Thursday, November 20, 2014

Mockingjay Part 1 | A review (NO SPOILIERS)

Mockingjay Part 1 came out in UK cinemas last night, and me and two of my friends braved the cold weather to go and see the first midnight showing. After barely blinking throughout the entire two hours it was on, I thought that it might be worth writing up a review.

For those who have yet to see the film, or those who have not even read the books, I won't include any massive spoilers because that's just unfair. But I would definitely read the books if you can, because as with every film adaptation, although the Hunger Games trilogy has always lived up reasonably well to the standards of the books, there are always small components missing that are normally very vital to the storyline. 

Unlike The Hunger Games and Catching Fire, Mockingjay is the only one not to be set in some sort of physical games. However, this one steps it up a notch as President Snow (Donald Sutherland) starts to play mind games rather than placing Tributes into an arena.

The main differences between Mockingjay Part 1 and the other two parts of this franchise is the significant lack of main storyline or intense action. Although Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) has been known in the last two films for her 'heroic' action sequences, Mockingjay Part 1 lacks this oompf in terms of intense action. Having said that, there are a few scenes with a flicker of this action, such as when Katniss is put into District 8 with Gale (Liam Hemsworth), or some of the more intense scenes with Peeta (Josh Hutcherson). Yet, I can't help thinking to myself that there seems to be something missing in terms of the darting, daring, and dangerous action that comes from the first two instalments.


What it lacks in action, it sure does make up for in terms of emotion and intensity. The scenes involving President Coin (Julianne Moore) and Plutarch (Philip Seymour Hoffman) really draw you in as a viewer. Then just as you think you have gotten away without feeling any sort of emotion towards a character, Finnick (Sam Claflin) and Effie (Elizabeth Banks) go straight in with the feels. Then, to make things considerably worse, after Beetee (Jeffrey Wright) tries to infiltrate the Capitol's broadcasting system to interrupt Caesar's (Stanley Tucci) interview with Peeta, the emotion starts to really hit hard. Yet this all draws you back to their massive planning of the take-down of the Capitol and the overthrowing of Panem.


President Snow's warning of "it's the things we love most that destroy us" seems to be the main message delivered on both District 13 and the Capitol's parts throughout the film. Katniss seems to be the weapon to use against Snow and to aid the uprising, whilst Peeta is seemingly being forced to become a weapon to entice Katniss. But what will really happen if the two ever meet face-to-face again?

Fire is how with the Girl on Fire react?


No Hunger Games movie is complete without a little shy comedy. This otherwise serious film is pin-pricked with tiny ounces of laughable moments. Mainly coming from Haymitch (Woody Harrelson) as per usual. Look out for these tiny specks floating between a lot of serious business. 

One moment that sticks in my mind from the film is Jennifer Lawrence singing The Hanging Tree. I was quite sceptical about how this would turn out. When you read the book you come up with a tune in your head and that's how you imagine it would be, and then everything else seems to be a disappointment. But I was proved wrong. The song is haunting, yet provides everything you needed from a cinematic depiction of such a meaningful song - especially when it moved from Katniss singing on her own, to the rebels uniting with this song. Still sends chills down my spine.

If you have read the Hunger Games trilogy you will know what to expect from Mockingjay, and what is missing from the books. Mockingjay Part 1, although incredibly good as a stand-alone film, significantly misses a main storyline. The ending to this film will leave viewers on the edge of their seat having to wait another 365 days for the final movie. Is this really a cliffhanger? Is it teasing? It's possible that Mockingjay would have faired better as one major film rather than two separate instalments. Yet, I am not sure how I would feel about a 4 hour film considering Part 1 lasted 2 hours. 

Despite all these little tiny details, I actually thought the film was not too bad. I think the thing that really made this film was the portrayal of the scenes. District 12 was definitely one of the best scenes throughout the entire film, with some amazing settings and effects, it really does create a haunting image. I was also quite impressed with how District 13 came to be. Slightly missing some of the aspects I imagined whilst reading the book, but not a bad depiction all the same. 

Overall, straight after viewing Mockingjay Part 1 seems incredibly flawless, but upon reflection those cracks start to show a bit more. However, I would definitely recommend going to see it. As a Hunger Games fan, I was happy with the outcome, yet possibly slightly disappointed in having to wait another year for the ending to be shown on the big screen. 

What will Katniss do when she realises she might have just become a pawn in her own game?


Keep swimming! 


Sunday, November 16, 2014

Simple skincare products | My skincare routine

Refreshing facial wash - £3.49
Kind to eyes eye make-up remover - £3.49
Purifying cleansing lotion - £3.29
Soothing facial toner - £3.29 
Revitalising eye roll-on - £5.49
Hydrating light moisturiser - £4.50
Vital vitamin day cream - £4.99
Vital vitamin night cream - £5.99

Skincare is one of those things that you either can't be bothered to do, or you love to do it. I am one of those people who loves it. There is no better feeling than having silky smooth skin, and your make-up gliding on and sitting well without the use of a primer. 

As you can see from the image above, I am a massive fan of Simple products. This is mainly because my skin can be quite sensitive to a lot of soapy products and has been known to break out, become increasingly dry and irritated, or generally not get along with a lot of high-street drug store skincare products. Frankly, I cannot afford all these high-end designer brands, so it took me quite a while to find something I really liked.

I have tried many different brands over the years, and have settled very happily with these Simple products. They are really affordable, readily available in Boots, Superdrug and Amazon, and last a really long time considering I use them twice a day. 

I'll share below my general routine with them. I expect somewhere along the lines I do something in the wrong order, but this is what works well for my skin. 

Remove all make-up with the Kind To Eyes Eye Make-up Remover using a cotton pad. 

Scrape back all of my hair so it isn't in my eyes or getting stuck to my face.

Using the Refreshing Facial Wash, gently massage it into my face, focussing on the areas where break-outs are most common. I also like to do the same to my neck as I blend my make-up to the lower part, and don't want to leave any bits of stray powder or foundation!

After I have washed this off and patted my face dry, I cleanse using the Purifying Cleansing Lotion. Once again, using a cotton pad and applying it in small circles. 

Following this, I use another cotton pad (I go through a lot of these) and use the toner. I try not to use too much of it as it can make my skin a little oily after a while, so a small amount is usually enough. Once again I apply it using small circular motions, normally following the path of the cleanser. I also find that when it comes to my neck, upwards motions usually catches any stray bits of make-up or general dirt that I missed before.

I let this sit for a little bit so that my skin can absorb it. Once it's dried a little I use the Revitalising Eye Roll-On under my eyes. Again small circular motions are usually best. If, like me, you tend to have dark circles under your eyes then I would definitely recommend this product. The metal ball really cools under your eyes. I tend to use this more in the mornings when I still have puffy eyes from the night before - it works wonders!

I then moisturise using the Hydrating Light Moisturiser. There are a few different moisturisers, but I find that this one really agrees with my skin and leaves it feeling considerably more cared for than before I used it. I tend to focus mainly around my T-Zone and the corners of my nose where there's a lot of dry skin. 

Finally, depending on whether it is day or night, I use the Vital Vitamin Day or Night Cream. I only use a small amount of this because my skin is already quite nourished from the million things I just put on it. I focus mainly on my cheeks, chin, and forehead areas just to keep them supple during the day. The thing I like most about the day cream is that it actually has SPF 15 in it already, so no need to worry about the rays!

So that's my daily skin routine! I know I don't usually do these sorts of posts, but I kind of fancied a change, and people ask me about my skincare products and whatnot all the time, so I thought why not?

I'd definitely recommend these products to people with skin like mine, where it's usually fine but is sensitive to excessive products and whatnot.

This was not a sponsored post, I just genuinely love Simple's products and have been using them for years and years.

I hope you enjoyed this little different post. Never know, I might do more of these in the future.

Keep swimming!


Sunday, November 09, 2014

The point of exams?

Having sat through hundreds of exams in my lifetime, be that SATs, GCSE's, A Levels, University exams, pre-job tests, and general tests and exams throughout school, I have started to wonder what exactly the point of these exams are.

After watching THIS video, these thoughts just got even more structured.

What exactly is the main point of an exam? It’s not really a test of what you know, it’s more of what you remember. Ever had an argument and remembered a great comeback a few hours later? This is what an exam is like for me. No matter how hard I study, revise or force myself to attempt to remember things, I get a mental block spanning the length of my exam and end up more stressed than I was before I sat in my seat.

This sort of thing really hit me when it came to my GCSE Maths exams – although this was a good 5 or so years ago, this definitely still applies to exams today. I physically cannot do maths at all. As soon as I see a sum or equation, each separate number merges into one and I usually end up angry at myself or in tears. I managed to just scrape though my GCSE Maths with a C, and I still wasn't happy.

Although maths is a compulsory subject until the end of year 11 (16 years old) in the UK, surely there will be a massive change and gap between those who have minds more orientated towards numerical reasoning, to those with a more verbal and literal brain, such as myself.

On top of this, about 99% of things you learn for an exam have no application in the outside world. How many times have you had to use something you learned in maths in your school years? Yes, I get that some professions might actually use all of these things, but not everyone who goes through school will become an engineer.

Personally, I find literacy exams a bazillion times easier than anything with even a single number in. I can write for days about almost anything as long as I have a tiny bit of background information on it. Want me to write about the hidden meaning of a poem I have never read before? Sure, give me 10 minutes to read it. Want me to write about the history of a country I have never heard of before? Cool, just give me a few basic facts. Want me to fill a book with absolutely anything that comes into my head? Fantastic!

How can exams expect to test absolutely every individual who passes through the education system in a fair way? Like me, one person might be academically good at one sort of subject, and then be less than average on another.

This also applies to those who excel at art. Take my sister for example. She has an incredible eye for art, and can draw absolutely anything in a matter of hours. In fact, I am going to include some of her artwork below.

She claims, although I dispute this to a certain extent, that she struggles with slightly more academic subjects. This actually ended up stressing her out in her GCSE’s last year, because she excels at art, she didn't think she would do as well in her other subjects.

Although I understand that the introduction of subject choices in GCSE’s allow this to be slightly eliminated, and doesn't massively affect anyone until they can completely choose every subject for A Level exams, this doesn't stop the stress, pressure, and general being a pain in the ass of exams themselves.

Anyone who knows me will probably be reading this either shaking their heads, or feeling a bit confused as to why I am writing about exams because I “got good grades”, “passed my exams”, and “have nothing to complain about”, but that didn't come without a lot of hard work, stress, tears, and me being general all round hell.

Why should exams put so much pressure on one person whilst they’re still young when it’s very rare a job you apply for 10 years down the line won’t bother to ask for them, or only ask for a select few grades? Or when they become less of a fair exam and more of a memory test? Or when they don’t test you fairly based on which way your brain processes information.

There is so much pressure on kids these days to get good grades, to get good jobs.

The truth is that you don’t need a degree to do something you love, being good at something and enjoying every moment of it will make you richer than money ever could, and a good education doesn't make you better than someone who doesn't have that privilege.

The world is your oyster, so don't let a random letter next to a subject define you for the rest of your life. If you enjoy something, go and do it. 

The sky is the limit, and no one is going to stop you.

So, what do you think? Could exams be more individually orientated, do you think they’re fine as they are, or maybe you think that everything I have said is just a load of crap.

Keep swimming,