Movies, music, and books we're into this week

It's almost the weekend and time to relax! Here are the movies, music, and books the Windows Central team is enjoying this week.

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 quality movie, or a real page turner? If you're looking for suggestions, we put together a collection of some of the best stuff out there right now.

TV and movies

Here are some of the movies and TV shows Windows Central is enjoying this week.

Kong: Skull Island

Recommended by Jason Ward, writer

The original King Kong is the classic tale of a misunderstood beast with a heart who was ripped from his home, exploited, then brutally killed by humans. Peter Jackson's remake a few years ago retold that same tale with greater highlights on the "King" that is Kong as we watched him in his element before being torn from his home and met his inevitable fate at the base of the Empire State Building. Kong: Skull Island is the Kong movie that focuses on Kong as King and only King. In this prequel to the original movie we see Kong dominating his element, protecting his home, and we come away understanding why he is King.

See at Microsoft Store

Cyborg

Recommended by Jez Corden, senior Xbox editor

Cyborg is a dumb action movie starring Jean-Claude Van Damme. But goddamn, it's amazing.

Set in a post apocalyptic America, Gibson Rickenbacker (Van Damme) travels across the wastelands to protect a cyborg, carrying vital information that might cure a plague that has devastated humanity and civilization. Along the way, she is kidnapped by a violent group of murderous pirates, who might also have been involved in the murder of Gibson's family.

Cyborg is gritty, low budget, and full of martial arts violence. It's ridiculous, and awesome.

See at Microsoft Store

Check It Out!

Recommended by Cale Hunt, staff writer

John C. Reilly is an Academy-, Golden-, Grammy-, and Tony-award nominated actor who also happens to be one of my favorites.

What started as a collection of short sketches on Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! quickly became a full-fledged offering of one of Reilly's most memorable characters, Dr. Steve Brule. Is he really a doctor? Can he speak proper English? Does he have any sort of clue as to what's going on around him? You can figure that out for yourself.

This show is filmed, played through a VCR, and recorded to give it the old, public access TV look, which really gives it more appeal. The first few seasons of Check It Out! (coincidentally the name of Dr. Brule's access cable show) are relatively light-hearted, but season four took a turn to the dark side. This is TV with weirdness turned up to maximum, and I sure do love it.

See at Microsoft Store

Music

Here's some of the music the Windows Central team is listening to this week.

Beyond Good and Evil — The Cult

Beyond Good and Evil — The Cult

Recommended by Richard Devine, reviews editor

When people think of The Cult they automatically go to "She Sells Sanctuary" and the Love album it comes from. This effort from 2001 doesn't register as highly, but it's some of the band's finest work, in particular the raucous track "Rise." It's worth going back 16 years to enjoy this one.

See at Microsoft Store


Ashes (Remixes) — Illenium

Ashes (Remixes) — Illenium

Recommended by Rich Edmonds, staff reviewer

I love Illenium's style of play, matching some killer vocals of guest artists with his incredibly creative mind.

His Ashes (Remixes) album is packed full of gems. Tracks like "Fortress," "I'll Be Your Reason," and "It's All On U" demand the best speakers or headphones to enjoy.

See at Microsoft Store


A Deeper Understanding — The War On Drugs

A Deeper Understanding — The War On Drugs

Recommended by Al Sacco, managing editor

The band The War on Drugs is all about frontman Adam Granduciel's ethereal vocals and unforgettable harmonies that, for me, combine to make the absolute perfect tunes for a long drive on a dark, possibly raining day. The band's new album, A Deeper Understanding, is a bit of a departure from its past work, with more electronic sound than I expected. But it really works. Some of their past albums have started to feel somewhat repetitive, so mixing it up on A Deeper Understanding was the right move.

The album just came out last week, and I'm still really just learning all the songs, but so far "Holding On" is the standout cut for me. Give it a listen for free on the Microsoft Store, and I think you'll be intrigued. The whole album is well worth the asking price.

See at Microsoft Store


American Beauty — Grateful Dead

American Beauty — Grateful Dead

Recommended by Cale Hunt, staff writer

True, the Grateful Dead is best experienced live, with long jams and melodic Jerry guitar. Still, American Beauty, the 1970 studio album, should not be missed. Deadheads are probably scoffing and saying, Yes, of course, but others might not know about this gem.

From the start with Box of Rain, to the end, with Truckin', your ears will experience musical bliss. This album also has a bunch of bonus tracks that were recorded live the same year as the album was released. Sweet!

See at Microsoft Store


Skin — Flume

Skin — Flume

Recommended by Dan Thorp-Lancaster, staff writer

This album has been in my regular listening rotation for a while now, but I've been really digging it this week while I work. If you're mainly a radio listener, you have likely heard at least a couple of the catchy electronic-infused tunes to come off of Skin, but the full album is worth a listen.

Its sound has a decidedly poppy flare to it, but it brings that together with a bit of hip-hop and R&B that avoids giving in to the droning sameyness that the pop atmosphere encourages.

See at Microsoft Store


Books

Here are the books we're reading this week!

The New Confessions of an Economic Hit Man — John Perkins

The New Confessions of an Economic Hit Man — John Perkins

Recommended by Cale Hunt, staff writer

Whether or not everything author John Perkins writes in this book is the truth, it makes for a hell of a story. The New Confessions of an Economic Hit Man is an updated version of the original book published in 2004 that now also covers the worldwide happenings up until 2016.

Perkins was an economic hitman, a privately employed individual whose job it was to convince banks to loan third-world countries money. That job involved inflating predictions of economic growth after the loans came through and construction began, which ended in the country defaulting on the loans and becoming another addition to the American empire.

It's an interesting look at how it doesn't necessarily take violence to create a slave country, and it's enlightening in the way it profiles the struggles that most people in first-world countries never think of.

Download the Kindle book at Amazon Download the Audible audio book at Amazon


Dodgers — Bill Beverly

Dodgers — Bill Beverly

Recommended by Al Sacco, managing editor

There's a reason why American literature professor and novelist Bill Beverly's first book won the 2016 Crime Writers of America (CWA) coveted Gold Dagger Award: the novel is truly unique, powerful, poignant and artfully written. Dodgers is the story of teenage LA gang member East, who after messing up a job is sent across the U.S. as penance along with three other gangsters to kill a witness in a federal murder trial against his boss. Sounds straightforward enough, right?

The real story of Dodgers, however, is the coming-of-age road trip that takes the young protagonist and his unlikely group of miscreants outside of LA for the first time, into the great wide open of middle America, where nothing is familiar and everything seems to be going against them. The book is a combination of Jack Kerouac's seminal On the road — but way less boring and much more modern — and a Cormac McCarthy crime novel.

Dodgers is truly memorable, with some pitch-perfect descriptions of the American West that are sure to resonate with readers for a very long time. (The portrayal of the Las Vegas lights appearing on the horizon during the drive from LA is magical.) And the ending is both satisfying and realistic, which in my experience, can be rare in these types of stories.

Download the Kindle book at Amazon Download the Audible audio book at Amazon


Your favorites?

What have you been watching, reading, and listening to this week? We want to know, so drop a comment and share your recommendations.

If none of these recommendations strike your fancy, check out a list of all of our past recommendations. We promise you'll find something you'll like.

Tons more recommendations from Team Windows Central