Films on a Friday #27 – Begin Again

Hello folks, I hope you’ve all been enjoying the hot weather. There was a thunder storm last night and there are set to be more tomorrow so I’m excited for that.

82. Begin Again
This film was adorable. Starring Keira Knightley, Mark Ruffalo, James Corden and Adam Levine, it follows Knightky and Ruffalo’s journey of trying to record an album on no budget but the good will of passionate musicians. I liked the plot line, it was both funny and sad, and the character development was interesting also. The music was wonderful, I’m so happy I saw this one in the cinema to really appreciate all of the different elements of the music.

If you have some spare time this week, I’d definitely recommend giving it a watch!

Sophie x

Films on a Friday #26 – Love and Other Impossible Pursuits

Hello folks, a Natalie Portman film this week wooo.

81. Love and Other Impossible Pursuits
I can’t remember why I popped this onto my watch list, but I rather liked it. Natalie Portman plays the role of Emilia – a woman struggling to fit into the role of a step-mother whilst trying to overcome her own grief. In flashbacks, it shows Emilia being an assertive and ambitious business women but in the present she is depressed, tired and lonely which really showed a contrast in character.The film was slightly similar to What Maisie Knew that I watched recently in that it focuses on a child in the middle of two bickering, separated parents and the child was a lot more switched on than the parents gave them credit for.  Overall, it was an emotionally draining film but interesting to see Natalie Portman to play this kind of role.

Have a great weekend!

Sophie x

Applying For a Visa: A Really Boring Video Game.

Hello folks, a little placement update for you all. Visas are harder to come by than I thought. It felt like in order to fill out one form you had to fill out multiple other forms and find loads of pieces of information in order to get onto the next stage. Like a really boring video game.

Hurdle #1 – Finding the Right Form
So I got onto the website, that was easy enough. Fill out basic information like you would on most application forms. Answer crazy amounts of questions to make sure I’m not going to the US for any dodgy reasons like espionage or human trafficking (no, no, no, etc)

Hurdle #2 – SEVIS
It asks for a SEVIS ID and my first reaction was, what the bloody hell is a SEVIS?! Well let me tell you,

SEVIS stands for Student and Exchange Visitor Information System. It is a
nationwide, Internet-based system that the U.S. government uses to maintain
accurate and current information on non-immigrant students (F and M visa),
exchange visitors (J visa), and their dependents (F-2, M-2, and J-2).

Does that clear things up for you? It kind of did for me. But the thing I found with applying for a visa and its associated paperwork is that as soon as you find the answer to one question it opens up another three. Which makes it a very time consuming process! Some students have to pay the fee, some are exempt. Finding out which I was took ages and I’m still only 70% sure I got it right. Any onto the next one!

Hurdle #3 – Program Number
So I sent out a couple of emails but didn’t get any answers so I actually called up Marist College for this one. The people I needed to talk to weren’t available so I just had to wait for an email but it sure was exciting to hear the accent I’m going to be surrounded by in a little over 5 weeks. They said things like “gotcha” and “sure”, which may sound little to you but whilst I was on hold I mouthed to my Dad “oh my god, their accents!!”. (I’m going to need to control myself when I get over there.) Useful email received, program number located, stage completed!

Hurdle #4 – Submit, pay and book an appointment
This part was much simpler. However, on the website it said the waiting time for an appointment for my type of visa was 13 calendar days. This is lies!! Don’t believe this! It was actually closer to 30 days. So don’t let the website lull you into a false sense of security like it did for me. Application submitted, fee paid and appointment booked. Almost there!

Hurdle #4 – The Appointment
I won’t complete this stage for a couple of weeks and I’m hoping it all goes off without a hitch. I read on a website that it was good to get one of those folders with built in plastic wallets to keep all of your paper work in for your year abroad so I’ve made one of those and have all my visa application documents in it ready for the trip to London.

And that’s as far as I’ve got with my visa application so far. My biggest wish is that I’d started it all weeks earlier, but the past is the past and fingers crossed everything gets sorted in time. Actually, my biggest wish is that someone had done it all for me but I’m nowhere near rich enough for a servant! I just had to keep reminding myself that it will all be worth it and the reward isn’t in the too far future. That’s as far as I’ve got with the visa application process, to be continued…

Sophie x

Films on a Friday #25 – Carrie

Hello folks, I hope you’ve all been enjoying the good weather. I’m rather sun burnt today, completely my own fault, I guess I underestimated how hot it was outside! So with a rather pink face I will go on with today’s post.

80. Carrie
What a weird film. Well it started out weird and then it just got scary. As I’ve said in a previous FOAF, I’m rather liking Chloë Grace Moretz as she gets older, I’m definitely going to make a list of the films she’s been in and watch a few more. I thought she was kind of mouthy in Kick Ass, Kick Ass 2 was an improvement and since then I’ve been really impressed with her performances. The film focuses on Carrie, a bullied teenager who discovers she has telekinesis powers. It sounds like a cheesy Disney movie but it is far from it. Julianne Moore is freakin’ creepy too, it’s unsure at first exactly who or what she is: whether she also has some kind of supernatural power or if she is just deeply religious. Overall it’s not the type of film I would typically watch but I’m glad I persevered, give it a watch!

Have a nice weekend!

Sophie x

Films on a Friday #24 – The Remains of the Day, What Maisie Knew, X-Men: Days of Future Past

Hello folks. I’m sorry! I got called in to work yesterday then had no time to write a post before going out. Let’s all just pretend that it’s Friday today, cool? Cool.

77. The Remains of the Day
This was released the year my best friend and I were born and I’m glad we actually sat down and watched it because it’s not one that I would usually go for. It surrounded the story of how WWII started from the perspective of the butler at Darlington Hall, he would hear glimpses of meetings and talks with international political figure heads but did his utmost to be professional and only serve his master. There were some emotional scenes in it, where we as viewers go really frustrated with Mr Stevens, who seemed to have built up this wall around his so that he could remain professional. It seemed impossible to be able to tie him down and have a proper conversation because he was always edging away claiming he was incredibly busy. I liked that it was based on real events and it’s made me consider watching more films based around WWII and other historical events.

78. What Maisie Knew
I remember researching this film so much and watching loads of interviews because it was such a different role from what I have seen Alexander Skarsgård play before. Based on the novel by Henry James, Netflix described the plot best as: “A perceptive 6-year-old girl becomes a bargaining tool when she gets caught in the midst of a toxic custody fight between her self-seeking parents.” I think this film has made it into my top-ten faves. Onata Aprile’s acting is incredible and at age only 6 I’m really curios about the films she’ll make in the future. Also, Alexander is such a cutie, it’s mad to think he filmed this in between seasons of True Blood as the characters are so different. It makes you reconsider who can be a parent to child, whether they are blood related or not.

79. X-Men: Days of Future Past
This film is so frickin’ cool. There’s one scene where everything is in slow motion and it was amazingly shot but also hilarious at the same time. The action scenes were cool, the mutant powers were cool and the funny bits were cool too. Like many of you, I love Jennifer Lawrence so seeing her, as well as loads of other awesome actors, was really fun. Also, Tyrion was in it! By Tyrion, I mean Peter Dinklage (who is an awesome actor). Aside from a couple of interviews, I’ve only ever seen him in Game of Thrones so I enjoyed watching him in a different role.

I was wondering if there was some crossover from the Iron Man 3 story line where the scientist ‘villain’ as such is pushing the research due to personal reasons. So in Iron Man 3, Aldrich Killian develops the science for the human body to regenerate and repair at a higher rate, which he uses to cure himself of his own disabilities. I was wondering if there was any significance in Trask, Dinklage’s character, being played by someone with achondroplasia because that is “caused by a gene alteration (mutation) in the FGFR3 gene”. I wondered if it was his own gene mutation, that gave him no special powers, that gave Trask  such a vendetta against the mutants in the film and therefore wanted to destroy them all. Just a theory, I’d like to know what any of you think about that.

That’s all for this week, I hope you are all enjoying the weekend!

Sophie x


Films on a Friday #23 – Wolf of Wall Street

Hello folks, I finally watched Wolf of Wall Street! I’ve heard that it’s not one to watch with your parents but my brother and I got it on Blu-Ray for my Dad as part of his Father’s Day present so we all sat down and watched it (in installments because it’s hella long and we started it late) and then it became number 76 on the list.

76. Wolf of Wall Street
Bearing in mind that I am a Business student, I genuinely don’t think I could cope with that kind of lifestyle! Barely ever sleeping because of the business deals and all the drugs, drink, sexand parties that come with it. It was non-stop and to think it was based on the memoirs of Jordan Belfort is crazy. I quite liked it, the acting was good and it was a really fast paced film. My brother said he found it kind of boring and I can see why he thought that because it was effectively just recounting things that happened, but the fast pace counter-acted this and kept me interested. I did a bit of googling on Jordan Belfort and found a quote from one of his motivational speeches:

“I got greedy … Greed is not good. Ambition is good, passion is good. Passion prospers. My goal is to give more than I get, that’s a sustainable form of success … Ninety-five percent of the business was legitimate … It was all brokerage firm issues. It was all legitimate, nothing to do with liquidating stocks.”

I found that pretty interesting, he was running a mostly legitimate business but it seemed like his greed drove him to doing illegal activities. It makes you wonder where he could be if he wasn’t so driven by greed.

That’s all for this week folks, have a great weekend!

Sophie x

Livin’ on a Prayer – A List of Lasts

Hello folks, I’m half way there! I have completed two years of my degree, meaning I have 50% of a Bsc in Business and Management. These last few weeks I have been doing a lot of things for the last time before I begin my placement at Marist College in just over two months.

My Last Lecture
Just before Easter I went to my last lecture and last seminar at Aston until I’m in my final year! The teaching style at Marist is supposed to be quite different, with smaller groups being the biggest difference, I much prefer uni when we’re in smaller groups so I’m rather looking forward to it!

My Last Exam
I sat six exams this summer and I completed my final last week. Freedom tastes so sweet! I feel like I celebrated well with a trip to Alton Towers, a house party, a trip to Harry Potter Studio tour and many other things!

My Last Piece of Coursework
Whilst I do not want to dwell on those horrific two weeks where it felt like every deadline happened at once, I am happy to add the fact that I did it to my list. I picked up my last piece of coursework from second year yesterday and I was rather happy with the result so that was a nice way to end the year.

Came Back to Uni After a Break for the Last Time
After my first five exams, I had a 2.5 week break so I went back home for a while and also visited my friend and brother at their respective uni’s. It will be weird next year when I won’t be able to visit my friends or siblings because I’ll be the other side of the Atlantic Ocean. Coming back to uni knowing it will be the last time in over a year was a bizarre feeling too, exciting times ahead!

Gave Blood and Left The Interval Study
I’ve been giving blood for a few years now and last year I was asked to become part of the interval study run by Oxford and Cambridge University. Basically most people give blood every 16 weeks, but they are running a study with loads of people each giving blood at 12, 14 or 16 week intervals and then doing science-y thing to test if the body can cope with it. I’ve been on the 14 week interval study for over a year now and I’m gutted I have to drop out but unfortunately the week after I fly to New York, I’m due to give blood again so I can’t be a part of the study any more. I felt truly guilty, but I’ll try my best to give my 12th pint at Christmas.

Saw My Housemates for the Last Time
I moved out at the weekend and said goodbye to most of my housemates then. I went to London yesterday and said goodbye to the final too then as they got the train back to Birmingham and I went back to Basingstoke – not gonna lie, it was rather sad! We’ve agreed on doing google hangouts, trying to align everyone’s time zones and when people are free is going to be a challenge but we’ll try our best!

And many more…
I have now moved out of my house in Birmingham, most of my housemates have moved out too and now the countdown to New York has truly begin. Soon I’ll have to cancel my phone contract and LoveFilm account and get everything set ready to move to America. It’s all starting to feel real now!

Best of luck to all of you still battling through exams, you’ll be free soon!

Sophie x

Films on a Friday #22 – Closer

Hello folks, it’s a short but sweet post this week with a film starring Jude Law, Julia Roberts, Natalie Portman and Clive Owen.

75. Closer
This film was so blunt. I picked it out for Jude Law because, aside from the pretty English-boy roles he takes on, he actually picks some very fast-paced and witty scripts. I actually quite liked this film. It was really confusing and you have to listen to every word they’re saying or else you’ll be completely lost and it made it really captivating. There were scenes that made me really uncomfortable, they were asking questions that most films would never dare to ask. But ultimately it is just a messy plotine with witty dialect. The script was good but the plot felt difficult to keep up with at times, I had a hard time making sure I knew which time frame we were in. If you want something different, give it a try.

I hope you have a good weekend!

Sophie x

Films on a Friday #21 – Young Adult, A.C.O.D, Prometheus

Hello folks! We’re into the 70s now, not long till the big 100! I spent a few days down south this week at my friend’s uni in Southampton and then my brother’s in Bournemouth. I’ve been going along to these end of exams celebrations like I’ve finished my exams too – nope! Still got one more left! Not long till I can be as free as my friends. But for now, here is the second to last Films on a Friday whilst I’m a second year student.

72. Young Adult
What an uncomfortable film. Also the cover art on Netflix is the most inappropriate artworks out there; it suggests a rom-com when it couldn’t be farther from it. A divorced woman, Mavis, receives an email from an old fame from back when she was in her teens announcing the birth of his daughter. Mavis, a successful but lonely writer, returns to her home town to try to win back her ex. Once the popular, school bully she ends up befriending one of the guys that was constantly picked on in school; and she comes across drunk and desperate whilst trying to win back her ex. The movie paints a depressing picture of how some people feel like they peak at high school and in their early twenties but inevitably go through the rest of their life trying to get back what once had – and the older you get the more desperate you seem. It was quite a scary view on how you can be a successful, career-driven woman who ditches her hometown but when you come back single and all of your school friends are married and settled down, you appear the unsuccessful one. It really made me reflect on my own life goals and where I want to be in 10 or 20 years.

73. A.C.O.D
Adult Children Of Divorce. This movie is all about what it says in the title. With so many studies focusing on children whose parents are divorced, there is not a lot of research about how divorce affects these children once they grow up into adults. On average. one out of every two marriages ends in divorce and there has been a culture shift of children growing up with just on parent or two parents but in separate homes. I’ve never seen a film that focuses on this before, it is normally focused on the break up of a marriage, but never the after-math of it and how the children tend to behave more maturely than their divorced parents.

74. Prometheus
This film is all kinds of grim. I’m not one for films with creepy deaths and aliens etc. I’m fine with blood in real life but some film-makers take it to the point where I just can’t look at the screen (Game of Thrones is particularly guilty of this – but it’s still brilliant!) I watched Prometheus with my brother and his flatmates, one of whom is a bit of a film nerd and had lots of trivia about the film (and helped me to understand the plot line too). It was all about a team of people exploring space and plays of the story of the God Prometheus, who got punished for wanting to know too much (credit to my brother’s flatmate for that piece of trivia) which I thought was really clever. Whilst it’s not the type of film I would usually go for, it certainly made a gruesome refreshing change to the norm. Some parts were too gory for my liking but it made the film shocking. It helped that we were all laughing at some parts that verged on the ridiculous to try to lighten the mood and distract ourselves from the gore on the screens.

And there you have it. I hope you all enjoy your weekend.

Sophie x



Films on a Friday #20 – Won’t Back Down, Something Borrowed, The Lost World: Jurassic Park, Dan in Real Life

Hello folks! The twentieth Films on a Friday – what a treat! I’m back at home for a couple of weeks and with only one exam left I have had a lot more time to relax and revise; and of course, watch films!

68. Won’t Back Down
This film is about a school that is failing; a mum and a teacher work to bring revolution but if they are to do that then they must first overcome all of the barriers in the way. It stars Maggie Gyllenhaal and Viola Davis and I though their acting was strong. As there weren’t many main characters, you got to know their back stories quite well. I found Holly Hunter’s character really irritating – I’m not sure if it was the character, the script or the acting; but that was definitely my least favourite part of the film. I enjoyed Won’t Back Down - there’s nothing like a film with a heartfelt message to not accept the status quo.

69. Something Borrowed
I’m a massive fan of the US version of The Office and as part of coming to terms with nearing the end of the final series, I did some background research on some of my favourite actors. Something Borrowed stars John Krasinski, who plays Jim in The Office, and I actually really liked it! Based on a set of childhood best friends, the whole film is a mis-match of people liking different people regardless of being in relationships. The biggest theme was being too scared to be honest with your close friends about your true feelings or things you have done. It was a pretty good film! I genuinely didn’t know who was going to end up with who so it kept me watching.

70. The Lost World: Jurassic Park
I finally watched the second installment of Jurassic Park! The first one came out the year I was born, 1993, and I remember watching it when I was really young and being terrified by the scene were they’re hiding in the kitchen. Anyways, after my ordeal with the first film I never gave much thought to ever bothering with Jurassic Park again. But I did! It was on the telly box so I watched it with my Dad and I really enjoyed it. Considering it was released in 1997, the special effects were actually pretty good. The one thing that really aggravated me was how sometimes the females were portrayed as being helpless damsels in distress; it’s one of the reasons I don’t watch many action films because it gets so boring and irritating to watch a girl scream and writhe around whilst waiting for a man to save her. Ughh it’s been done so many times. Anyway, other than that I rather liked it and would recommend it to anyone wanting to see some Spielberg action.

71. Dan in Real Life
Steve Carell is so flipping adorable. I’ve finished The Office (I cried so hard) and needed some Steve Carell in my life so I gave this film a try. Before The Office I thought Carell only ever played stupid, verging on irritating, characters but there’s actually so much more depth to some of the roles he takes on. Dan, played by Carell, is a widowed father-of-three who meets a woman who he thinks could be the one – but he later finds out she is the girlfriend of his brother. The majority of the film is set in a rustic family home in rainy Boston where the whole family go to stay at Dan’s house, but when his brother brings his girlfriend too that’s when things get awkward. Dan comes across as a lonely widow who is struggling to do right by his daughters whilst struggling to do things for himself as well – in both his love life and his career. It is a messy, lonely and heartwarming film and I really enjoyed it.

And that’s all for this week! Can’t believe I only have 29 left to reach my target. I’m thinking of trying to achieve it before I go to America, I’d say that’s achievable? Let’s see how that goes. I hope you all have a great week!

Sophie x