Mr Epidemiology

No, I'm not a skin doctor


movie review

Movie Review: The PhD Movie!

PHD Movie Trailer from PHD Comics on Vimeo.

PhD comics has been a staple of my grad student life. Ever since I got into graduate school, the PhD Comics series has been both a humourous look, and a startlingly accurate reflection, of my graduate student career. The feeling of being overwhelmed, the “what am I doing here,” the constant grind, PhD Comics captures it all well. Especially when it comes to grad students and free food. But I’ll get to the movie later.

The joy for me came not from the movie itself, but the joy of watching it with my peers. Let’s start at the beginning.

Movie still - Prof. Smith (Zachary Abbott) explains how research works to the Nameless Grad Student (Raj Katti).

The movie was held in a lecture theatre on campus – one that many of those watching had likely lectured in as part of the graduate training. I’d presented there myself for the Queen’s Health Science Research Trainees day (protip: always remember when your microphone is on, and don’t talk to yourself if it is). It was a fitting location for a movie about our graduate student lives.

The movie began to a packed house. The opening scene set the tone for the rest of the movie – Professor Smith was almost an exact duplicate of his comic self, down the green sweater vest. It was wonderful.

However, disaster struck about 10 minutes in, as the DVD started to skip, and eventually froze! How would the organizing committee resolve this issue!! They had an auditorium full of tired graduate students who were excited for the movie!

They did what anyone would do to occupy graduate students. The Google’d a solution and when that didn’t work, then they put on a video of cats doing funny things to distract us while they fixed it. It was genius.

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Contagion and Social Media

A movie poster for Contagion

Last week I ran a story about the movie Contagion, and my thoughts about it. I kept it pretty simple, and avoided a lot of the plot. But in this article, I’m going to go ahead and assume you’ve watched the movie, or that spoilers don’t bother you too much.

I really enjoyed the movie. I know some people found the movie a little dry, and some found it shallow, but I thought it struck a good balance between believable enough without being outlandish – a fact bolstered by how the producers had CDC staff on hand to act as creative consultants. After all, if movies like GI Joe can have military personnel to help them and make sure the military guys are appropriate, why wouldn’t you have an Epidemiologist on hand for a movie about a virus outbreak? I thought the faceless, unrelenting virus was a great “villain” and drove the action forward with a sense of urgency and dread.

When the movie ended, I was happy, but I was left with questions about the movie’s realism. What would the CDC do if there was such an outbreak? How do they plan to tackle it? Would they use traditional means like the news, or do they plan to use social media as well? They’ve updated their website about it and written a blog post too. But those are rather dry – I’d love to be able to sit down with real EIS Agents and ask them questions.

So you can imagine how excited I was to hear that the CDC would be holding a live Q and A on Twitter with four EIS agents.

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Movie Review: Contagion

So recently, I mentioned a new movie was coming out named Contagion. There’s been a lot of interesting buzz surrounding the movie on the internet, and several colleagues and I were excited to see a movie about Epidemiologists. So we ventured down to our local theatre to check it out.

I’ve tried to keep it as spoiler-free as possible, and I’ve tried to keep key details from being revealed. However, as with all movie reviews, if you want to be surprised by the movie, don’t read it.

Review after the jump.

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