Michael Apted

Jackie Sue Lynn - 49 UP

When Granada Television debuted the documentary special Seven Up! as an episode of World in Action on May 5, 1964, the primary point was to show a brief look at youth of varied social backgrounds around the UK. It was a study of sorts, but as original director Paul Almond told me last year, “All I wanted to do was to find out what little boys and little girls of different classes thought about. I didn’t have any intention other than trying to find out what in fact were the differences.” The show itself plainly states that the idea is to show viewers “the shop steward and the executive” of tomorrow, specifically that of the turn of the next century. Perhaps one follow-up in the year 2000 would have sufficed to update us on where those kids wound up. Instead, by that year there’d already been five installments, produced and released at seven-year intervals, and since then there have been two more. “Give me a child until he is seven and I will give you the man,” says the Jesuit motto that inspired the program, and it implies that we don’t need to see anything beyond those kids at age 7. The men (and women) are all right there for us to know as children, apparently. That doesn’t mean we aren’t curious about and fascinated by the certainty of knowing more, of seeing how people turn out. We were the same species half a century ago as we are now in the age of “Where Are They Now” features all over the Internet.

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Up Box SEt

Update: As it turns out, the box set we’re giving away does actually include 49 Up, so now you get seven installments! This week, in the midst of celebrating the theatrical release of 56 Up (see my review), I heard some unfortunate news. Most of the Up series has recently gone out of print in the U.S. This should only be temporary, but at the moment you can’t buy a copy of First Run’s DVD box set that includes Seven Up!, 7 Plus Seven, 21 Up, 28 Up, 35 Up and 42 Up (nor the one that also includes 49 Up). The only installments available, to get separately, are 42 Up and 49 Up. Of course, you can still currently view all of these documentaries by streaming on Netflix or Amazon. However, any true movie fan (let alone documentary lover) needs to physically own this monumental series, through which filmmaker Michael Apted (taking over from original director Paul Almond) has been following the lives of about a dozen individuals for half a century, since they were 7-years-old. Fortunately, for one of you readers, Film School Rejects has one of the last remaining copies of the seven-film box set (the one that goes up to 49 Up) to give away. And we’re going to have a bit of fun with this drawing by only qualifying those who do the following:

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peter_56

It’s not likely that anyone will be seeing 56 Up without first having seen the rest of the Up series. And those who have seen the other seven installments will have a hard time not watching the latest. In that regard, it’s somewhat review-proof. Fortunately, I can still recommend it by way of recommending the entire Up series as a whole, which these days is not difficult to get your hands (or at least your eyes) on. In anticipation of the Montreal release of the film this weekend, Cinema du Parc has been screening the other films, while here in the U.S., all of them are available to stream via Netflix Watch Instantly. The Up documentaries are as significant and necessary as any film series, and it’s one of the few franchises through which you can see characters grow and change over the course of half a century (Germany’s Children of Golzow documentary series is another, while we can dream that Truffaut’s fictional Doinel series could have continued had the filmmaker not died too soon). It began in 1964, not as a planned record of lives or social experiment but as a one-shot special for Granada Television’s World of Action current affairs series. Paul Almond directed the short work, titled Seven Up!, which looked at children aged 7 from around Britain and of varied socio-economic backgrounds to offer a glimpse of those who’ll be running the country in the year 2000. Later, Michael Apted, who was a researcher at Granada […]

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If you thought that the last scene in Kathryn Bigelow’s legendary bank-robbing-surfers movie Point Break was the coolest presentation of big wave riding that was ever going to be put on film…well, you were probably right. But just because it was the best word doesn’t mean it has to be the last word. So now we’ve got Chasing Mavericks, a Gerard Butler- and Jonny Weston-starring film that tells the true story of how surfing legend Jay Moriarty learned to ride a board on top of ridiculously big walls of water. Like most true stories about an underdog chasing an impossible dream, Chasing Mavericks looks pretty cheesy. All of the standard tropes are there: the tenuous relationship with an initially gruff mentor, the training montage sequences, the budding romance with an energetic blonde. But, before you dismiss this movie outright and go watch The Karate Kid for the thousandth time, note that there are a couple reasons why you might want to give it a chance.

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It’s been nearly five years since Wonder Boys and L.A. Confidential director Curtis Hanson released a feature, so fans of his work are presumably pretty primed and ready for his next movie Of Men and Mavericks to complete filming. On that front, fans of Hanson are in for some really bad news, which will then be tempered by a little bit of good news to ease the pain. The really bad news is that Hanson is experiencing some complications from his recent heart surgery and won’t be able to complete principal photography on the film, which is a biopic of big wave surfer Jay Moriarty. The better news is that Hanson already has most of the shooting done, in fact there is only two weeks left of scheduled filming to get in the can, so veteran director Michael Apted (Gorillas in the Mist, The World is Not Enough) is going to step in and finish work on the film. Having a director stepping off of a shoot is usually a surefire way for a movie to get completely derailed, but with only fifteen days of shooting to go, it seems like Of Men and Mavericks will probably be able to make it to the finish line without being creatively compromised, especially with a guy behind the camera as experienced as Apted. I’m sure he will take every step possible to match what Hanson has been doing on the movie up until now. So fear not, Hanson fans, Of Men and […]

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This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr heads to the movie theater to enjoy the holiday releases and the award films. But how do they stack up against each other. After being swept into Narnia in post-converted 3D, Kevin takes a trip to Venice where he watches a portly Johnny Depp play an everyman to Angelina Jolie walking around a lot. Finally, he takes another award season trip to Boston to watch Mark Wahlberg get punch drunk..

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I write this with all due respect to director Michael Apted, his actors, the rest of his creative team and even C.S. Lewis himself. But, really, is there anyone out there who actually cares about these Narnia movies? Was there a big clamoring for this second sequel? Would anyone’s world end if the last four books remained where they’ve probably always belonged – on bookshelves? There must be a devoted audience somewhere, as The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and Prince Caspian raked in some serious box office cash. Surely, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader will surpass Tangled and the infinitely superior latest Harry Potter to own the weekend, giving Fox and Walden Media sufficient cause to dial up the next one.

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