TIME movies

Searching for Sugar Man Director Dies at Age 36

Malik Bendjelloul
Director Malik Bendjelloul arrives at the 2013 Vanity Fair Oscars Viewing and After Party, Feb. 24 2013 at the Sunset Plaza Hotel in West Hollywood, Calif. Evan Agostini—Invision/AP

The Swedish filmmaker's documentary about Detroit singer-songwriter Sixto Rodriguez won an Oscar in 2013; the director was found dead in Stockholm on Tuesday. Police do not suspect foul play

Malik Bendjelloul, the Swedish filmmaker behind the award-winning documentary Searching for Sugar Man, has died at age 36, police report.

Bendjelloul was found dead in Stockholm on Tuesday, police spokeswoman Pia Glenvik told the Associated Press. Although she would not reveal the cause of death, she said police do not suspect foul play.

Searching for Sugar Man won an Oscar for best documentary in 2013. The film explored the career of Detroit singer-songwriter Sixto Rodriguez and some of his South African fans who began investigating rumors about his death in the 1990s.

Bendjelloul was a child actor in Sweden before before he studied journalism and became a reporter. He got the idea for Searching for Sugar Man while traveling the world after he resigned from a Swedish broadcaster.

Watch TIME’s interview with Rodriguez here.

[AP]

 

TIME movies

Harry Potter Spin-Off Film Gets 2016 Release Date

An adaptation of British author J.K. Rowling's Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, the first film in the highly anticipated Harry Potter trilogy that follows the life of a so-called Magizoologist, will reportedly hit theaters in the fall of 2016

Seven books and eight movies later, Harry Potter fans still aren’t done with J.K. Rowling’s magical world and its titular boy wizard. Fortunately for them, new films are on their way: an adaptation of Rowling’s book Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them will hit theaters on Nov. 18, 2016, as the first film in an upcoming spin-off trilogy. “The film will take place 70 years before the Potter stories and follow Newt Scamande, a Magizoologist,” Vulture reports.

With a box-office debut more than two years away, Muggles have plenty of time to reread all the books — for the umpteenth time.

[Vulture]

TIME Music

A Beginner’s Guide to Solange’s Music

Vulture Festival Presents MIA + Solange
Solange performs at Webster Hall on May 10, 2014 in New York City. Stephen Lovekin—2014 Getty Images

Solange's oeuvre deserves more attention than it's received since video leaked of her allegedly assaulting her brother-in-law Jay Z

By now you may be aware that Solange, Beyoncé’s younger sister, is in the news for allegedly getting into a fight with Jay Z on an elevator after the Met Gala. Probably inevitably, considering the number of stars and star-orbiters involved, the altercation spawned a lot of Internet jokes – there’s about a 50% chance none of them will be remotely funny when the full story inevitably comes out, so caveat meme-ptor – and a lot of explaining by the media of who exactly Solange is, some of it rather silly.

So here’s who Solange really is: an R&B artist, director and tastemaker (with label Saint Records), who’s made music for about a decade that varies from hooky to restrained to wildly creative and to – for lack of a better word – “indie.” She’s rubbed off on her sister, too; Solange has both directly written for Beyonce – B’Day’s “Get Me Bodied” and “Upgrade U” were both her co-writes – and influenced her in subtle ways, like introducing Chairlift’s Caroline Polachek to the Beyoncé songwriters’ circle.

In other words, there’s a lot in her career to catch up on, so we’ve put together a quick introductory course: the big singles, as well as a couple of the best album tracks.

(A quick note on song selection: A decade is a lot of music to cover, so we’ve limited this to solo tracks – no covers, which rules out her much-praised version of Dirty Projectors’ “Stillness is the Move,” and no collaborations, which rules out… a lot.)

“Losing You”

For a lot of people, this is Solange’s best-known track. The critically beloved lead single from 2012’s fantastic EP True, “Losing You” begins as a splashy street-party affair like Solange’s previous album Sol-Angel and the Hadley St. Dreams – more on that later – but quickly settles into a more melancholy groove. Over brooding synth pads, Solange handles producer Dev Hynes’ hymnlike melody like she’s turning and turning over the memories of a snuffed-out relationship: “Tell me the truth, boy, am I losing you for good?” The track doesn’t mope; it just doesn’t know what to think. Which means it can go on forever.

“Sandcastle Disco”

Unlike True, Sol-Angel and the Hadley St. Dreams (2008) was a full album, both in terms of runlength and in terms of being a big statement: Solange’s first album in five years, and a musically omnivorous offering of bandleader Motown and dazzling pop that sounds flung into the future and past at once. R&B isn’t always too kind to these sorts of statements – for every Janelle Monae who’s celebrated for this kind of musical creativity, there’s an Amerie (and dozens more, actually) who slips mostly into obscurity – and it’s a testament to Solange’s connections and skill that it received the lasting praise it deserved.

Sol-Angel produced a few singles, but “Sandcastle Disco” – a minor hit in the UK – is among the most immediately catchy. Written with a pre-overexposure Cee-Lo Green and hyperprolific (if these days mostly, sadly, forgotten) R&B production duo Soulshock & Karmin, it’s a sunny, shuffling cut that wears its vulnerability like sandals soon to be tossed off.

A few more notes: The video for “Sandcastle Disco” is Solange’s directorial debut, and the clip’s poppy and splashy (and slyly self-aware – there’s a takeoff of Andy Warhol’s soup cans that shouldn’t be spoiled if you haven’t seen it.) “Sandcastle Disco” is also one of those tracks that sounds even better remixed. There are several mixes (most can be streamed), and in with the usual get-in-dance-get-out club remix fare are two standouts. King Britt’s house-piano reduction is ahead of its time (specifically, the house revival of the past two years), but I’m partial to Gomi’s mix, a wind of sounds against which Solange’s melody sounds as fragile as claimed.

“Would’ve Been the One”

If “Sandcastle Disco” is a bit self-conscious, a glitter-snowglobe version of its Motown source material, “Would’ve Been the One” is closer to the real thing: a piano-led sparkler, Solange belting and cooing the melody as flashily as possible. It’s one of the best showcases of Solange not just as a trendsetter or curator of sounds, but a singer, a song interpreter and a versatile one at that. The fact that it sounds timeless is just a bonus.

“Wonderland”

Solange’s debut, Solo Star, often gets overlooked, probably because it’s not trying to be an ambitious art piece with track titles like “Cosmic Journey” featuring Motown touches like historical nods, but a commercial R&B album, at least theoretically intended to move units. That didn’t quite happen, but it may just be a matter of luck, because Solo Star is a commercial album released in a year – 2003 – when commercial R&B was really, really good. (Solange has defended this point repeatedly in interviews, calling out people who pontificate about new R&B without even being familiar with the old stuff.) The stutter hook and skipping beat, by producer Rockwilder, are products of a radio landscape the Neptunes helped shape – and the fact that lead Neptune Pharrell’s producing everything again should clue you in to how good that was – and the radical optimism of Solange’s lyric is a nod to what she’d come up with next.

“Bad Girls (Verdine Version)”

True has yet to get a follow-up album, probably due to Dev Hynes’ feud with Solange. Even the subsequent singles didn’t quite connect – but it wasn’t for their quality. It’s just that True is a restrained, introverted kind of album, that works best as a whole, a sustained mood. “Bad Girls” is the moodiest of all, Solange taking a slow jam from Hynes’ project Blood Orange and flipping the lyric into a sort of answer song. (It’s best if you listen to the two tracks in tandem.)

Oh, and the Verdine in the title? Bassist Verdine White of Earth, Wind & Fire. The past year or so have seen lots of artists re-recruiting the great disco, funk and session musicians of the ‘70s – chiefly among them Chic’s Nile Rodgers – but true to True’s form, Solange is restrained about it. Part of that’s because she can be – it’s a lot easier to get Verdine White on your song when your last name is Knowles – but even so, it’s a statement, Solange claiming musical stature like it’s no big deal. By this point, she’s earned it.

TIME movies

Harry Potter Theme Park Previews Gringotts-Themed Ride

The upcoming "Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts" ride, which opens this summer, recreates scenes movie fans will recognize

Grab your Firebolt brooms and get ready to fly to Florida — the Harry Potter theme park at Universal Studios in Orlando unveiled new photos of its upcoming expansion opening this summer.

The new Diagon Alley location will visit a number of places from the books and the movies adaptations, including Gringotts Wizarding Bank, which is the subject of a new 3-D ride. “Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts” recreates a scene from the final Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows movie.

The expansion will be connected to the original Wizarding World of Harry Potter located at Universal’s Islands of Adventure by a Hogwarts Express-themed train.

TIME Television

8 Ways the Trailer for Mulaney Resembles Seinfeld

The self-titled FOX comedy has already been picked up for a full season — and it looks like it could share quite a bit in common with a dearly departed show about nothing

It’s been a long haul for Mulaney. The self-titled show from comedian and former Saturday Night Live writer John Mulaney was initially pitched as a pilot to NBC, but the network passed on the comedy in spite of Lorne Michaels’ involvement as an executive producer and Mulaney’s strong credentials (he co-created SNL’s “Stefon” along with Bill Hader, and has racked up a slew of excellent stand-up specials). Instead of dropping the show and heading back to the friendly confines of Studio 8H, Mulaney tweaked the pilot and brought it over to FOX, which picked up the show last October and last week upped its order to 16 episodes of the multi-camera sitcom.

At yesterday’s upfronts, FOX unveiled the trailer for Mulaney, and you could hardly be blamed if you noticed more than a few similarities between it and another self-titled, New York City-based multi-camera sitcom from a stand-up comedian. Here are a few of the other ways that Mulaney resembles Seinfeld:

1. The trailer begins with a stand-up routine. Mulaney’s stand-up isn’t all that similar to Seinfeld’s, but it’s not too much of a stretch to imagine Seinfeld doing a version of the bit that opens the Mulaney trailer.

2. Mulaney is basically playing himself. Maybe a slightly different version of himself, but with plenty of similarities and, you know, the same name.

3. In the first non-stand-up scene of the trailer, Mulaney is wearing those familiar Superman colors (albeit a version more aligned with Henry Cavill’s Superman than Dean Cain’s).

4. Sure, the door’s in the wrong place but the kitchen/living room layout looks more than a little familiar (though the kitchen itself is far messier than Jerry would have ever kept it.

5. Mulaney seems to have two real friends (Seaton Smith and Nasim Pedrad) and then one zany friend (Zack Pearlman), who may have replaced the Kramer slide with a wave as he opens the door to Mulaney’s apartment.

6. In each of their introductory scenes, Smith and Pedrad talk about their dating lives. Actually, that’s kind of like every sitcom — not that Seinfeld didn’t delve plenty into Elaine and George’s romantic foibles.

7. It’s possible that Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ trademark has expired, but Pedrad’s finger-point is positively Benes-esque.

8. Oh, and there’s plenty of awkward sexual tension between Mulaney and Pedrad — that final couch scene in particular brings back some very Seinfeld-ian memories.

Of course, all this is based on just over two minutes of footage, so it’s entirely possible the Mulaney barely ends up resembling Seinfeld in terms of storytelling or tone. On the other hand, there’s plenty in those 150 seconds that could trigger a little déjà vu — just be on the lookout in case someone drops a “Festivus” reference.

TIME 2014 Election

Clay Aiken Wins Congressional Primary After Opponent Dies

Clay Aiken speaks to supporters during an election night watch party in Holly Springs, N.C., May 6, 2014.
Clay Aiken speaks to supporters during an election night watch party in Holly Springs, N.C., May 6, 2014. Gerry Broome—AP

The former American Idol contestant was declared victor in a Democratic congressional primary, with 40% of the vote, a day after his main competitor Keith Crisco suffered a fall and died

Former American Idol contestant Clay Aiken was declared the winner of a Democratic congressional primary in North Carolina, election officials said Tuesday, a day after his main competitor in the race died.

Keith Crisco died Monday after suffering a fall in his home; he was 71. The two had been vying for the Democratic nomination to take on incumbent Republican Rep. Renee Ellmers. The race had been too close to call ever since the May 6 primary election, but unofficial election results posted online showed that the singer-turned-candidate won just over 40% of the vote in the three-person race—edging his late opponent by less than 400 votes.

Crisco’s campaign manager said the candidate died shortly after deciding he would concede to Aiken, the Associated Press reports.

The results will become official after they are reviewed by the state election board on May 22.

Aiken said he would pause his campaign out of respect for Crisco’s family and friends.

TIME Television

Stephen Colbert Turns 50 But His Eyebrows Haven’t Aged a Bit

Happy Birthday to Stephen Colbert — from himself

With a tip of the hat and a raise of an eyebrow, we salute political satirist and consummate comedian Stephen Colbert’s 50th birthday with this gif of him from the past ten years.

Getty Images (21); Gif by Joseph C. Lin—TIME
TIME Television

Simon Cowell and Univision Are Looking for Latin America’s Next Top Boyband

Cheryl Cole - The X Factor Announcement
Eamonn McCormack—WireImage

The X Factor creator and guy that discovered One Direction will team up with the largest Spanish-language network in the U.S., Univision, to assemble a new Latino boyband on La Banda in 2015

Simon Cowell knows a thing or two about boybands — perhaps you’ve heard of under-the-radar indie act One Direction, which he helped form on his U.K. singing competition, The X Factor, in 2010.

But global domination means nothing if you’re not willing to consider the entire globe, so Cowell’s Syco Entertainment and Spanish-language network Univision have announced a new reality show to give Latin America some love: La Banda (“The Band,” for those of you who no hablan español) will assemble the next big Latino boyband from talent pools across Mexico, Puerto Rico, the Caribbean and Central and South America.

The winners of the show, which will premiere on Univision in 2015, will receive a recording contract with Sony Music Latin.

No judges have been announced for the program yet, but a few suggestions come to mind: Mexican pop royalty Paulina Rubio served as a judge on the U.S. edition of The X Factor in 2013, and Ricky Martin (also signed to Sony Music Latin) was a member of Menudo long before he was living la vida loca.

TIME movies

Alien Director Ridley Scott Remembers H.R. Giger: “He Was a True Original”

The pair collaborated on the 1979 film, for which Giger won an Academy Award for visual effects

H.R. Giger, the set designer largely responsible for the iconic visual effects of the 1979 film Alien, died on Monday at the age of 74. In the wake of his passing, Alien director Ridley Scott issued this statement to TIME, recalling their collaboration on the at Shepperton Studios in London:

“I am very saddened to hear of Giger’s passing. I think back on how committed and passionate he was, and then consequently, all the security we built up around his ‘lock up’ studios at Shepperton. I was the only one allowed the honor of going in, and I absolutely enjoyed every hour I spent with him there. He was a real artist and great eccentric, a true original, but above all, he was a really nice man. He will be missed.”

TIME Music

Icona Pop and Tiësto Aim for Song of the Summer Status with “Let’s Go”: Listen

The Swedish singers team up with the veteran DJ to kickstart your next summer dance party

The ladies of Icona Pop, the Swedish duo behind the inescapable EDM smash “I Love It,” are basically dance music’s version of Pinky and the Brain. “What do you want to do tonight?” Caroline Hjelt asks on the first warm night of spring. “The same thing we do every night,” Aino Jawo answers back. “Try and take over the world with another party anthem.” Yes, after first unleashing “I Love It” in 2012 and following up with the one-two punch of “Girlfriend” and “All Night” last summer, the two have teamed up with veteran DJ-producer Tiësto for another soundtrack to beach excursions and backyard barbecues.

“Let’s Go” is nothing listeners haven’t heard before: the message is familiar — push the limit, take it to the max, YOLO, die young, etc. — and you can hear the obligatory bass drop coming from a mile away. Tiësto’s production doesn’t grind quite as hard as the singers’ past hits, and the added acoustic guitars feel like a blatant effort to capitalize on the success of Avicii’s “Wake Me Up,” but all of that is forgivable: the track’s highs are euphoric enough to get the job done.

 

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