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

Another week, another weekend, and we're looking forward to sitting back and relaxing. If you're wondering what to enjoy, we put together this list of recommendations from our team that includes movies, music, books, and TV shows.

TV and movies

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

American Vandal

Recommended by Brendan Lowry, contributing writer

American Vandal is a satirical mockumentary that follows an investigation into Dylan Maxwell, a high school student notorious for causing mischief. All of the vehicles in the parking lot of his school have been vandalized and the faculty immediately writes Dylan off as the culprit, but after the situation is further scrutinized by Peter Maldonado, a fellow student, it becomes unclear who the guilty party is.

American Vandal is a wonderful show that highlights the dangers of bias, stereotyping, and making assumptions about people in today's society, yet it does it in a lighthearted, comedic manner that keeps the program equally entertaining and impactful.

See at Netflix

Blue Planet II

Recommended by Jez Corden, senior Xbox editor

Blue Planet II is a documentary series from the leading BBC Natural History Unit, narrated by the legendary naturalist David Attenborough. It focuses on the world's ocean habitats and the diverse life that dwells there.

The first series won praise for its stunning oceanic cinematography, including the complexity and difficulty of some of the scenes captured by the team. It's not often a documentary comes around that is as informative, as entertaining, and as beautiful as Blue Planet, but it has at least happened twice.

Airing right now, Blue Planet II is available as a TV pass on Movies & TV, bringing even more thrills, crazy creatures, and never-before-seen animal behaviors that will make you rethink the depth of the natural world. Nobody can do this as well as the BBC.

See at Microsoft Store

Get Out

Recommended by Al Sacco, managing editor

I love me a good horror flick, the key word there being good. Problem is, most horror movies today suck. They're lazy, poorly written, and rely on gore and shock value instead of genuinely scary stories and tense psychological situations. Get Out breaks this pattern in glorious fashion, and it's one of the better horror movies I've seen in years. It's smart and extremely well thought out, expertly paced, there's literally almost no blood in it, and it's genuinely creepy and memorable.

Get Out is the story of an African-American guy who's dating a Caucasian gal, and who travels with her to 'meet the parents' way out in the middle of nowhere. It's an awkward situation to begin with, but when the parents turn out to be just a little too friendly (at least at first), and they start to ask some odd questions, things get strange very quickly, and the protagonist finds himself on his own in a life or death situation.

The film uses social stigmas and awkward stereotypes to create discomfort and unease, which adds to the overall atmosphere. It combines hints of two of my all-time favorite scary movies, In the Mouth of Madness and Reanimator to deliver a flick that fans of classic '70s and '80s horror films will truly appreciate.

And as a bonus, Get Out is literally jampacked with Microsoft gadgets, from Lumias to Surfaces. Can you say "product placement?"

See at Microsoft Store

The Pacific

Recommended by Cale Hunt, staff writer

After watching Band of Brothers last week, I naturally carried on to watch The Pacific. In my opinion, it's nowhere near as good as the former miniseries, but it's nevertheless worth watching.

Instead of the European theater, The Pacific is set in the Pacific theater of WWII, following the war as it travels from Guadalcanal to Iwo Jima to Okinawa. It's bloody, it's violent, and it gives you plenty to think about. If you enjoyed Band of Brothers, definitely check this out.

See at Microsoft Store


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

We Are Not Alone — Breaking Benjamin

We Are Not Alone — Breaking Benjamin

Recommended by Rich Edmonds, staff reviewer

I've been a longtime fan of Breaking Benjamin, whom I discovered through Halo 2 when the band was featured with the track "Blow Me Away." If you're a fan of rock. and excellent, catchy tracks, you will love this album.

Relationship Of Command — At The Drive-In

Relationship Of Command — At The Drive-In

Recommended by Dan Thorp-Lancaster, staff writer

This week, I traveled back in time a bit and have been listening to one of my absolute favorite albums ever: Relationship Of Command by At The Drive-In. I didn't get into At The Drive-In until a few years after this album was released (age, and all that), but it's still hard to believe this thing is 17 years old.

'One Armed Scissor' is the obvious highlight track that many will remember from Relationship Of Command, but the whole album is a fantastic cacophony of energetic guitars, frenetic vocals, and, at times, beautiful moodiness. Relationship Of Command is widely regarded as At The Drive-In's peak, and the album still holds up great all these years later.

It's too bad the band broke up not long after the album was released, but they would go on to re-form and release new music much later, with an 11-track album called in•ter a•li•a in 2017.

Heaven Adores You Soundtrack — Elliott Smith

Heaven Adores You Soundtrack — Elliott Smith

Recommended by Al Sacco, managing editor

Elliott Smith is one of my all-time favorite musicians, and this compilation of rare tunes, remixes and live versions of his most popular songs, assembled for a documentary based on his life, is a perfect example of why.

Smith is most known for his two songs that appeared during heartfelt moments in the 1998 hit film Good Will Hunting. Other than that, he somewhat surprisingly stayed behind the scenes of popular music until his untimely death in 2003 at the age of 34.

Sometimes described as sounding like a mix of Paul Simon's voice and Bob Dylan's lyrics, Smith's often melancholy music embodies the U.S. Pacific Northwest in the '90s, and Portland, Ore., in particular, where he made his home.

Smith's music is perfect for a long car ride on a gloomy day, or in a coffee shop with a warm cup of Joe, where it's played to this day in countless cafes across America and beyond. If you're not familiar with his work, Heaven Adores You is a great place to start.

Introduce Yerself — Gord Downie

Introduce Yerself — Gord Downie

Recommended by Cale Hunt, staff writer

Finished just before his death in October 2017, Introduce Yerself is Canadian singer/songwriter Gord Downie's final solo album. Featuring 23 songs, each one is focused on a different important person he knew in his life.

You can't help feeling a bit of what he felt toward these people thanks to his always insightful lyrics, and it's overall quite an ethereal experience that's a real trip.

If you enjoy Downie's work, whether solo or with The Tragically Hip, you're probably going to enjoy this one, too.


Here are the books we're reading this week!

The Corrections — Jonathan Franzen

The Corrections — Jonathan Franzen

Recommended by Cale Hunt, staff writer

Franzen has a gift for capturing family life in his novels, and The Corrections is a perfect example of this skill.

It follows the Lambert family as it plans on meeting one last time for a classic Christmas dinner. Each family member's life is revealed as the novel progresses, and it becomes apparent why they're having so many problems in current life.

This is a story that no doubt echoes the issues that plenty of families in Western culture experience, and it is full of Franzen's masterful writing.

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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