For our final “Meet the Bloggers” of the semester we are introducing our Science/Film blogger Steven Zeko. Zeko uses his blog to evaluate the science accuracy in a variety of films such as Outbreak, Contagion, Sam Mendes’ Skyfall and more. He blogs under Steven’s Science in Cinema, so check him out!
Steven Zeko is a senior at Lewis university, working towards a Bachelor of Science in Biology and a Bachelor of Arts in Secondary Education. He is currently involved in immunology research and Chem-ED research. Following his education, Steven wants to teach biology, chemistry, and physics at a high school level. In his free time, Steven enjoys playing video games, reading, playing golf, and watching movies. He is typically reading two books at any given time, with one book being a science book and the other being any good book that he can find. Currently, Steven is reading Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil deGrasse Tyson and Educated by Tara Westover. His fascination with science began when he was a kid by watching the works of Bill Nye and Neil deGrasse Tyson. Both being wonderful STEM educators, he hopes to invoke their ability to energize a crowd just by educating people about science.
For many of us growing up in today’s world, we are children of concrete jungles. We are more familiar with subways, skyscrapers, strip malls, and carefully manicured suburban lawns than forests. Venturing out into true wilderness is risky and incomprehensible by our cushy standards. Yet many years ago, this continent was not quite conquered. The West was once a vast place full of possibility; a place for adventure, for starting over, and for exploration. That is the world showcased in the film Hostiles.
Set in 1892, Hostiles portrays an America that is quite unrecognizable by today’s standards. The country was still recovering in some ways from the Civil War roughly three decades earlier. Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico were still territories. In New Mexico, Hostiles explores relations between Native Americans and the American army. Specifically, some sentiments in the country that have shifted to favor less harsh treatment of the native population. Protagonist Captain Joseph Blocker (Christian Bale) has fought many native groups for decades of his career with the army. One of the men he fought is Chief Yellow Hawk, a Cheyenne leader who has been imprisoned with his family at Fort Berringer for seven years. Orders have been given from the president himself to transport Chief Yellow Hawk from New Mexico to Hawk’s homeland, a valley in Montana, to live out his few remaining days.
The 2014 drama film Leviathan, directed and written by Andrey Zvyagintsev, brings a Russian landscape to life in a bureaucratic battle between a fisherman and the corrupt mayor of his town. The film’s wide-open scenic landscape seems to play a central role—from the cliffs near the Barents Sea, to the bones of a washed-up whale, to Kolya’s family home, and finally to the run-down church used as a hangout by local boys including Kolya’s son, Roma. All of these locations outwardly demonstrate the isolation and distance felt by our family, as they are far away from the town with not many neighbors and almost swept under the rug by the town’s mayor. The whale bones could be an additional sign of decay and gradual loss felt by Kolya, or the bones could be a symbol of helplessness, particularly with his alcoholism and imprisonment later on in the film. The story revolves around Nikolay ‘Kolya’ (Aleksey Serebryakov) who lives in his ancestral home, with his wife and son. He can be found occasionally doing car repair for acquaintances, and moderately drinking early in the film. We are introduced to Kolya as the subject of an arduous legal battle to keep his property— a property he helped construct and where he is passionately rooted. The film portrays Kolya as the common man who is wrapped up in the bureaucracy of his country. To demonstrate this common man idea even further, Zvyaginstev has Kolya arrested for simply questioning a crooked police officer’s motives, which shows a definite power imbalance between authority and people. The film seems to criticize the current state of Russia’s bureaucracy and the country’s political corruption by using Kolya as an example.
Bestiary: a collection of descriptions or representations of real or imaginary animals.
Last week in my creative writing lecture, my peers and I were assigned, “Bestiary” by Julio Cortazar– A short-fiction that begins with our protagonist, Isabel, being sent by her sister, Inés, and their Mother to the Funes, in order to keep the youngest Fune, Nino, company. Though we are never told how old Isabel is, we know she is old enough to relay what she sees clearly, but also naive enough to believe should she give into Aunt Rema’s demands, she can escape interacting with The Kid. Throughout the piece, we are given a variety of beasts who parallel the subjects in the Funes’ home. Who exactly parallels who, we can never be sure, as Cortazar embeds just enough ambiguity that one can never render their conclusion absolute. However, it’s fun to try.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a 2012 American coming-of-age drama film written and directed by Stephen Chbosky and stars Logan Lerman, Emma Watson, and Ezra Miller. The movie takes place in 1992 and starts with the main character Charlie, played by Logan Lerman, writing a letter to an unknown person because they seem like a good person and someone who won’t think Charlie is weird, unlike others his age. Charlie is about to go into his first year of high school, but because of his depression, anxiety, and the recent suicide of his only friend, Charlie thinks he won’t be able to make any friends. On the first day of school, the only “friend” Charlie makes is his English teacher Bill, who becomes a mentor and confidant for him throughout the movie. At the first home football game of the school year, Charlie ends up sitting with seniors Patrick and Sam, who are step-brother and sister. Meeting Patrick and Sam set the tone for the rest of Charlie’s freshmen year, in which Charlie learns about himself, the people in his life, and what really happened in his past. This film is based on the 1999 book of the same name and was also written by Stephen Chbosky. Charlie is the main character and narrator of both the movie and the book, he has many mental health issues that stem from him being molested by his aunt as a child and other traumatic experiences throughout his life. It is important to note that the whole book is told in an epistolary form, with all letters Charlie writes recounting the things that have recently happened to him. The movie and the book are incredibly alike, even more than Room from my last post, in that all the characters are the same and the order of events is mostly consistent with the story’s original medium. That being said, of course, like all adaptations there are things that have to be taken out or changed to fit with the medium of film and it’s time constraints.
What would happen if Jesus Christ returned to earth today? It is a philosophical question that some people may ponder as an interesting hypothetical debate, but Netflix’s new series, Messiah explores that in its ten episode first season. For those looking for an intriguing quarantine binge, keep reading!
The series opens with a mysterious man preaching to a crowd in Damascus, Syria as it comes under attack. A sandstorm envelops the city and deters the attack, and many people come to believe that the man is a prophetic figure responsible for miraculously saving them. Al-Masih (Mehdi Dehbi), as he comes to be known, remains an enigma throughout the entire series. He never explicitly comes out and states, “I am the messiah,” and he likewise does not deny it. As he comes to the attention of CIA officer Eva Geller (Michelle Monaghan) as a possible cult or terrorist leader, Al-Masih just becomes more and more of a mystery. He has an uncanny ability to read people and get into their heads, and every episode swings back and forth like a pendulum around one central question: Is this just a very convincing con man, or is he an actual miracle worker and the son of God?
It has been a while and I am sure like me, you have been impacted by Coronovirus and self-isolation. Whether it is through muscle atrophy, emotional fluctuations, or the loss of a loved one, the pandemic has changed our lives and not for the better. The pandemic has made us take shelter inside the confines of our homes, scared and restless. As of now, it feels as though the world is becoming a worse place and the feeling of hopelessness increases with every passing day. And I am sure there will be a movie or a series made of this event, there always is. But it shall never capture the true realities and emotions felt during these trying times. From war to heartbreak to loneliness, poetry has helped people endure all manner of painful experiences. The selections of poems below ranging from Philip Larkin to Maya Angelou, in some way offer comfort, small as it is during these trying times.
Welcome back to another blog about my oral history writing endeavors. I hope you are all finding yourselves productive in your home offices while cuddling your pets and books! Over the course of the shelter-in-place order, I have tried to gain a sense of normalcy and routine, especially as all of my classes transitioned to an online platform and I moved back home after moving out of my campus home. The transition has certainly been a challenging one, but I look forward to sunny days when I can rollerblade around my neighborhood or step out of my home to get some fresh air. I hope you are all also finding creative ways to stay active!
In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, many people are interested in the films Contagion (2011), directed by Steven Soderbergh, and Outbreak (1995), directed by Wolfgang Petersen. Both movies represent either an outbreak or pandemic, much like the scenario we are going through right now. Contagion is obviously a pandemic scenario, so it is more similar than Outbreak to COVID-19. The film Outbreak, as the title indicates, depicts an outbreak scenario.
As I am reviewing two movies, I will split this review up into two sections. For further clarification, I will still make note between the two movies as a cross-reference. I also want to note that most of the flaws in the movies were not intrinsically in the plot. Most of the flaws seemed to be in the actor’s presentation or mannerisms while in specific settings.
For our next entry of this new weekly series, we are introducing Jesse Drake. Drake is one of our new political bloggers under his title, There is Power in a Rant.
Jesse is a senior English major with minors in political science and peace studies. He currently lives on campus but is originally from northeast Indiana. Jesse plans on staying in the Chicago area for his gap year before attending law school. Thanks to a combination of inspiring yet challenging English teachers and exposure to the culture of a small Rust Belt town, Jesse focuses his writing on working-class issues, political rhetoric, and inequality. He also enjoys craft beer and spicy food.