TIME movies

Fifty Shades of Grey Soundtrack Proves a Tease for Fans

Steamy music from the upcoming film has already been selling like crazy

We’re still weeks away from Fifty Shades of Grey hitting theaters, but the soundtrack has already started stoking the fire of fans’ expectations.

The soundtrack includes new or remixed tracks by Annie Lennox, Jessie Ware, Sia and Beyonce (that’s a remix of “Crazy in Love” in the trailer). The film will also feature the classic songs “Beast of Burden” by The Rolling Stones and “Witchcraft” by Frank Sinatra.

Two tracks from the film — from Ellie Goulding and The Weeknd — have already been released and USA Today reports that they’ve both already been a hit with fans.

Ellie Goulding’s “Love Me Like You Do” was released earlier this month and has recorded sales of nearly 80,000 on iTunes:

The Weeknd’s “Earned It” was released in December has been purchased more than 100,000 times on iTunes:

Though the music for the upcoming film — which is an adaptation of E.L. James’ sexy best-seller that was panned by many critics — has been embraced by fans, Mike Knobloch, president of film music and publishing for Universal Pictures, told USA Today that not all the acts approached for the film were eager to jump on board at first. He said, “but as we brought them into the cutting room and they saw sequences and talked to [director] Sam Taylor-Johnson, they learned more about the aesthetic and the story — that it wasn’t just a kinky, sexy thing, that it was really this romance between a young girl and a broken guy.”

The entire Fifty Shades of Grey soundtrack goes on sale on Feb. 10 and the film hits theaters on Feb. 13.

[USA Today]

TIME Books

Gillian Flynn Is Open to Doing a Gone Girl Sequel

Gillian Flynn
Gillian Flynn Lloyd Bishop—NBC/Getty Images

Amazing Amy 2.0 could be in the works

Gone Girl author Gillian Flynn may not have won for Best Screenplay at the Golden Globes — but she may get a second chance at that prize down the line. The author of the 2012 best seller, told the New York Daily News that she is open to paying a return visit to the embattled, embittered Dunne family for a sequel to the blockbuster crime thriller.

Flynn, speaking at a BAFTA event, told the News: “There could be a sequel at some point if everyone is game to get the gang back together, it could be really fun a few years from now.”

“We could pick it up and see what those crazy Dunnes are up to a few years down the road and if they got on — not well I don’t think,” said Flynn (in what can only be considered an understatement). Perhaps Amy and Nick Dunne’s child will be plotting the psychological torture of a playmate who stole a favorite toy? Perhaps the Dunnes have a dark plan to get their kid into an elite kindergarten? Whatever nefarious scheme they’re are up to, fans the world over will be eager to read it.

While Flynn hasn’t written the book or the sequel’s screenplay yet, she’s already started casting the new film: “I would have to have the exact same people to do it — I would want Rosamund, Ben and Fincher to do it.” If the sequel happens and is as exciting as the original, be sure to keep an eye out at the 2019 Golden Globes.

TIME Books

E-books Go Out of Fashion As Book Sales Revive

Getty Images

U.K. bookstores report increased demand for physical books

British book stores have good news for bibliophiles, reporting that more people have been buying physical books recently. What’s more, sales of e-readers have apparently slumped according to their reports. Waterstones, a U.K. book store chain which also sells Amazon’s Kindle, told the Financial Times that demand for the e-reader has all but disappeared.

Sales for physical books at Waterstones were also up 5 percent last month, which the company chalked up to its store renovations and allowing store managers to take more control in order to tailor inventory to local tastes.

Meanwhile Sam Husain, the chief executive of Foyles, a London bookstore chain, also told the FT that sales of paper books were up 11 percent this Christmas over last year and that sales of Barnes & Noble’s e-reader, the Nook, were “not as impressive as one would expect them to be.”

“The rapid growth of ebook sales has quite dramatically slowed and there is some evidence it has gone into reverse,” said Douglas McCabe of Enders Analysis. Though it’s hard to say what exactly has caused the apparent slow-down of digital book sales, this does spell good news for fans of physical books in the U.K.: Waterstones now plans to open a dozen stores new stores this year.


TIME Television

Portlandia’s Carrie Brownstein: The Word ‘Hipster’ Doesn’t Mean Anything Anymore

Carrie Brownstein
Carrie Brownstein Rob Latour—Invision/AP

The Sleater-Kinney guitarist talks the new season of Portlandia and the band's first new album in a decade

As the co-star and co-creator of IFC’s comedy series Portlandia — which returns for its fifth season Thursday night — Carrie Brownstein can make you laugh. But she can also make you cry, whether that’s heartfelt tears (she had a role in Amazon’s drama Transparent, a role creator Jill Soloway wrote with her in mind) or happy ones (her influential band Sleater-Kinney returns with the long-awaited No Cities to Love on Jan. 20). TIME caught up with the multi-talented star to talk about the Portland stereotypes she fits and why Sleater-Kinney will never pull a Beyoncé.

TIME: You do comedy in Portlandia, you do drama in Transparent, Sleater-Kinney is making a comeback, you’ve got a memoir coming out. Is there anything you can’t do?
Carrie Brownstein: Based on statistics alone, there’s so many things I can’t do. You only named four things out of a million possibilities! Really, I’m probably failing.

What is your hidden non-talent?
I’m a horrible visual artist, I can’t draw or paint or sketch. And I’m a terrible cook. I don’t have any acumen for plumbing or mathematics.

Well, who needs math, anyway?

The new season has a flashback to a ‘90s dance-off between beloved Portlandia characters Toni and Candace, the feminist bookstore owners. Have you been waiting 20 years to bust out those moves?
Yeah, I mean we had our Portlandia premiere screening on Monday in Los Angeles, and when I watched that scene on a big screen, it did remind me of the dancing you do alone in your bedroom when you’re a teenager. It was the ultimate fantasy sequence for my younger self.

I hope you choreographed it yourselves.
We choreographed it improvisationally on the spot!

How do you not break watching Fred down to “I got the power!”
Oh, there’s plenty of breaking. Luckily, when he’s dancing, the camera is on the back of my head.

Part of that flashback was to flesh out the Portlandia universe and focus more on single stories instead of sketches. What challenges did that bring?
We set out to make each season different from the last, but when you are staring down the fifth season of a show and there are so many different, wonderful sketch shows on television — whether it’s Key & Peele or Amy Schumer or Kroll Show — there’s just an awareness that it’s a very strong medium right now. We’re fortunate that we have the freedom with IFC that we can be very elastic with the form. I feel like sketches is covered right now. We just wanted to keep pushing ourselves. It’s a challenge from the time we write to the time we film. It changes the whole nature of production and performance, but I think it was a challenge that shaped the whole season, and I think we’re really happy with how it turned out.

How else do you keep the show fresh creatively several years in?
The missive that we had for each other was to take these characters we’re fond of and whose lives we’ve only seen fleeting moments of [and not] press play for a few seconds. With a sketch, you hit pause, and you’re not even getting a sense of who these people are. We decided to speak in sentences instead of phrases — I feel like the language is the same, but the form is longer and has more room for subtlety and nuance. That was really what we set out to do. That’s how we kept the stakes high, by just knowing that we might fail. That sense of undermining yourself and taking steady ground and making it uncertain again is important in pushing things forward.

What is the most stereotypical Portland thing about you?
The fact that I have a closet full of clothes that are very practical. Portland has a lot of weather-specific activity clothing, and I try to get rid of those things — I never bring them to New York or L.A. When I go home to Portland, I can’t believe how many Gore-Tex jackets I own, or vests or flannels or hiking shoes. It’s just a prerequisite when you live there, that you have to fill up your closet with these clothes. You could go camping at any time. Someone might spring a camping trip on you in the middle of a dinner. It’s very strange.

That’s my worst nightmare.
Oh my God, it’s the worst. That’s a deal breaker for a friendship.

Wait, so you have all this stuff, but you don’t like the outdoors?
No, I do outdoorsy things, I totally do. I don’t camp, though. I hike a lot. The cliche thing about me is that I really actually love the outdoors — I don’t know if that’s really a cliche. I like hiking. It’s how I reset myself. It’s part of my methodology of thinking and working, to just leave and go on walks.

Are you able to have a normal life there? Do people just shout catchphrases at you while you go grocery shopping?
That happens, but it’s flattering, I think. It’s not something you take for granted. I think it’s so rare to have anything you do enter cultural conversation, so when somebody shouts a catchphrase to you, that’s definitely not something I’m annoyed by. I think it’s very sweet, but I do have a normal life. Portland is very neighborhood-based. I keep things kind of insular there. I go to the same grocery store, the same bars, the same restaurants. I’m a little bit of a hermit there.

Have you gone incognito on a one of the Portlandia location walking tours?
Oh goodness, no I haven’t.

You can pop out at the end, like, “Surprise, it was me all along!”
I already feel like a tourist attraction there sometimes! There’s a weird surreality for people, if they’re visiting Portland from out of town and they run into Fred or I in Portland because it’s like some statute or landmark come to life. It’d be like going to New York during the Seinfeld era or something you just so associate with the city. Portland is a smaller place, obviously, but it’s a little surreal for us, too, I think.

Does the word hipster mean anything anymore?
You know, I feel like hipster is one of those terms that no one ever knew exactly what it meant. It plays into everyone’s insecurities of someone else being cooler than they are, or trying to be cooler than they are. I always felt the term was insufficient in this way. To me, it was like, “Describe something that you yourself felt like you couldn’t pull off.” It felt sort of derogatory, but at the same time, there was the element of, “Should I be wanting to do that?”

So it’s a self defense thing — dismiss something so you don’t have to deal with trying to keep up with it?
Exactly! That’s what I mean. “Oh, I guess I can’t pull that off, so that person’s a hipster, and I’m not.” But yeah, I don’t think it means anything anymore.

You finished the new Sleater-Kinney album before you announced it. You must be good at keeping secrets.
It’s strange, I feel like we were less secretive than we should have been. We were talking to friends, and somehow our friends kept it a secret. It’s a miracle that it stayed a secret. We recorded it at a studio in San Francisco. There were bands recording in the other room — there’s usually an A-studio and a B-studio. Of course we asked people to be discreet, but I’m very surprised. We were never interested in doing a proper reunion tour. It was always going to be about the record. But we didn’t want to announce it until we were certain that we had made something worthy of being put out into the world. There was a chance, even during recording, when we weren’t exactly sure what this was going to be. That’s why we kept it a secret. But I am a little surprised that it worked.

You could always do it Beyoncé-style.
Maybe. That’s definitely an option, but I think we want it to be just slightly more deliberate. And no one is Beyoncé — you just have to give her props for that.

TIME Books

Meg Wolitzer: My Debt to Sylvia Plath

Sylvia Plath and Meg Wolitzer
Plath (left, circa 1957) and Wolitzer (pictured during her college years) both studied at Smith College. Both have written about women’s struggles to define themselves. Bettmann/Corbis; Meg Wolitzer

When novelist Meg Wolitzer began writing Belzhar, her first book for a YA audience, she turned to Sylvia Plath and The Bell Jar

The first time I read Sylvia Plath’s autobiographical novel The Bell Jar, it was an emotional, chaotic experience. Her narrator has a nervous breakdown while a college student and attempts suicide, as Plath had. The story is so viscerally real and imaginable that I, then a teenager, was immersed. Plath, who recovered from her breakdown but committed suicide at age 30, left behind one powerful novel, many brilliant poems, a good deal of short fiction and voluminous journals. But it was in The Bell Jar that she used the detailed landscape of a novel to look bravely at her illness, and she compelled readers to look with her.

Flash-forward several decades. I had embarked upon writing a young-adult novel in which The Bell Jar plays a part. Belzhar (pronounced bel-jhar, a play on Plath’s title) is about a troubled girl, Jam Gallahue, who tragically loses her boyfriend and is sent to a therapeutic boarding school where she’s placed in a class that reads only one writer over the whole semester. This year, the teacher has decided they will read Plath.

Plath told the truth in The Bell Jar—I don’t mean only the autobiographical truth, though that was part of it—but also a larger truth about how emotional suffering can make people feel isolated under their own airless glass jars. Because of this truth, young readers like me were deeply affected and in some ways transformed. Had Plath been a famous suicide but not such a fine writer, her reputation would likely have fizzled out after her death. But she was uncommonly good, so she stuck. Teenagers read her when I was that age, and I sense that many teenagers still read her now.

And so, for research purposes, I read Plath again. But now, instead of responding only to the young narrator’s detachment and despair, as I had long ago, I also found myself, to my surprise, responding to the woman Sylvia Plath would never become. The writer who would never continue to mature with age. The mother who would never see her children off into the world. The person who wouldn’t have the chance to live a long life.

Younger me tended to take the short view, feeling everything along with the narrator as it happened and never thinking about that nebulous thing called the future. But now, as a middle-aged woman, I definitely took the long view. It occurs to me that not only readers but also writers often fall into the habit of taking either the short or the long view when they work. I’m a novelist whose fiction has mainly been for adults; my most recent adult book, The Interestings, lavishes a lot of time on its characters when they’re young. Then it keeps going, following them from age 15 all the way into their 50s—an age I can relate to well these days, as my children have left home, and I must remind myself to schedule my yearly mammogram.

But Belzhar, a novel about adolescents written for adolescent readers (although these days plenty of adults read YA too), takes place over the course of only one semester at boarding school. And while The Interestings is told from multiple points of view, Belzhar hews close to its narrator, letting her tell her story in a particularly close-grained way. Jam is someone who needs to talk, who is breathless and single-minded; making her a first-person narrator struck me as the best way to convey her voice, her neediness, her absolutely certain convictions about what had happened to her.

I couldn’t help but think, when writing this novel, of the two versions of me who had read The Bell Jar. Maybe there were two versions of me who should be writing Belzhar: one who was still close to the intensity of adolescence, for whom everything felt fresh and raw. That version, which still exists inside of me, took care of the parts in which I needed to drag up feelings buried in the overstuffed dresser drawer that is adolescence: What it’s like to make first-time emotional, romantic, even sexual decisions. What it’s like to manage the overwhelming new sensations and thoughts that invade you. What it’s like to feel rejected. What it’s like to realize that everyone is essentially on their own.

But then the older version of me had to put the whole thing into context, to remember that circumstances can change if you give them enough time, even if my narrator can’t know it. I wanted the older me to be somewhere in the mix of this YA book, though not to give Jam a goody-goody artificial voice of reason. Books aren’t morality plays; they don’t all need lessons. But given that Belzhar takes place in a special class at a special boarding school, it seemed appropriate that there would indeed be some kind of essential lesson conveyed.

And that’s the point at which Mrs. Q stepped in: Jam’s elderly teacher, a woman who knows quite a bit about how things can change. Without realizing it at first, I became part Jam and part Mrs. Q, shuttling between someone who takes the short view and someone who takes the long.

At book readings, audience members often ask how writers create characters. People want to know: Have writers actually experienced what their characters experienced? And if not, where do their ideas come from? My best, though incredibly vague, answer is that ideas come about through the long, slow process of living. Even if a character’s experiences aren’t your own, you are citizens of the same world, and you’ve had your experiences and witnessed other people’s too. While all that’s been going on, empathy has quietly been forming; it’s almost a chemical process.

And if you’re a writer, you’ve also been reading. A lot. And while Belzhar isn’t a ripoff or a retelling of The Bell Jar, it reflects on Plath’s novel and owes a debt to it. It’s not that you want to imitate the book you admire; you just want to do your version of what that writer did: you want to tell the truth, fiction-style.

There are quite a few of us former teenagers—women in the middle of their lives (and some men, for sure)—who have never forgotten what it felt like to read The Bell Jar for the first time. So what are we supposed to do with all that leftover feeling?

Me, I decided to write a book.

TIME Books

Author of The Notebook Nicholas Sparks Splits From Wife

Nicholas and Cathy Sparks arrive for the Premiere of "Safe Haven" on Feb. 5, 2013 in Hollywood.
Nicholas and Cathy Sparks arrive for the Premiere of "Safe Haven" on Feb. 5, 2013 in Hollywood. Albert L. Ortega—Getty Images

The writer of 17 romantic novels is separating from his wife of 25 years

There will be no storybook ending for Nicholas Sparks and his wife Cathy – the woman who inspired so many of the best-selling author’s novels.

The king of the love story, who has penned 17 romantic novels – nine of which, including The Notebook, have been made into movies – is splitting from his wife of 25 years.

“Cathy and I have separated,” Sparks, 49, tells PEOPLE exclusively. “This is, of course, not a decision we’ve made lightly. We remain close friends with deep respect for each other and love for our children. For our children’s sake, we regard this as a private matter.”

The couple, who married in 1989 – seven years before The Notebook made the young Notre Dame business school grad a literary star – have three sons and twin daughters, ranging in age from 23 to 12.

Though he’s a master at telling love stories, Sparks has always been reluctant to offer real-world romantic advice.

“I don’t like to give marriage tips,” he told PEOPLE in 2003. “There are people who are probably much better at marriage than I am – they’ve lasted a lot longer. I could probably learn from them.”

He always spoke of Cathy, a former lending-company account executive, as his muse. In a PEOPLE interview two years ago, the North Carolina-based couple spoke of how they kept the fire burning in their marriage.

“The marriage relationship has to be primary – it’s one of the best things you can teach your children,” Nicholas said. “So we don’t feel guilty if we go for a walk, just the two of us.”

Added Cathy: “We try to go on vacations alone. You need to leave alone. You have to make the effort to leave, take the time. Just go and have fun alone. We do it a few times a year.”

Sparks, whose other novels include Message in a Bottle and The Wedding, also created the progressive Epiphany School with his wife through the Nicholas Sparks Foundation.

This article originally appeared on People.com

TIME Books

Want Some Advice From Norwegian Wood Author Haruki Murakami?

Japanese writer Haruki Murakami poses for photographers prior to an award ceremony for the Welt Literature Prize bestowed by the German daily Die Welt, in Berlin on Nov. 7, 2014 John MacDougall—AFP/Getty Images

The renowned Japanese author is taking questions "of any kind" from Jan. 15

Best-selling Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami will play “agony uncle” on a special website to be set up by his publisher, Shinchosha.

The media-shy author will give readers and fans the opportunity to ask him for life advice between Jan. 15 until the end of the month.

A spokesman for Shinchosha said Murakami, whose works have been translated into nearly 50 languages, will “receive questions of any kind,” and that queries in several different languages will be accepted.

The 65-year-old author’s responses will be published on the website over the next two months, the spokesman said. The site will be called Murakami-san no Tokoro (Mr. Murakami’s Place), but a URL has not yet been made public. Interested fans will just have to wait for an announcement or, if they are readers of Japanese, check in at the Shinchosha site for updates.

Murakami is launching the project as a way of reconnecting to his readers, the Asahi Shimbun reports.

Read next: Mark Zuckerberg Invites 30 Million to His New Book Club

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