The best movies, TV shows, books, and music we’re listening to in isolation

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Android TV interface

Android TV interface

Source: Android Central

March felt more like a year than a month. This year has felt like a decade. We’re all stuck inside with a lot of extra time to think and fret, yes, but also consume. Here are the movies, music, TV shows, and books that we’re enjoying right now. And when you’re done with this list, let us know what entertainment you’re enjoying right now.

I first fell in love with the book (no, I’m not being snooty) back when it first came out as a free download, and then when I saw the poster in my local Alamo Drafthouse, I was psyched. For me, it was one of those rare films that met or exceeded the book. I think it’s particularly relevant now, as it’s all about an isolated person making the most with what he has, and surviving despite harsh odds. And best of all, it has a happy ending (spoilers).

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-Jeramy Johnson

Being stuck at home means I have the time to revisit the almost 8-hour long Hobbit trilogy, and I’m actually loving it the second time around. Bilbo, Gandalf, the dwarves and the entire cast is excellent as is the storytelling and even if you’re a Tolkien die-hard you’ll still be on the edge of your seat. Yes I know it’s not 100% faithful to the book but I also know it is 100% entertaining, and that’s what matters to me.

-Jerry “Gollum” Hildenbrand

I’m always in the mood for some good triumphs over evil action in the best of times, and a vibrantly animated Disney adventure with a healthcare providing robot just seemed like the perfect thing to schedule for this weekend. I’ve watched it a few years back, but there’s nothing wrong with a refresher.

-Michael Allison

Knives Out is a whodunit where we learn whodunit in the first act. What follows is a madcap dark comedy that exposes just how far people are willing to go to keep what they think is theirs. Intrigue, betrayal, dark humor, and Daniel Craig’s best Foghorn Leghorn impression are sure to entertain you. Ana de Armas (Blade Runner 2049) is a standout performance.

It’s not yet available on a streaming service, but it is available to rent or buy. And I’m really suggesting buy on this one.

-Matt Stanley

Andrew Myrick

At first glance, this just looked like another meme-worthy series that everyone would be freaking out about. And granted, everyone was freaking out about it but for good reason. There are twists and turns that you can kind of see coming, and then something else happens that catches you off guard. It’s absolutely fascinating to see this side of the world and to learn about how expansive the “big cat” business is in the US. And yes, I’ve binged all the episodes already.

Carli Velocci

Tiger King might be the perfect Netflix, true-crime documentary. It has everything: a look into a subculture many might not be aware of, petty squabbles that turn into attempted murder, infighting, animals, twists and turns, cults, a presidential run, and subpar country music about tigers.

The eight-episode limited series follows the story of Joseph Schreibvogel Maldonado-Passage — a.k.a. Joe Exotic — as he runs his private zoo and big cat collection in rural Oklahoma and the many characters he runs up against. This includes Carole Baskin, the owner of a big cat sanctuary in Florida who becomes the target of Joe’s obsession in a murder-for-hire plot. She also may have killed her husband, but that’s not even the central plot of the show.

While the filmmakers seem to be unable to separate their own obsession with this cast of characters with their set goal to expose the big cat trade in the U.S., they’ve still created a truly wild ride into a world filled with egos. It’s addictive and will pull you through the eight episodes so quickly you won’t even realize you’ve been stuck inside for days.

Joe Maring

I’m only one episode into Tiger King so far, but I’m already hooked and cannot wait to binge the remaining six episodes of this new limited series on Netflix. From the same studio behind the excellent Fyre documentary, Tiger King dives into the world of exotic big cat ownership (something I had no idea was even a thing) — specifically around a man called “Joe Exotic.” There are drug lords, attempted murders, cults, you name it. It’s such a niche topic and shouldn’t work as well as it does, but once again, Netflix is proving that it’s the king when it comes to addicting documentaries.

The Good Place is another funny, yet touching show that focuses on redemption, friendship, and making the world a better place. I think those are all good messages right now. Bonus is that it has fantastic writing, acting, and comedic timing.

-Jeramy Johnson

If you’re not already watching Castlevania, you’re missing out on one of the best shows Netflix has to offer right now. The animation is impeccable, the characters are interesting, and there’s never a dull moment. It’s a shame the seasons are so short, but that only makes for tightly focused episodes that leave little room for pointless filler. It has Dracula’s half-vampire son fighting alongside a monster hunter and a magician against the demonic forces of hell. What’s not to love?

-Jennifer Locke

A pirate french chef transforms into an invisible power ranger to take on a dinosaur who’s also a pirate in Edo-Japan in the last episode and that’s just the kind of fun needed to relax on weekends. The series is currently on its Wano Country arc, the perfect jumping-on point for new-comers (with recaps aplenty in the episodes just prior to the dismay of old-timers) as it tilts towards its climax.

-Michael Allison

Loathe — I Let It In and It Took Everything

Loathe’s new album captures everything I love about modern metal. It moves a bit away from the band’s more metalcore roots into a more haunting, melancholic sound that screams Deftones at times, with plenty of disgustingly heavy moments thrown in. Every single track has me gripped, and this is an easy contender for my favorite album of the year.

-Hayato Huseman

Dua Lipa — Physical

I’ll fess up, I’m a Dua Lipa fan. The energy in her songs can never fail to be a source of pick-me-up energy. New Rules did it in 2017, Electricity did it in 2018, and Physical’s doing it now in 2020.

-Michael Allison

Ashe — Moral of the Story: Chapter 1

I discovered Ashe when I found out she going to be touring with AJR at a concert later this year (that’ll probably get canceled 🙃), and wanting to familiarize myself with her music before said concert, I dived into her EP that came out in 2019. The entire EP is basically Ashe talking through her divorce, with Moral of the Story being the song that gets especially personal and really cranks up the emotions. There is so much heart and honesty in these songs, not to mention the outstanding vocals. Once you’re done listening to Chapter 1, do yourself a favor and check out Chapter 2. You’ll thank me later.

-Joe Maring

Children of Men cover

Children of Men cover

Source: Amazon

The year is 2021, England has been overtaken by a tyrannical dictatorship, and for the past 20-some years, an unidentified plague has made humans infertile.

Politics aside, this is a great book. The narrator (who happens to be a cousin of England’s evil ruler) and a quasi-military political group called the Five Fishes are trying to bring a return to normal life without a tyrant at the helm, but civilization has little interest because everyone knows that humanity will soon be eradicated.

It’s a great read with an odd tie-in to these trying times.

_ -Jerry Hildenbrand_

Carry the ocean cover

Carry the ocean cover

Source: Amazon

Carry The Ocean is a sweet romance between two neuro-atypical characters who are working to get over their hangups with everyday life before they can get with each other. I’m just some 50 pages in, so I can’t say more than that. I hope it’ll have a happy ending, but I’m not peeking.

-Michael Allison

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