The Not So Amazing Spider-Man

Philip HarrisMoviesLeave a Comment

I enjoyed the Tobey Maguire Spider-Man films (although I thought the last one lacked focus) but for some indistinct reason the reboot didn’t really appeal so we didn’t go to see it at the cinema. I was interested in it enough to record it from Movie Central though and it’s been sitting on our PVR for a while. We finally got around to watching it last night and it turns out my ill defined impressions were correct. It wasn’t a bad film but halfway through I stopped caring about anything that was going on. Thinking about it this morning, I came to the conclusion that the problem was it all felt too familiar. Apart from a different villain, it’s essentially the same story as the Tobey Maguire version. I get that it’s an origin story and so there’s a formula that needs to be followed but even the tone felt similar to the earlier films (or at least to my memory of the earlier films). Contrast it to the Batman reboot. Again, it was a familiar story but it felt different – fresher and more modern. The Dark Knight trilogy works because it keeps to the spirit of Batman while still bringing … Read More

Look Who’s Evil Now

Philip HarrisChatter, MoviesLeave a Comment

My wife introduced me to horror films one afternoon when she suggested we rent out Clive Barker’s Hellraiser. That film has since become one of my favourites and even now, <cough> years later, we’re still drawn to horror films. So, it was inevitable that we’d go to see the Evil Dead remake. And by that I mean this one: Not this one: Let’s get something straight right from the start. There are no plot surprises in this film. This is the type of horror film that The Cabin in the Woods skewered so beautifully. There was some attempt at a credible explanation for why our protagonists don’t run from the cabin (which given the amount of rain in this film is located somewhere near Vancouver) at the first sign of trouble but beyond that you get all the requisite plot holes and dumb decisions you would expect. But that’s not why people watch Evil Dead and the remake has updated the story without losing the flavour of the original. Which makes it a very gory film. Very. Despite being labelled on the Cineplex website as a “thriller” this is not a watered down PG-13 teen-horror. This is a full on, in your … Read More

Retreat (2011)

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My wife and I watch quite a lot of movies, usually 3-4 a week. Our PVR sits at 80% full thanks to our subscription to Movie Central and we live near a couple of big cinemas and see quite a lot of stuff on the “big screen” as well. Last night’s film was Retreat starring Thandie Newton, Cillian Murphy and Jamie Bell. Ann suggested we record it (I’m not sure why) and I wasn’t really expecting much. As it turned out, it was actually pretty good. Newton and Murphy play a couple staying in a cottage on a remote island. They find an injured soldier (played by Jamie Bell) who informs them that an airborne virus is sweeping across the country, killing everyone but it’s clear he can’t be trusted. It  has a tiny cast, there’s only one other character, a brief appearance of Jimmy Yuill as the cottage owner who drops them off on the island. I wouldn’t be surprised to find it started life as a play. There’s a bit of a Dead Calm feel to Retreat and although the couple’s back story feels a bit superfluous overall I enjoyed it. [The article Retreat (2011) by Philip Harris originally appeared on Solitary Mindset on … Read More

Only Three Days?

Philip HarrisChatter, Movies, Running, The Ghost Smuggler, WritingLeave a Comment

My wife and I went out for our first long run in a couple of weeks yesterday – a “short” 18km route to ease us back into things. It was a fantastic day, cool with clear blue skies. We ran along the English Bay seawall, round Lost Lagoon, through Stanley Park along Pipeline to the east seawall, then right along the seawall to “Mile Zero” before cutting back to Lost Lagoon and English Bay seawall to run home. It’s a route we use a lot – it’s flat, there’s a decent amount of variety, a few places to get water and you can double up the middle 6km to get some extra distance. I felt good during the run but an hour or so afterwards I was feeling pretty beaten up. My calves were very tight and there was a little ball of pain half way down my back. It was at this point that Ann mentioned that it only takes 3 days for running fitness to start dropping off. And I’d missed over two weeks. Thinking about it today, I think it had more to do with the fact that I wore my “race shoes” – a pair of … Read More

Was It Something I Ate?

Philip HarrisChatter, Movies, The Ghost Smuggler, WritingLeave a Comment

Not an enjoyable day yesterday – let’s leave it at that. I forgot to mention yesterday that we went to see Prometheus on Sunday. I won’t join the hordes of people reviewing the film but I will say that while it’s not the best movie I’ve ever seen, I did enjoy it. It’s not Alien and it’s not Aliens but it’s still worth seeing. Despite the distraction I alluded to earlier, I did manage to find some time to write another 1337 words on The Ghost Smuggler – which is nice – and only 196 of those words were directly salvaged from the original draft which is also nice. I’m not completely happy with what I have so far, although it does feel a lot tighter than the original so that’s a step in the right direction. Of course, I don’t know if that’s because I’m over analyzing or if there’s still work to be done. I’m going to press on and see how things shape up.

Back From The Dead

Philip HarrisBooks, Chatter, Events, Movies, Music, StoriesLeave a Comment

Time flies when you’re living in a self-imposed creative wasteland. It’s been three months since my last real update and since then I’ve been to several plays including two musicals, seen a couple of fantastic musicians live listened to a lot of great new music, backed loads of kickstarter projects, watched some hockey but not as much as I would have liked, eaten in some nice restaurants, injured my foot, run a marathon and signed up for a second one, watched some really good films (and awesome videos), seen the batmobile, read some great books and a lot of short stories but written nothing. The Evil Dead Claim Another Victim*  However, a couple of weeks ago we went away to Desolation Sound for a short break to recharge and I ended up writing the first drafts of a couple of new stories – This is Not the Apocalypse You’re Looking For and Artificial Wife. Desolation Sound  That burst of creativity (and the amazing location) swept away the cobwebs and since then I’ve been masterminding a plan to get writing back into my regular schedule. The first step was to clear out all my almost finished stories so I’ve spent the last few days revising Origami Man, Rainshine and … Read More

Forward on Backwards

Philip HarrisMovies, Stories, TelevisionLeave a Comment

Ethel the Muse was working overtime on Saturday morning and by the time I got up I had a fully formed idea for a new story – Backwards Boy. The first half was written on Saturday but by Sunday morning I hated it so I ended up rewriting a lot of it. It’s pretty short – 986 words – and it’s also difficult to categorise. In a lot of ways it’s not really speculative fiction at all. But it might be, it depends on what happens after the story ends. Unfortunately, that means it will be a tricky story to place but we’ll see how it goes. Of course, it needs to sit in my unfinished folder and age for a couple of weeks before I edit it and start submitting. The addition of Backwards Boy means I have five stories waiting for me to edit them. Can you tell I’m not a fan of editing? My goal is to get all five finished and out into the wild by the end of the year. Other than a couple of hours of writing, the weekend was filled with day job and trips out and television. Specifically we caught up with the … Read More

Anonymous Driver Calling

Philip HarrisMoviesLeave a Comment

Movie day yesterday, three movies – two of them excellent. We started off with Roland Emmerich’s Anonymous – the story of the political and royal intrigue that forced a talented Elizabethan playwright to hide his identity behind that of an illiterate actor called William Shakespeare. Very entertaining, even if the theory that Shakespeare is not the real author of  Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet etc. is considered nonsense by most scholars. Next up was Drive. Based on the book by James Sallis, starring Ryan Gosling and directed by Nicolas Winding Refn, it’s a stylish thriller filled with meaningful silences and sudden bursts of graphic violence. Just my sort of film and I’ve just added the eBook to my wishlist. Last of all we watched Simon West’s remake of When A Stranger Calls. This was actually better than I expected and there were some genuinely creepy moments although advances in telephone technology rob it of some of its effectiveness. If you’re tempted, I recommend you watch the Fred Walton original from 1979 over the remake. Either way, if you’re not familiar with the twist that comes towards the end of the film, don’t watch the remake’s trailer – it includes a spoiler. Movie day took up … Read More