TIME movies

Make Chaste: How the Faith-Based Counterpart to 50 Shades of Grey Came to Be

'Old Fashioned' will offer an alternative vision of romance — but it predates its release-weekend competition

+ READ ARTICLE

When Variety announced this week that the 50 Shades of Grey movie would have some competition in its Valentine’s Day opening weekend next year, the timing was impeccable: interest in 50 Shades had recently returned to fever pitch, with the release of the first trailer (which you can watch, above, for the umpteenth time) and that meant that the anti-50 Shades brigade was out in full force too.

That’s where Old Fashioned comes in.

“A former frat boy and free-spirited woman together attempt the impossible, an old-fashioned courtship in contemporary America,” reads the movie’s logline. The premise involves a romantic male lead who makes a commitment to not be alone with his intended until after marriage. It is, producer Nathan Nazario says, an “unconventional approach to romance” — and pretty much the exact opposite of the sex-contract-centric 50 Shades. As Variety notes, Old Fashioned’s distributor Freestyle Releasing has had success with that kind of “unconventional” before, having released God’s Not Dead earlier this year.

Though the idea of an upstart response to mass interest in BDSM relationships makes for a fun meta-narrative, Old Fashioned isn’t actually a reaction to 50 Shades of Grey.

The raunchy novel by E.L. James that started it all was published in 2011, but Old Fashioned‘s writer-director-star Rik Swartzwelder tells TIME that he’d been working on the screenplay for a decade. “I’m a huge cinema buff and I see all kinds of movies but I had never seen a film that reflected my dating life,” he says. That inspired him to create something that would.

Swartzwelder describes the film as “not a religious film, per se” but “a film with faith,” which was financed by individuals who believed in the story. The film was shot in late 2011 and, though Swartzwelder says 50 Shades wasn’t on his radar while he was coming up with the story, the team was aware of the phenomenon by the time they hit post-production. And even if the movie didn’t start out having anything to do with the bigger blockbuster that will share its release date, it was a response to what its creators see as a culture that celebrates ideas like those in 50 Shades but doesn’t seem to create stable romantic relationships. Nazario cites the American divorce rate as evidence that there needs to be an alternative to the mainstream way of finding a mate, and making a movie that presents one such alternative is one way to help that along.

So, despite the lack of a concrete tie between the two movies, the timing is — obviously — not a coincidence.

“For a small independent film with no stars, timing is always a consideration,” Nazario explains. “We were looking ahead at dates and observed that 50 Shades had put a stake on Valentine’s Day. We’d actually been thinking about that date and, when we saw that, it seemed like a good opportunity.”

Still, its audience will have to wait a few months to find out what Old Fashioned‘s creator really thinks of 50 Shades. “The answer to your question is the film [Old Fashioned] itself,” says Swartzwelder. “I’ll let people draw their own conclusions.”

TIME celebrities

The Lessons of the One Direction #FreePalestine Tweet

Zayn Malik
Zayn Malik of One Direction performs at on May 24, 2014 in Glasgow, Scotland. Dave J Hogan—Getty Images

One Direction's Zayn Malik has learned — as have others before him — the dangers of mixing celebrity and conflict

Usually when One Direction and the phrase “death threats” are in the same sentence, it’s a case of overenthusiastic fans defending their favorite pop stars — but the group’s Zayn Malik has learned that the backlash can go in the other direction too.

On Sunday, the singer tweeted the phrase “#FreePalestine” — a tweet that’s been both retweeted and favorited over 200,000 times, while it’s also led some of his own fans to lash out at him, death threats and all. He’s not the first to experience blow-back over the topic:

  • Earlier this month, a similar message from Rihanna led her to delete the tweet within minutes of posting it. The singer claimed to have tweeted in error, having clicked a tweet link on a website.
  • Basketball player Dwight Howard followed a similar script the same week, adding that he’s never commented on international politics.
  • Cricket player Moeen Ali has been banned by the International Cricket Council from wearing “Save Gaza” and “Free Palestine” wristbands.
  • Scarlett Johansson‘s dual roles as Oxfam ambassador and SodaStream spokesperson caused controversy that led her to tell the New Yorker felt like she was “put into a position that was way larger than anything I could possibly—I mean, this is an issue that is much bigger than something I could just be dropped into the middle of.”
  • Back in 2012, Kim Kardashian tweeted that she was “praying for everyone in Israel” and subsequently that her prayers were also for Palestine, and then later deleted both tweets, explaining on her blog that she was sorry to have offended anyone on either side.

So one possible takeaway from Malik’s experience, and those before it, is that celebrities should just keep their mouths shut when it comes to Israel and Palestine — especially when even Secretary of State John Kerry has trouble being diplomatic about the issue.

No matter what one thinks about Israel, it’s hard to deny that (a) the subject is controversial, and (b) Twitter (or a symbolic accessory, or a product endorsement deal) isn’t exactly a great place to express a nuanced thought about a complicated topic. Case in point: celebrities aren’t the only ones who’ve found that to be true. Even the Associated Press has experienced the pitfalls of tweeting about Gaza, having decided to revise a tweet that seemed to express negative judgment about U.S. lawmakers who support Israel. In a time when people like Malik and Rihanna have a direct line to their legions of fans, they’re all one click away from saying something they don’t really mean, or saying something they think they mean but haven’t really thought through. Safer, then, not to say anything. If the point of being a celebrity is to please fans, it’s pretty clear that Tweeting about Israel is not the way to do it.

On the other hand, Malik’s #FreePalestine tweet was followed by silence. He hasn’t responded to any fans, he hasn’t apologized and he hasn’t deleted what he said. So maybe “#FreePalestine” was really what he meant, with all its possible connotations and consequences. There’s no evidence to suggest otherwise.

Which means that the other possible takeaway is that maybe pleasing fans isn’t actually what celebrities care about most, and that asking them to be quiet about their opinions is an unrealistic expectation. In that scenario, they’re not different from any other Twitter users in that they can say whatever they want — and in that, when other users disagree, they’ll hear about it.

TIME movies

Watch: This Trailer for the Final Hobbit Movie Is Ready for Battle

Welcome back, Bilbo

+ READ ARTICLE

After a relatively last-minute title change that took the final installment of the Hobbit series from There and Back Again to The Battle of the Five Armies, Peter Jackson’s Tolkien adaptation is living up to its title with a suitably bellicose first teaser trailer, which premiered for a live audience at Comic-Con over the weekend. (Fun fact: the panel at which the trailer was shown was moderated by Stephen Colbert, who has a cameo in the movie, according to HitFix’s liveblog of the event.)

“Will you have peace or war?” the trailer asks — and even if Thorin weren’t there to tell us the answer (hint: war), it would be easy to guess, as the trailer is chockablock with archers, armor and dramatic music.

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies is due in theaters on Dec. 17, 2014.

TIME movies

Watch: J-Law Finally Shows Up in a Mockingjay Trailer

The trailer is finally available for those who didn't make it to Comic-Con

+ READ ARTICLE

After two teasers featuring the ever-creepy President Snow, the upcoming Hunger Games installment Mockingjay Part 1 has finally given fans a glimpse of Katniss Everdeen.

The latest teaser trailer for the hotly anticipated movie, dubbed “Our Leader the Mockingjay,” deviates from the PSA format of the previous two to show a more typical cut of scenes from the actual movie, culminating in what appears to be Katniss’ arrival in District 13. That comes complete with Plutarch and Gale, plus new cast members Julianne Moore as President Coin and Natalie Dormer (Game of Thrones‘ Margaery) as Cressida.

Prior to showing up online, the trailer debuted on Friday for audiences willing to wait in line at Comic-Con in San Diego.

The movie comes out Nov. 21, 2014.

TIME

How Nicole Perlman Became the First Woman to Write a Marvel Movie

Nicole Perlman headshot
Courtesy of Creative Artists Agency

The Guardians of the Galaxy scribe talks about her milestone at Marvel

Nicole Perlman’s interest in space started early — and with the help of real-life rocket scientists. When she was growing up in Boulder, Colo., in what she calls “a very nerdy family,” her father would host a science-fiction book club that counted among its members many employees of the aeronautics companies based in the area. The rocket scientists would come to her house and discuss their favorite books; noticing her interest, her father bought the 15-year-old Perlman copies of physicist Richard Feynman’s two autobiographies.

That fateful gift started Perlman, now 33, on a path that led to her writing Guardians of the Galaxy, in theaters Aug. 1. The movie is Marvel’s big leap away from its more established superhero properties into the depths of outer space. It’s also the first movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe to have a woman as a credited writer — but getting there wasn’t exactly easy.

While in college, Perlman had written a script called Challenger about — no coincidence — Richard Feynman. The project garnered major acclaim and landed her on Variety‘s 2006 list of writers to watch. But the script never became a movie, and neither did any of the other projects — like a Neil Armstrong biopic and a Wright Brothers project — that came her way in its wake. And, though she felt pigeon-holed into the biopic space, she was having trouble getting where she wanted to be, which was sci-fi. That trouble was no coincidence.

“[Science-fiction movies] are the kinds of movies I enjoy watching, much as I really enjoy history and science,” she recalls, “but I was noticing that I was having trouble convincing people, when I was pitching on projects, that I would be capable of doing this. There was a little bit of an attitude of, ‘Well, you’re a woman, you’re not writing romantic comedies, we’ll give you the Marie Curie biopic.’”

She kept trying. She pitched one company a project with a sample that they loved, but they told her that even though they appreciated her take on the article they had optioned they weren’t sure she could write the more action-heavy parts. “They kept saying, ‘This is a guy’s movie, you know, it’s really a guy’s movie.’ I didn’t want to say, ‘Are you saying a woman can’t write a guy’s movie?'” Perlman recalls. “What is a guy’s movie anyway? If you’re making a movie that’s just for one gender, what’s the point?'”

That frustration was how she wound up at Marvel. Back in 2009, the company launched a writer’s program that sounds like something along the lines of the old studio system: several writers would sign on for a period of two years to work full-time on Marvel properties and see what happened. It was a risk, untested and defying the typical screenwriter schedule, which usually involves stacking several projects at different stages, and it came with no guarantee that anything would make it to production. But Perlman applied and decided that, when she got it, this was her chance to show the world that she could do it, to write science fiction at a company where risks could be taken (and where, during the filming of Iron Man explosions, the buildings would shake).

She was offered several lesser-known Marvel properties to focus on, and she chose Guardians, once again defying expectations despite its obvious match with her sci-fi propensities. She wanted a project where the “super”-ness of the heroes came from their personal histories and their planetary origins, not weird circumstances like radioactive spiders or chemicals.

“I can’t tell you what the other titles were that they were offering up on the table, but I can tell you that one of them was a little bit more appropriate for me, just based on gender,” she says. “I think they were a little taken aback when I chose Guardians, because there were ones that would make a lot more sense if you were a romantic-comedy writer or something like that.”

Perlman immersed herself in the Guardians universe — a more complicated feat than she had anticipated, given the sprawling world of the series — and spent two years writing a draft. “I was definitely the only woman screenwriter that I’m aware of,” she says, “but they never made me feel disenfranchised for being a woman, which I really appreciated because I definitely have felt that at other studios.” In late 2011, she was asked for another draft with a quick turnaround, and in early 2012, James Gunn, who shares the writing credit with Perlman and also directed Guardians, came on board to work on the script. That was pretty much the end of Perlman’s involvement with the movie.

But Guardians was already on its way to being the first Marvel writers’ program script to make it to production. (It’s not uncommon for a movie project like Guardians to have several rounds of writers, often more than are credited, as credits are determined by complicated guild regulations. Perlman herself has been in that situation: she worked on Thor while at Marvel without a credit, just as it’s possible that other female screenwriters before her time worked on Marvel projects without writing credits.)

Perlman’s not really part of the Guardians publicity machine — “There’s not a lot of reason for me to be out there on the promotional junket,” she explains — but it’s hard to believe that she would have time for it, anyway. Her IMDb page is unlikely to keep its one-project-only status for long, as she’s working on a feature film project with Cirque du Soleil, a TV project, a sci-fi adaptation of the book The Fire Sermon for DreamWorks and several other passion projects. She’s also on the steering committee of the Science & Entertainment Exchange, a National Academy of Sciences effort to encourage writers and other creative people to connect with real scientists for science-inspired projects.

Though she was done writing by the time Guardians began shooting, Perlman did get to visit the set — an experience she describes as comparable to telling someone about your dream and then seeing them recreate it based on their idea of it: surreal and amazing and full of things you didn’t even know you had thought up.

Including explosions.

“I like to think I can be just as good at blowing up things as I am at crafting relationships between characters,” Perlman says. “I went out of my way to try and tell a story that was a little more unusual because I didn’t want to bring anything that was weak to the table as a female writer. You don’t want to be a woman writer about whom people could say ‘a woman can’t write science fiction.’ I think that in that way it very much spurred me to do the best work that I could. But I didn’t add more romance because I was a woman or anything like that.”

That said, Perlman hopes that, despite reaching a gender milestone at Marvel, being “a woman writer” — as opposed to just “a writer” — is a time-limited thing. Of the attention being paid to comic-book Thor’s upcoming female incarnation and the new Miss Marvel (written by a friend of Perlman’s, G. Willow Wilson), Perlman says she sees why it’s important to pay attention to women making inroads in the comic-book world, herself included. But she hopes that attention is soon paid for other reasons. “I do still feel like it’s a little bit like, ‘Wow, it’s so crazy that a woman is doing this!’ I look forward to the time when it won’t be that crazy,” she says.

And there’s already evidence that that future is here: Perlman appeared on an all-female Comic-Con panel about science-fiction in Hollywood on Thursday, but the gender of its participants wasn’t mentioned in its title. “I thought that was so great, because that’s the obvious hook: like, put these women in a box and let’s all look at them! It’s just like these are people who are working and they all have stories to tell and they happen to be women,” she says. “I think we’re not there yet, but that’s where it’s headed.”

TIME Television

The Same Man Has Played Detective Poirot for 25 Years, But Now He’s Out of Mysteries

Plus: the exclusive premiere of a trailer for the final season of Agatha Christie's Poirot

+ READ ARTICLE

In 1989, when actor David Suchet began playing Detective Hercule Poirot on the TV series Agatha Christie’s Poirot, it’s unlikely that he could have guessed where it would take him. Now, 25 years later, Suchet has played Poirot in a whopping 70 separate mysteries — and it’s come time to hanging up the mustache. Though other long-serving actors may give up a role for a variety of reasons, Suchet didn’t really have much of a choice: the series has run out of Christie stories, having covered what The Guardian calls all of the “substantial” fictions about him. (Poirot appears in dozens of novels and short stories, as well as a play.)

The lucky 13th season wrapped up its U.K. broadcast last November with Curtain: Poirot’s Last Case, and the five-episode season begins broadcasting for U.S. audiences on July 27 on PBS and July 28 via the streaming service Acorn TV; the final three episodes will be available for U.S. viewers only via Acorn.

As one of the characters in the trailer premiering above puts it, “this is a terrible loss for the world.” Chances are she’s not talking about Poirot, but for Agatha Christie lovers the sentiment fits.

 

 

TIME Music

Weird Al: Hitting Number 1 Doesn’t Change Plan to Stop Making Albums

Weird Al Visits Visits Music Choice's "You & A"
"Weird Al" Yankovic visits Music Choice's "You & A" on July 14, 2014 in New York City. D Dipasupil—Getty Images

Also: why it's not correct to say he's "pulling a Beyoncé"

It’s been more than a year since “Weird Al” Yankovic told the world, on his blog, that after his current contract ran up, he would be exploring releasing singles digitally rather than full albums. It’s been a little more than a week since his album Mandatory Fun was released, and just a few days since he reiterated that he wasn’t sure he would be releasing any further conventional albums.

Then, as of Wednesday, his situation changed: Mandatory Fun officially became Yankovic’s first album to top the Billboard chart.

“I didn’t think this was an option for me,” he tells TIME. “I thought there was a glass ceiling for comedy albums. The last time a comedy album topped the Billboard charts was over half a century ago.”

But that doesn’t mean his plans are changing. The success of Mandatory Fun doesn’t mean he’ll stick with the album-centric way of releasing music.

“I continue to think the same things that I thought prior to the album going to Number 1. I still think that albums for me are not the most efficient or intelligent way for me to present my music to the public,” he says. “I would prefer to get my songs out in a more timely fashion.”

Being an artist who only releases singles just makes sense, he says, since he likes to parody songs when they’re still at the forefront of listeners’ minds. Especially given the perfect storm that YouTube is — helping music videos and comedy sketches get to viewers in a way that didn’t used to be possible — his goal is to capitalize on the technology as much as possible.

And that means he’s not following other artists’ leads: the music video onslaught that came with Mandatory Fun — eight videos in eight days — has been oft compared to Beyoncé’ strategy with her 2013 album Beyoncé. “Many people have brought that up and it does irk me just a little bit because on my last album, which came out three years ago, I released 12 videos for the 12 tracks from the album all at the same time,” he says. “I doubt that she got that idea from me, but the fact that people are saying I pulled a Beyoncé, that’s just not accurate.”

He’s also not setting anything in stone. Yankovic says that he knows that albums still work best for many artists, and the tide of the music business may turn back for him as well. Mandatory Fun hasn’t changed his mind about the format, but something else might. “I’m not drawing any hard lines in the sand,” he says. “I’ll do whatever’s appropriate, and if that doesn’t work out I’ll do something else.”

TIME movies

Zoe Saldana Says Being a Ballerina Is Harder Than Being a Superhero

Zoe Saldana
Zoe Saldana attends the premiere of Marvel's 'Guardians Of The Galaxy' on July 21, 2014 in Hollywood, Calif. Jason Merritt—Getty Images

The actress had a harder time with her 2000 film Center Stage than she did with Guardians of the Galaxy

Actress Zoe Saldana, of Avatar fame, is going back into orbit in this summer’s Marvel movie Guardians of the Galaxy.

In this week’s issue of TIME, the star discusses why she likes movies set in space, her thoughts on what the future will be like and her favorite mix-tape songs. But even though playing the alien assassin-turned-hero Gamora took a lot of work (and a lot of early mornings in the make-up chair to achieve that green-skin look), Saldana says it wasn’t her most grueling role.

For that, fans will have to look a little closer to Earth, to her first-ever film role, in 2000’s Center Stage:

TIME: What’s more physically demanding, being a ballerina or being a superhero?

Saldana: A ballerina, for me. When I was growing up, I wanted it so bad and I knew that I was never going to be as good as I wanted to be. It was very disheartening and stressful when I used to dance. But I guess ballet sort of trained me for action.

I can see that.

And it’s fun, also because of being a girl. The fact that you’re able to kind of discover all the things that you can do if you commit to it, if you practice enough. You go, ‘Oh my God, I can do this.’ It makes you feel really empowered and encouraged.

Guardians of the Galaxy arrives in theaters Aug. 1.

TIME movies

GLAAD Report: Only 17 Major Studio Movies in 2013 Had LGBT Characters

MCDHANG EC129
Ken Jeong as Leslie Chow in The Hangover Part III Warner Bros.

The advocacy group also found that many of those depictions were offensive

On Tuesday, the LGBT advocacy group GLAAD released its second-ever annual run-down of depictions of gay, bisexual and transgender characters in major Hollywood movies, the Studio Responsibility Index. The organization took a look at 102 major studio releases from 2013, and found that not much had changed: about 17% of the movies examined contained LGBT characters, versus last year’s 14%; about 7% of them passed the “Vito Russo Test” — GLAAD’s way of measuring whether a depiction is both positive and substantial — versus last year’s 6%.

Though the number has increased slightly in both counts, only one character out of a whole cast is needed to move a movie into the “yes” column — and many of the films that don’t pass the Vito Russo Test get a “no” for actually being offensive, not just for lacking an LGBT character. (Among the offenders: The Hangover Part III for the character of Leslie Chow and Grown Up 2‘s “recurring jokes about a female bodybuilder character secretly being a man.”) In addition, GLAAD found that none of the LGBT characters counted were leads, the group was not very diverse (three-quarters of the gay characters were white) and the genres where Hollywood money is most readily spent, such as action, are the least likely to feature LGBT characters.

But despite numbers that GLAAD calls “depressing” in its findings, there were a few bright spots. Notably, in a studio-by-studio tally, Sony Columbia became the first major studio in the study’s history to receive a “good” score, after being marked “adequate” last year, on the strength of The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones and Battle of the Year, both of which pass the Vito Russo Test. 20th Century Fox and Disney both went from “failing” to “adequate.” The number of transgender characters overall also increased from zero to two.

The reason GLAAD takes the time to track these movies, the report explains, is that Hollywood films are — in addition to being entertaining — capable of spreading ideas worldwide. When a gay character gets significant screen time but perpetuates stereotypes (as in the case of Riddick, GLAAD points out, where a major lesbian character is routinely insulted and later successfully seduced by the ultra-macho protagonist) that may be worse than having no depictions of gay people at all.

“These studios have the eyes and ears of millions of audience members, and should reflect the true fabric of our society,” said GLAAD CEO and President Sarah Kate Ellis in a statement announcing the report’s release, “rather than feed into the hatred and prejudice against LGBT people too often seen around the globe.”

TIME celebrities

5 Things We Learned from Kanye West’s GQ Interview

Kanye West
Kanye West attends the 2014 Cannes Lions on June 17, 2014, in Cannes, France Didier Baverel—WireImage / Getty Images

Did you know? He's a blowfish!

When Kanye West spoke to GQ magazine last month, it was mere days after his news-making wedding to Kim Kardashian. Now, though it may already seem that married-Kimye has existed since the beginning of time, the results of that conversation — including new information about the wedding — are finally available for public consumption at GQ.com. The many things can be learned include:

West has a new album on the way, but he’s not sure he wants to be the biggest name in rap: In addition to a forthcoming menswear line, West is working on an album. He still doesn’t have a release date, though September looks like a possibility. But, he says, Drake is now the most popular artist in the genre — and when asked whether he feels the urge to best his rival, he equivocates. “It’s a real question for me,” he tells GQ. “Do I want to?”

His speech at his wedding was about the state of celebrity: Though wedding toasts are more typically the land of drunk maids-of-honor recounting embarrassing stories, West himself spoke for an extended period of time at his reception. Though previous accounts had said that he talked about himself, he says that what he discussed was “the idea of celebrity” and how he and Kardashian planned “to find to raise the respect level for celebrities so that [their] daughter can live a more normal life.” There’s a class system among celebs, he said, with people like the Kardashian family not as well respected as high-fashion figures or film auteurs; both of those groups were represented at the wedding (by Carine Roitfeld, whom West calls “the Walt Disney of what Tumblr is today,” and Steve McQueen), all spending time together. West plans to erase the lines between which the celebrities who receive respect from audiences and paparazzi and those who don’t.

He wants to make being a dad cool: West admits that he doesn’t like to do anything that might be perceived as uncool, but he also knows that he has “the ability to make things cool.” The next thing on his list is being a family man. “Going home to one girl every night is super cool,” he says. He also shares the reasons he fell for that girl: her body, face, style, niceness, financial independence and family-orientedness. (Also of note: West apparently calls her “Mom.”)

He’s a blowfish: “I’m not a shark, I’m a blowfish,” West says, speaking of his relationship with the paparazzi — meaning that he doesn’t go after anyone, but he will defend himself when necessary. He also compares himself to a porcupine to make the same point.

He’s a fan of Step Brothers: He is, he says, the ultimate embodiment of a motivational speech from the 2008 Will Ferrell comedy Step Brothers. Even as his star rose, he says, he never lost track of what he was looking for in a relationship — his, as he puts it, dinosaur:

There’s more where that came from — including West’s take on which of his tracks contains the best rap verse ever — over at GQ.

Your browser, Internet Explorer 8 or below, is out of date. It has known security flaws and may not display all features of this and other websites.

Learn how to update your browser