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Fate—or at least social status—lies heavy on the lives of Ajami’s various desperate characters. Most of them eventually resemble, in different ways, collateral damage in each other’s lives. This Israeli film, nominated for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar, is the product of a symbolically hopeful collaboration between Scandar Copti and Yaron Shani—a Christian Arab and a Jew, respectively—even though the film itself provides no discernible message of hope for a peaceful and just resolution to Israel’s protracted conflict with the Palestinians. Instead, it depicts individual plights that eddy outward, becoming waves that fatefully propel people into others’ lives.


You have it admire the simple brilliance of the concept: If you film a baby for long enough, you will inevitably get adorable footage. Human beings are hard-wired to melt at the sight of babies in general—it’s how the species survived. And if you film four babies, it shouldn’t take long before you have enough adorable footage to fill a feature film. Now that digital technology has removed the expense of film, it’s possible to keep cameras rolling more or less indefinitely. So all that was left was for some smart producer to convince a cameraman and four families to authorize shooting, spread out over the course of two years, and to hire editors patient enough to comb through the footage looking for the good stuff. The result is Babies, a movie that will strike many people as the most precious thing since the photos of their own grandkids (who should have been cast in this, but it’s all who you know) and many other people as the world’s longest YouTube video.

Iron Man 2

Summer is officially here, as far as Hollywood is concerned, with the release of the season’s first presumed blockbuster. This weekend, Iron Man 2 will have 133 screenings per day at 11 theaters in this market, from 10 in the morning until the last show lets out at about 3am. Clearly nothing I (or any other commentator) has to say about this sequel will make a whit of difference in its box office standing.

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