"56 Up" (unrated, 144 minutes, First Run Features): Before there was Honey Boo Boo, there was "Seven Up!" Paul Almond's groundbreaking 1964 film in which 14 British 7-year-olds discussed their lives, hopes and dreams. In 1971, Almond and Michael Apted had the brilliant idea to catch up with them, a ritual the filmmakers have continued every seven years since. The latest is "56 Up." The core participants have allowed viewers to drop in on their lives as they grapple with the cardinal concerns of their generation. "56 Up" is modestly upbeat, its subjects candid about their regrets, but also satisfied, even if the difference between resignation and contentment isn't always clear. Many of Almond and Apted's protagonists are now on strong second marriages, their adult children mostly successfully launched. The anxieties about money, health, children, work and death that animate much of "56 Up" are banal but profoundly universal. This is the stuff of reality television and Russian novels and, every seven years, at least, of a compelling and moving film. Contains nothing objectionable. Extras: film critic Roger Ebert's interview with Apted, and a filmmaker biography and statement. Also available: "The UP Series," a seven-disc special edition including all eight films.
"The House I Live In" (unrated, 108 minutes, Virgil Films and Entertainment): Award- winning filmmaker Eugene Jarecki's investigative documentary probing our nation's war on drugs swarms key battlegrounds. Jarecki tails DEA agents in Miami, narcotics officers in Rhode Island and border-patrol cops in New Mexico as they lament the self-perpetuating cycle of the average drug abuser. He follows Shanequa Benitez, a low-level dealer who talks candidly about the lack of prospects afforded her by being born into poverty. "House" hits upon points many already have heard. Jarecki's research, however, prompts his experts to make increasingly bold statements regarding the history of the war on drugs. Yet, much like "The Wire," "House" hits hardest when it's putting a personal spin on its statistics. Months from now, you likely won't recall figures placed on title cards. But it'll be tough to forget the face of young Anthony, the son of a substance-abusing father who's lured into his neighborhood's drug- peddling community by the promise of money, respect and power. Contains bad language and discusses drugs and drug abuse.
Also: "The Girl," "Inescapable," "Least Among Saints," "Death by China" (documentary), "Jake Shimabukuro: Life on Four Strings," "Why We Laugh: Funny Women."