R.I.P.D.

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This week’s Saturday evening movie was the comic book adaptation – R.I.P.D.   If you’ve paid any attention to the reviews or online commentary around R.I.P.D. you’ll know it shares a lot of similarities with Men in Black. Replace Tommy Lee Jones with Jeff Bridges, Will Smith with Ryan Reynolds and aliens with the undead (known as ‘deados’) and you’re pretty much set. We picked it because a) it was first on the list of films on our PVR and b) we were both feeling under the weather and didn’t want anything too taxing. It fit the bill nicely and I actually enjoyed it at least as much as the original Men in Black. Yes, it was predictable, the 3D-ness was annoying in places and the cumin thing was a bit too random to be funny but we laughed more than once and forgot we were feeling crappy for an hour and a half which was really the point. [R.I.P.D. by Philip Harris first appeared on Solitary Mindset on 15th June 2014]

RED 2

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It’s been a while since my wife and I have watched a movie – we haven’t been to the cinema since RoboCop and our limited TV time has been spent watching such fine shows as Hannibal, Supernatural, The Big Bang Theory and Game of Thrones. Those shows are staring to wrap up though so last night we fired up the PVR and watched RED 2. We were in the mood for something light and RED 2 certainly delivered – good mindless fun. It felt a bit more light hearted and less brutal than I remember the first film being but there was plenty of action and most of the humour worked. The only thing that seemed a little off to me was the tension between Frank and Sarah. That relationship worked much better in the first film, in my opinion. Tonight, we’re heading back to the TV shows to wrap up Elementary. [RED 2 by Philip Harris first appeared on Solitary Mindset on 16th May 2014]  

Weekend Movies

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We haven’t watched a lot of movies so far this year – mostly due to extra travelling, marathon training and more time spent writing. In an effort to correct that (and free up some space for more films), we dusted off the DVR this weekend and watched a couple of films. First up was The Colony (2013). This story of a Hugh Howey-esque underground colony trying to survive in a world that’s permanently covered in snow was pretty uninspiring. Despite some decent actors (Laurence Fishburne and Bill Paxton) I never really cared about the characters and it never really delivered on the tension. We played things safe on Saturday and watched Parker (2012) – based on a book by Richard Stark (otherwise known as Donald E. Westlake). Ethical career criminal Parker is betrayed by his crew and left for dead. Thankfully for the audience, he’s not and sets out to get his revenge (and muscle in on the crew’s next job). This was pretty much what you’d expect from a Jason Statham film with the added star power of Jennifer Lopez thrown in. To me it felt a bit more like a “real film” than a vehicle for Statham’s combat prowess (probably due to the pedigree … Read More

Clouds, Wheels and Broken Guitars (and a Dalek)

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My wife and I went to Seattle for the first time last week. It was just a brief trip and the weather wasn’t great but we enjoyed it. For various reasons, we flew down, despite the fact that it’s only a couple of hours to drive, which was an odd experience. The flight time is only about half an hour which means it takes longer to get through customs than actually fly and there’s barely enough time to unbuckle your seatbelt at cruising altitude before it’s time to start descending again. Still, it was more relaxing than driving and I got to do some writing in the waiting lounge going out and on the way back. We arrived Thursday afternoon. It was cool and overcast but dry. As the weather forecast was predicting lots of rain for the rest of the weekend we decided to head straight to the Space Needle. A combination of the weather, high winds and the fact that part of the needle was supposed to be closed meant there wasn’t a lot of people around so we got to do a couple of loops around the walkway and have a drink and a slice of cake without … Read More

Kicking Elysium’s Ass

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My wife and I took a day off work yesterday. We had planned to go to the Vancouver Pacific National Exhibition but the weather wasn’t great and my wife has a niggling foot injury she’s trying to shake so we turned it into a movie day instead. After a very focused writing session where I knocked out a satisfying 924 words, we headed out to one of our three local Cineplex theatres. First up was Neill Blomkamp’s Elysium which was suitably action packed. We watched it on the AVX screen (basically a bigger, louder theatre with comfy seats) so it felt like we got the most out of the film. Like District 9, the social commentary wasn’t particularly subtle but it didn’t get in the way of the film. I would have liked to have seen more of Jodie Foster’s character but otherwise we both enjoyed it. After a quick hot dog we moved on to Kick-Ass 2 which continued the campy amateur superheroes mixed with graphic violence and enthusiastic cursing theme of the first film. Definitely not for kids but I enjoyed it and Kick-Ass 2 just about edged out Elysium as film of the day. That said, I’m half hoping they don’t do … Read More

Paranoia

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We got another pair of tickets to an advance screening last week (Thursday to be precise). This time for the thriller Paranoia. It had a promising enough cast, Liam Hemsworth, Gary Oldman, Amber Heard and Harrison Ford, but it just didn’t live up to its potential. The acting was solid enough and Gary Oldman’s character was great but otherwise it just seemed very bland. It’s kind of Wall Street crossed with today’s cellphone obsessed culture but without the subtlety or style of Wall Street. For some reason I’m immune to the smartphone craze so maybe that was it. Overall, a very middle of the road thriller. Not the worst film we’ve watched this year but not one I’d want to pay to see. Incidentally, I’ve started posting all the movies we watch (both on TV and at the cinema) to Pinterest. It will be interesting to look back in a couple of years and see what we’ve watched. I do the same thing for books. [Paranoia by Philip Harris was first posted on Solitary Mindset on 20th August 2013]

Cloud Atlas

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We finally watched Cloud Atlas over the weekend – wow, that’s a phenomenal film. We had planned to see it at the cinema but it vanished before we got a chance. It’s been on our to watch list ever since. Now we’ve seen it, I regret not seeing it on the “big screen” even more. I’m surprised it didn’t do better when it was released but the synopsis I read made it sound like a pretty daunting film and at 2 hours 51 minutes it’s got all the makings of a snooze-fest. That couldn’t be further from the truth. It held my attention better than some films half the length. In fact, directors, Tom Tykwer and Andy and Lana Wachowski, have created such an incredible rich and rewarding film that it will stand up to multiple viewings. If you haven’t seen it yet, don’t let the length and the complexity put you off, it’s a great movie. According to Pinterest, we’ve watched 73 movies so far this year and Cloud Atlas is an immediate contender for favourite film of the year. [Cloud Atlas by Philip Harris first appeared on Solitary Mindset on 13th august 2013]

Writing Day Down

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My first “writing day” of the year was a reasonable success – 2,295 words added to The Ghost Smuggler. That’s not great but I enjoyed myself. I also spent some time posting the first exercise for the brevity workshop and critiquing some of the other students’ work which chewed up some of the writing time. And I got a free cookie from Subway. I was hoping to hit the 70,000 word mark yesterday but I found that by about 4pm I was getting tired and distracted. When I wrote a chapter that could be accurately summed up as “I walked to the top of hill, there was nothing there so I went somewhere else”, I decided I should stop and go for a run. The good news is that on the run I worked out what to really do with that chapter and in the process filled in a small plot hole I’d be studiously ignoring for some time. Unfortunately, this morning I realised there’s some inconsistency in the way I’m getting characters in and out of the spiritworld that I can’t ignore. As Brandon Sanderson is fond of saying, I can “fix it in post” and I think that fix … Read More

The Conjuring

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My wife and I went to see The Conjuring on Saturday. We’re both horror fans (it was Ann that introduced me to one of my favourite films, Hellraiser) and we both enjoyed it. I’m pleased  that Hollywood has finally moved away from the “teen horror” of films like Final Destination and its brief flirtation with torture porn (Hostel 3 anyone?). They seem to have rediscovered the 70s style paranormal horror exemplified by films like The Exorcist and Audrey Rose and I for one approve. The Conjuring is “based on a true story” – the paranormal investigators in the film, Ed and Lorraine Warren are real people and the film covers a couple of their cases. How true the story is, I don’t know but The Conjuring is a solid entry into the haunted house sub-genre. It’s appropriately tense and creepy and feels a lot like those older films. Like most modern horror films, it relies on rising tension punctuated by sudden shocks but it’s effective and if you like your horror creepy, it’s well worth a look. [The Conjuring by Philip Harris first appeared on Solitary Mindset on 31 July 2013]

“In the Flat Fields”

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It’s been a busy few days. On Thursday and Friday I took part in a two day offsite (basically a really long meeting where we talk about strategic company stuff). It played havoc with my writing schedule but on Thursday evening we were treated to a visit from  retired NHL player, Trevor Linden. Linden played for the Vancouver Canucks and is probably their most loved player. He’s renowned for being an all round great guy and true to form he was very friendly, happily signing autographs and chatting with us after his speech. Saturday was race day. I took part in the 25th Annual Summerfast 10k race around Stanley Park. Ann wasn’t running, she ran a solo race last weekend, so I was on my own for this one. It was a fantastic event with beautiful clear skies and a great atmosphere. There’s a cap of 500 runners for the race so it’s relatively small. I started a little bit too far back in the pack so it was somewhat crowded and the pace was slower than I’d have liked during the early part of the race but from 2km onwards the field had spread out and I was able … Read More