«Stick it»: it’s all our own fault

The new «W-M» crew begins their flight and looks into why sport is simply absurd

Reading time 11 minutes

With autumn moping sweeping the country, it’s high time we turned to energizing and driving films. On this occasion, today we decided to delve into the world of artistic gymnastics and review «Stick it», starring the feisty Missy Peregrym!

Мисси Перегрим с коллегами по фильму (источник: Кинориум)
Missy Peregrym with her film colleagues (source: Kinorium)
Storyline

A woman’s eye

«Stick it» is based on the story of a strong girl with «sports in her blood». But her parents’ divorce and the disgrace of a previous competition discourage her from aspiring to anything, much less a gymnastics career. The new Haley Graham chooses individuality and freedom to be in control of herself and her life rather than «six hours of daily exercise that kills you». Fun friends, BMX freestyle and a fresh breeze in her head. Soon, however, Haley has to face up to the gritty world of gymnastics and her carefully forgotten past again, because otherwise, she’ll face jail time. It’s up to the heroine to rein in her rebellious spirit and learn some important life lessons. What’s really wrong with the world of artistic gymnastics? What does winning depend on, and what is its true value?

Burt Vickerman and Hayley Graham in the gymnasium, still from the film (source: MoviePlay)
Burt Vickerman and Hayley Graham in the gymnasium, still from the film (source: MoviePlay)

But «Stick it» isn’t really about sport. It’s a film about life, about growing up, about finding your values. The main characters of the film are, first of all, ordinary people, with their personal problems, and only then – strong-willed athletes. Haley tries to cope with the resentment of her mother leaving the family, Joanne dreams of going to the prom, and Burt Vickerman struggles with his greed for victories.

A man’s perspective

The plot is interesting in that, if reversed, you get another stand-alone statement. In the exposition, we see a girl (Haley) completely disillusioned with the sport and finding her place in the skateboarding subculture. She sees sport – in this case, gymnastics – through. And it is extremely difficult to argue with her views: sport is indeed traumatic, both physically and mentally. A bizarre set of circumstances, or rather a choice without a choice (in which she is willing to choose prison and the military academy over returning to gymnastics, but her opinion is ignored) forces her to return to sport and take revenge (on herself or on life?). Throughout the film, her beliefs don’t really change. Rather, Hayley acts as a messiah and opens the eyes of other girl athletes, and therein lies her rebelliousness.
Turning the plot around in reverse order, we get a character who is disillusioned with the sport and has found herself in a different occupation and a different society. I don’t claim to know which is better, the original or the reverse, but the second is at least closer to the truth.

What's behind the cheeky shell? (source: Irecommend)
What’s behind the cheeky shell? (source: Irecommend)

Directing

A woman’s eye

«Stick it» is directed by Jessica Bendinger, who is known for writing scripts for films such as, «Bring it on» and «Aquamarine». Jessica is also the scriptwriter of some episodes of the popular TV series «Sex and the City».

Jessica Bendinger with the cast (source: kinomania)
Jessica Bendinger with the cast (source: kinomania)

Bendinger spent several years researching and selecting material on the sport of gymnastics before starting work on the film. She subsequently created a documentary presentation based on them, after which several studios were interested in the project. However, Disney got the rights for the project and so Bendinger made her directorial debut. Jessica thus completed her project for Touchstone Pictures in association with Spyglass Entertainment.
Despite the fact that «Stick it» pretends to be a sports story genre, many critics gave the film low marks precisely because of its poor conveyance of the atmosphere of sports. However, if you look at the film as a whole, you can’t help but enjoy it in terms of music, styling and color correction.

Still from the film, 2006 (source: Kinopoisk)
Still from the film, 2006 (source: Kinopoisk)

The costumes of the gymnasts reflect the inner world and character of each heroine. Haley Graham’s fiery leotard, in which the rebel gymnast performed freestyle exercises at the US championships to driving music, deserves special attention.

Still from the film, 2006 (source: Kinopoisk)
Still from the film, 2006 (source: Kinopoisk)

The musical component of the film is also admirable. The lead song was sung by six-time «Grammy» winner (Missy Elliott), and Mike Simpson, who has written music for such critically acclaimed hits as «Fight Club», «Road Trip» and «Freaky Friday», worked on most of the soundtrack.
It is also worth noting the presence of interesting technical tricks in the film, thanks to which «Stick it» looks with interest and does not lose its dynamism. The school championship scene which is mounted in kaleidoscope style stands out in this regard. All the gymnasts in brightly colored leotards and fast music perform their routines at the same time.

School championships, still from film (source: l2db)
School championships, still from film (source: l2db)

Also very evocative was the introduction scene of the two significant characters in the film, Burt Wickerman and Joanne. The figures of both characters scrolled 360 degrees while information about them appeared on the screen nearby.

A man’s perspective

The film offers aggressive editing in the comedy and action scenes, and conversely, long, even slow-motion shots in the drama scenes, further enhancing the emotional edge of the action. The overall aesthetic, coupled with soundtracks and sound effects, is reminiscent of MTV music videos. Flip phones, BMX bikes, snapbacks all evoke a sense of nostalgia for the early to mid-2000s, the time when the film was released.

Overall impression

A woman’s perspective.

The story may be sagging in terms of sports atmospherics, but «Stick it» is definitely a colorful, stylistic film that’s a pleasure to watch. At the same time, the film is not devoid of meaning; each protagonist has his own drama and questions about himself and his life.

Still from the film, 2006 (source: Kinopoisk)
Still from the film, 2006 (source: Kinopoisk)

The film is really not about sport but about people. Haley Graham tries to understand who is guilty of her failures throughout the whole film. Eventually, the girl realizes that there is no point in looking for those responsible – she has to act because everything depends only on herself. This allows the protagonist to curb her rebellious spirit and gain the courage to take complete control of her life.

Still from the film, 2006 (source: Kinopoisk)
Still from the film, 2006 (source: Kinopoisk)

The film leaves a pleasant aftertaste, brimming with inspiration and hope. The story brings out the universal rule of life: it’s never too late to take matters into your own hands. And it doesn’t matter at all whether the issue is sports, decency or winning. In this respect, it’s a good thing that the subject matter is not limited to sports because this makes «Stick it» more interesting to a wider audience.

Burt Vickerman and Hayley Graham at the US Championships, still from the film (source: MoviePlay)
Burt Vickerman and Hayley Graham at the US Championships, still from the film (source: MoviePlay)

The male perspective

The film, which is announced as a sports drama, maintains a relaxed atmosphere. And though the humor is sometimes based on toilet jokes and stereotypical behavior of the stereotypical characters, you don’t have a desire to switch it off – all the same it is a light film for an evening viewing, preferably in the company of your friends. As for the overall message, it’s clear: if the sport is brutal and meaningless and – since you happen to be there – stay in solidarity with your partners and rivals, and be prepared to take responsibility for your actions. A similar philosophy should be transferred to life. For Haley, it does, as the sport becomes just the backdrop to a central message voiced by the heroine herself: «We are the only ones responsible for everything. That’s the real reality».

 

 

 

How Estella became Cruella

Disney has filmed the story of the antagonist from «101 Dalmatians»

Reading time 5 minutes

«Cruella» premiered in Los Angeles on 18 May. At the same time, on 28 May, the film became available for viewing in cinemas and on the Disney+ platform. The screening in Russian cinemas started on 3 June. The director was Craig Gillespie, known for his work on the drama «I, Tonya».

«Cruella» is a prequel to the Disney animated films «101 Dalmatians» and «102 Dalmatians». Work on the adaptation began back in 2011, when the studio saw the first script for the project, and after another five years the cast was joined by the lead actors. In 2019, Disney unveiled the «Cruella» announcement at D23Expo.

Half a century after the release of the cartoon series, Disney presents the personal story of the villain. In the film adaptation, the action takes place in ’70s London – a time of punk rock and flashy clothes. The plot tells the story of the antagonist’s childhood and her traumas, which turned young Estella into the villainous Cruella. The heroine is not just an evil and bloodthirsty millionaire who tortures dogs. She dreams of becoming a famous designer. To achieve this, Estella takes a job with Baroness von Hellman, the owner of a fashion house. A rivalry between the young fashion designer and her boss leads to unexpected consequences.

Still from the film, 2021 (source: YouTube)
Still from the film, 2021 (source: YouTube)

An important part of the film is the world of fashion. In the original, Cruella prefers a voluminous, red-lined coat and a black tailored dress. The color palette is retained in the film adaptation, but the outfits themselves have changed. «Cruella» follows the current trends of veganism and eco-consumerism: fur is replaced by artificial leather. Estella’s images are inspired by the punk aesthetic: rough boots, bright prints and army jackets. Cruella’s wardrobe is more feminine and extravagant. Costume designer and Oscar winner Jenny Bevan created the clothes for the film. A total of 47 full-length looks, inspired by the style of Vivienne Westwood, the punk grandmother, were made for the main character.

A still from the film, 2021 (source: Vogue)
A still from the film, 2021 (source: Vogue)

An Oscar-winning cast has been recruited to work on the film. Emma Stone, known for her roles in  «La La Land», «Spider-Man: No way home» and «The Favourite», plays the title role. The cast also includes Emma Thompson («Harry Potter» film series) and Mark Strong («Kingsman»). Little Estella was played by Tipper Seifert-Cleveland.

The audience met the fresh take on the children’s cartoon approvingly. The worldwide box office reached $84 million and «Cruella» was rated 7.4 on IMDB. Rotten Tomatoes editor-in-chief Joel Mears shared the positive sentiment on his Twitter: «If you’re wondering what a mix of «The Devil Wears Prada», «The Witcher» and «Death Becomes Her» would look like, then watch the film.».

Emma Stone with the makers of «Cruella» at the premiere, 2021 (source: Disney)
Emma Stone with the makers of «Cruella» at the premiere, 2021 (source: Disney)

 

«Winx» is saving the world again

Netflix has released a movie adaptation of the animated series about fairies

Reading time 4 minutes

The 6 episodes of the first season of «Fate: the Winx Saga» was released on the streaming platform Netflix on January 22. Directed by Brian Young, known for his work on «The Vampire Diaries», and Iginio Straffi, the creator of the original cartoon. Production was handled by Italy and the United Kingdom, and filming took place in Ireland.

The Netflix project is based on the Italian animated series «Winx Club». The fantastic series has been released since 2004 and from that time has won the love of viewers. At the moment, 8 seasons, 3 feature films and several spin–offs have been released. In addition, the manufacturer produces merch: comics, clothing, stationery, toys and computer games. Straffi conceived the film adaptation back in 2011, but Netflix only started shooting in 2019.

Despite its popularity among children and teenagers, the animated series has been repeatedly criticized. The creators of «Winx» were accused of sexual objectification of the heroines — sixteen-year-old fairies have a perfect body and wear too open clothes.

A shot from the first season of «Winx» (source: Amino Apps)
A shot from the first season of «Winx» (source: Amino Apps)

The plot of the film series differs from the original one. Sixteen-year-old Bloom (Abigail Cowen) gets into «Alphea». «Alphea» is a school for fairies and specialists from the magical world. The girl lives in a hostel with other fairies, communicates only with Aisha (Precious Mustapha), and with Stella (Hannah van der Westhuysen) is at enmity. The heroine has a bad relationship with her parents. Headmistress Miss Dowling (Eve Best) knows the truth about Bloom, but keeps it a secret. The young fairy has yet to learn about herself and her origins.

The series received an age limit of «18+». According to Straffi’s idea, the show is designed for adult fans of the animated series: in the Netflix adaptation, there are a large number of bed scenes and obscene language.

From left to right: Muse, Terra, Bloom, Stella, Aisha (source: Twitter)
From left to right: Muse, Terra, Bloom, Stella, Aisha (source: Twitter)

The public met the news of the film adaptation with conflicting reviews. Even at the stage of creation, the project was discussed because of the cast: the Asian Muse was made a white American, Techna was removed from the number of Winx fairies, and instead of Flora, another character appeared — her cousin Terra. Another heroine — Beatrix-became a collective image of the evil trinity Trix. There is no Muse and Riven couple that is loved by many: Riven is an open bisexual who is in love with another person.

The first season received many positive reviews. On IMDB, users rated the series 7 points on a ten-point scale. On Kinopoisk slightly below-6,4. After the premiere, the network received information that Netflix has extended «Fate: The Winx Saga». There was no official confirmation of the second season.

 

Russian sensation

"To the lake" - the most expensive Russian series on Netflix

Reading time 3 minutes

“To the Lake” is a Russian sci-fi thriller series directed by Nika Award nominee Pavel Kostomarov. It was added to the Netflix catalogue in October 2020. The platform bought the series for a record-breaking sum – $1,5 million. The Russian name of the series is “Эпидемия” (Epidemic).

Главный герой сериала
The main character moves to Karelia because of the epidemic

It is based on the novel ‘Vongozero’ by author Yana Vagner. The plot is literally repeating the events of the current pandemic. Life in Moscow has become life-threatening because of the new disease. The main character, accompanied by his family, ex-wife and neighbours, moves to Karelia, to a small island in the middle of a lake.They have a dangerous way to go. Netflix got interested in the series in January, when the pandemic just started.

“To the lake” was ranked the 4-th most watched series in the Netflix rating. Stephen King tweeted about the series: he called it “pretty darn good” and highlighted the excess of snow, cold and vodka in the show. There is even a fan-page of the series on the Internet.

Стивен Кинг написал твит об «Эпидемии»
Stephen King’s tweet

This is not the first time when Netflix wants to buy a project created by Valeriy Fedorovich and Evgeniy Nikishov. In their interview to Meduza producers said that they had already refused to sell their projects to Netflix because the terms weren’t beneficial. At first Netflix wanted to pay for “To the lake” less than the other streaming platform. When the offer was rejected, the company suggested releasing the series with a “Netflix Originals” mark. Products from this category are generally more expensive. After some consideration producers accepted the offer.       

Netflix has already purchased more than 40 Russian cartoons, movies and tv shows. Before “To the lake” was added to the catalogues, the most expensive Russian project on Netflix was “Better than us”. The series cost one million dollars. 

«Requiem for a Dream»: a manual for a drug addict or a tragic and beautiful story?

The anniversary of a cult movie is the time to review and rethink.

Reading time 11 minutes

In 2020 the film «Requiem for a Dream» celebrated its 20th anniversary. On the occasion of the jubilee, Darren Aronofsky decided to release the director’s version of the film in 4K on October 13. We decided to remember the film, which is familiar to virtually everyone and discuss our impressions.

«Requiem for a Dream» on the screens again (source: KinoPoisk).

The plot

Female perspective

The plot of the film is quite simple. Aronofsky presents us four main characters: Mrs. Goldfarb (Ellen Burstyn), her son Harry (Jared Leto), his girlfriend Marion Silver (Jennifer Connelly) and their mutual friend Tyrone (Marlon Wayans). From the first minutes of the film we learn that each of them has a certain dream: Sara Goldfarb wants to do a popular TV show, Harold and Tyrone are eager to get rich, and Marion sees herself as the owner of a designer store. There is a weighty obstacle between the heroes and their goals – drugs. Addiction becomes the main obstacle to the dream, making all their plans unattainable. All plotlines are brought to a logical end: four heroes pass through summer, autumn and winter. Their destinies are gradually collapsing, and at the end of the film the tragedy reaches its climax. The director managed to find the balance between the storylines and to reveal each character to the full extent.

Carefree “summer” Harry and Tyrone, frame from the film (source: KinoPoisk)

Men’s view

I would not agree with my colleague. Yes, each of the heroes has a dream, but it is not what Aronofsky brings to the surface of the plot. The problem is not drugs, but that the characters are too deep in dreams and illusions because of weak will. Yes, Marion dreams of creating her own clothing brand, but take into account the financial situation of her parents. If the girl behaved more seriously, they would support her endeavor. But is it the main thing for her? In fact, Marion herself wants to spend her life next to Harry and to realize herself. The last one, in a very distorted form, she gets at the end of the film. Yes, Harold and Tyrone dream of a «pound of cleansing» (453 grams of pure heroin) and wealth. Is this what they live for? No! It is important for Harry to be with Marion. She was the first person he thought about during the amputation of his hand. His meaning of life was Marion, not money and drugs. He dreamed that she would succeed in the fashion industry and become truly happy. Tyrone wants to become a significant person in society and is ready to do everything for his «ideal» future. This is shown in a scene where he enthusiastically agrees to work for a drug lord for money and status. In reality, each of them just wants to find his place in life. The drugs in «Requiem for a Dream» are a metaphorical curtain on the window. Heroes dream of getting into the street, but do not go out. They prefer to draw the curtain and not to think that there is a neat yard outside their room. And because they «pull the curtain» regularly, they forget about the existence of the world around them.

Acting

Female perspective

The selection of actors in this film was, as it seems to me, extremely scrupulous. Aronofsky approved for the role of those who will immediately arouse the sympathy of the audience. While watching the film, the characters are not disgusted, but rather compassionate. This is a very well thought out move. Of all the cast, the most memorable is Ellen Burstyn. Her heroine gave me the creeps.

Ellen Burstyn as Sara, frame from the film (source: Yandex Zen).

Men’s view

It’s hard to argue that the cast is definitely beyond any criticism. I would especially like to mention Jennifer Connelly. If the theme of drugs is far from your worldview, the motivation to continue watching will be the charming beauty and stunning game of the main character.

Directing and production

Female perspective

The film was filmed beautifully. Colors, frame staging, scenery and views – all in the same style, pleasing to the eye. The business card of the film is the famous splices of the frames, embodying the use of substances. The film is imbued with the aesthetics of that time and society. The strongest scene is shown at the end of the film picture, where all four heroes lie in the embryo position, embodying their helplessness.

Tyrone in embryo position, frame from film (source: KinoPoisk)

Men’s view

Stunning «Hip-hop» montage from Aronofsky and just an unreal number of splices! The ingenious breakdown of the film into seasons reminds «The Seasons» by Vivaldi. Montage allows us to feel the pace and rhythm of what is happening and it is the «heart» of the picture and sets the movement. However, I did not have enough flowers in this picture. Perhaps more daring solutions could add extra vividness to what is happening.

Overall impression

Female perspective

The film undoubtedly contains strong scenes that show how harmful drugs are to physical and mental health. Accordingly, the message is quite simple and clear: if there were no heroin and amphetamine heroes in life, everything would be perfect. The disadvantage of this picture is the certainty that none of the heroes will be able to live a normal life and cope with their addiction which has developed since the very first scenes. Therefore, the whole film turns into waiting for the fatal outcome, which will be a disaster for all characters. «Requiem for a Dream», in my opinion, lacked the unpredictability of the plot that Uli Edel was able to create in the film «Christiane F ».

Harry and Marion, frame from the film (source: KinoPoisk)

Men’s View

I did not have enough beautiful, bright, carefree scenes «in summer», I would like more colors. Moreover, the heroes are so often «high»!
Another factor that slightly embarrassed me was the lack of noticeable contrast in the scenes starting from autumn.
I definitely liked the plot structure based on the extremes. If you need a «dope», it is impossible to get it in more than eight million city (the film is set in one of the districts of New York – Brooklyn). Therefore, the heroes go in search not just in a neighboring city or state, but in Florida, the distance to which is more than 8500 km! However, to me, it gives additional dynamics, and in combination with the installation looks organic.

Social significance 

Female perspective

«Requiem for a Dream» is among the 250 best movies. The movie by Aronofsky is considered cult because it shows the drug addiction of the present. «Requiem for a Dream» does not romanticize drugs, it shows how substances break destinies. There is a tendency for all movies or series that mention drug addiction to become quite popular (e.g., TV series «Euphoria», «Eagles», «Elite» and «13 Reasons why»). Is it necessary to show the topic of drug use in movies? Why not? But only as long as the mentioning does not turn into the propaganda of such a lifestyle. By the way, Russian psychologists have noticed that «Requiem for a Dream» has psychotherapeutic properties and allows to fight harmful habits.

Ellen Burstyn on filming (source: Tvkinoradio)

Men’s view

I do not think it is correct to compare this picture with work like «Euphoria», too different contexts. In «Requiem for a Dream», drugs are used as one of the connecting elements of all heroes. The «dope» increases rapidly, time runs faster, and the situation in which the heroes drive themselves becomes increasingly desperate.
Drug propaganda is a bad thing. However, take, for example, the cult movie «Dazed and Confused», which is famous in the USA. Throughout the whole time the heroes «get high» and this is what makes it possible to recreate the atmosphere corresponding to the film’s idea. In this way the director helps the viewer to feel the epoch (the action takes place in the USA in the 70s). Aronofsky also uses drugs in the frame to make the viewer experience emotions. The film’s author tries to convey to us: «Live here and now, not in illusions. Act, be yourself and everything can work out».

The excess of Petrov

Why are actors playing in popular Russian films the same? Klim Shipenko explains

Reading time 6 minutes

On February 6, the famous Russian singer and composer Yuri Loza made an ironic post on his Facebook account, in which he noted Alexander Petrov’s over-popularity in contemporary Russian cinema. The musician considered it unfair that thousands of talented actors graduate from Russian film schools every year, each of them is waiting for new chance, but the producers prefer to give all the potential box office roles to Petrov.

Юрий Лоза поднял актуальную для многих российских кинозрителей тему
Yuri Loza asked a question that is relevant for many Russian moviegoers …

Although Yuri’s post was written in a rather humorous style, it provoked a discussion around the current situation with Russian actors. One of the participants of the discussion was Klim Shipenko, a successful film director. In 2019, two of his films were released at once: a criminal-dramatic psychological thriller “Text” (with Petrov playing the main role) and a comedy “The Serf”. The first film, according to the Kinopoisk online portal, was warmly received by both viewers (rating 7.0) and critics (85% of reviews were positive). This was also emphasized by the box office of 850 million rubles. With a budget of 75 it achieved excellent results at the main Golden Eagle film contest in Russia. “Text” received awards for the best film, best male roles of the first and second plans (Petrov and Ivan Yankovsky, respectively), as well as for the best editing (Tim Pavelko). Shipenko himself was awarded a nomination for best directing, and composer Nikolai Rostov was awarded for best music. “Serf”, with a similar rating of 7.0 at “Kinopoisk”, became the most profitable Russian film in the history of Russian distribution, collecting for the first time more than 3 billion rubles and breaking the “Upward” record.

А Клим Шипенко дал ответ на этот вопрос
… and Klim Shipenko answered this question

The director said that in terms of perception of actors, Russian viewers are very different from Western ones: there is still a distrust in the quality of domestic cinema, so producers prefer to screen more popular characters in order to increase the chances of success. And Petrov in this sense is not the first: Sergey Bezrukov followed the same path after the role of Sasha Bely in the crime series “The Brigade”, Konstantin Khabensky after the role of Anton Gorodetsky in the fantasy “Night Watch” and Danil Kozlovsky after the role of hockey player Valery Kharlamov in sports drama “Legend number 17”. Petrov gained popularity in the second half of the 2010s after the series “Policeman from Rublevka”, where he played Grigory Izmailov, a police captain.

Один из предшественников Петрова Данила Козловский в фильме "Легенда №17" (в центре)
One of Petrov’s predecessors, Danila Kozlovsky, in the film “Legend No. 17” (center)

Shipenko also noted that even Russian stars of the first echelon are not success guarantors at the box office, in contrast with Western ones. And the director definitely knew what he was talking about: despite the impressive final fees of “Text”, the adaptation of the novel by Dmitry Glukhovsky had an almost failed first weekend. During the first week, the box office amounted to only 92 million rubles. This figure slightly exceeded the budget of the film and took 4th place at the end of the week. It lost to the “Joker” (Todd Philips), who had already been in the box office for a month. In the future, word of mouth saved the situation: firstly, positive reviews began to come about the quality of the film, and secondly, the scandal around the overly frank bed scene with Christina Asmus and Ivan Yankovsky played a big role. Many viewers went to the cinema to find out what was special about this scene.

По этому фото не скажешь, но именно сцена с участием этих двоих сделала "Текст" таким популярным в прокате
You can’t tell from the photo, but it was the scene with the participation of these two that made “Text” so popular at the box office

As a result, the director described a vicious circle: it is more difficult for unknown actors to get into potentially stellar roles, and the famous ones are becoming even more popular, so they bother the audience.

Borderless education

How Russian students take part in international mobility

Reading time 5 minutes

According to RBC data, in 2015 more than 50 thousand Russians studied abroad. This is about 1.5% of all international students. Statistics have shown that students prefer to travel to the United States and European countries although China is becoming more and more popular.

The cost of education in Europe universities according to the data of state agencies
The cost of education in Europe universities according to the data of state agencies

Any student can build an independent educational trajectory of education abroad or participate in international academic mobility programs with the help of home-university. RNU HSE is among those universities that offer such exchange programs. It has more than 74 arrangements with institutes in 27 countries.

HSE stusents on the international mobility program
HSE stusents on the international mobility program

HSE advises to divide the participation into the international academic mobility program into several stages:

  1. Make sure that you meet all the criteria that apply to exchange candidates.
  2. Calculate your budget: you will not have to pay for the education but both visa and transport, insurance and accommodation, food and unexpected expenses are covered by the student. In case of difficulties with calculations, you can use the site.
  3. Submit an online application form to participate in the competition: for autumn mobility it is held in February-April and for spring one in August-October.
  4. Check your email address to find out the selection results. They are announced one month after the end of the application process.
  5. If the application is approved, get ready to go: check the list of things and study the recommendations for traveling abroad on the website of the Russian foreign Ministry.

To make sure that the student is ready to study, the host country may ask to confirm the level of English fluency. The tip: programs that require international certificates have lower competition. Therefore, if you confirm your knowledge of the language with an international exam certificate in advance, it will significantly increase your chances of learning abroad. To do this, you should pass IELTS or TOEFL but not lower than the level B2 according to the CEFR classification.

The stages of fluency in foreign languages according to classifications of CEFR and British Council
The stages of fluency in foreign languages according to classifications of CEFR and British Council

According to the experience of students who have studied abroad, you should learn ahead as much as possible about the country you are going to and study the course program. Also, you should know in advance how you will be evaluated and whether you will be able to recalculate the received grades on the return. The clearer and more extensive your understanding of life in the host country, the less likely you are to suffer from culture shock or homesickness. To do this, you can monitor the media platforms of the host country, correspond with locals or analyze the experience of your predecessors. No one can guarantee that you will be 100% comfortable in your new place but careful preparation will help make the experience more enjoyable.

Do you want to drop everything? This is not laziness, this is procrastination!

Why do we put things off until later, and how can we overcome our reluctance to work?

Reading time 5 minutes

Why do students often postpone difficult cases? Study Mode conducted a survey of 1,300 students, and found out: 87% of respondents always delay in completing a task, leaving it for later. Psychologists call this phenomenon procrastination. Sometimes this phenomenon is called a manifestation of weakness and laziness, but in fact, procrastination has deeper roots.

Why do we procrastinate?

Procrastinator brain

Brain is to blame for the fact that man procrastinates. This conclusion was made by researchers from the Ruhr University. They used 264 volunteers, examined them with an MRI. Then the participants filled out a questionnaire in which they appreciated how they can control their emotions. Research has shown that some people have a much larger amygdala than others. This gland is responsible for controlling emotions. It means that it is difficult for a person to cope with his feelings.

In addition, this part of the brain of procrastinators has a weak connection with the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex, which chooses what we should do. Normally, the interaction of the tonsil and the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex helps us to complete our tasks and enjoy the process at the same time. Each action of procrastinators is the result of a struggle between these two parts of the brain.

Vicious circle procrastinator

One of the most unpleasant features of procrastination is a constant feeling of guilt and dissatisfaction with yourself. Deferred cases are done in a hurry – these actions affect the result and our well-being. There is a reluctance to take on new things. It turns out a vicious circle, and getting out of it is not so easy. 

 

How to overcome procrastination?

At first glance, it is impossible to overcome procrastination, because for this it is necessary to correct those parts of the brain that are responsible for it. You can’t change the brain, but you can cheat it.

  • Understand your task. We put things on a back burner, because the task seems to us simply incomprehensible. Students, for example, are afraid of a blank sheet. In fact, the task only seems so impracticable. It is enough to single out the purpose of the task, divide it into components and solve it in parts.
  • Work for periods. A common problem of procrastinators is the inability to think for a long time. As soon as we begin to perform tasks, we immediately get tired. It is necessary to set a timer and work, for example, 25 minutes. The main thing is not to make indulgences and not to finish the work earlier.
  • Minimize distractions. Put your phone in flight mode so that you will not be disturbed by calls and messages. Work in a place where no one will disturb you, and concentrate fully on the task.
  • Kindle your interest. Obviously, to perform tasks that are beyond your interests is difficult. But the brain can be deceived: it is enough to spend a few minutes writing a script in which this experience will definitely come in handy in the future. In addition, you can encourage yourself for work. When you solve a problem, watch a movie or go for a walk with friends.

 

The cult series “Game of Thrones” comes to an end

What is the secret of the phenomenal success of the fantastic saga?

Reading time 4 minutes

The HBO television company has launched the final season of the top-rated series “Game of Thrones”. Usually the next season had to wait no more than 12 months. However, this time it took two years to shoot the eighth season. It was risky, but the creators calculated everything exactly: interest in the series only increased.

The eighth season came out on April 14 and has already set two absolute records. In the USA, the premiere of the new season was watched by 17.4 million viewers. And they did not forget to write about it: on Twitter, the first series became the most mentioned, about 5 million tweets were dedicated to the “Games”.

Shot from the series.

“Game of Thrones” is a historical series with elements of fantasy and exciting drama. The legendary saga tells about the struggle for power over the fictional continent of Västerås. This place resembles Western Europe in the Middle Ages. Three dynasties encroach upon the Iron Throne of the Seven Kingdoms: Starkey, Targaryen, and Lannister. However, they are prevented by the risen dead under the leadership of the King of Night. Only by combining all the forces, people will be able to overcome the absolute evil. Or will not be able to overcome – this is what we will see in the final season.

The storyline of the series is very saturated, but this is not the reason for the success of the saga. On the one hand, this is a mix of cruelty, intrigue and explicit scenes. But on the other hand, the main trump card of the “Game of Thrones” remains its dramaturgy. In the “Game of Thrones” more than 1000 heroes, and there is not a single central or strictly positive. Empathy and interest are heroes, despite the immoral acts. We also never know who will be killed this time – the authors have removed more than half of the cast in seven seasons. In Australia there is a cemetery where the graves of the fallen heroes are located.

“Come and pay homage to the Grave of Thrones,” wrote the Foxtel team in the Instagram account, the company that created the cemetery.

According to the associate professor of the Higher School of Economics Pavel Rodkin, the series has become a significant cultural phenomenon. The authors of the saga skillfully use images that live in the consciousness and in the subconscious of the modern viewer.

“The reason for the popularity of the “Game of Thrones”, in my opinion, is that it collects all genres in some post-modern way: history, political intrigue, fantasy, and also collects all the archetypes that are significant for modern society,” says Pavel Rodkin.

The global phenomenon of the “Game of Thrones” has a multi-million dollar fandom and is well received in wide circles. Critics also appreciate it: in 2015, an Emmy series won in 12 out of 24 nominations. And this is not all the titles of this saga. “Game of Thrones” was the most watched TV series channel HBO and the most expensive project on modern television (last season cost more than $ 100 million). Finally, this is the most popular pirated content. This record is even listed in the Guinness Book of Records.

Exposure, shutter speed, aperture, ISO: how to deal with it

Cheat notes for a beginning photographer

Reading time 6 minutes

The cherished dream has finally come true: you are holding a new camera and ready to click everything. There is only one problem – you see one thing, and the camera – quite another, it ruthlessly spoils the whole picture! In this case, however, it is not the camera, it is the ability to work with it. And there is not enough knowledge about what a matrix and what a lens, will have to study a few more concepts.

Exposition

The first term that any user who has picked up a professional camera faces is exposure. In simple words, the exposure is the amount of light that falls on the matrix of the camera at the time of shooting. Thus, it is responsible for the saturation of the photo, so first of all you should learn how to work with the exposure.

To determine the exposure parameters, it is necessary to deal with the exposure meter – a scale on the screen that shows how accurately the exposure is built. If the runner leaves plus – there is a lot of light, if the negative – few. If the slider is near zero, the exposure is correct.

The secret of correct exposure is that to configure it you need two parameters aperture and shutter speed together – expopair. In the following table you can easily identify the cases in which the ratio of the aperture and shutter speed matched right: cells of the same color located in one diagonal indicate the correct exposure value.

Aperture

The hole in the lens through which light enters the camera body is called the aperture. It adjusts the brightness of the picture, it can be used to take light pictures even in a dimly lit room and Vice versa. There are 13 aperture values, the higher this value – the more the aperture is closed, in the picture it is shown as follows:

Advises

  • the two most popular types of photography are landscape and portrait. To shoot a landscape, it is better to use a closed aperture (from f/8), then it will be clear, for shooting a portrait, an open aperture (f/1,4 – 3,5) will be more suitable, it will help to make the background more blurred and create the famous bokeh effect;
  • if you’re shooting a pair, the ideal aperture value would be f/5.6, and for a group of people – f/8, however, in poor lighting, you should use an additional flash light;
  • in poor lighting conditions suitable aperture value f/2,8, in bright light at f/16.
Shutter speed

Another term – shutter speed – means the time during which the camera shutter is open, and the light hits the matrix. Shutter speed is measured in fractions of a second, long shutter speed is used for static images, and short shutter speed is used for dynamic images. However, there is an interesting technique: shooting fast motion with long exposure creates the effect of a blurred trail behind the object.

The use of long exposure is justified in two cases: in poor lighting or to create a motion effect (for example, it is better to shoot a waterfall jet at a long exposure). In other cases, it is better to use a short exposure.

ISO

Light sensitivity (or ISO) is the speed at which the matrix records information about the amount of light. But the faster the light is fixed, the more graphic information it will lose. The light sensitivity setting is useful if you need certain shutter speed and aperture values in low light. Increasing the ISO in this case will give the necessary exposure, but the fee for increasing the sensitivity will increase the grain of the frame.

Tip: even if you shoot in the dark, you should set the light sensitivity not higher than 200-400 to reduce the amount of grain, and if in a well-lit room – you should bring the ISO to a minimum.

The ability to work with the basic settings of the camera significantly improve the result of shooting. And with experience, knowledge of settings for specific situations and understanding of the features of your camera will appear.