In By Sidney Lumet, the late, great director himself talks to the camera about his long career in filmmaking, and how specific events from his personal life inspired and shaped his films. Director Nancy Buirski combines her interview with Lumet before his death in 2011 with clips from his films---mostly the popular ones that you have probably seen like Dog Day Afternoon. Buirski is lucky because Lumet comes across as charismatic, articulate and a good story-teller, so hearing him talk captivating alone. If only what he had to say were more revealing and insightful about who he is as a human being. Some of the stories from his life are juicy, but not particularly surprising, i.e. how Hollywood execs who never were nor planned to be on his film set showed up to a meeting with him. Compared to recent docs about directors, i.e. Everything is Copy and the far superior De Palma, By Sidney Lumet pales by comparison. It's not a bad introduction to Sidney Lumet, but anyone who's looking for a more profound peak behind the curtain, both intellectually and emotionally, will be left underwhelmed and disappointed. American Masters opens By Sidney Lumet at Lincoln Plaza Cinemas. Finding Babel follows Andrei Malaev-Babel as he tries to learn more about his grandfather, Isaac Babel, a Russian-Jewish short story writer and playwright who was arrested, jailed and killed during Joseph Stalin's Great Purge. Andrei searches for records of his grandfather's arrest and imprisonment, but that task becomes easier said than done. Interviews with his grandmother Antonina Pirozhkova help to provide more insight about him while voice-over readings of passages from his short stories and diaries (voiced by Liev Schreiber) with accompanying animated sequences give you a small taste of what made him such a brilliant and bold writer---you'll also be curious for more biographical information about him concurrently, but David Novack doesn't dwell on that. If he were to bombard audiences with that information, it would've made the film too long and unfocused. Instead, Novack focuses more on the quest of his grandson which makes for an equally illuminating, poignant and even somewhat suspenseful experience that doesn't overstay its welcome at a running time of 89 minutes. 7th Art Releasing opens Finding Babel at Cinema Village. A Billion Lives argues that e-cigarettes/vaping are a healthier alternative to tobacco cigarettes, and that Big Tobacco does everything in their power to suppress the vaping industry while undermining public welfare. A billion lives of tobacco cigarette smokers will be lost because of Big Tobacco. That number seems like a scary number, but it's not hyperbole. It's easy to see which side of the issue director Aaron Biebert is on from the get-go. He starts the doc with the dangers and corruption of Big Tobacco via interviews with David Goerlitz, the famous Winston Man who now speaks against Big Tobacco. Then he delves into the rise of e-cigarettes/vaping and how they're less toxic than tobacco cigarettes before he gets into the meat of the story: the collusion between Big Tobacco, Big Pharma and our government. Every issue has more than 2 sides like a coin---there's the ridges, the corners, the sides of the ridges, etc. A Billion Lives shows 2 sides, but not enough of the anti-vaping side in between the two sides. While Biebert's doc is well-edited, captivating, fair and easy-to-follow, it's ultimately not balanced enough to rise above more searing, powerful and haunting docs like Food, Inc. and Super Size Me, though. At least Biebert does manage to kick the hornet's nest a little more than Michael Moore has done in recent docs. Attention Era Media opens A Billion Lives at Cinepolis Chelsea.