MOVIE REVIEW FRIDAY: “Kingsman”

One of the ways to escape studying and other pseudo-adult responsibilities is to go to the Holland 7 or local AMC Theater.  Last week, I saw “Kingsman” and I felt like it didn’t live up to the hype it was building up to. [Spoilers ahead]

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That Guinness product placement is not coincidental.

First off, I’ll start by saying what I liked about this movie (not much). The scenery was extremely realistic and the 1997 scene was a good start to the movie, but it all goes down from there… I liked the stunt-craft in the movie, there were some pretty unbelievable dodges and moves, but the movie doesn’t feel as well as “Skyfall” or a comparable movie. The ending was a decent if not long overdue ending.

The rest of movie feels pretty rhetorical and inflated. The action is just too much too soon. The candidate tests seem to be there to purely fill in some of the movie time, and the movie was full of overused plot elements. I mean really, the evil villain explaining the plot to his/her helper and them killing the helper. Really? The mid-credits scene was something I think the directors should have deemed important and emotional enough that it could have been placed in the near-end of the movie, instead of where it was placed. The violence was good, but it fails too hit the violence sweet spot. Too me, the violence felt stretched and put in as a placeholder and it doesn’t fit in with the stunt-craft and other aspects. The gun battles and fistfights seem like rehearsed robotic scenes.

My major concern is that the agent was a kid. Although that isn’t bad in itself, it cuts out the possibility of love scenes such as those in James Bond movies. And given the R rating, I feel like those would have been necessary to balance out the other aspects of the film. Any romance that was in there was insubstantial, and there was not much dating/love between Eggsy and Roxy. I watched this move highly expecting a good mix of action, spydom, violence, and romance. However, I found the movie lacking on romance, and plenty of violence and action.

The movie felt kind cliched with with elements pieced from other movies and the sum of the parts were worst than the parts themselves. The plot was basically an old-fashioned plot retrofitted by 21st century elements, and I don’t think the reason the plot was hatched is a compelling reason for Valentine to put the evil plan in action.

In conclusion, the movie fails to revitalize the spy genre, a genre that was set nearly 50 years ago by James Bond films. The high-tech hideout and weaponry doesn’t save the movie was being a blunder, even by low-quality standards.

The Hidden Gems Prospectives Aren’t Told About

When I toured Hope College, I was given the opportunity to meet a few professors, students, and incredible exposure to what still stands as the most beautiful campus I’ve ever seen in my life. The latter of which is something that still astounds me as even during Michigan’s heavy snowfall, I can drink a hot chocolate from inside my warm room and watch each white flake gently blanket the ground. Hope College is serene!

But there is so much more to Hope College and the town it has become synonymous with than what meets the eye, something that I think all prospectives should consider when reflecting about what Hope College has to offer.

This post will be dedicated to the three highlights of my week at Hope College that you probably won’t know about until enrolled at Hope.

The first is Hope College’s relationship with local and international artists. On Friday, Eames Demitrios came to Hope College to present his latest progress for his “The World of Kcymaerxthaere” series. “The World of Kcymaerxthaere” is a series of plaques placed around the world serving as landmarks and even as portals in the alternate universe. The plaques are hidden in places like outside the Depree Art Center, off the coasts of Indonesia, and even 8000 feet underwater. It’s one of those events that make Hope College unique, not only are you guaranteed a personalized experience with great artists from around the world, but also a chance to meet them in person.

Check out his website.

This bring me to the second highlight of my week, the Jack Ridl Visiting Writers Series. Every year, Hope College hosts a series called the Jack Ridl Visiting Writers Series which invites prominent writers from around the United States to present their works and share their experiences in writing. It’s wonderful because as a college student, it is difficult to find time to read books to your own pleasure, and if you do free up that time, it will likely be send going out to explore the wonders of eighth street. The Visiting Writers Series is the perfect answer as it not only creates a social environment for you to meet students and authors, but also to listen to their work as well as commentary about how they created their work.

This year, we were treated to the wonderful works of EJ Levy and Joe Wilkins. EJ Levy presented her work called, “3 Christs of Moose Lake Minnesota”, about three men who were admitted to the local psychiatric ward because they claimed their were Jesus Christ incarnate. While inspired from true events, A wonderful work of prose serves as a visceral examination into our modern culture’s complex relationship with religion, science, and our personal lives. Joe Wilkins presented both prose and poetry that served as a time machine, transporting us to his childhood and serving as a vehicle allowing us to be present through fictional character’s experiences with life and loss.

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The final highlight that may have been mentioned during your tour, but probably not experiences is the Holland Farmers Market. Every Saturday (and Wednesday during the summer), local farmers come to Holland’s famed market plaza at the end of 8th Street to present their produce. Freshly grown and purely organic, bakers, farmers, and other companies of the food industry come to sell freshly harvested syrup, baked goods (sometimes made on the spot), or fruits and vegetables taken fresh from the farm and brought do the square for prices competitive to Meijer. A bushel of organic apples will cost 5 dollars while at Meijer’s it will be 6. It’s perfect for the food junkies out there like me. You also get to meet the people producing the food that you eat at Phelps Dining Hall, often these farmers work in partnership with Hope’s dining services such as Nathan Vannette, owner of Growing Green Family Farms, who provides Hope with fresh vegetables (pictured).

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Sunday Study Celebrations!

I tried to make this title as phonetically pleasing as possible because I could. But today is a special day, a day for celebrating, stress, and can make or break the strongest of wills, today is SUNDAY!

When the New Year approached, I told myself among other resolutions, that procrastination would cease. Being that it is now 4 pm on Sunday, and I am burning through a week’s worth of homework, I’m just going to pretend that that resolution wasn’t designed to be put into use until next year (maybe, I’ll worry about that later).

An important factor for hunkering down and studying/completing assignments is the environment you choose to immerse yourself in.

During my freshman and sophomore year, I predicted my dorm room would be the center from which I would complete the majority of my tasks due to the presence of a desk, table, and bed (napping is amazing when you can’t figure out how to solve a matrix). My expectations were wrong, dormitories at Hope College are generally filled with activities ranging from Frolf recruiters to the spontaneous groups curious to meet everyone. Zero work was completed, but it was a lot of fun!

I quickly learned that if I wanted to get serious with completing tasks, I needed to find a good place to work without distraction. After 4 years of nomadic adventures around Hope, here are the places I have found best to get work done:

  1. Van Wylen Library: The library is AMAZING. Books are at your disposal, the view is magnificent, and it is quiet (unless you are on the first floor, in which case, prepare for a chatty environment). Cup and Chaucer café is conveniently located at its entrance to satisfy coffee cravings, and power outlets are everywhere for your laptop. One of my favorite features about the library is how easily accessible the printers are, and for Hope students, printing is free if it is done on the laser printers. Also, the basement is a great place to get homework done and isn’t as often filled, perfect for those who want no attention.
  2. VanderWerf/VanZoeren: This is the building attached to Hope, and it’s my go-to place when the Library is crammed. On weekdays, classrooms are often unlocked and open to students to study in. The desks are perfect, the thermostat is easily manipulated (perfect for the cold western Michigan winter temperatures), and the library’s facilities are easily accessible.
  3. Western Theological Seminary: remember that tall building next to Wyckoff, Scott, and Lichty dormitories? Yeah, Hope College student can study there too. Not many do, but going to floor 5 and having the entire floor to yourself, plus the wonderful view of Holland are absolutely stunning. Conference rooms and mood lighting dominate the study areas there and the staff is very accommodating.

All this writing has made me hungry, time to order pizza to Van Zoeren and eat while I study for my Religion test ☺

Movie of the Weekend: Nightcrawler

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It’s cold, dark, and snowy and I just watched what could be one of the best movies of the year. On sale on Google’s Play store for about 5 bucks, my girlfriend and I ordered some Hungry Howie’s and decided to escape the Michigan life and delve into the the neo-noir underbelly of Nightcrawler’s Los Angeles.

For those who have no idea what I am talking about, check out the trailer here.

I didn’t really know what to expect from this movie. From the trailer, it was something about a guy with a camera filming tragedy on the Los Angeles pavement. So Rachel and I turned down the lights and mashed our faces in pizza unaware of the mental roller-coaster we were about to experience.

The film revolves around the persistent character of Lou Bloom portrayed by Jake Gyllenhaal as he desperately finds work. Captured by the energetic allure of crime journalism, Lou muscles his way into the gritty work of capturing late-night tragedy on camera with the encouragement of morning news director Nina Romina. His newfound career expands as he hires a protégé, Rick Carey, to help him capture crime and feed the news machine with tragedy, violence, and loss. The rest you must watch for yourself.

There’s more at stake than journalism with Nightcrawler. The film itself was an intense rollercoaster ride of action and suspense, but it ultimately had us, the audience, look both into ourselves and around us.

There may be spoilers so I do not recommend reading my reflection about the movie below until after watching it yourself.

Mouseover for Potential Spoiler(s)

I highly recommend everyone to watch Nightcrawler and if you can, enroll in a cinema class at Hope!

Winter Break in New York!

Wow!

This week has been intense. I was reminded again that time management is definitely not my forte when it comes to studying for exams, but to top it off, Rachel and I decided to spend our weekend in New York!

One of the unavoidable characteristics of Hope College’s spring semester is the snow. There’s enough snow in our lives here that I would not be surprised to wake up in snow. As beautiful as it can be, it’s also dreadfully suffocating, and has been the motivator for us to fly away to New York.

Therefore, today’s blog post is dedicated to travel.

Hope College is 45 minutes away from Grand Rapids Airport (GRR) that has domestic connections to larger hubs such as O’Hare (ORD), St. Paul in Minneapolis (MSP), or Detroit (DTW).

Don’t have a car? NO WORRIES!

Hope has a variety of services to help students get to GRR on time. Hope College’s transportation services are always easy to reach and are super helpful for booking a time for you to travel to the airport with their shuttle, a quick call and you will be good to go.

Hope College transportation services information can be found here.

If you do have a car, you can always park it overnight at GRR, but mind you, flying out of GRR is always a little bit more expensive. For the frugal student, I highly recommend booking tickets from ORD or DTW directly to Dulles or wherever you are going, it can save you $300 a ticket if you have a car. The 2-hour drive will cost you about 20 bucks and the 17-dollar per night fee for parking at ORD beats the 300 dollar extra cost.

I recommend every student at Hope to travel as much as they can. As beautiful and relaxing as Western Michigan can be, it’s always refreshing to explore the world and imbibe your minds with new adventures. Here are some of our adventures from this weekend!

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Time Square was breathtaking!
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Artist rendition of us!
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Fantastic Les Miserables showing at the Imperial Theatre 
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Chicken bones from diseased soldiers who fought in WWII at New York’s oldest Bar. Lincoln used to hang out here!

FINANCIAL TIPS FOR STUDENTS!!!!

Hello Hello Helloooo!

I am Forrest, the newest Blogger and I’d like to share with everyone what I have been working on during these cold, icy days.

Budgetting! Woooooo. NO MORE IMPULSE BUYING.big_9424e990d16d234fe3c61b02c4a3fc4a6471a006

It is important to always remember to be proactive about your bank accounts everyone.

I would like to spend a few moments and confess that shopping therapy is my favorite kind of therapy during weeks when exams and papers dominate my life.  My philosophy is: “TREAT YO SELF” moments are important to remaining healthy and motivated.  Going out occasionally for an ice cream or a dinner at the CityVu Bistro (such a nice view of Holland) can really make a rough day more relaxing.  However, I am often prone to making these special nights on my own or with my girlfriend the new standard and am tempted, making every night possible a “TREAT YO SELF” moment therefore destroying the special value behind the experience.  So here are some tips on how I analyze my spending habits and not have to worry about paying for emergency laptop repairs.

1. USE CASH.

Yeah, simple right? I am pretty lazy and I personally do not like having to go to the ATM to withdraw cash, but I have found that if I leave my debit/credit card(s) at home, I’m forced into a position where I must count the pennies leaving my pocket rather than just swiping the card. You feel the weight of your wallet lighten with each day and it forces you to reconsider whether that 4-dollar coffee from your local coffee shop is really worth 4 dollars (buy a coffee machine, you save so much after the initial cost of purchase). By limiting yourself to a certain amount of cash per ATM visit, you can successfully save 70% of your paycheck for something bigger than coffee and before you know it, you’ll have the purchasing power to pay off student debts, fix your car, buy books, or invest in a personal hobby.

2. CREDIT CARDS.

So, now you are a student, but it is never too early to build your FICO score. Credit cards may have a bad rap, but keep in mind the people that are giving credit cards a hard time probably don’t know how to use one. Credit cards have many benefits to college students, “Discover” often do not require a FICO score and will give 5% cashback opportunities on purchases for gas or office supplies. The only time credit companies will charge you is if you are late on your monthly statement. These “APR Fees” are usually slapped on top of the amount owed and can range between 16-24% so pay those bills on time to avoid the late fee! Keep in mind some credit cards will require annual fees, do not get those. You’re a student; bootstrap your capital, there are plenty of credit companies that do not require you to pay a fee.

Here are some nice tips:

  • Don’t get too many credit cards, just stick to one, maybe two as credit companies will become wary about your intentions and it could hurt your FICO score in the long run.
  • PAY YO STATEMENTS OFF ASAP
  • Do not spend more than 20% of your credit limit within a month
  • Just use your credit card to build credit score, it will pay off if there is ever a day you wake up in Botswana and your bank account is frozen and you need to pay for an emergency plane ticket back.

Nerdwallet is a nice website to learn more about credit cards.

3. ANALYZE PURCHASES MADE ON YOUR CARDS

Mint.com is my best friend. I have it on my phone and I check on it every evening before I sleep to make sure I have not overspent during the day. Go ahead and take a look, it’s slim UI helps you budget your spending and attach your debit/credit accounts for free. It also has a cool pie graph to show where your money went.