The Perks of Being a Wallflower

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Every now and again, I read about a movie or see a trailer or even just a poster and something clicks and I’m suddenly completely confident I’m going to enjoy that film. Moonrise Kingdom was one of those and so was The Perks of Being a Wallflower, the Stephen Chbosky film based on his novel of the same name. We finally watched it Saturday night and I was not disappointed. Perks is a classic coming of age story, the modern equivalent of those John Hughes movies from the 80s, and I’m a sucker for films about misfits trying to find their place in the world. This one has some dark corners to it as well which only served to make me like it even more. And it has a fantastic soundtrack. We’re not watching a lot of films at the moment so arguably there isn’t a lot of competition but The Perks of Being a Wallflower is the best film we’ve seen this year. A great script, great characters and great acting. My only regret is waiting two years to watch it and if you haven’t seen it yet, it’s well worth a look. [The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Philip Harris first appeared on Solitary Mindset on 30th June … Read More


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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]


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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

So This is Christmas…

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I have mixed feelings about Christmas. I’m a big fan of the whole goodwill to all men, peace on Earth thing, not as big a fan of the incessant commercialisation. And the perfume adverts…don’t get me started on those. In fact, don’t get me started on any Christmas ads. I’m lucky in that the office shuts down from Christmas Day to New Years Day. That doesn’t always mean everyone gets that time off because it’s not unusual for us to have a project in the final stages of development which means a few people are in the office fixing bugs, testing, coming up with last minute design changes etc. But at the very least the constant stream of email and meetings eases up for a week. Normally, I just stick to the one week of vacation at Christmas but this year I wanted to get some extra writing done so I took Friday, Monday and Tuesday off which means I’m on the third day of my Christmas break already. As usual I’ve got a whole string of things I’d like to get done. Finish off the first draft of Glitch Mitchell and the Unseen Planet. Write the first draft of a play … 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


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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]