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

We're about a week away from the longest day of the year, which means there's plenty of time to kick back and enjoy some great content. Wondering exactly where to start when it comes to books, music, and movies? We've rounded up a bunch of recommendations to help you out.

Movies

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

Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Recommended by Jez Corden, senior Xbox editor

Star Wars: The Last Jedi is an odd entry in the Star Wars canon; it takes some liberties with established ideas about what a Star Wars movie should be, particularly so when it comes to use of the Force, and the wider universe affected by the current trilogy's major conflict. It's a flawed movie, deeply so, but it has some truly explosive moments, great battles, and morsels of nostalgia long-time fans will relish. It's well worth a watch, but I think you'd really need to be a big franchise fan to really enjoy this one.

The Witch

Recommended by Dan Thorp-Lancaster, staff writer

I've been in the mood for a good horror movie recently, but have had a heck of a time picking one. Then I saw The Witch pop up while browsing and wondered how the heck it passed me by at its release in 2016.

The Witch explores the dark world of witchcraft and black magic through the eyes of a family in 17th century New England. After a farmer and his family are forced to resettle at the edge of a forest that has all of the creepy vibes you'd expect from a horror film, their whole world starts to implode as the farmer's crops fail, the wildlife starts acting strange, and one of the children starts showing signs of possession.

I love period horror flicks largely because the ways of life shown in them feels so alien to our modern sensibilities, which only adds to the unease. I'm planning to give The Witch a watch over the weekend, and I don't doubt it will live up to my expectations.

Kingsman: The Secret Service

Recommended by Richard Devine, reviews editor

At times, Kingsman: The Secret Service is so bad it's utterly brilliant. Starring the most British of actors (outside perhaps Hugh Grant), Colin Firth, Kingsman is a secret spy agency protecting the world from evil. In this case, the evil is Richmond Valentine, played by Samuel L Jackson. There's action, humour, and a strong dose of all things British.

Coco

Recommended by Al Sacco, managing editor

I'm a sucker for a good animated or CGI flick. And Coco, from Disney/Pixar, is just that. In fact, I'd say it's a great movie. And for some reason, it seems to have kind of been overlooked by critics when it was released last year. Or at least I hadn't heard much about it.

Coco is the story of a family in Mexico celebrating the Day of the Dead holiday, or Día de Muertos. The star of the show, Coco, is a small boy whose dream is to become a musician. But because his great grandfather apparently had run out on his family to pursue a career in music, the very concept of music was effectively banned by the family. When Coco also decides to run away to follow his dream, he finds himself in a sticky situation … which includes crossing over from the land of the living to the afterlife.

And that afterlife (as pictured by Pixar) turns out to be extremely colorful, stylized and just plain cool looking. Coco is a beautiful film — visually and narratively — and it's especially spectacular if you have a 4K TV. (It's available digitally in 4K, too).

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

Recommended by Cale Hunt, staff writer

After reading Hunter S. Thompson's novel last week, I had to go back and rewatch the movie rendition starring Johnny Depp and Benicio Del Toro. It's pretty accurate to the book, keeping the main message intact while also taking a few liberties that no doubt cut down on time.

It's also a visually impressive movie, with plenty of warped scenes attempting to portray what it's like to be on various kinds of drugs. The acting is likewise spot on, but I'm not sure if I like Bill Murray's portrayal of Thompson in Where the Buffalo Roam better.

Music

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

The Essential John Denver

Recommended by Richard Devine, reviews editor

I'm not ashamed to say I've been listening to one track more than any other this week, and various different versions of it. Thanks to Bethesda and Fallout 76, "Take Me Home, Country Roads" has been everywhere. That version isn't going on sale until July but there's never a bad time to crack on the original by John Denver. And sing very loudly.


Up from Below — Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros

Recommended by Cale Hunt, staff writer

It's warming up in the frozen waste of Canada, and that means I dip back into feel-good indie-folk music while I enjoy the warm breeze. Up from Below is a 2009 album from Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros that features some of their most popular songs, including '40 Day Dream,' 'Janglin,' and 'Home.'

The band is made up of a lot of people, and there are a lot of layers to the sound. It's fun, it's relaxing, and it's an album that you can listen to all the way through.


Books

Here are the books we're reading this week!

Noir: A Novel — Christopher Moore

Recommended by Al Sacco, managing editor

I'd never heard of author Christopher Moore before stumbling across his new novel, Noir, in my local bookstore, and I probably wouldn't have picked it up if the cover hadn't grabbed me. It features an early 1900s blonde woman in the classic 'pinup' style, the shadow of the Golden Gate Bridge, and just a hint of a tattoo-flash snake's tail, all of which piqued my interest — I love a tale with a good 'sad-luck dame;' I love the city by the bay; and I appreciate old-school tattoo art. And those three images sum up Moore's book quite well.

It's a comedic and satirical take on classic American pulp novels, and it features a smooth-talking bartender, his quirky cast of friends (and enemies), every one of which is always on the lookout for an easy buck, a black mamba snake. And aliens. It's gritty, weird, funny, ironic, and ultra-stylized. And it's truly unique, something you can't say about most noir novels.

The best thing about Noir is the writing. Moore eloquently paints detailed pictures of San Francisco's various neighborhoods as the story progress through them, and his love for the back alleys, beaches and bridges is evident. Noir is the first Moore book I've read, but it won't be the last.


The Orenda — Joseph Boyden

Recommended by Cale Hunt, staff writer

Despite the controversy surrounding author Joseph Boyden and his claims of indigenous heritage, The Orenda has had me hooked from the very start. It takes place in Canada during the 17th century, when French missionaries join a Huron tribe alongside a young female Iroquois captive.

The story is violent, brutal, sad, and deeply affecting. We're told this story from the three separate viewpoints, each with separate beliefs and separate goals that often intersect. It's a retelling of early Canadian history that a lot of people prefer to ignore or excuse, and I know how the overall story ends. Still, I'm dying to find out what happens to these three characters.


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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