Tag Archives: movies


Sound of Metal' tells an emotional story of deafness – The San Francisco  Examiner

Riz Ahmed as Reuben, who lost his hearing, and Paul Raci as Joe in The Sound of Metal

You can never cross the same river twice. You will have changed and the river will have changed

-Paraphrase of Heraclitus

The Sound of Metal, nominated for several Academy Awards, is a fable for our time. It is more than that, of course, a superbly acted depiction of a musician who loses his hearing and spends the motion picture coming to terms with the change.

For much of the picture the musician holds out the hope and expectation that things will return to normal, the way they were. He abandons a retreat for the deaf to spend money he barely has on a complex operation with disappointing results, then re-unites with his girlfriend. In the end, the loss of love and treasure win him a painful wisdom.

The movie never alludes to what is happening with the pandemic, but the lesson is there for those who will see it. We will not pick up where we left off. People have died, symptoms have lingered, jobs have disappeared, businesses have closed and students missed two years of social life that is gone like water in Haraclitus’s river. Things will never be the way they were and we don’t know yet how they will be different.

24 April 2021, dl

This Google movie won’t be seen in the U.S.

There is a revelatory moment in the movie “Google and the World Brain” that is excruciating and fascinating. In the mountains above Barcelona, Spain, Father Damià Roure, library director of the ancient Monastery of Montserrat, shows us one of 23,400 books in his library digitised by Google.

Father Damia Roure
Father Damià Roure

“This was a way of spreading our culture. It gives us great satisfaction that they are available to everybody,” he says as he slowly turns the pages of a 16th century prayer book. The interviewer’s rejoinder is sharp:

‘”Google didn’t pay you to scan your books. Was that fair? What if someone turns this all into a business and makes a profit?”

Father Roure’s lips move; no sound emerges. He bites his lower lip. His chin dimples. His head shakes quickly back and forth and his shoulders take a dip. Still no sound.

“Perhaps the question is too difficult?” says the interviewer.

And so it is. If Father Roure failed to consider that this might be exploitation, instead of charity, then we are all a bit like Father Roure. Are G-mail, YouTube, Picasa, and Android all something for nothing? Is there such a thing as a free lunch after all?

Digital technology has turned traditional notions of value on their head as surely as printing multiplied the power of the written word, or steam trains moved passengers faster than horse-drawn carriages. Ben Lewis, director of the film, says the out-of-print books that are a focus of his film had virtually no value before. But in the new digital economy they are highly valuable, just like Montserrat’s prayer books.

Lewis explores how Google is trying to exploit this value before everyone else wakes up. I once spent time as a Reuters journalist working on the story of the Google books settlement, yet Lewis’s film had new things to teach me.

At the same time that a new Hollywood comedy about Google is being released with great hullabaloo, Lewis cannot get his film distributed in the United States, even though it was a BBC production and exhibited at the Sundance Film Festival.

It would make us question Google’s values, and the value of data we give up willingly every day.

(Disclosure: One of my clients actively opposes Google business practices which have been identified by the European Commission as anti-competitive; I work on this case)