TIME space

Watch Christopher Nolan and Kip Thorne Discuss the Physics of Interstellar

Thorne literally wrote the book on (much of) the movie's cosmology

There’s no arguing about the blockbuster status of Interstellar, director Chris Nolan’s latest box office phenomenon. But plenty of people are debating the science component of that sci-fi tale—which is how it always is when a movie based in something as non-negotiable as physics has to take just enough liberties to make the fiction part of the story fly.

Nolan was determined to keep his narrative scientifically honest, which is why he signed on as technical adviser celebrated Caltech physicist Kip Thorne—who literally wrote the book on (much of) the movie’s cosmology. TIME’s Jeffrey Kluger sat down with Nolan and Thorne to talk about human curiosity, the art of sci-fi filmmaking and the one time the two of them locked horns over a plot point.

TIME movies

Star Wars: The Force Awakens Trailer to Debut This Weekend

You'll have to go to a theater to see the Episode VII trailer starting Black Friday

The trailer for the new Star Wars movie is coming soon, but you won’t get to watch it from your computer screen while munching on Thanksgiving leftovers — you’ll have to actually get out of the house and pay money to see it.

This Friday, the 88-second trailer for J.J. Abrams’ Episode VII will debut before movies playing at 30 different theaters across the country, according to Lucasfilm. While The Verge points out that the choice to show in a few select cities around the U.S. won’t reach the same audience as an online trailer would, Thanksgiving weekend is established as a huge weekend for moviegoers.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which will feature several original cast members (including Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher) reprising their iconic roles, hits theaters Dec. 18, 2015.

TIME marketing

Bud’s Iconic Clydesdales Put Out to Pasture as Jay-Z Steps In

A Budweiser clydesdale horse sticks his head out of the trailer before the game between the Colorado Rockies and the Houston Astros on Opening Day at Minute Maid Park on April 6, 2012 in Houston.
A Budweiser clydesdale horse sticks his head out of the trailer before the game between the Colorado Rockies and the Houston Astros on Opening Day at Minute Maid Park on April 6, 2012 in Houston. Bob Levey—Getty Images

Horses will be replaced by a hipper ad campaign as beer company looks to appeal to a younger crowd

Budweiser is ditching Clydesdale horses in favor of Jay-Z.

The self-styled King of Beers is reportedly reworking its marketing campaign in a bid to remain relevant as craft beers capture the attention of drinkers.

The company is looking to stem the falling sales of its title offering — and is turning to younger drinkers for its best chance, banking on a new advertising campaign to bring that strategy to the market, The Wall Street Journal reports.

The new commercials that focus exclusively on the 20-something age bracket this holiday season. A new ad campaign will feature young drinkers answering the question: “If you could grab a bud with any of your friends these holidays, who would it be?”

That will lead the way for the brand’s bigger marketing push, which includes food festivals and a two-day concert in partnership with Jay Z in Philadelphia that was started in 2012.

Budweiser has faced declining demand over the past 25 years. In 1988, the brand sold about 50 million barrels, but last year that dropped to 16 million barrels, the Journal says. Part of that decline is its own brand cannibalism: Bud Light has pulled away customers from Budweiser for decades and became the nation’s No. 1 selling beer in 2001.

Budweiser’s appeal is particularly dismal among young drinkers in the U.S. Nearly 44% of drinkers aged between 21 and 27 have never tried Budweiser, according to the brand’s parent company, Anheuser-Busch InBev. ANHEUSER-BUSCH INBEV BUD -0.1735%

If Budweiser can gain the 20-something appeal, it has access to the biggest number of new drinkers since the baby boom. The number of people turning 21 peaked in 2013 at about 4.6 million.

Clydesdales have featured in many Budweiser ad campaigns and have been associated with the beer company since 1933, when Budweiser introduced them to celebrate the repeal of Prohibition for beer, the AP said.

TIME Media

Beyoncé’s Latest Album Is Finally on Spotify

2014 MTV Video Music Awards - Arrivals
Singer Beyoncé attends the 2014 MTV Video Music Awards in Inglewood, Calif., on Aug. 24, 2014 Jason Merritt—Getty Images

Spotify gets a big release following Taylor Swift's exodus

It took nearly a year, but Beyoncé’s self-titled album is finally available on Spotify.

A platinum edition of Beyoncé, with six new remixes and bonus tracks, is now available on the music-streaming service. The album, released as a surprise last December, was originally only available as an iTunes exclusive but was later released on CD as well. Spotify previously only had a couple of big singles from the album available to stream.

Landing Beyoncé could help Spotify improve what’s been a very rough November. Taylor Swift removed her entire catalogue from the service while very vocally questioning whether Spotify’s model compensates artists appropriately for their work. Later, a Sony Music executive expressed doubts about Spotify’s ability to convert free users into paying customers, saying Swift’s exodus had sparked “a lot of conversation.” Spotify believes its free version is critical to eventually convincing users to purchase premium subscriptions and says its royalty payouts will continue to grow as it gains more customers.

For Beyoncé, releasing her album on Spotify could help it land higher on the album charts. Billboard just announced that it would begin including songs played on music-streaming services in its weekly album rankings. That could help Beyoncé unseat 1989, Swift’s blockbuster release that has topped the charts for three straight weeks.

TIME viral

Here’s the Nelly-Bee Gees Mashup You Never Asked For But Can’t Stop Listening To

It's stayin' hot in here.

There are many mysteries about the Internet: Who created Bitcoin? Will we ever figure out the secret behind black holes? What’s with the Markovian Parallax Denigrate? One other mystery that no one seems to be able to crack? What makes a video go viral?

Take for example this mashup of Nelly’s “Getting Hot in Here” with The Bee Gee’s Saturday Night Fever classic, “Stayin’ Alive.” The video, appropriately called “Stayin’ Hot,” was created in 2011 by LobsterMashups and while the Internet usually revolves on a steady diet of the latest and greatest, yesterday the mashup sat on Reddit’s front page all day and is still near the top today, even though the video is so three years ago.

If we’re engaging in Internet archaeology, check out this video mashing up the same track from The Bee Gees with AC/DC’s “Back in Black.”

TIME Music

Hear How a Cab Driver Changed Tony Bennett’s Stage Shows

A cabbie gave Tony Bennett an idea about his live performances that he's never forgotten

Tony Bennett released his first number one single in 1951. Since then he’s released close to 60 music albums, including Duets: An American Classic (2006) which featured collaborations with Barbara Streisand, Elton John, and John Legend. That album led to Duets II (2011), which featured Lady Gaga. Now, Gaga and Bennett are going on tour, headlining jazz festivals all across America.

Bennett came to prominence just as the microphone was coming into style — but a chance remark from a taxi driver changed the way he performed live. The singer explains all in this video.

TIME Music

Tony Bennett Says Lady Gaga Has Something Other Singers Don’t

The legendary crooner on why she's the perfect jazz singer

Tony Bennett will be headlining jazz music festivals all across America next year—and his partner in crime will be Lady Gaga.

The duo released an album this past September called Cheek to Cheek, a collection of jazz standards by composers like Gershwin, Porter, and Berlin.

Gaga, whose repertoire consists of songs like “Bad Romance” and “Paparazzi,” is the epitome of this generation’s pop sound. But in the video above, legendary crooner Tony Bennett explains why she’s the perfect jazz singer.

TIME Television

Homeland Got Better By Getting Smaller

Mandy Patinkin as Saul Berenson and Claire Danes as Carrie Mathison in Homeland (Season 4, Episode 09). - Photo:  David Bloomer/SHOWTIME - Photo ID:  Homeland_409_0484.R
David Bloomer/SHOWTIME 2014

Like an arena-rock band stepping back to play club gigs, the show is stripping down to basics. So far, it's working.

This article contains spoilers. Click here to reveal them.

A couple weeks ago, when Carrie Mathison–high on the crazy pills slipped her by the weaselly Dennis Boyd–hallucinated herself in the arms of a resurrected Nicholas Brody, I thought: Oh God, please do not let this be real.

I don’t know if this was the reaction that the producers meant me to have, but it sums up my relationship with Homeland after four years. By midseason, it has recovered and remade itself well enough as a compelling intelligence thriller that I don’t need or want it to return to the whiplash-y narratives of the hero-turned-terrorist-turned-congressman-turned-fugitive-turned-junkie-turned-hero. But I’ve also been burned often enough that don’t yet trust it not to.

The opening of the season didn’t look promising. The early episodes focused on Carrie and Quinn’s trauma, as crystallized by having Carrie on the verge of drowning her own baby in the bathtub. As I wrote then, the problem with the scene wasn’t that depressed new mothers never have this impulse, but that it expressed Homeland‘s worst tendencies: 1) not trusting that a character moment was enough in itself without going over the top to shock the audience and 2) using “Carrie is craaaaazy!” as a catchall excuse to do that, whether her behavior was consistent or not.

This time I should have had more faith, because, so far anyway, Homeland has kept both the baby and the bathwater. Those first episodes weren’t so much a continuation of the Brody-era nuttiness as a goodbye to it. No one is still going to mistake Homeland for a documentary, but its run of Pakistan-focused episodes found it going back to its basics, like an arena-rock band going back to play stripped-down club gigs. Here’s what’s worked:

It’s focused on its best relationship. And that’s always been, Brody or no Brody, and whatever comes along down the road, Carrie and Saul. Homeland at best has been an action show about what kind of people it takes to fight covert war for years and what kind of warriors covert war produces. Carrie and Saul have a bond that goes beyond mentor and apprentice, parent and child–they’re just about the only people to know what it’s like to be each other. (The one person who would have understood Carrie’s order for the drone strike on Saul, for instance, was probably Saul.) Putting them on the two sides of Saul’s hostage-taking, showing both their love and hardheaded practicality, has given the show an earned emotional power.

Carrie’s still flawed, but she’s competent again. Too often before, Homeland has satisfied its need for story twists by making Carrie erratic and irresponsible, going rogue over and over with near-disastrous results, until it became hard to believe she would be entrusted with searching for someone’s car keys, much less terrorists. Season 4 Carrie can be ruthless and callous, she can go too far and rationalize it, but we never lose the sense that she knows what she’s doing. When she threatens Dennis in interrogation–“I am authorized to kill US citizens on the battlefield, motherfucker”–she’s terrifying and believable, simultaneously in and out of control. If she makes bad choices, it seems driven less by the need to keep the story exciting then by the fact that, as she says in what may be this season’s motto, there are only bad choices.

It picked interesting enemies. In particular, the decision to focus on the real-world frenemy relationship between the United States and Pakistan’s ISI has been productively subtle. We’ve seen so many ruthless terrorist supergeniuses that they’ve lost their effectiveness; much more interesting are the confounding betrayals of a bureaucratic organization that’s an ally, until it isn’t.

The season is about ideas. That doesn’t just mean that it’s timely, though the focus on drone strikes and their consequences certainly is. But rooting the show in the complicated politics of Pakistan and Afghanistan, and what 14 years of war has accomplished or not, is much more rich and productive than throwing a toolbox worth of wrenches into the Brody story. Homeland has always been a show about tough choices and realpolitik; what’s changed this year is that it’s started believing that in itself is enough for engaging drama.

I write all this knowing that I have no idea who, or what, or what kind of show, is going to emerge from the smoldering wreckage of Carrie and Saul’s motorcade two weeks from now. My track record with Homeland is that as soon as I decide it’s one thing, it turns into something else. I declared season 2 great just after Carrie’s brutal interrogation of Brody–and then it took the exit to crazytown. I was optimistic about the beginning of season 3, which hopscotched down a trail of absurd twists and manipulations (though it gave Brody a nice sendoff). I didn’t like season 4’s opening, and that was the show’s cue to get better and better.

So I guess you can mark this on your calendar as the first sign that Homeland was about to start to suck again, and I will fully accept the blame.

But for all our sakes, as insurance, I’m not going to get carried away here. It’s easy to get excited when a show makes a turnaround like this, but I wouldn’t call Homeland great. Instead, it’s simply tried to be good, and that’s been the show’s smartest choice of all.

TIME

J.K. Rowling Reveals Her Dream Job If She Weren’t A Writer

Dream job alert

Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling won Twitter today by revealing the career she would have adopted were she not a hugely successful writer:

Potter fans will likely recognize the significance of her choice. The Patronus, the result of a defensive spell that channels a wizard’s positive feelings, of main character Hermione (who Rowling has said is based on her younger self) is an otter.

But just in case case Rowling is looking for a second job, we would like to point out that some China Zoos are hiring for panda nannies. Just think of the bedtime stories she’d tell them.

TIME Music

Review: David Guetta Falls Behind His Contemporaries on Listen

Atlantic Records

The super-producer who helped make EDM part and parcel with mainstream pop doesn't sound so fresh on his latest LP

Though he’s frequently lumped in with wunderkinds like Avicii and Skrillex as part of this decade’s EDM wave, David Guetta is actually a member of a completely different generation of electronic sculptors, one with roots in the clubs and scenes of the ‘80s and ‘90s that reigned when some of his contemporaries were still in diapers. Long before he mastered the art of the EDM-pop crossover, Guetta was just another capable DJ operating on the periphery of the French dance scene. He was a tangential figure present during the rise of French touch, a strain of dance music made distinct by the use of filtered and warped funk and disco samples that bloomed at the end of the ‘90s in France; Guetta failed to reach the heights of contemporaries like Daft Punk and Air at the time, but his 2001 single “Just a Little More Love” was enough to spark a full-length of the same name and a burgeoning European stardom.

As the decade progressed, Guetta racked up hit singles across the continent, but failed to achieve any sort of international success — the U.S. included. That changed with the release of 2009’s One Love, a star-studded affair that cracked American charts in a major way with help from collaborators like Akon, Kelly Rowland, and Rihanna. By this point, Guetta had largely abandoned the subtlety and playfulness of French touch for giant synth hooks, a focus on vocal takes, and the influence of modern hip-hop and R&B — but after a look at the chart figures for a single like “Sexy Bitch,” can you blame him? The set of singles that One Love spawned, and production work on The Black Eyed Peas’ titanic hit “I Gotta Feeling,” were some of the first volleys in what would become contemporary electronic music’s assault on listeners around the world.

Meanwhile, Guetta continued to explode: 2011’s Nothing But the Beat solidified his position as one of the world’s preeminent producers, with three top 10 U.S. singles and features from Usher, Sia, and Nicki Minaj. Beyond sheer numerical force, Guetta’s work on Nothing But the Beat penetrated the public consciousness in a way few producers had done to that point, paving the way for a new reality where they become stars in their own right rather than studio forces; every time “Titanium” played over gym loudspeakers or at a high school dance, it affected a tiny change in the pop landscape. Guetta is releasing his sixth studio album, Listen, out Nov. 24 on Atlantic/Parlophone, into that new landscape.

According to Guetta, Listen is his most personal record to date, though you’d be hard pressed to tell unless you did a little research beforehand. He wrote much of the album in the wake of a divorce from his longtime spouse, but it only bears fruit on the album in subtle ways: chords that are unexpectedly melancholy, lyrics that are a little more somber than his usual hedonistic celebrations. These are necessarily subtle changes because Guetta’s music is explicitly designed to achieve ecstatic, cathartic climaxes, the kind that’ll help listeners forget their own problems, and those moments remain the focus of Listen. A more palpable shift the record makes is one towards basic melodies on piano and guitar, and songs with a classicist streak built from the ground up on those melodies. The Emeli Sandé feature “What I Did for Love” opens with a garish piano line where it might have charged in on a beat in years past, taking its time to grow to its full size.

Listen’s main problem lies with its vocals, which are varied and largely anonymous despite another cast of international stars. Though Guetta takes a few sonic risks throughout the album — there are songs flecked with strings and country guitar, there are ballads and reggae tracks, there’s a lot of paint thrown against the wall — the performances that anchor these songs are sadly conservative, boilerplate house fare from an array of vocalists lacking any real character. Even stars who possess a semblance of distinct tone and texture, like John Legend — typically rich and soulful — are robbed of those qualities by overprocessing. The only vocalist who manages to stand up to the force of Guetta’s production is Sia, back for another few rounds after “Titanium,” who carries “Bang My Head” and the melancholy closer “The Whisperer.” And although Guetta can still craft a stadium-sized synth hook with relative ease, something about Listen — its structure, its lyrical content, its tones and decisions — feels a little outdated, like it would’ve sounded more at home a half-decade ago than now. That’s the trouble with a genre as vital and volatile as contemporary EDM: artists who reigned over their peers one year can find themselves struggling to keep up by the time they’re ready to release their next record. And while Guetta was instrumental in conditioning popular music for the rise of DJs and producers with his last two records, Listen finds him falling a half-step behind today’s dominant forces.

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