49 Up marks a return to basics and fine form. It's a more thoughtful documentary about life in England, and a better-organized one than the past entries. Finally, for the first time in years, the stories are told with grace and power, and the film really sucks you in. Now that Apted is in his 60s and he's hitting Up with its seventh installment, maybe he's finally determined the best way to present this material.
Continue reading: 49 Up Review
The 40-minute Seven Up! introduces the kids briefly, then promptly ends. The films that would follow: 7 Plus Seven, 21 Up, 28 Up, 35 Up, and finally 42 Up, duly check in with our kids to see where they've gotten to in life. (All six films are now available on a box set DVD edition.) But the problem with the Up series is that nothing changes in the lives of these kids year after year. They get older, and as expected their dreams of being movie stars and astronauts fade into more recognizable realities. And maybe this is part of the momentum of the British class system -- but no one dramatically leaps out of poverty, and no wealthy children ever fall from lofty heights. (Perhaps this series would have been more interesting if made in a more socially fluid country?)
Continue reading: Seven Up! Review
Unfortunately, 35 Up is exceedingly long and repetitive. Apted repeatedly asks if the lower-class folks are upset they didn't have enough opportunity, and he asks the upper-class people if they feel guilty about it. Remarkably, everyone answers no on all counts. The controversy will have to wait. And so with the intrigue that goes along with it. C'est la vie. Literally.
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Now clocking in at a monstrous 2 hours, 19 minutes, the sixth installment of Michael Apted's ambitious but uniformly unenlightening Seven Up! series drags us down a familiar road, kicking and screaming all the way.
Continue reading: 42 Up Review
'Smalls Change (Meditations Upon Ageing)' arrives in April.
The two awards have made for a great 72nd birthday present for the country music icon.