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

Halloween has passed, and yet another weekend is nearly here. If you're wondering what music to play at a party, what book to read in front of the fire, or what movie to chill out to, we've put together a great list of recommendations right here.

TV and movies

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

Baby Driver

Recommended by Zac Bowden, senior editor

This week I watched Baby Driver. After seeing it in cinemas, I couldn't wait to own it digitally at home. This is a great action movie with thrills all the way through. Great editing and cinematography, too!

See at Microsoft Store

Tron: Legacy

Recommended by Rich Edmonds, staff reviewer

Tron is a fantastic IP, and I was always a fan of the latest attempt to revive the virtual world. Tron: Legacy isn't perfect, but it's a great visual spectacle with Jeff Bridges and some killer CGI (even if you don't like the younger version of Kevin Flynn).

See at Microsoft Store

Planet Earth II

Recommended by Jez Corden, senior Xbox editor

Ever wanted to see a cinematic drama featuring a baby lizard running away from dozens of hungry snakes? Planet Earth II has you covered.

BBC's Natural History Unit has once again proven that the rest of the world sucks at nature documentaries with the utterly stunning Planet Earth II, available in HD from the Xbox Store or 4K on Blu-ray from Amazon. The 4K HDR version is particularly mind-blowing, featuring unprecedented detail, immersing you in a natural world rarely seen by human eyes. It is awe-inspiring.


Recommended by Cale Hunt, staff writer

The movie that this TV series is based on is one of my favorites of all time, so it's natural that I checked out this adaptation. The first season starts out with what seems like a familiar plot but soon veers off course.

Billy Bob Thornton plays the prime antagonist here, causing trouble and death wherever he sets foot, which is primarily Duluth and Bemidji. This is one of the best crime dramas I've ever seen on TV, and — the best part — once you're finished with the first season you can jump into two more seasons that take place in a different time with different main characters.

See at Microsoft Store


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

Baby Driver (Music from the Motion Picture) — Various Artists

Baby Driver (Music from the Motion Picture) — Various Artists

Recommended by Al Sacco, managing editor

In late September, Windows Central Staff Writer Cale Hunt wisely recommended the excellent film Baby Driver right here in our weekly media recommendations. (And it got a second recommendation from Zac Bowden above.) Hunt has great taste, and I'd already heard good things, so I bought the movie shortly after I read his suggestion. And I was not at all disappointed.

However, after watching the movie and finding myself singing or bobbing my head constantly, it quickly became clear that the film's soundtrack is just as good (if not better) than the flick itself. In fact, I think the soundtrack is better. And it's an awesome and eclectic collection of tunes you can't help but appreciate, at least if you have even just a smidgen of soul in ya.

Most of the songs include some sort of mention of the name "Baby," the name of the film's lead character. And the album is so good you'll want to listen to it from start to finish without skipping a track. My favorites are easily Jonathan Richman's "Egyptian Reggae," Beck's "Debra," and "Baby Driver" by Simon & Garfunkel. The mix-up of beats and some quotes from the film by Kid Koala, called "Is His Slow?," is pretty great, too. Seriously, this is some goooood listenin'.

Cave Me In — Gallant x Tablo x Eric Nam

Recommended by Matt Brown, Xbox editor

With the end of the year rapidly approaching, I've been looking back at some of my favorite releases of the year. One of these is a single from Gallant, Tablo and Eric Nam titled "Cave Me In," which features a variety of styles in a smooth collaborative release.

With three artists known for their vocal talent, Cave Me In offers a unique blend of RnB and dance for some easy listening. For those looking for similar tracks, I also recommend Gallant's other releases, as well as Tablo's latest album "We've Done Something Wonderful," with Epik High.

The Dark Side of the Moon — Pink Floyd

The Dark Side of the Moon — Pink Floyd

Recommended by Cale Hunt, staff writer

For some reason, last weekend I found myself down a YouTube rabbit hole watching old Pink Floyd videos. Every day since, I've donned a good set of headphones and listened to The Dark Side of the Moon in its entirety.

Sure, digital isn't as good as vinyl, but I can't carry my record player around with me while I'm on the go. You still get the overall feeling that this album intends to deliver, which I think is fear of death, fear of insanity, and fear of money. All good things to be afraid of, if you ask me.


Here are the books we're reading this week!

The Hyperion Cantos — Dan Simmons

The Hyperion Cantos — Dan Simmons

Recommended by Jason Ward, writer

I am a huge sci-fi fan. My love of the genre began when I was a child. I've indulged that passion over the years with an embrace of books, cartoons, TV shows, movies, and games.

With a collection of hundreds of books and overflowing bookshelves I fear that I have more books than I'll have enough "life" to read. But Dan Simmons' four-part Hyperion Cantos is one series that I am glad I took the time to read.

Simmons' detailed writing paints a picture of environments, cultures, technology, and characters that intertwines his imagination with the mind of the reader drawing us into the story as he sees and feels it. The Hyperion Cantos integrates interstellar space travel, time, artificial intelligence, religion, politics, genetic engineering, and more in a way few writers are capable of achieving. If you're a sci-fi fan, this series is a must-read.

The synopsis on the back cover of the first book in the series, which referenced a structure moving backward in time and the pilgrimage of several unique characters to the planet Hyperion, grabbed my attention. But that tidbit, that mere tip of the iceberg, did little to prepare me for the immense and engaging page-turning story that spanned four books and still had me hungry for more when it was over.

Fair warning, in a digital age where our attention is often lost after 400 words of a post, Simmons' highly-detailed and verbose writing style may be hard for some with less patience to embrace.

Download the Kindle book at Amazon

Righteous (An IQ Novel) — Joe Ide

Righteous (An IQ Novel) — Joe Ide

Recommended by Al Sacco, managing editor

Righteous (An IQ Novel) is an awesome recently-released mystery book featuring one of my favorite new protagonists and modern gumshoes, Isaiah Quintabe, a.k.a., "IQ."

Joe's Ide sequel to the first part of his urban mystery series, called just IQ (which I recommended and detailed in August), picks up right where the initial book left off, with IQ trying to help solve a set of minor mysteries for his friends, family and community, while puzzling through his own brother's unsolved murder. It bounces back and forth between settings in Southcentral Los Angeles and the Las Vegas strip like a ball on a roulette wheel mid-spin, and its twisty-turny plotline kept me guessing throughout.

What really makes Ide's novel pop are the quirky and memorable characters, who are hard not to love and loathe in equal parts. The book is funny and intense, silly and serious, and the odd juxtaposition of seemingly incongruous elements reminds me a lot of one of my favorite novelists, Carl Hiaasen.

Ide's series is one of the best book-finds I've come across this year, and I can't wait for the next installment. If you like mysteries with an oddball set of characters who straddle the line between good and bad, you'll love Righteous, too. I promise. But definitely read IQ first.

The Storm Before the Storm: The Beginning of the End of the Roman Republic — Mike Duncan

The Storm Before the Storm: The Beginning of the End of the Roman Republic — Mike Duncan

Recommended by Dan Thorp-Lancaster, staff writer

I'm a big fan of Mike Duncan's excellent history podcast, Revolutions. So, when I found out he was writing a book, I was pretty stoked.

Fittingly called The Storm Before the Storm, the book explores the fall of the Roman Republic. However, rather than treading on the familiar ground of the Republic's end itself, Duncan goes back even further to explore all of the political, social, and economic conditions that would set the stage for the Republic's ultimate demise.

If you're at all interested in significant historical events, The Storm Before the Storm is an engaging read, particularly now because of the somewhat disconcerting parallels to our current times.

Oryx and Crake — Margaret Atwood

Oryx and Crake — Margaret Atwood

Recommended by Cale Hunt, staff writer

Re-reading dystopian novels from your high school years is a ton of fun, especially when a lot of the crazy ideas are now either already in action or are on the horizon.

Atwood is one of my favorite Canadian authors, and I believe Oryx and Crake is my favorite of her work. It follows a protagonist named Snowman, who looks back at how the world became as it is now: hostile and desolate. It's a tale of genetic engineering, prostitution, and revenge that will keep you thinking long after you're finished reading.

If you enjoy Oryx and Crake, be sure to finish off the trilogy with Year of the Flood and MaddAddam.

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.

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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.

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