives. More specifically, they're spies. Really aesthetically-pleasing spies.
I'm a big fan of Fisher, Hamm and Galifianakis, and having recently watched the new Wonder Woman film, I was interested in seeing what else Gadot could do. So I spent a couple of hours with the Joneses. It's not a movie I'll likely watch again, but I also enjoyed it. If you're looking for a mindless comedy that doesn't take itself too seriously, you'll appreciate Keeping up with the Joneses — just don't go into it with unrealistic expectations.
The Bourne Ultimate Collection
Recommended by Daniel Rubino, executive editor
When it comes to international espionage and government conspiracy, there is none better than Jason Bourne. The Ultimate Collection, which includes all five films, is receiving an excellent 39 percent discount to just $39.99 dropping from the usual $66 price tag.
As a huge fan of the series — well, most of it — what I love about the Bourne movies is their re-watch-ability. Due to the intricacies and complexities of the series, remembering who did what to whom and when is something you'll forget the details of, making the series always fun to watch.
The first of the films — The Bourne Identity directed by Doug Liman — sets the scene, but it's the next two in the series – the back-to-back The Bourne Supremacy and The Bourne Ultimatum directed by Paul Greengrass that make these movies an exciting thrill ride of badassness. With the combo of Filpino Kali and Jeet Kune Do hand-to-hand combat and edge of your seat car chases, parts two and three are some of the best action cinema around.
The Bourne Legacy, while impressive, falls short of the series and 2016's Jason Bourne (which sees Greengrass and Matt Damon return) was exciting but repeated a bit too much of the past. Nonetheless, the entire Bourne series is still better than anything James Bond. Yeah, I went there.
Recommended by Cale Hunt, staff writer
Ridley Scott's previous sci-fi flick, Prometheus, seems to divide fans into love it or hate it, but I sit in the former camp. I didn't mind the slower pacing, the backstory, or the cliffhanger ending.
Now, Alien: Covenant attempts to recapture the magic from the original Alien movies, delivering up a buttload of long-limbed, salivating monsters and a crew of space-faring folk to fall victim
I haven't yet seen Alien: Covenant, but that's about to change this weekend. I have a feeling I might be jumping back into Alien: Isolation when I'm done.
Here's some of the music the Windows Central team is listening to this week.
American III: Solitary Man — Johnny Cash
Recommended by Richard Devine, reviews editor
One of my absolute favorite artists is Johnny Cash, and some of his finest work came at the very end of his life. Of the six-part American Recordings series, volume No. 3 is my favorite, with epic covers like Solitary Man and One being made entirely his own. It's a great work by a great musician.
Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not — Arctic Monkeys
Recommended by Dan Thorp-Lancaster, staff writer
Ever since I got my first taste of the Arctic Monkeys in 2007 (man, I feel old), I've been hooked. The band's whole discography is an adventure, and nearly every album takes on a whole different sonic mood. That said, I still find myself returning to where it all started with Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not. While it's known for a handful of tracks that received quite a bit of radio play at the time, the whole album is chock full of solid, catchy riffs and lyrics that just struck a chord with me — and still do to this day.
All Yours — Widowspeak
Recommended by Cale Hunt, staff writer
Widowspeak was originally formed in Brooklyn by a couple of old friends from Tacoma, Washington. They brought on guitarist Robert E. Thomas, and after a few member changes, the band is still playing today. I'd heard them here and there — songs played by friends or on the radio — and finally saw them perform live at a festival last weekend.
All Yours, released in 2015, shows how easily the band can move between genres as they move between songs, offering up country twang one minute, classic rock the next, and finally some psychedelic feelings to top it all off. Robert Earl Thomas's guitar playing is second only to Molly Hamilton's beautiful voice.
Here are the books we're reading this week!
Ready Player One — Ernest Cline
Recommended by Mark Guim, video editor
I've been wanting to read Ready Player One for a long time, but haven't found the time to do it. Now that I've seen the movie trailer for it, I'm more determined to read the novel before heading to the movie theater next year.
Ready Player One follows teenager Wade Watts, who devotes his life to studying the puzzles hidden within a virtual utopia known as the Oasis. The creator of the Oasis promises massive power and fortune to whoever can unlock the puzzles.
The Savage Detective — Roberto Bolaño
Recommended by Cale Hunt, staff writer
I discovered Bolaño years ago when his final masterpiece, 2666 received an English translation. It took me a long time to read 2666, and I was left with a sense of dread for months after. I wondered when I'd have the stomach to read more Bolaño.
Along comes The Savage Detective, a novel he published in 1998 with an English translation in 2007. The book is divided into three unequal parts. The first is told through an aspiring poet and college dropout named Juan Garcia Madero; the second is told through a series of interviews with people living all over the world (this is also by far the largest portion of the book); and the third section is told through the eyes of Madero.
No matter who's telling the story, the focus is mainly on the two poets who are the last of a dying movement. This is a book that makes you feel lonely, that makes you feel like you can't fit in anywhere. It's also full of genuine human interactions, love, poverty, and glimpses of the lives of people who have nothing to lose. If you like a book that you have to put together like a puzzle, give The Savage Detectives a try.
What have you been watching, reading, and listening to this week? We want to know, so drop a comment and share your recommendations.
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