Beating the Blerch Part Two

Philip HarrisRunningLeave a Comment

When we left our hero, he’d travelled to Seattle, spent four hours in a line to get his bib and book vandalised by The Onion and become one of the last people to watch Dawn of the Planet of the Apes in the cinema. When I was training for my first marathon, I was given some advice for the final days before a race – “Don’t stand when you can lean. Don’t lean when you can sit. Don’t sit when you can lie down.” Basically, you want to rest as much as possible for a couple of days before the race. So, spending the Friday before a race standing in a queue and the Saturday morning wandering aimlessly around the Seattle waterfront was not the best way to prepare for race day. Saturday started with us tracking down breakfast at Le Panier – A Very French Bakery near Pike Place Market. It was recommended to us by one of our fellow marathon runners (a Saturday runner whose marathon bib number was 1!) and proved a perfect place for breakfast. The apricot croissant and pain au chocolat I had were both delicious, the bread looked and smelled equally good and the prices were excellent. If you’re in … Read More

Guardians of the Galaxy

Philip HarrisMovies, ReviewsLeave a Comment

We really are living in a golden age of science fiction and fantasy movies and TV. The (relatively) low cost of computer generated imagery coupled with the suitability of genre blockbusters for 3D conversion (and the associated additional income) have created an evironment where it’s finally feasible to create pretty much any ridiculous scenario authors and screenwriters can come up with. And…It’s wearing me out. I can only take so many explosion laden blockbusters before I retreat to the subtle charm of an indie character piece. I pick and choose which of the big films I go to see (no Transformers or Turtles for a start) and this year I’ve seen three – Lucy (which I talked about here), Edge of Tomorrow (which I thought was surprisingly good but neglected to mention at the time) and now Guardians of the Galaxy which we watched in 2D. I have to say, I’m happy with my choices so far. Guardians is quite different to both Lucy and Edge of Tomorrow but I enjoyed it just as much. It’s fast paced and doesn’t take itself at all seriously. The 80s vibe worked really well for me and I was reminded of The Last Starfighter (although I … Read More

All Alone in the Night

Philip HarrisMovies, TelevisionLeave a Comment

News hit recently of a possible Babylon 5 movie reboot. Despite it sometimes feeling like a poor man’s Star Trek, at least as far as fandom goes, My wife and I have been fans of the show since it originally aired in the UK and “It can be a dangerous place” is still part of our shared vocabulary. It’s safe to say we’re up for a reboot, particularly if J. Michael Straczynski is running things. Babylon 5 was the first TV show that I watched that had a true ongoing story. Most shows I paid attention to back then followed the standard sitcom approach where the world at the end of an episode was essentially the same as when that episode started. My science fiction viewing prior to Babylon 5 was generally limited to Star Trek (Original and Next Generation), Doctor Who and Blake’s 7, and you could watch the episodes in pretty much any order. You might wonder why Tasha Yar wasn’t on the Enterprise that week but other than that, you’d be able to follow what was going on. Even a series with an ongoing plot like The Invaders could really be watched out of order with very little problem and the early episodes of The … Read More

Lucy

Philip HarrisMoviesLeave a Comment

Lucy is a dumb movie. Let’s get that out there right from the start. Do not go to this movie expecting anything resembling a plausible plot. It’s not enough just to suspend disbelief – you’ll also have to suspend your belief in the laws of physics, common sense and your desire for there to be any sort of internal consistency to a film. This is not a movie that will make the world a better place. But I enjoyed it. Especially the first fifteen minutes or so. The opening scenes build a real sense of menace and Scarlett Johansson gives a raw, emotional performance that was definitely the highlight of the movie for me. The Besson magic is in evidence and it starts to look like a film that is much more intelligent than the trailer would have you believe. And then it all gets a bit silly. The plot bounces from set piece to ever more ridiculous set piece, mixing classic Besson car chases with effects laden computer graphics sequences until it gets to rather bizarre climax that’s hard to really comment on without spoiling anything. It’s a wild ride and completely implausible, even perplexing in places. At one point I … Read More

They Had Me at Max

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Too bad we have to wait until next year.   [They Had Me at Max by Philip Harris first appeared on Solitary Mindset on 27th July 2014]

The Perks of Being a Wallflower

Philip HarrisMovies, ReviewsLeave a Comment

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

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

Philip HarrisMovies, ReviewsLeave a Comment

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

Philip HarrisMoviesLeave a Comment

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)

Philip HarrisChatter, PhotosLeave a Comment

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