The weekend is a wondrous time, full of unlimited potential and infinite possibilities. It’s the time to explore the world and, when it comes time to settle in for the night, binge out on the best movies, shows, music and games you might’ve missed while working this week.
But what, exactly, should you binge on?
Welcome back to another installment of Off the Radar, a column where we uncover the best shows, movies, music and games you should be checking out with your two and a half days of respite.
Here’s how it works: Week after week, I test a TON of products – everything from fantastic-sounding headphones and Bluetooth speakers, to the latest and greatest TVs and video game consoles. While I’m writing these reviews I consume a lot of content. (I know, I know, it’s a hard job but someone has to do it.) And rather than hoard all those great shows/movies/music/games, I want to share all those recommendations with you.
This week I spent ample time with TCL’s brilliant budget 4K HDR TV, the 55P607, in order to finish up a review and, for the first time in forever, broke out my Nintendo 3DS to check out some of the newer titles that came to the handheld while I was off in console land.
Not sure how to allocate your screen time this weekend? Here’s three recommendations for the weekend of August 11. (And, don’t forget: If you’ve recently watched/played/listened to something good yourself, drop me a line on and I might just feature you in next week’s column.)
Watch: The Founder
Look, I’ll be honest, The Social Network didn’t do it for me. Nothing against David Fincher or Aaron Sorkin, but man, it was tough to watch. The convoluted plot points and the whole ‘sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll’ aesthetic were both wrong turns. That being said, I went into The Founder, a Social Network-esque biopic about the founder of McDonald’s, as a total skeptic.
Thankfully, that doubt was un-founded. (See what I did there.)
In all seriousness though, Michael Keaton puts on one of his best performances as McDonald’s ambitious, conniving founder Ray Kroc. Keaton’s character is affable, yet unbendable. He’s simply a man trying to make ends meet before he becomes the owner of the world’s largest fast-food chains. And the transition from blender salesman to business mogul is told in a compelling way that both enthralls, impresses and stings in equal measure.
It also stars Nick Offerman (Ron Swanson on Parks and Rec) as one of the McDonald brothers from whom Ray Kroc pries the company from, and he’s every bit as awesome here. If that doesn’t sell you on it, nothing will.
Play: Hey! Pikmin
If you’re like me, you remember a time when games were about more than ranking at the top of some leaderboard for a week or boss battles that take days to get passed because of their overwhelming difficulty.
Hey! Pikmin, the new miniaturized version of the Nintendo-favorite franchise for the 3DS harkens back to the days when games were a little less challenging and simply, well, enjoyable.
Hey! Pikmin isn’t the most challenging game you’re likely to play this year. Its puzzles are pretty simple and its boss fights are almost laughably easy. But the game’s charm is in the collecting and shepherding of the eponymous little creatures that often bring a smile to your face with their weird and wacky antics.
It's short, fun and perfect for a weekend palate cleanser.
Listen: Spotify’s Songs to Test Headphones With
It can be hard to know where to start when you want to learn about audio – bitrates, frequency responses and impedance can all be tricky to understand. Instead of diving into the deep end with some of audio’s most convoluted terms and properties, start instead with some good music (see: Spotify’s Songs to Test Headphones With playlist).
It’s not always my go-to set of tracks to test new headphones, but this playlist is a pretty good start to finding songs that have serious stereo separation, larger than life soundstages and an exceptionally wide tonal range that helps pinpoint exactly where your current set of cans are lacking.
If you don’t like what you hear, play around with Spotify’s built-in equalizer to mix the sound to a more agreeable level (remember: audio is a very subjective experience). You can always upgrade your account to get better audio quality, though, experience suggests that you’re probably better off using that money to buy a better pair of headphones.
Whatever your experience in the audio world is and wherever you're looking to go with it, if you’re looking to put your gear through its paces this weekend, Spotify’s playlist is a good launch pad into the aural unknown.
Songs to Test Your Headphones With is available to stream for free on Spotify
That’s it for this week! Like what I'm laying down? Disappointed by my picks? Send me some feedback at Nick [dot] Pino [at] Futurenet [dot] com.