alibi online
Free Will AstrologyAlibi's Personals
 
 V.19 No.18 | May 6 - 12, 2010 

Film Review

Babies

What are they, and why are they so popular?

Babies: cute
Babies: cute

Babies

Directed by Thomas Balmes

Two weeks ago, just in time for Earth Day, Disney released its family-friendly documentary Oceans. This weekend, just in time for Mother’s Day, Focus Features releases its family-friendly documentary Babies. Like its watery predecessor, there’s no false advertising in Babies. It’s about babies.

Babies: So &#*@ing   cute  !
Babies: So &#*@ing cute !

Shot over the course of a year in four diverse corners of the world by a French team of filmmakers, Babies follows a handful of newborns through their first year of life. In Mongolia, there’s Bayar. In San Francisco, there’s Hattie. In Tokyo, there’s Mari. And in Namibia, there’s Ponijao. Ditching narration, dialogue and pretty much any semblance of a narrative, Babies simply presents us with cute pictures of babieswhat more could mom want for Mother’s Day?

As a documentary, Babies is a slim affair. There isn’t much that’s educational to be had here. The film isn’t trying to discuss the disparities in health care worldwide. It isn’t trying to dissect cultural differences in child rearing. It’s basically just saying that babies are cute all over the world. At a stretch, you could say that Babies offers up some sort of touchy-feely, multi-culti, “deep down, we’re all the same” philosophy. Sure enough, newborn babieswhether they’re from the deserts of Namibia or the hills of San Franciscoall cry, drool and pee on themselves. What did you expect? Unfortunately, babies don’t do a whole lot else. Mostly, they just sleep, suck boob and look cutewhich is about all this film demands of them.

As our four subjects navigate their first year of lifefrom birth to first stepsa few minor differences do begin to surface. Hattie and Ponijao exhibit the most personality. Our American subject is a goggle-eyed gal who seems genuinely amazed at everything around her. Our African subject, meanwhile, is a chubby bruiser who scampers through the dirt, sticking everything she can into her mouth and cheerfully suffering the slings and arrows of her eight older brothers and sisters. Sociologically, we manage to glean a few things. The lives of kids in Japan and America appear very structured, with parents shuttling them from exercise class to day care to shopping to the park. Crawling around a mud-walled village in the middle of the Namib Desert, Ponijao is left largely to her own devicesoccasionally scolded or tended to by whatever family member or neighbor might be nearby. Meanwhile, in a tiny yurt on the isolated steppes of Mongolia, little Bayar is wrapped tight in swaddling, tossed onto the family bed like a burbling throw pillow and largely ignored.

If nothing else, Babies is a mild testament to our resilience as a species. Covered in dust, fending off swarms of flies and baking under the African sun, Ponijao seems perfectly content. Over in Mongolia, Bayar is brought home from the hospital on the back of a stuttering motorbike and learns to crawl under the hooves of his family’s cattle herd. American parents would be alarmed by such conditions; but for the rest of the world, it’s business as usual. Nobody seems worse for the wear. In fact, in comparison, corn-haired California girl Hattie comes across as positively coddled by neo-hippie parents who feed her organic food and teach her Native American chants.

Despite the fact that it isn’t much more than an Anne Geddes screensaver come to life, Babies does have a certain awwww appeal. The filmmakers do manage to capture some precious moments: Bayar being gently abused by a jealous older sibling; Mari throwing a tantrum when her underdeveloped motor skills won’t allow her to manipulate her toys properly; Hattie doing her best to escape that Native American chant class. But, honestly, if you aren’t enamored with the idea of cooing over 80 minutes’ worth of somebody else’s baby pictures, then Babies probably isn’t for you.

Me? I smiled a couple of times and didn’t want to kill myself. But just for the record: If next year somebody tries to release a film called Puppies, I’m gonna get real nervous.


Babies

Shot in the streets of San Francisco, the high-rises of Tokyo, the wilds of Mongolia and the deserts of Namibia, this family-friendly documentary chronicles the first year in the life of four babies. It isn't wildly educational. At that age--no matter what culture they hail from--babies pretty much just drool, pee and suck on the boob. Although it doesn't advance a sentiment any larger than, "Babies are cute all over the world," the film does manage to capture a few precious moments. 79 minutes PG.

 

Tomorrow's Events

Friday Filmmakers Coffee at Fans of Film Café

A get-together for professional filmmakers who are actively working in the industry in New Mexico.

Saturday

Film & Media Education Summit at National Hispanic Cultural Center

Sunday

Hope Springs (2012) at KiMo Theatre

More Recommented Events ››
Join our mailing list for exclusive info, the week's events and free stuff!
 

  • Select sidebar boxes to add below. You can also click and drag to rearrange the boxes; close using the little X icons on each box. To re-add a box you closed, return to this menu.
  • Because you are not logged in, any changes you make to these boxes will vanish as soon as you click to another page. If you log in, the boxes will stick.
  • alibi.com
  • Latest Posts
  • Web Exclusives
  • Recent Rocksquawk Discussions
  • Recent Classifieds
  • Latest User Posts
  • Most Active Users
  • Most Active Stories
  • Calendar Comments
  • Upcoming Alibi Picks
  • Albuquerque
  • Duke City Fix
  • Albuquerque Beer Scene
  • What's Wrong With This Picture?
  • Reddit Albuquerque
  • ABQ Journal Metro
  • ABQrising
  • ABQ Journal Latest News
  • Del.icio.us Albuquerque
  • NM and the West
  • New Mexico FBIHOP
  • Democracy for New Mexico
  • Only in New Mexico
  • Mario Burgos
  • Democracy for New Mexico
  • High Country News
  • El Grito
  • NM Politics with Joe Monahan
  • Stephen W. Terrell's Web Log
  • The Net Is Vast and Infinite
  • Slashdot
  • Freedom to Tinker
  • Is there a feed that should be on this list? Tell us about it.
    EX HEX & SPEEDY ORTIZ
    EX HEX & SPEEDY ORTIZ10.10.2014