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

The holiday season is in full swing and we have some media recommendations to help ring it in.

We've been extra busy this week getting ready for the holiday, and we're looking forward to sitting back this weekend to enjoy some downtime. What better way to relax than with some great tunes, a quality movie, or a real page turner? If you can't decide what to enjoy, check out what Team Windows Central recommends!

TV and movies

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

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Recommended by Richard Devine, reviews editor

It's Star Wars week, so of course, it's another excuse if ever one were needed to watch back the current movies. In particular, it's been a week to rewatch The Force Awakens, which if you still somehow haven't seen, do so immediately. This is how you reboot Star Wars, with nostalgia and future intertwined. And it sets you up for The Last Jedi, of course.

See at Microsoft Store

Star Wars: The Digital Six Film Collection

Recommended by Rich Edmonds, staff reviewer

With episode eight just coming out now, it's the perfect time to get caught up with the Star Wars universe. This box set offers episodes one through six (you'll need to fetch episode seven separately), consisting of all the George Lucas classics. Also handy for getting the younglings into Star Wars this Christmas.

See at Microsoft Store

The Deuce

Recommended by Al Sacco, managing editor

HBO's The Wire is one of the greatest TV series of all time. So when I watched the trailer for that network's The Deuce, from David Simon, maker of The Wire, and I saw that it immediately looks and feels somewhat similar, I was sold. And I started counting down the days until the first episode aired.

Fast-forward to today, and the entire first season is available. The show tackles the adult film industry, and the sex trade in general, in New York City's red light district — Times Square — in the 1970s. And it's as gritty, violent, offensive and just plain ugly as those times must have been … though it also tends to glamourize it a bit, as you'd expect. It's easy to walk through Times Square these days and forget its sordid history. After you watch The Deuce, that will change.

The best thing about the show is the cast. And James Franco plays twin brothers, so he's often on camera as two different characters at the same time. This is hardly a new film technique, but it often either goes very wrong or very right. And so far, Franco's characters fall into the latter camp. Other noteworthy actresses and actors including Maggie Gyllenhaal, who is excellent, and Method Man, as well as many familiar faces from The Wire.

This show isn't for folks with thin skins, but it's right up there with my favorite shows of the year. And it's beautifully binge-worthy.

See at Microsoft Store

Bad Santa

Recommended by Cale Hunt, staff writer

Bad Santa certainly isn't a movie for the entire family. It's the story of a professional (read: drunk) thief who masquerades as a mall Santa in order to gain access to the holiday haul inside the mall's safe. Billy Bob Thornton seems like he was born to play Bad Santa, a.k.a., Willie Stokes, and the cast is rounded out by Tony Cox, Lauren Graham, and the late Bernie Mac and John Ritter.

While working the mall angle, Stokes meets a hapless young man who's easily taken advantage of due to the fact that he thinks he's the real Santa. Does this movie end like most movies with everyone hugging on Christmas morning? Probably not. But maybe. You'll just have to watch.

See at Microsoft Store

Music

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

Christmas Songs — Bad Religion

Christmas Songs — Bad Religion

Recommended by Richard Devine, staff reviewer

Tis the season! Festive songs are on rotation again while we can still fill our ears, but that doesn't have to mean Mariah Carey until you can't take it anymore. If you like things a little, well, louder, Bad Religion's Christmas Songs might be just the ticket. You've never heard carols like this before.

See at Microsoft Store See at Amazon See at iTunes


Christmas With Weezer — Weezer

Christmas With Weezer — Weezer

Recommended by Al Sacco, managing editor

In general, I'm not a huge fan of Christmas music, especially the religious stuff. However, when Rivers Cuomo, lead singer of '90s alternative phenom Weezer makes it, the tables turn … or at least shift a little bit.

Weezer takes on many of the Christmas classics you know and love (or maybe hate). And the band does so with respect for the originals but also with its own unique style, so they sound like Weezer tunes, albeit more … holiday-y.

It's a short album, or EP, with only six songs. But it's surprisingly well done. And it's been on my Christmas playlist since I first heard it the early 2010s. For me the standout track is probably 'Hark! The Herald Angels Sing,' which is odd, because I really don't like the original. But that's the magic of Weezer's album; it takes traditional music, flips it upside, and in some ways, comes up with something better, or at least more unique.

See at Microsoft Store See at Amazon See at iTunes


A Very She & Him Christmas — She & Him

A Very She & Him Christmas — She & Him

Recommended by Cale Hunt, staff writer

She & Him is an indie rock band consisting of M. Ward and Zooey Deschanel. I've been a long-time fan of Ward's work, with the soft, sort-of-raspy vocals and simple-yet-complicated guitar playing, so I was sort of skeptical when I heard he was teaming up with Zooey Deschanel.

No worries here. Her beautiful voice is the perfect mix for Ward's, and their collection of albums, including a few Christmas numbers, is always good for a listen. There's nothing new here; instead, you get their take on a bunch of classic holiday songs we all know and love.

See at Microsoft Store See at Amazon See at iTunes


Books

Here are the books we're reading this week!

It Can't Happen Here — Sinclair Lewis

It Can't Happen Here — Sinclair Lewis

Recommended by Dan Thorp-Lancaster, staff writer

Anyone who has been paying attention to the political climate over the past couple of years has likely heard casual references to It Can't Happen Here sprinkled into conversation from the talking heads on TV, and there's good reason for that. Without diving too much into politics, there are some striking parallels with modern times to be found – depending on your viewpoint.

Told from the view of a small town newspaper editor, It Can't Happen Here chronicles what the rise of fascism might look like in the United States. First published in 1935, the novel was written at a time when fascism was on the rise in Europe and was of very real concern. The novel is humorous at times, and frightening at others, but Lewis's skillful prose shines throughout.

I first read It Can't Happen Here in college and enjoyed it immensely. Sure, some of its elements are wholly of their time, but no matter your political bent, It Can't Happen Here is an interesting read.

See at Microsoft Store Download the Kindle book at Amazon Download the Audible audio book at Amazon


MaddAddam — Margaret Atwood

MaddAddam — Margaret Atwood

Recommended by Cale Hunt, staff writer

Finishing off the trilogy I've been working on for a few weeks now is MaddAddam by Canadian author Margaret Atwood. After seeing how Snowman came to be Snowman following the Waterless Flood, we were then introduced in the second book to God's Gardeners and how they dealt with the catastrophe.

MaddAddam is the continuation of the story of God's Gardeners, and I honestly can't wait to get through it. Atwood is one of my favorite writers, and I can't believe it's taken me this long to tackle the second and third offerings in this awesome trilogy.

See at Microsoft Store 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