Thursday, February 23, 2017


seen @ UA Kaufman Astoria 14, Astoria, Queens NY

At this point in time, many, if not all of us who work with computers, use Google on a regular basis. I remember using a different search engine when I first went online in 2000. After awhile, Google seemed like a better option, so I switched, never realizing how prominent it would become. I experimented with Google-generated advertising here on WSW, but it didn't seem like enough of a money-maker at the time - and after seeing what other problems they can cause, I have to say I don't miss them. Google tech is expanding into other fields, such as self-driving cars. Personally, I think such vehicles will mean little if they still operate on unsafe roads, but that's a different post.

I remember when Google Earth first came out. I was still living in Columbus at the time. My roommate Max and I were looking it over and marveling at the ability to see far-off places from one's laptop. At the same time, it struck me as a bit scary, like the culture of surveillance had gone to its ultimate extreme. That ship had probably sailed by that point, though. Eventually, I learned to accept it and tried not to think about the wider implications, because my head would explode if I did.

Think about it now, though. I've used Google Maps on occasions where I wanted to confirm where I was if I walked into unfamiliar territory. In writing my novel, set in Boston, I've used it to pinpoint specific locations, though I've been to Boston many times. Using this technology just became natural over time, less scary, and most important - available to everyone. Sometimes I may rail against the speedy scientific changes in the world and their unintended consequences, but I can't deny this is one that has benefited me directly.

Could anyone have imagined, back in 2009, Google Earth would one day be used to reunite a mother and son over 25 years and thousands of miles apart, as in the biopic Lion? It doesn't seem possible, yet it's true, and this movie tells the story of Saroo Brierley well.

The first half is practically Dickensian: the accidental separation from his brother on the train at age five; the hard living on the Calcutta streets amidst shockingly uncaring people; the orphanage; the eventual adoption by the Brierleys.

One thing I'm grateful the screenplay included was the part later on where Nicole Kidman says to Dev Patel that she and her husband consciously chose adoption over breeding new offspring because "the world has enough people." I'm almost certain that's a direct quote. Kudos to Oscar nominee Luke Davies for including that vitally important message.

The reviews I had read of Lion had said the second half wasn't as good as the first, however much of a tearjerker moment it is when Saroo finally reunites with his mother. I'm not sure what director Garth Davis could've done differently. This story practically tells itself. I think any directorly flourishes or non-conventional approaches would've hindered its emotional power.

Davis and Davies seemed to do everything right. They touched on Saroo's conflicted feelings about his racial heritage; his feelings of uncertainty about his identity, which separates him from girlfriend Rooney Mara and the rest of his family (including a second adopted Indian boy who didn't turn out so well); and his obsessiveness with Google Earth to help him find his birth village. This is the kind of story which is almost impossible to mess up.

I saw Lion with Sandi on a beautiful late winter/early spring day in Astoria. I had discovered after the fact that admission was $16, but Sandi said it was cheaper with the Regal card. I have one, but I didn't feel like looking for it at the time, and I honestly thought it would only be $13.

Lion was a compromise choice. Sandi didn't want to drive to the cheaper Cinemart, where A United Kingdom was playing, and the Kaufman is the closest theater to her. This is no small thing, since she's got a bad ankle and walks with a cane. I had sworn off Regal two years ago after they caved in to paranoia and instituted a bag-check policy, but obviously, that has gone by the boards. I had no bag last Saturday, nor any of the other times I've gone there with Sandi. Regardless, we had a great day. We had a late lunch at Panera and stayed for hours.


  1. I really enjoyed this one. I saw it the same day as I saw Moonlight, so it was a pretty emotional day.

  2. After seeing the story on 60 Minutes, the hubby doesn't feel it would be worth it to see a film. I can't help but agree with him somewhat, but am too much of a movie geek to let it pass.

  3. I can understand that. Look at it this way, though: the 60 MINUTES piece was, what, ten minutes long? A movie gives you way more than that.