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Yeah, I scanned the Babies website and didn't see anything there that might qualify as "fundamentalist" (at least to a Hollywood liberal like Poland) except MAYBE for that Heartland thing. But I'm not very familiar with the Heartland festival, and while they certainly seem OPEN to films with a religious element of some sort, it hardly seems to be their exclusive kind of thing. And even then, the Heartland connection didn't come up until I was well down the second page of their "Buzz" section.

Incidentally, check out this page on the movie's website, which features five favorite "baby films" as selected by someone at March of Dimes / March for Babies. I think you'll like her top pick, Jeff, though the list as a whole is certainly anything but "fundamentalist"!

Oh, and look what shows up on this other list, too!

And then there's this list, too!

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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Back to the film, I was just noticing the sadly underwhelming first-day grosses at The Hot Blog

As I suspected would be the case, Babies' performance on Sunday significantly surpassed estimates and turned around its opening weekend. Here is Box Office Guru yesterday morning, reporting the estimates:

Three films fought over tenth place with estimated grosses between $1.5M and $1.6M but if Sunday estimates are to be believed, the documentary Babies narrowly won the race.

In fact, Babies nailed the 9th slot with $2.2M, thanks to what Box Office Mojo is calling "a huge Mother's Day bump" (ha!):

Thanks to a huge Mother's Day bump, documentary Babies opened to $2.16 million, which represented the highest-grossing limited opening in over a year and a half. Distributor Focus Features' marketing positioned Babies as a Mother's Day event, and the picture did not disappoint on this front: while Babies fell outside of the Top Ten in its first two days, it experienced a 57 percent increase on Sunday to $1.09 million, which pushed it up to eighth place on the weekend chart. While Babies seems relatively high profile, it only opened at 534 locations, putting it just under the 600 theater threshold separating limited and nationwide releases. Babies's opening is the best for a limited release since documentary Religulous debuted to $3.41 million at 502 theaters in Oct. 2008.

Now the question is, will that "Mother's Day bump" be a Mother's Day fluke, or will word of mouth give the film legs for the long haul? Here's hoping.

P.S. Blogged the box office results (among other things). Jeff, shout-out to your excellent review!

Edited by SDG

“I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.” — Flannery O'Connor

Writing at the new Decent Films | Follow me on Twitter and Facebook

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Thanks for the update, SDG. I hadn't been tracking the updated results and am pleased to see the Sunday bump.

It's all thanks to that Christian fundamentalist Web site, no doubt. :)

"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

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I wonder if the film will get a Father's Day bump if and when it opens in Canada.

Father's Day bump ...

And now I'm thinking of that Schwarzenegger movie Junior again.

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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And now I'm thinking of that Schwarzenegger movie Junior again.

I'm sorry, Peter. So very, very sorry.

Thanks for the shout-out, Steven. I'm glad my review is finally corrected and presentable in both of its locations.

You're welcome -- it's an outstanding review. Those two grafs at the end I quoted are so good I'm thinking about doing another DF blog post just highlighting them again.

“I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.” — Flannery O'Connor

Writing at the new Decent Films | Follow me on Twitter and Facebook

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Hitflix touts the opening weekend, especially that million dollar Mother's Day.

Interestingly, Hitflix says that even the original $1.6M estimate represented "a good haul for a documentary these days and against competition such as "Iron Man 2."

Traditionally, Sunday is the slowest day of the moviegoing weekend so this is quite an achievement for the indie release.

Interesting.

And IndieWire says:

No film has ever found a Mother’s Day boost this significant.

“I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.” — Flannery O'Connor

Writing at the new Decent Films | Follow me on Twitter and Facebook

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While we're number-crunching, Box Office Mojo indicates that this film had the seventh-best opening of any documentary ever, but it is one of only eight documentaries that have opened on over 500 screens. (An additional five documentaries expanded to over 500 screens after opening in ultra-limited release.)

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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Just got an e-mail about an hour ago telling me that there will be a press screening of this film ... tomorrow morning! (Or, about 24 hours after the e-mail was sent out.) Gadzooks. I'd love to catch it, but first I'd have to find a sitter. (YOU know what kind of sitter. Oh, the irony.)

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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Cinema in Focus gives it two stars.

Denny, I'm surprised by that, and I don't feel like you've justified the low rating in the rest of the review. Two stars because it is slow-moving?! And Oceans got 3 stars? Isn't that slow-moving also?

Are you sure you didn't come into it not liking it?

That's just how eye roll.

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Two stars because it is slow-moving?!

:blink:

Well, to be fair, Denny also says that it "won't be enjoyed by all." Perhaps he didn't enjoy it so much himself? If Denny didn't like it, then he didn't like it, and we can't second-guess his rating, though we can certainly wonder why his review doesn't offer more insight into his tepid response to the film.

“I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.” — Flannery O'Connor

Writing at the new Decent Films | Follow me on Twitter and Facebook

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Well, to be fair, Denny also says that it "won't be enjoyed by all." Perhaps he didn't enjoy it so much himself? If Denny didn't like it, then he didn't like it, and we can't second-guess his rating, though we can certainly wonder why his review doesn't offer more insight into his tepid response to the film.

Yes, that phrase also helps to explain, but I'm afraid it could awaken more questions, because there is no movie on God's blue earth that all of us would enjoy -- and for a documentary, this has got pretty widespread appeal (IMO).

And also, my intent wasn't to second-guess his rating -- Denny's honest opinion is valuable and welcome -- but to seek clarification, since I'm pretty enthusiastic about this movie and I admit I was surprised.

That's just how eye roll.

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My emoticon was merely an expression of "Really? Slow-moving?" I mean, I thought it was actually pretty fast-paced as far as documentaries go. I actually wanted the film to slow down.

P.S.  I COULD BE WRONG.

 

Takin' 'er easy for all you sinners at lookingcloser.org. Also abiding at Facebook and Twitter.

 

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My wife surprised me last night by asking if she could go see this movie Friday night. A friend of hers who is, like Sarah, also a mother of four, had invited Sarah to see the film at the local arthouse.

Sarah asked if that would be OK, and I told her, “Of course!” I’m a little envious, but mainly excited that she’s interested enough to go see the film. She doesn’t dislike art movies, but rarely goes to see them at the theater. In fact, I had mentioned Babies to her a couple of weeks ago as a possible night out for us, and she gave me a “who would go see such a movie?” response, which surprised me. I had thought Babies would be a slam-dunk as far as subject matter goes, the rare film that interest both of us.

In light of that, I was all the more surprised at her willingness to head to the theater this weekend. Maybe I’m just bad company? :)

I’m eager to hear what she thinks of the film.

"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

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My wife surprised me last night by asking if she could go see this movie Friday night. A friend of hers who is, like Sarah, also a mother of four, had invited Sarah to see the film at the local arthouse.

Heh. This past weekend, I took Suzanne to see Babies ... with all six of our kids ... plus another couple from church who also have six. Sixteen humans in two parties. :)

A good time was had by all, each according to their condition. The feedback from the youngest viewers more or less blended with the movie soundtrack, and other patrons who had selected this particular film were, I think, of a disposition to be more tolerant than usual of a less-than-silent viewing experience. Hey, we were a lot less disruptive than rowdy teenagers with ringing cellphones.

“I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.” — Flannery O'Connor

Writing at the new Decent Films | Follow me on Twitter and Facebook

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I took my mom to see this as a kind of belated Mother's Day thing. She had the same reaction at first: 'Who would watch this?' We had a nice conversation about it afterwards, which doesn't usually happen with us and movies.

There is a lot of attention to baby boys in the [corrected]Namibian[/corrected] context. For example, there's a very long shot of a baby boy pulling himself up onto a rusty barrel and a rather obvious piece of anatomy looks likely to get, um, injured in the process. Who was that, then? That's reason #1 that I ended up assuming that the Namibian focus was a boy. Because, well... we were focusing on a boy!

The scene in question is set in Mongolia, not Namibia. I'm guessing it was Bayar.

Everything that matters is invisible.

-- Robert Bresson

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Link to the split-off thread, in case anyone in the future wonders what we're all talking about here.

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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I have to admit that I found the film fascinating in concept and promising in its trailer, but disappointing in its execution. My disappointment is not in the idea but in the lack of context by which we could have understood the cultures that would care for children in the ways they do. It is definitely a strength to simply let the children "speak for themselves," but it is also a weakness. The strength is that we remove whatever ethnocentric comments narration might have made, but the weakness is that we miss the nuances because of our lack of ethnic information necessary to understand the cultures.

As to OCEANS getting a 3, I got big critique when I gave EARTH a 3 instead of a 4 simply because it is a beautiful world. I would not argue with the statement that the Earth and the Oceans are beautiful creations of God - but the films themselves adquately reflect the beauty but not the larger purpose of such creations.

I would give BABIES the same kind of critique. Why do humans care for babies in the ways they do? For what larger cultural purpose? Where were the faith communities within the lives of the babies? Are such communities absent from all four cultures and have no place in the babies' lives?

So I simply call it an adquate film (2 of 4 stars) when it could have been so much more.

Edited by Denny Wayman

Since 1995 we have authored a commentary on film, cinema in focus. Though we enjoy cinema as an art form, our interests lie not so much in reviewing a film as in beginning a conversation about the social and spiritual values presented. We, therefore, often rate a film higher or lower due to its message rather than its quality of acting or film-making.

Cinema In Focus Website

Free Methodist Church of Santa Barbara Website

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Speaking of babies... this could get interesting.

I half expected your link to be to the sequel, which will be Toddlers. And then Kindergarteners. And soon Teenagers.

In an interstellar burst, I am back to save the Universe.

Filmsweep by Persona. 2013 Film Journal. IlPersona.

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what did she have to say?

She's a fan. She said some of the cultural behavior/rituals of the parents in the movie flew over her head, but that was OK.

"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

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The Hot Blog:

After all the hullabaloo about Babies not opening the way people thought it would, it's now over $5 million and is one of the biggest documentary grossers in the last couple of years. Only Michael Moore, Disney's Earth, and the self-distributed right-wing cult project, Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed, have grossed more in the last two years. That would be a success, folks.

And then, in the Comments, there's this qualifier:

"Oceans," in theatres right now, also grossed more. Also Bill Maher's "Religulous"

Edited by Christian

"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

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