“It’s like real-life TV,” says one of the subjects of Michael Apted’s 49Up, his latest in the series of “7 Up” films that started in 1964. “You see people getting old, losing their hair, getting fat. But does it have any value?” My question too. There’s no denying the morbid pleasure of watching strangers go through the stages of life, their dreams quashed or qualified, their youth squandered, the words and actions of their past thrown in their faces with the ineluctability of videotape. It’s kind of like being God, and Apted’s affable off-screen inquiries fill the role of His voice very nicely. But in 42 years has the series brought any insight into issues of class, politics, or culture? Perhaps only insofar as nearly all the participants, regardless of background, end up as the same bourgeois, middle-aged mediocrities. One exception is Neil. Through the years he’s been homeless and near nuts. Now he’s campaigning for office on a bicycle. I can’t wait to see what he’ll be doing at 56.
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