A DOZEN COOL THINGS TO SEE, HEAR, READ AND DOWNLOAD THIS WEEK
FOR ADDITIONAL REVIEWS OF MOVIES, TV SHOWS, MUSIC AND BOOKS, GO TO PEOPLE.COM
No. 1 Taylor Swift, 1989
Unsurprisingly, she delivers another album full of hits
It’s official. Taylor Swift has ditched the country-crossover act for good and is now embracing her new persona, which is straight-up pop star—and an exceptional one at that. All of the songs on her fifth studio album could be chart-toppers—no shock, given her own songwriting talents and the fact that she enlisted megaproducers Ryan Tedder and Max Martin to pitch in here. “Shake It Off” and “Welcome to New York” (a fun ode to the place where she has put down some roots over the past year) are the most upbeat of the bunch, while the others are mostly more downtempo love songs. (In fact love, and love gone awry, seem to be recurring themes here.) The title refers to the year Swift was ushered onto this planet, but she’s also said the ’80s were a big inspiration when making the album. 1989 does almost sound like the second coming of Madonna‘s Like a Prayer—also out in 1989. (Oct. 27)
No. 2 Sam Hunt, Montevallo
Former college quarterback Hunt, who’s helped write hits for the likes of Keith Urban and Kenny Chesney, has arrived with his own debut album. Montevallo infuses Hunt’s natural twang with a bit of rock-rap edge—this is country music served with a side of grit. (Oct. 27)
No. 3 Death Comes to Pemberley
Based on a P.D. James novel, this Masterpiece Mystery picks up where Pride and Prejudice ended—and drives off in directions that would have given Jane Austen pleasurable jolts. (You can imagine one of her characters: “They are called frissons, Mama.”) Fitzwilliam and Elizabeth Darcy (The Americans’ Matthew Rhys and Anna Maxwell Martin) are throwing a ball, but a murder has been inconveniently committed out in the woods. This satisfying whodunit also heightens some of the harsh social truths implicit in Austen’s delicately stinging books. (PBS, Oct. 26, check local listings)
No. 4 Drumline: A New Beat
VH1 reboots the 2002 marching-band cult classic
Drumline star Nick Cannon returns as producer of this made-for-TV reboot—a campy-fun portrait of an Atlanta marching band seen through the eyes of its women. Leading this exuber-ant freshman crew: Dani (Alexandra Shipp), a well-to-do Brooklynite who avoids her parents’ top colleges to enroll at southern A&T, where she dreams of becoming the band’s first female section leader. Between scenes of family feuds and campus shenanigans, Drumline choreographs some seriously impressive dance moves. (VH1, Oct. 27, 9 p.m.)
No. 5 Listen Up Philip
A marvelous character study of one moody writer
Philip (Jason Schwartzman) is a buffoon. He’s a writer with a hit debut novel, but he doubts his own talent and over-compensates by following in the footsteps of his writing idol, who retreats from reality to perfect his prose. Ditching his girlfriend (Elisabeth Moss) and his publisher, Philip elbows everyone important out of his life and embarks on a darkly ironic detour into despair. (NR, in limited release)
No. 6 Alpha House
John Goodman, as a senator who responds to political crises by thundering or napping—if he could do both at the same time, he would—remains very much the center of this lively Washington, D.C., comedy. Season 2 starts with a nice gag about folk painter George Bush. (Amazon Prime, available Oct. 24)
No. 7 Citizenfour
Anonymous, encrypted e-mails. Clandestine Hong Kong rendezvous. A deluge of top-secret documents about government surveillance. Laura Poitras’s thrilling eye-opener goes behind locked doors to capture history unfolding in real time—a whistle-blower is revealed, and a nation reels. (In limited release)
BOOK OF THE WEEK
No. 8 The Best New Books
An otherworldly fantasy, a parenting adventure and a bittersweet novel about a marriage under fire
Michel Faber The Book of Strange New Things
Leaving his wife in London, a drug addict turned minister sets off on a mission to bring Christianity to a far-away galaxy. In this provocative, unsettling novel from the author of The Crimson Petal and the White, the truly hair-raising events occur back on Earth—and they seem frighteningly realistic.
Paul Austin Beautiful Eyes
Raising a child with Down syndrome, the author had plenty of fears and preconceptions. But from babyhood to adulthood, Sarah challenged him to accept her not as a dire diagnosis but as a beloved, inspiring daughter. This isn’t a book only for those dealing with disability; it’s a ferocious, illuminating look at the stunning surprise of human connection.
David Nicholls Us
The Petersen family travels through Europe with more emotional baggage than luggage in Nicholls’s winning follow-up to his 2009 bestseller One Day. Stunned when his wife of nearly 30 years, Connie, asks for a divorce, Douglas uses the vacation as a last-ditch effort to save his marriage and bond with his college-bound son. As the tale of a family’s strife unfolds via flashbacks, you’ll be happy this clan isn’t your own. Few authors do messed-up relationships better than Nicholls.
Caroline Kepnes You
Joe and Beck meet cute in a Manhattan bookstore—at least Beck thinks so. Joe’s interest quickly becomes obsessive in this beautifully crafted thriller that will give you chills.
Charlie Lovett First Impressions
From the bestselling author of The Bookman’s Tale, a delightful novel that weaves together a modern love story and a literary mystery involving Jane Austen.
Colm Tóibín Nora Webster
Drowning in grief after the death of her young husband, a smalltown Irish widow and mother slowly finds her way back to life through music. Just beautiful.
No. 9 Laggies
Keira Knightley is ruefully touching as Megan, a 28-year-old who—panicked at the creeping drift that is her life—bolts family and friends and hides out with a high schooler (Chloë Grace Moretz). It’s a quixotic, manipulative, even dumb stunt, but Knightley gets to the heart of Megan’s good, if badly executed, intentions. (Oct. 24, R)
No. 10 Mike Tyson Mysteries
A wild cartoon that thinks outside the boxer
Mike Tyson playing a cartoon version of himself in a parody of Scooby-Doo—is that any stranger than, say, Allison Williams as Peter Pan? Well, yes, it is, by a lot, but Mysteries is confidently committed to living up to its crazy premise, and it succeeds. Tyson goes sleuthing (the first case involves writer Cormac McCarthy), assisted by an entourage that includes the ghost of the Marquess of Queensberry and a hard-drinking pigeon (Norm MacDonald). (Adult Swim, Oct. 27, 10:30 p.m.)
No. 11 Nick Jonas, ‘Jealous’
The ex-boy bander, who’s been showing off his gym body, displays another gift: He can really sing!
POP Turns out that Nick Jonas (late of the Jonas Brothers) has a talent besides doffing his clothes to reveal his newly defined pecs and abs. “Jealous” is a surprise: a pulsing R&B confessional about a love-stricken guy’s struggle with one of the Seven Deadly Sins. As the youngest Jonas explains (in a song that he cowrote): “I don’t like the way he’s looking at you/ I’m starting to think you want him too.” After one listen you’ll be envious too—of Jonas’s effortless falsetto.
No. 12 John Wick
Action At first glance John Wick (Keanu Reeves) doesn’t look like much. A sad sack of a man who’s just lost his wife, he’s easy pickings for Russian gangster Iosef (Game of Thrones’ Alfie Allen), who steals his Mustang and kills his puppy. But Wick is actually a retired hit man, and, as Iosef learns the hard way, you don’t kill a hit man’s puppy. Sure, this all sounds silly, but it’s bloody good fun. (R, Oct. 24)
THIS WEEK’S LOSERS AND MUST-AVOIDS
Manhattan Love Story
Jake McDorman and Analeigh Tipton bore as two vanilla people falling in love. When their souls finally meld, they’ll still be vanilla. (ABC, Tuesdays, 8:30 p.m.)
Too sweet and timid for its tawdry premise, Sex Tape sends Jason Segel and Cameron Diaz on an absurd all-night sprint to get their “home movie” off the Internet. (Oct. 21)
Matt Ryan as an emotionally fried devil fighter in a raincoat. We’ve all watched so much hellfire by now, we’re burned out too. (NBC, Oct. 24, 10 p.m.)