The final weekend in January has already arrived and you might want to slow things down a bit with some great tunes, a quality movie, or a real page turner. Don't know where to start? Check out these recommendations from Team Windows Central.
TV and movies
Here are some of the movies and TV shows Windows Central is enjoying this week.
The Big Sick
Recommended by Dan Thorp-Lancaster, staff writer
After months of planning to watch The Big Sick and then subsequently forgetting, I'm finally going to sit down and watch it this week. And I can largely thank the Academy Awards for that: The Big Sick just received the honor of being nominated for Best Original Screenplay.
In a broad sense, The Big Sick is a story of relationships, focusing mainly on that of Pakistan-born comedian Kumail and grad student Emily, but also on the resulting clash of cultures between their families. Things ratchet up when Emily is stricken with a serious illness and is placed into a medically-induced coma. Kumail then has to deal with tending to Emily, managing relationships with both her family and his own, and coming to terms with his feelings.
I plan to dive into The Big Sick this weekend, but I'm already really looking forward to it based on the high praise it has received for being both a comedic riot and sincerely heartfelt. Knowing that the film is based on the true story of the relationship between co-writers Emily V. Gordon and Kumail Nanjiani also adds an extra layer of intrigue. Plus, I'm already a pretty big fan of Nanjiani's other work (big shout out to Silicon Valley).
Recommended by Mark Guim, video editor
This movie was a lot more interesting than I expected. It's a story about Barry Seal, a TWA pilot, who is recruited by the CIA to provide reconnaissance on the communist threat in Central America. He soon finds himself in charge of one of the biggest covert CIA operations in the history of the United States. One of my favorite scenes is when Seal couldn't find any more space in his backyard to bury money because there wasn't any space inside the house either. Go watch it!
Recommended by Zac Bowden, senior editor
This week I recommend Flatliners. It's a movie about a group of students who experiment dying and coming back to life, except doing so can have some serious effects on living.
Recommended by Jez Corden, senior Xbox editor
Imagine if an episode of South Park was a live action movie, and you might get something like BASEketball. Made by, and starring South Park creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker, BASEketball is all about a ridiculous sport that takes America by storm.
How will this ridiculous movie pan out? Crammed full with laughter, joy, intrigue, and betrayal, BASEketball is a modern masterpiece that should have won several academy awards, but for some reason, didn't. Is there no justice?
Recommended by Rich Edmonds, staff reviewer
The Conjuring is one of my favorite horror series of films and the first one is just shy of perfection. Combining thriller with mystery, viewers are in for a treat when they strap themselves to their seats and enjoy the tense build up and well executed jump scares.
The Last Man on Earth
Recommended by Cale Hunt, staff writer
It seems like most people either love or hate Will Forte, and while I used to be more on the latter side, watching the first season of The Last Man of Earth has brought me around.
Forte plays a character named Phil Miller, and following some sort of virus, he believes he's the last human living on Earth. I feel like the show portrays a pretty realistic vision of what post-human Earth would look like, with Miller not caring much about anything, going so far as to create a margarita pool next to his toilet pool and using a pistol to open the glass doors of shops.
As the season progresses, Miller realizes he isn't in fact the last person on Earth, and his plotting to become the Alpha male of the group is quite hilarious.
Here's some of the music the Windows Central team is listening to this week.
Poet | Artist — Jonghyun
Recommended by Matt Brown, Xbox editor
Last year ended with the unexpected passing of Jonghyun, a South Korean artist best known for his role in SHINee, and his solo discography. Poet | Artist is a posthumous album which was reportedly in the works in the weeks leading up to his death, and following recent events, has been released in tribute. While originally planned as a traditional album, Poet | Artist now serves as a final parting gift with fans. All profits from the album are being distributed to Jonghyun's mother, to fund the foundation of an organization helping individuals in difficult circumstances.
Know Your Enemy — Manic Street Preachers
Recommended by Richard Devine, reviews editor
The Manic Street Preachers are one of my favorite bands and 2001's Know Your Enemy I feel gets unfairly looked over when considering their best work. I'd forgotten how much I love it until Spotify served up a couple of tracks randomly and now it's back playing on repeat.
Earthtones — Bahamas
Recommended by Cale Hunt, staff writer
I was introduced to Canadian musician Afie Jurvanen — also known as Bahamas — quite awhile ago when his second album, Barchords, was released. Earthtones is his fourth album and was released only about a week ago.
Earthtones continues with his standard sound, and he does a bit of looking back at his life since he took on the Bahamas moniker. I've been lucky enough to see him live five or six times, and I'm anticipating the tour to promote his latest.
Here are the books we're reading this week!
The Likeness — Tana French
Recommended by Al Sacco, managing editor
The second book in Irish author Tana French's Dublin Murder Squad series (after the first novel, In the Woods, The Likeness is an immersive mystery set in the Irish countryside outside Dublin.
The main protagonist, Cassie Maddox, is a former undercover cop, who moved to the Dublin homicide department where a high-profile case went wrong, leading her to transfer to the less stressful city domestic violence division. But Maddox is yanked back into the worlds of undercover agents and murder detectives when she's summoned to a rural crime scene where the victim looks exactly like her … and who also happens to have assumed one of her former undercover identities. The rest of the plot is about figuring out how and why.
That's the basic premise, and it's a good one. But it's the unique setting, quirky "Irish-isms" and French's poetic and original writing style that really set the book apart. You probably want to read In the Woods first, but The Likeness is written in a way that draws on that first novel but also stands on its own, so you could read it without making your way through the first one if you wanted to. It's a good read that'll hook you quick.
The Great Hunt — Robert Jordan
Recommended by Cale Hunt, staff writer
Last week I recommended the first book in the Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan. While I only planned on reading it and not continuing — it's a 14-book series that has its fair share of flaws — the nostalgia was too much for me to not pick up the second, The Great Hunt.
This continues the story of Rand, Perrin, and Mat as they discover who they truly are in a fictional, fantasy world that has an evil wave threatening to overrun it. This is classic fantasy stuff, and love it or hate it, it's a ton of content and a satisfying story when it finally wraps up 12 books later.
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.
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