Category: film

R.I.P. Bernard Horsfall, British character actor of Doctor Who and On Her Majesty’s Secret Service

Actor Bernard Horsfall, whose 50-year career of film and television roles included the 1969 James Bond thriller On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, small roles in Braveheart and Gandhi, and four guest appearances on Doctor Who, died on Tuesday, reports Radio Times. He was 82.

Horsfall made his film debut in the 1957 Cold War drama High Flight, going on to play military men and similar tough-guy roles in movies like The Steel Bayonet, Guns At Batasi, and Shout At The Devil. In On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, he appeared as Campbell, who helped George Lazenby’s Bond on a mission in Switzerland, only to be [spoiler alert] killed by archenemy Ernst Stavro Blofeld as a warning against further interference.

Horsfall is probably most well-known for his Doctor Who roles, beginning with 1969’s “The Mind Robber” as the fictional traveler Lemuel Gulliver. In the same year’s “The War Games,” he returned to play an unnamed Time Lord who presided over the trial of Patrick Troughton’s Second Doctor, then returned in 1973 to play Taron, an ally of Jon Pertwee’s Third Doctor, in “Planet Of The Daleks.” Most memorably, Horsfall played opposite Fourth Doctor Tom Baker in 1976’s “The Deadly Assassin” as the ambitious and power-hungry Time Lord Chancellor Goth, who hunted the Doctor through a nightmarish, hallucinogenic landscape only to be betrayed and killed by his boss and the Doctor’s nemesis, the Master. The serial’s third-episode cliffhanger, in which Goth appears to be graphically drowning the Doctor, became infamous after being singled out by conservative antiviolence campaigner Mary Whitehouse, and was censored from subsequent broadcasts for years. Horsfall later returned to Doctor Who in the 2003 audio drama Davros.

Horsfall appeared frequently on British TV screens, including starring roles in the late-1970s WWII drama Enemy At The Door and the short-lived 1960 series Captain Moonlight: Man Of Mystery, as well as guest roles in The Saint, Z-Cars, three episodes of The Avengers, and the 1988 Jeremy Brett adaptation of The Hound Of The Baskervilles. Horsfall also appeared frequently on stage, including several productions with the Royal Shakespeare Company in the 1980s.

Originally published on Read the original article.

A guide to the 2012 Minneapolis-St. Paul International Film Festival

Sure, taking a trip around the world sounds awesome, but there are also many potential hassles: losing your passport, drinking strange water, and maybe even being kidnapped by pirates. Better to let the world come to you, as it does every spring with the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Film Festival, an always-reliable showcase of not-often-seen indie films and foreign cinematic gems. Opening with the hit French buddy comedy The Intouchables on April 12, the festival will show more than 250 films from 60 countries through May 3. The festival will also offer plenty of chances to hobnob with visiting filmmakers at screenings, parties, and other events celebrating the 50th anniversary of the fest’s parent organization, the Film Society Of Minneapolis-St. Paul. All films screen at the St. Anthony Main Theatre; for a complete, up-to-date schedule, visit the festival’s website at Here’s a taste of what this year’s festival has to offer.

Originally published April 11, 2012 on Read the complete article.

Was ‘Bridesmaids’ deserving of Oscar nod?

Did “Bridesmaids” get left behind at Oscar’s Best Picture altar? Or are the raunchy comedy’s two nominations already more than it deserves?

Some early buzz suggested that Kristen Wiig’s R-rated wedding-disaster hit was a contender for the Academy Awards’ top prize, especially now that the field is open to more than just five films. That didn’t happen, but “Bridesmaids” did score a supporting-actress nod for Melissa McCarthy, who played the endearingly obnoxious and sexually voracious Megan, and an original screenplay nomination for writers Wiig and Annie Mumolo.

Best Picture was always going to be a long shot. The fact is that the Oscars have never been kind to comedies, as a look at recent years makes clear. Of the nine movies nominated for Best Picture this year, only Woody Allen’s “Midnight In Paris” is considered a comedy, and of the 10 nominations in 2010 and 2011, only the animated movies “Toy Story 3″ and “Up” qualify.

Originally published Jan. 24, 2012 on Read the complete article.

The Future Sounds of Yesterday: A Sequence of Synthesizers in Science Fiction

Music and technology have always gone hand in hand—and the explosive flowering of music as an art form in the last century is also the story of the explosive growth of technology. Indeed, people have recognized the potential of computers to revolutionize music since before there even were computers. In 1842, writing about the theoretical uses of Charles Babbage’s Difference Engine, computer-science progenitor Ada Lovelace enthused that once the fundamentals of harmony and musical composition were properly understood, “the engine might compose elaborate and scientific pieces of music of any degree of complexity or extent.” (And there’s something wondrous about a woman at the dawn of the Victorian Age dreaming of something now commonplace with electronic groups such as Daft Punk.) Like computing itself, electronic music began as the arcane province of technology specialists and slowly became a truly democratic force that put the power to change the world—or at least soundtrack it—in the hands of everyone. And because cutting-edge technology is particularly good at sounding alien and futuristic, it’s meshed perfectly with science fiction as a subject matter. Below is a brief history of the ways those three elements—the music, the tech, and the SF themes—have intersected and influenced each other, in various media, over time.

Originally published Jan. 3 in Clarkesworld Magazine. Read the complete article.

Party on! The five best wild guys in film

Bartender, another round, and make it a double! In Oct. 28′s “The Rum Diary,” Johnny Depp returns to the role of gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson — or his alter ego, Paul Kemp. That’s great news for fans of Depp’s wild-eyed performance in the 1998 cult classic “Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas.”

For the infamously brilliant but unhinged Thompson, covering news and consuming booze and pills went hand-in-hand, and hallucinations of giant bats were an everyday job hazard. His fictionalized persona is one of the great loose-cannon characters in film and literary history.

Here are five guys from the movies who could tie one on with Thompson and live to tell the tale.

Originally published Oct. 21, 2011 on Read the complete article.

Take two! Movie remakes we love — and hate: The Thing

Yes, the prequel to John Carpenter’s 1982 movie “The Thing” is coming out this week. Carpenter’s movie itself was a remake of a 1951 film, Howard Hawks’ “The Thing From Another World.” And for my money, it’s the best remake out there, of any film, ever.

Carpenter’s classic follows a group of scientists at an isolated polar base who stumble across an alien frozen in the ice — and when they wake it up, it’s not exactly friendly. “Thing From Another World” is a fine film on its own merits, still thrilling and creepy half a century later. But 1950s special-effects couldn’t possibly do justice to the novella’s villain, a frighteningly unstoppable shape-changing monster. Carpenter, along with obsessive effects wizard Rob Bottin, had the tools and the imagination to get it right. Kurt Russell makes a perfect grizzled, distrusting hero for a story about not knowing who to trust. Ennio Morricone’s soundtrack is wonderfully icy and subtle. And unlike a lot of horror movies, “The Thing” never falls prey to making the characters behave stupidly just to get a cheap shock — it’s remarkably well-crafted, delivering big as a gut-level scarefest and a psychological thriller.

Part of a group-written roundup originally published Oct. 11, 2011 on Read the complete article.

Interview: Joel Hodgson and Trace Beaulieu of Cinematic Titanic

Joel Hodgson and Trace Beaulieu may not have invented wisecracking about mediocre B-movies like Doomsday Machine and Danger On Tiki Island but, as two of the stars of cult-favorite TV series Mystery Science Theater 3000, they raised it to an art form. Though MST3K was canceled in 1999, it found new life on DVD, and in 2007 Hodgson and Beaulieu got the band back together, along with fellow founding movie-riffers Frank Conniff, J. Elvis Weinstein, and Mary Jo Pehl for the spin-off project Cinematic Titanic, which has released about a dozen new DVDs carrying on the movie-mocking tradition. The Titanic crew kicks off an extensive fall U.S. tour with three shows at Minneapolis’ Parkway Theater Sept. 15-17, tackling Doomsday Machine, War Of The Insects, and Rattlers, the latter two of which will be filmed for future live DVDs. (For more, click here.) The A.V. Club talked with Hodgson and Beaulieu about raising the Titanic, staying frosty, and the secret of Torgo’s huge thighs.

Originally published Sept. 13, 2011 on Read the complete article.

‘Mystery Science’ alums know bad movies better than anyone

When it comes to enduring bad movies, the comedians of “Cinematic Titanic” have more experience than most. Featuring five founding members of cult TV hit “Mystery Science Theater 3000,” “Titanic” continues the tradition of making fun of the foibles of B-movie bombs like “Frankenstein’s Castle of Freaks” and “The Oozing Skull.” The crew will take their show on the road for a 19-city tour this fall starting Sept. 15-17 in Minneapolis; details can be found at

We talked to Titanic’s Frank Conniff, J. Elvis Weinstein, and Trace Beaulieu about what makes a movie truly wretched.

Originally published Aug. 26, 2011 on Read the complete article.

Cut! Cut! Movies so bad, you had to leave

This summer has seen its share of fizzles and outright flops, with films like “Green Lantern,” “Cowboys & Aliens,” and “Conan the Barbarian” failing to strike a chord with audiences. But it takes a special kind of movie to make you so bored, irritated or offended that you just can’t stand watching it anymore.

As the owner of the Heights Theater in Minneapolis, Tom Letness has seen his share of walkouts. “They don’t like it, they’re bored, they’re offended. Those are the big three.” Letness thinks that most bad experiences could be avoided if moviegoers did a little due diligence beforehand. “I’d say the bulk of the people know what they’re getting into, but there’s a number of people that just don’t,” he says. “It surprises me sometimes that people come into a film cold, and know nothing about it. I remember I showed [2008 Holocaust drama] ‘The Reader,’ and there was a guy who walked out mainly because he was offended by the male frontal nudity. He said, ‘That’s unacceptable.’ I was just like, ‘Well, whatever, I guess you’ve never looked in a mirror then.’”

We asked a variety of movie goers to tell us about the films so bad that they just couldn’t stay till the end.

Originally published Aug. 25, 2011 on Read the complete article.

Top bananas: Best and worst of “Planet of the Apes”

When the chimpanzees come to rule the world Aug. 5 in “Rise of the Planet of the Apes,” it won’t be for the first time. “Rise” reboots one of science fiction’s most enduring series, which ruled 1970s sci-fi before “Star Wars” thanks to its mix of action, satirical humor, and twisty endings. Here’s a look back at some of the best, weirdest and most memorable moments of the original “Apes” series.

Originally published Aug. 1, 2011 on Read the complete article.

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