What to play, watch, listen to, and read this weekend

Screenshot: Everything/David OReilly
Screenshot: Everything/David OReilly

The video game to play

Everything

Everything doesn’t play nice with our expectations for games—namely, that they challenge us or tell us a traditional story. It’s almost a procedural essay, using a series of monologues from the Buddhist philosopher Alan Watts to explore the nature of existence. You’re not transferring from object to object as if they were cars in Grand Theft Auto but gradually exploring the oneness of all of them. It’s a conceptual conceit that the game effortlessly holds together in all of its language choices. (‘You are Blue Spruce,’ it announces, or ‘You are Can Of Soda.’) Paired with gentle generative music, including somber organs and quivering sci-fi synthesizers, it can be quietly moving, mind-expanding stuff—assuming you’re up for playing it on its terms.”
Read more of our thoughts on Everything here.

The movie to watch

The Blackcoat’s Daughter

Photo: A24

The Blackcoat’s Daughter is a clammy hand on the back of the neck, a chill running down the spine, a shot of ice water straight to the veins. Every moment, almost every shot, has been carefully calibrated to stand hairs on end. […] Like a lot of first features, this one betrays obvious influences. There are shades of David Lynch in its dream-logic unease, of John Carpenter in its suspenseful application of off-screen space, of The Shining in its ominous establishing shots. And, of course, any evil events going down at a girls school are going to evoke Suspiria, one of the more terrifying triumphs of style over substance. This auspicious, belatedly released debut breathes the frosty air of its genre ancestors; it’s also a kindred spirit, in artisanal spookiness, to fellow A24 release The Witch. But [director Osgood] Perkins carves out his own identity. Scoring scares through suffocating mood, he finds fright in stillness, quiet, and isolation—the elements that make his movies feel like lying alone and awake in a dark house, letting your mind play tricks on you.”
Read our full review here.

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The album to listen to

Pile, A Hairshirt Of Purpose

“No two Pile albums are alike, and that’s what makes hitting play on a new one so exciting. Those first few notes open a door to a new world, one that could only be created by frontman Rick Maguire. With Pile, Maguire is fearless, willing to take country and bluegrass riffs and twist them around noisy post-hardcore and art-rock movements. It’s music that is, at times, wildly uncomfortable. But its form matches the intent. Unlike the albums that directly precede A Hairshirt Of Purpose—2012’s Dripping and 2015’s You’re Better Than This—Pile pulls away from its embrace of loud, chaotic rock songs and swings its weight toward beautiful, downtrodden blues. While it’s not the bluesy stomp and swagger of, say, The Black Keys, Maguire’s playing accentuates his ability to fingerpick, messing with a song’s open spaces and pulling in discordant yet harmonious notes. The result is the most meditative record since Pile’s full-band debut, Jerk Routine, but with a more confident group of musicians at the helm.”
Read the rest of our review here.

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The TV show to watch

Harlots

Samantha Morton (Photo: Hulu)

“A morality play this isn’t—Harlots may feature characters who are deemed sinners and those who presume to be saints, but they regularly switch positions, rendering any judgment moot. Series creators Moira Buffini and Alison Newman have combined their prestige drama and soap opera sensibilities to produce a scintillating confection, one that’s distractingly pretty and frequently gripping. The show’s sexual politics are on full display along with all the heaving bosoms and quivering buttocks. Its story centers on women, with men really only showing up to make trouble. A power struggle between two madams, played by Samantha Morton and Lesley Manville, is at the center of all the corsetry and intrigue. While their feud encapsulates the moral and economical debates, there are several side stories that offer rich opportunities for the rest of the cast, which includes Downton Abbey’s Jessica Brown Findlay.”
Read the rest of our review here.

The podcast to listen to

Doughboys, “Tournament Of Chompions: McDonald’s V. Popeyes With Armen Weitzman

“Munch Madness 2017 moves into the semifinals this week as Mike Mitchell, Nick Wiger, and returning guest Armen Weitzman must determine whose chicken reigns supreme in a battle between McDonald’s and Popeyes. Weitzman is a devoted Chicken McNuggets fan, and his love for the product and characteristic willingness to be achingly sincere makes this his most enjoyable appearance yet. The crux of the episode is when it comes time for the pivotal vote and Mitchell decides to wreak havoc on the process by using his ‘switch’ to flip the game, which only instigates Wiger to fight back with his own—because what’s a Tournament Of Chompions without a little chaos?”
Read about the rest of the week’s best podcasts here.

The book to read

John Oates, Change Of Seasons

Image: Marcus Nuccio

“Even with its reflections on personal responsibility, Change Of Seasons is a charming, almost breezy retrospective. It’s obvious John Oates has always been in his element as a storyteller, whether he was strumming along with the anecdotes or diligently documenting them to put into book form. In his afterword, Chris Epting notes that dedication, and again, the consideration of Oates’ longtime collaborator and friend. But ultimately, Change Of Seasons is Oates’ moment in the spotlight, which he handles with aplomb.”
Read the rest of our review here.