Director Michael Apted’

“63 Up,” director Michael Apted’s continuation of the long-running documentary series started by Canadian filmmaker Paul Almond, opens Friday, December 13.

‘63 Up’ continues legacy of Paul Almond’s films

In 1964, Canadian filmmaker Paul Almond spearheaded a documentary project called “Seven Up!” featuring interviews with a cross-section of British 7-year-olds answering questions about a range of subjects. Every seven years since, director Michael Apted (who was one of the researchers on the initial film) has checked in on those same subjects as they’ve grown up, experienced failures and successes, married and had children, and took vastly different directions in life.

The resulting “Up” series has become one of the most expansive and revealing film projects, literally documenting the totality of life in real time. Two of the entries—“28 Up” and “35 Up”—are particularly sobering time capsules depicting England’s transition out of Thatcher-era austerity.

Unfortunately, the latest from Apted and company, “63 Up,” isn’t nearly as interesting as those earlier films. It spends so much time recycling footage and interviews from previous films simply to catch the casual viewer up on each of the fourteen subjects.

The new interviews that are provided do little to deepen the wealth of life experiences depicted over the five decades since the project’s inception. Many of the subjects view the “Up” series as a doubled-edged sword. On the one hand they’ve each become famous in the United Kingdom because of the series’ success. But many of them admit that they now dread committing more time to a process that inevitably dredges up old traumas and sadness.

Since the “Up” Series is essentially about the English class system, Apted naturally asks many of his longtime subjects about Brexit. But none of them discuss the controversial referendum outside of one- or two-sentence answers that fail to explore the more nuanced complexities of Britain’s polarizing political climate. As a result, “63 Up” (opening Friday, December 13) is anticlimactic and apolitical, and will go down as one of the weaker installments in this monumental saga.


“Black Christmas:” A serial killer meets his match in the form of vengeful sorority sisters who decide to fight back instead of play the victim. Opens Friday, December 13, in wide release.

“Jumanji: The Next Level:” Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart and Jack Black return for this sequel about the board game that can transport people to another more dangerous dimension. Opens Friday, December 13, in wide release.

“Richard Jewell:” Clint Eastwood’s latest film examines the life of a lowly security guard who was falsely accused of masterminding the Atlanta Olympic bombing in 1996 by the media and the FBI. Opens Friday, December 13, in wide release.

“Temblores:” In Jayro Bustamante’s follow up to his landmark debut, IXCANUL, an affluent man in Guatemala comes out to his very religious family resulting in an irreconcilable schism. Opens Friday, December 13, at Digital Gym Cinema in North Park.

“The F13 Fan Film Mixtape:” Celebrate Friday the 13th with this epic compilation of DIY home movies paying homage to Camp Crystal Lake’s resident murderer, Jason Voorhees. Opens Friday, December 13, at Digital Gym Cinema in North Park.

“When Lambs Become Lions:” In the Kenyan bush, a small-time ivory dealer fights to stay on top while forces mobilize to destroy his trade. Opens Friday, December 13, at Digital Gym Cinema in North Park.

One Time Only

“Once Upon a Time in Hollywood:” Quentin Tarantino’s 1960s head trip circulates around the lives of a fading western star, a wayward stunt man and rising star Sharon Tate. Screens at 8 p.m. Friday, December 13, and Saturday, December 14, at Cinema Under the Stars in Mission Hills.

“The Diving Bell and the Butterfly:” An award-winning true story of a 43-year-old man who suffers with locked-in syndrome after having a stroke and decides to dictate his memoir by blinking one eye. Screens at 1:30 p.m. Sunday, December 15, at the Mission Valley Library.

“L For Leisure” + “Two Plains & a Fancy:” These very unique indie comedies are from the filmmaking team Lev Kalman (who lives locally) and Whitney Horn. Both screenings will be presented by the film series Afterglow, which will focus on showing genre-defying films worthy of reflection and ongoing dialogue.  Screens at 2 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. Sunday, December 15, at Digital Gym Cinema in North Park.

“National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation:” Chevy Chase stars in this 1989 comedy about a family with big plans for Christmas that turn into one disaster after the next. Screens at 8 p.m. Wednesday, December 18, at The Pearl Hotel in Point Loma.