With the madness (and amazing savings) of Amazon Prime Day in the rearview, we are ready to chill out big time this weekend. That's going to include at least a few good films, shows, tunes or books. This week, Team Windows Central is into multiple movies featuring the inimitable Keanu Reeves, a book about a crazy Irish private eye and a dog that loves Guinness, and some classic Brit-rock tunes.
We like to think we have discerning taste and that you'll also like all these recommendations. But if not, hit the link below for many more where those came from.
A refreshing super hero flick
Recommended by Sean Endicott, news writer
Shazam is a nice break from the dark and broody DC movies that have come out over the last few years. The 14-year-old Billy Batson encounters a wizard who deems him worthy of great power. Batson gains the wisdom of Solomon, the strength of Hercules, the stamina of Atlas, the power of Zeus, the courage of Achilles, and the speed of Mercury when he transforms into Shazam. Based on the reviews and trailers that I've seen, the adult version of Shazam played by Zachary Levi and the child version played by Asher Angel play off each other well and take the audience on a fun ride. While I think flossing has been replaced by T-posing, this film seems fresh, and I'm excited to see how it stacks up to other comic book films.
Shoot 'em up
Recommended by Rich Edmonds, staff reviewer
Keanu Reeves starred in one of my all-time favorite movies: The Matrix. I've never seen him star in anything other than Bill and Ted or when he's plugged into a digital dimension, so finally, I decided to check out John Wick and I'm glad I did. Having got through the first movie, it's clear to see why so many love it.
After losing his wife to a terminal illness, John Wick received a puppy to help him cope with grief, but this grave situation is made worse when a Russian mobster tries to buy his vintage car, but then decides to take it by force after Wick refuses to sell at a gas station. While they did manage to kill his puppy, they didn't realize Wick is a retired hitman. Wick is forced to take action and get violent, and it's bloody brilliant.
Not your average romcom
Recommended by Al Sacco, managing editor
I'm generally not a huge fan of romcoms. But for somebody who doesn't love romcoms, I watch a lot of them. (My wife likes romcoms more than I do.) Most of these types of movies are so formulaic that they blend together to the point that I can barely describe the plots a day or so after watching. "Plus One" is not not formulaic, but I enjoyed it more than most in the genre.
It's the story of two platonic friends in their late 20s who find themselves constantly going to friends' weddings together but who are both so picky about their own significant others that they never stay in relationships for long. But guess what? They're actually perfect for each other! Who knew?
What sets this romcom apart for me is the crass sense of humor. It's not what you usually get with these types of movies, and I found it to be quite funny.
Don't mess with her
Recommended by Richard Devine, Reviews Editor
Captain Marvel has only recently released for home viewing here in the UK, and with a new Spider-Man movie in the theater right now, it's been a good time to get some more MCU action going. Outside of the Avengers movies, I'd rate Captain Marvel as one of my favorites among the standalone character tales. The origin story of Carol Danvers and her transformation into Captain Marvel is compelling, but it's the on-screen chemistry between Brie Larson and Samuel L Jackson, aka Nick Fury, that really makes it.
An underrated trilogy
Recommended by Jez Corden, Senior Editor
Wait, what? The Matrix Trilogy is underrated? You're damn right it is.
For some reason, conventional wisdom states that The Matrix Trilogy got worse as time went on, with plenty of people completely ignoring the fact Matrix 2 and 3 even exist. The tone of the movies shifts dramatically after the first, which introduced some unique ideas atop some jaw-dropping, industry-leading martial arts special effects. The ideas from the original movie were taken by many as deeply allegorical and subversive, while the following two movies simply further expanded upon the existing universe while dialing up the action, betraying those who sought deeper meaning from The Matrix. As someone who didn't really care for the so-called "deeper meaning," I only found the movies to get better as time went on, leading up to some of the most insane live-action fighting scenes and epic sci-fi battles I've ever seen.
Recommended by Dan Thorp-Lancaster, news editor
This album might qualify for a throwback in 2019, but I still love it. Whenever I need to put some extra pep in my step, I know I can throw on an album by The Fratellis and it won't disappoint.
Costello Music is the first album I heard from The Fratellis, and it has the one earworm pretty much everyone has heard by the band: Chelsea Dagger. While that's been played to death (I usually skip it), the rest of the album is full of fun Brit-rock of that mid-2000s variety that I can't get enough of.
Recommended by Cale Hunt, staff writer
Perhaps because of the rather gushy aura surrounding the movie adaptation of Michael Ondaatje's Booker Prize-winning novel, or perhaps because I just didn't have easy access to a copy, I had never read the Canadian author's masterpiece before last week. Turns out … it's a great book.
World War II is coming to an end, and a Canadian nurse, Hana, stays behind in an Italian villa to care for a man who's been severely burned past recognition. Two others show up shortly after the novel picks up, and we're shown how the four lives come together, including the reveal of who the burned "English Patient" really is and why he suffered his injuries.
It's a rather quick read, with past and present flowing together seamlessly. If you enjoy a bit of history with your drama (Ondaatje clearly did significant research), definitely check this one out. And no, I'm probably still not going to watch the movie.
Pairs perfectly with a pint
Recommended by Al Sacco, managing editor
Last week, I recommended the first novel in this trilogy by Irish author and comedian Caimh McDonnell, called A Man With One of Those Faces. I liked it so much that I immediately started reading the sequel.
It features most of the same characters: an oddball drifter who somehow turns into a private detective, his sort-of girlfriend who actually does all the detective work, his drunken policeman frenemy, and crazed German shepherd that drinks Guinness, among others. The story unfolds when said cop, or "Garda," disappears, and the other protagonists have to find and eventually save him from Bad Guys hellbent on revenge for something he did decades ago. The books take place in Dublin, and they're legitimately hilarious. I'm not the kind of person who laughs out loud while reading a book by myself. But I definitely giggled a bit, a few times, while flipping pages here.
I'm also learning lots of fun Irish slang and curse words, which I appreciate.
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