42 Up - VHS
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In 1964, England's Granada Television produced a documentary called 7 Up, in which 14 seven-year-old British children from a wide variety of social and economic backgrounds were interviewed about their ideas and opinions on the adult world. In 1971, director Michael Apted tracked down the same youngsters for a follow-up, 7 Plus 7. Since then, Apted has revisited his subjects every seven years in a series of remarkable films that allow us to watch these children grow into adults before our eyes. In the sixth film in the series, we visit eleven of the now middle-aged kids (three have chosen not to participate), as they settle contentedly (for the most part) into mid-life and contend with the growing maturity of their own children and, in some cases, the infirmity and death of their parents. Tony, who once dreamed of being a jockey, now drives a cab, does a bit of television acting, and admits to being unfaithful to his wife. Suzy, who at 21 was bitter and cynical with no intention of having kids, is now a happy mother who works part-time as a bereavement counselor. Neil, who has struggled through years of mental illness, poverty, and homelessness, was elected as a Liberal Democratic representative to the Hackney council in London and seems to have found stability. Paul, who was raised by divorced parents and suffered from poor self-esteem as a child, now has a fine home in Australia and has been happily married for 23 years. And Simon, a West Indian immigrant raised in a children's home, is happy, middle-class, and raising a four-year-old of his own. Ironically, Apted's latest installment in this compelling but low-key ongoing project was set for international release within months of the highest-profile film of his career, the James Bond adventure The World Is Not Enough. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi