Film Review: The Shawshank Redemption

Spoilers ahead.

I struggle to know where to begin when trying to write a review of this film. The 1994 Frank Darabont film has gone down in history as a classic, despite initially not making as much money as some other films of the same year (Pulp Fiction, Forrest Gump etc). This film is now wildly popular and I can COMPLETELY see why, it’s one of my favourites.

I love this film for so many reasons, one of which being my slightly strange morbid curiosity about prisons. It’s directed effectively, the narrative is strong and progresses the plot nicely, the casting is brilliant and, let’s not forget, the film is based on an incredible and gripping story by Stephen King.

I’ll start by saying if you have not seen this film and are interested in movies or the history of film at all GO WATCH THIS NOW (it’s on Netflix so you have no excuse). Seriously, I wish I’d seen it sooner. I feel like it’s the kind of film I could put right back to the start as soon as the credits start rolling and watch all over again.

Frank Darabont’s direction is excellent, he really captures what the microcosmic society of a prison is like and what day to day life can be like for inmates with different positions within the system. Not only this but Darabont forces viewers to empathise with protagonist Andy Dufresne in his most harrowing moments, whether they want to or not. An example of this is the tunnel scene towards the end of the film.

Andy Dufresne crawling through the sewers in The Shawshank Redemption

The camera is positioned inside of the tunnel opposite Dufresne. This really emphasizes the claustrophobia, desperation and panic of the situation and, personally, made me feel super on edge!

Another triumph of this film is the casting of Morgan Freeman as ‘Red’. Red narrates the film allowing the plot to progress just at the right speed. The fact that the story is told from a perspective other than Dufresne himself is effective in many ways but most of all because it protects the climax of the film which is, consequently, pretty shocking and exhilarating to watch as a viewer. Obviously, a large portion of credit for this goes to Stephen King, but Morgan Freeman’s performance achieves, in my opinion, a very difficult thing. It manages to be down to earth yet poignant and affecting at the same time. I can’t imagine anybody else being able to strike this balance so well.

I’ve heard people argue over whether the final scene of the film needed to be included or not. Whether is was effective or unnecessary. For me personally I found that final scene incredibly gratifying, and if it wasn’t shown I would definitely feel like I was missing out. So it’s just another positive really!

For me what elevates this film above the norm is its nuance. It hits the mark for me emotionally at every turn. It’s heart warming and devastating and awe inspiring all at once and isn’t that really what films are all about? Plus there’s just nothing like a great story of friendship 🙂

Hope you enjoyed this little review!

Until next time,

J x



Is our self-image based on what other people think?

This is a bit of a different post today. As my first Thursday post I thought I’d talk about something that’s been on my mind quite a lot recently. Something myself and quite a few of my friends that I’ve seen recently have been thinking about a LOT. Self-worth. I feel like almost every girl I’ve ever spoken to has had some form of struggle with self-image and self-esteem. It’s a horrible internal turmoil brought on by the social pressures of modern society. Almost everywhere we go whether it’s on the internet, at work, the supermarket or even just the somewhere like the dentists we are bombarded with images of perfection, images that are edited and filtered, images that we could never realistically compete with.

A question that I find I ask myself a lot is “Is my self-image based on what I think or what other people think?”

There’s a massive statement being made at the moment, particularly within feminist circles, that women do not do things, like wear makeup and dress a certain way, to gratify men. I agree with this, we don’t. We do it to make ourselves feel more confident and self-assured… but I guess the question I’m asking is what defines the things that make us feel confident and good about ourselves?

Yes wearing makeup makes me feel more confident and when I’m buying/applying makeup I’m definitely not thinking about what men will think of it when I’m out… but why does makeup make us feel more confident?

I can’t help but think it’s because women are kind of deemed more attractive by society when they are wearing makeup? Women in the public eye are often shamed for their “no makeup face” or when they leave the gym in an outfit that isn’t considered stylish. Having this essentially hammered into our brains for our whole lives naturally ends in us internalising these standards, right?

We see videos of “amazing transformation” makeup videos on our Facebook feeds and our peers are congratulated for uploading a makeup selfie of themselves on Instagram. When we look at a girl with makeup on compared to the same girl without makeup on… which do we think is more attractive? I think most people would answer the former. Perhaps I’m wrong, I’m open to discussing this further with anyone who wants to.

To me this means that the standards we hold ourselves to and the things we do and don’t like about ourselves are essentially decided by society… not us. This makes practicing self-love incredible difficult and, to be honest, impossible for some people.

It would be a very unpopular thing to say, particularly at the moment, that my self-image is based on what other people think. Having thought about it a lot recently though, I’m not sure if saying anything otherwise would simply be a lie in my case…

I don’t necessarily think this is something I need to punish myself for. I think it’s pretty normal to be honest. I suppose the journey is trying to accept the parts of myself that maybe society won’t accept so much. I also don’t think there’s any shame in body alterations or surgery if a part of your body is causing you extreme stress, as long as the risks are weighed up with the benefits. I’m just about to get braces put on to straighten out my teeth that are a little crooked. Yes maybe that’s me conforming, but if it’s what will make me feel good about myself, to be honest, I don’t care.

Please please please share your thoughts in the comments because I appreciate that this is such a sensitive topic for a lot of people. This was just my own thoughts on something that’s been a big part of my own, and a lot of people around me, life(s) at the moment.

Until next time,

J x


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What Can You Expect From This Blog?

So I’ve kind of decided that I’m going to start posting on Monday’s and Thursday’s (instead of just randomly whenever I have an idea). I think my blog needs a bit more structure to it and I want anybody who’s reading my blog to have an idea of what to expect and when to check back etc. Let’s face it at the moment it’s just random flurries of inspiration and occasional dry periods.

On Monday’s I hope to upload an Opinion Post, this could be reviews of books, films, music, concerts or restaurants and my take on current affairs. Then on Thursdays I’ll be uploading a Lifestyle Post. This will be more along the lines of beauty posts, life updates or even just a golden nugget of worldly advice from me (in other words the ramblings of my mind).

Earlier this week I posted my opinion post of the week which was a review of The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath and tomorrow I’ll be uploading a kind of introspective post about self-worth (the joys), but anyway, you catch my drift.

Just want to add a bit of structure to things now that I’ve been running this blog for about 4 months.

Until next time,

J x

Book Review: The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

I’ve wanted to read The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath for so many years now. Ever since I studied Plath’s poetry in Advanced Higher English when I was 17 this book has been on my list. I just never got around to it… I think anyone who reads can relate to the feeling of having a pile of books you want to read getting bigger and bigger before you’ve actually managed to read them all.

Anyway, because I’m on summer break from university at the moment I’ve had the opportunity to read books of my own choice for a change. I’ve been reading other people’s blog posts about The Bell Jar and because of some changes I’ve gone/am going through in my own life at the moment I thought now would just be the perfect time to read it.

I won’t lie, I wasn’t initially grabbed by it. It took my a good 70 or so pages before I was truly invested in Esther Greenwood and the story, but when I think about it that goes for most books with me.

One thing I decided almost immediately was that I wasn’t a fan of the character Doreen, she seemed self absorbed, vain and obnoxious and, honestly, whenever her character was involved in the story it irritated me.

The first half of the book was, I suppose, establishing the situation Esther was in and the stage in her life she was at. For reasons that obviously become apparent she seems completely dissatisfied with her life and her relationships. As a reader I found this slightly uncomfortable to read (not in a bad way, it’s good when books evoke a reaction from their readers!) because I have this uncontrollable need to make sure people are having a good time and when I read about Esther being at parties or with friends and clearly having an absolutely shit time I just wanted to pass the girl a drink, put her favourite song on and get her to have a boogie… well, try.

One of my FAVOURITE things about The Bell Jar was Plath’s writing style. Her poetry is, perhaps, what she’s most famous for (unfortunately, other than her infamous personal struggles) and I was curious to see how she dealt with writing in such a different format. To my surprise her style of writing was incredible readable and easy to understand, but you could still tell that it was the same woman who’d written such brilliant poetry who was writing. The descriptions were amazing, at points I just had to pause and think “wow that was so well written”. She conveyed Esther’s experiences perfectly and this extended later into the novel when things became a lot darker.

When “the bell jar descended” upon Esther and her mental health really took a turn for the worse, that’s when I really became fully engaged in the book. Suddenly, we weren’t in this glamorous world of journalism and high society, we were in a mental ward with Esther enduring badly conducted electrotherapy. The visceral descriptions of this treatment were difficult to read but, to me, incredibly interesting as were the parts of the novel that took place inside different hospitals. I really think anybody who’s suffered from mental health problems, particularly depression, would find this an interesting read.

The ending of the story is bitter sweet. I don’t want to give away too many spoilers for those who haven’t read the book, but one of the reasons it’s so famous is because of Plath’s death just one month after it’s publication. So, naturally, this is a very dark read, but one that I think is worthwhile to anybody interested in literature and/or learning about mental health.

Until next time,

J x

TRNSMT Festival

Hey! So in my last post I mentioned that I’d been to a festival recently. I was in Glasgow from the 7th-9th of July for TRNSMT festival with some of my friends! It was really exciting and we all had an amazing time so I thought I’d do a post about it talking about some of my highlights!

We arrived by bus on the first day and rushed back to my friends flat to get ready. When we finally set off for the festival which was at Glasgow Green we were all feeling quite tipsy. We arrived in time for an amazing performance by London Grammar. I think they were probably one of my favourite acts of the weekend. Hannah Reid’s voice is just amazing.

London Grammar amazing performance at TRNSMT festival in Glasgow
So here’s a very far away picture of London Grammar if anybody is interested.

Later on that evening we saw the headline act for that day which was only RADIOHEAD! I was so excited to see them and their performance didn’t disappoint. They played a range of songs from their many many albums including 15 Step and Daydreaming (two of my favourites). They didn’t play Creep though which a lot of people seemed pissed about.

Radiohead vibrant and energetic set at TRNSMT festival in Glasgow
The following day, I’ll admit, I was slightly hungover. Not too hungover to get up and start drinking again by 11am (feel a bit sick thinking about that). Day 2 was by FAR my favourite day. The weather was amazing and to me it had the best line up! We arrived at the park in time for Stormzy’s performance, which we had all been looking forward to. We managed to get right down the front for it and there were a few mosh pits so the energy was insane. Stormzy had great stage presence and just seemed genuinely thrilled to be there which always makes a performance 10x better.

Young people dancing and celebrating in the crowds at TRNSMT festival in Glasgow
Young people chanting and enjoying music at TRNSMT festival in Glasgow
Stormzy lively performance at TRNSMT festival in Glasgow
Saturday was just jam packed full of amazing acts and the next one we saw was The Kooks. I’ve loved The Kooks since I was a child but I never thought I’d see them live so this was a real treat. They played all the hits and one of my personal favourites Seaside. There was just good vibes al round when they were on stage, it was nostalgic in the best way.

After The Kooks George Ezra was on and as much as I like some of George Ezra’s songs we were all ravenous by this point so we made our way to the nearest burger van and got some food. I swear to god that burger I had was the best burger ever, the fact that I’d been drinking since morning definitely had nothing to do with it. A burger, cheesy chips and a pint of cider seemed like the perfect meal for that day…healthy too…

Later on one of my favourite bands ever Catfish and the Bottlemen came on stage. People were throwing blow up crocodiles around and it seemed like everybody there knew all the lyrics. It was amazing, every time they started playing the next song i was excited about what it was going to be! Unfortunately the BBC highlights show didn’t capture this, I tried to watch it when I got home and it cut out halfway through one of their songs? Rude.

Kasabian were the headliners for Saturday night and the whole crowd went mental. It was the perfect end to the night and Sergio Pizzorno was jumping off and on the stage and running along the front of the crowd, everyone loved it. If their hit songs weren’t enough to have the crowd going their stage presence definitely was.

blue smoke flares at TRNSMT festival in Glasgow
On the final day it rained all day so it was out with the clear poncho things.

young people preparing for the rain with waterproof ponchos for TRNSMT festival in Glasgow
We all still had an amazing day though and because it was the last day everyone just went for it (and by that I mean drank way too much). It was my friend’s 21st birthday so we were all over excited.

We joked that Sunday was Scottish day because the headliners were Biffy Clyro and other acts included Twin Atlantic and Lewis Capaldi. The 1975 were a highlight for me that day, however, having never seen them live before I was kind of surprised by their image, I was expecting them to look more like a pop band than they did. We also enjoyed seeing Two Door Cinema Club and spent a bit of time at the Smirnoff House to listen to something a bit different.

There are a host of terrible pictures I could show you of everybody drenched and clutching bottles of echo falls but to preserve the dignity of myself and my friends I won’t. So here’s a nice one from before we went out instead.

young people at TRNSMT festival in Glasgow
The drinks were expensive, the weather was unpredictable but the atmosphere was brilliant. That’s all I’d expect from a festival in Scotland!

Until next time,

J x

June Music Favourites!

I know it’s late and it’s already pretty much halfway through July but I’m here and ready to deliver my music favourites!

Early this month I was at TRNSMT festival (another post on that soon) which was a festival in Glasgow taking place over three days and hosting a LOT of awesome bands. SO what I was listening to in June was influenced quite heavily by this as I knew it was coming up!

Catfish & The Bottlemen – Kathleen

This is my favourite song from their album The Balcony and potentially my favourite song of theirs overall? My main reason for loving this song is the strong chorus. I love the kind of shouting/scratchy vocals from Van McCan and the strong guitars. It sets an rhymically upbeat yet decidedly uncheerful atmosphere when played, and I love it!

My Chemical Romance – Sleep

Before you say it I KNOW this is a blast from the past but I can’t help it and as I say, this list is a representation of what I’ve been listening to the past month, definitely not what’s been released! This song just sounds sinister, the lyrics, the strength and emotion of the vocals and the minor chords throughout. My Chemical Romance were known for being one of the main champions of the “2000’s emo movement” so it’s unsurprising that their lyrics aren’t exactly brimming with positivity. I genuinely think that pretty much every single song of theirs is amazing as it’s own entity, I’ve never heard one and thought “that’s a filler track”.

Miles Cyrus – Malibu

Firstly think this is a lovely, pensive summer song. Unlike something like This Is What You Came For by Calvin Harris, you’d probably listen to this later on in the evening as the suns setting and everyone’s already pretty tipsy. I’m not necessarily the biggest fan of Miley’s country voice but I think the chorus is brilliant and not enhanced when you consider the real life context surrounding the song (Miles Cyrus and Liam Hemsworth’s relationship).

Paramore – Let the Flames Begin

This song is iconic and I go through phases of kind of forgetting about it and then remembering it again. The “oh glory” lyric sounds ominous when sung by Hayley Williams and overall the song is just thrilling to listen to. The fast paced chorus and defiance in the lyrics is basically just super empowering and epic! Paramore can really do no wrong in my eyes and I’m constantly impressed by Hayley Williams’ vocal ability.

Radiohead – Glass Eyes and Lucky

Radiohead were the headline act on the first night of TRNSMT so I’d been listening to them a fair bit in the run up. I’m a big fan of A Moon Shaped Pool and Glass Eyes is my favourite! It’s just so beautiful and dream like, if you’re ever struggling to get to sleep and need a relaxing lullaby like song to listen to, TRY THIS ONE! Lucky is from Ok Computer, perhaps Radiohead’s best known album and Lucky is a melancholy ballad (or at least that’s how I’d describe it, probably not technically correct). Listening to the two one after the other really demonstrates Radiohead’s ability to completely change everything about their sound, and that’s my favourite thing about the band.

Kasabian – Underdog

Kasabian headlined TRNSMT on the second night so I’ve also been listening to them a lot. By far my favourite song is Underdog. I can’t even think of any reasons why I love it other than I just really like the sound of it. It’s an awesome song about defying expectations and sometimes that’s just what a person needs to hear!

The Kooks – (Junk of the Heart) Happy

How lovely is this song? It’s just about really wanting to make someone happy right? If there’s some double meaning to it that I don’t know about that’ll blow my mind. It’s so summery and sounds great on single carriageway roads with the windows rolls down. That’s all I can ask for 🙂

Stormzy – Shut up

This is the kind of angry, defiant song that’s just really great for when you’re in the gym. Whether you’re into this genre of music or not you have to admit, it is energising and empowering. The way Stormzy repeatedly spits the line “shut up” does make me chuckle as well!

Marina and the Diamonds – Valley of the Dolls

Haunting music is Marina Diamandis’ speciality, with songs like Immortal and Savages to back up that statement. Valley of the Dolls is, presumably, inspired by the 1966 novel by Jacqueline Susann of the same name and depicts the feelings of dissatisfaction and constantly yearning for something more, only to be routinely faced with disappointment. A starkly realistic and familiar emotion for many of us but, nonetheless, makes for a beautiful song.

So these were my picks for June, I hope they’re of interest to you. As with last month I have created a Spotify playlist with a few more choice tracks (clearly fancying myself as a bit of a DJ, that was a joke).

June Playlist

Until next time,

J x

Do Something Creative Every Day

Today I’m going to write a post that I’ve been wanting to write for a while but life things have been getting in the way. This past weekend I moved into my new flat and I’m SO EXCITED ABOUT IT! I won’t actually be living there until I go back for university in September but I’m thrilled that my stuff is all moved in and the way the place is looking. That has taken up a lot of my time recently but now I’m back and ready to write something!

If you’re a creative person like me then you’ve probably, at some point, had a bit of a blip where basically no creative stuff has been happening. I’ve been there and it’s the worst feeling. To feel stagnated and like you’re not making any progress towards the things you’re passionate about sucks. Recently the phrase “do something creative every day” popped into my head and I don’t think I’ve broken it since!

I study English Literature at university and my passion is writing in all its many forms (blogging being one of them), so I have a list of things that I class as creative things and I try my best to do one of them every single day. It doesn’t necessarily have to take much time if I’m super busy but it makes me feel a lot happier and more fulfilled to know that I’m contributing a little something to the things I love every day.

For me these creative things include writing short stories, blogging, recording and video editing, reading (not directly creating but is a massive part of the process), editing things I’ve already written and also watching acclaimed films and TV shows (that doesn’t mean spending 8 hours in front of Pretty Little Liars on Netflix).

I started making a concerted effort to do more of these things about 2 months ago and since then I feel like I’ve achieved quite a lot, probably more than I’ve achieved in the past year actually! Most importantly for me though it just makes me feel a bit better about myself and my life! These are the things that I love to do but in a society that leaves you so exhausted at the end of the day that all you want to do is watch Love Island and go to sleep and in a society full of instant gratification and shorter, faster forms of media (Youtube videos, Vine, Snapchat stories) that has trained our minds to have shorter and shorter attention spans it becomes almost impossible to do these things! At least it became that way for me and now I feel like I’m taking a small step towards having more balance and more control over the things I spend my time on.

I just thought I’d share this little piece of my brain with you today in case anybody else relates or is currently in a bit of a creative rut! Make small steps towards the things you want to achieve and you’ll probably be surprised with the progress you make!

Until next time,

J x