Science on Screen: 'Rushmore' at the Coolidge Corner Theatre

rushmorePhoto via Bmethe/Flickr

If you haven't had the chance to experience director Wes Anderson’s “offbeat” 1998 flick Rushmore, the Coolidge Corner Theatre will be showing it tonight as part of its Science on Screen series. The film stars Jason Schwartzman as Max Fischer, a peculiar adolescent boy who falls in love with a first-grade teacher Rosemary Cross, who is several years his senior. Fischer at first believes that billionaire Herman J. Blume (Bill Murray) can use his power and wealth to help Fischer win her over, but the boy later realizes that Blume is in fact romantically involved with Cross, and a competition commences.

Described as simultaneously “courageous, brilliant, and ambitious” and “boneheaded, impulsive, and vindictive,” some of Fischer’s characteristics are what we would expect of most adolescent high school boys. Before the movie begins, guest speaker Dr. Steven Schlozman, an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and a new Hub Health contributor, will offer a bit of research and his own insight on the developing adolescent brain and how it differs from the adult brain. Having once discussed the neurobiology of zombies before a Coolidge Corner Theatre screening of Night of the Living Dead in 2009, Dr. Schlozman will base this presentation on past (around the time of the '50s and '60s) and present findings that can help us better understand how someone Fischer’s age might think.

“What I was hoping to do was to look at what we know about the adolescent brain, which is [fairly] new. This is stuff we didn’t know even 20 years ago,” said Dr. Schlozman. “There have been changes in the way we understand [how] adolescents process information.”

According to Dr. Schlozman, who is Board Certified in General Psychiatry and Child Psychiatry, neuron tracks in the brain must be insulated with myelin, and as we get older, they become “increasingly better insulated [in] the higher regions of the brain, or the parts that help us to make good decisions, solve complex problems, and think in abstract ways.” In adolescents, primitive regions of the brain are not so insulated.

“When they get worked up, excited, or in love, or something like that, their frontal lobe can’t process information as coherently,” he said. Dr. Schlozman said he planned to discuss this concept as well as attempt to tie in, if there is time before the show, “whether or not current brain development views are being changed in some way by technology.”

The Harvard Med professor and doctor (who happens to also be author of the novel The Zombie Autopsies, soon to be made into a George Romero film) also said that examining how Jason Schwartzman’s character is “quirky and fun” and “not typical” can help us understand teenagers in general. And finally, science aside, he stressed that Rushmore is definitely a movie worth seeing.

“It’s a very funny dynamic, and Wes Anderson is good at showing how teens are not always finishing their thoughts, and that’s part of the fun for the audience,” said Dr. Schlozman. “It’s a great film.”

The Science on Screen discussion and movie will take place tonight, Monday, January 28, starting at 7 p.m. at Coolidge Corner Theatre, 290 Harvard St., Brookline. Tickets are $10 general admission, $8 for students and Museum of Science members, and free for Coolidge Corner Theatre members. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit coolidge.org or call 617-734-2500.

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