143. Empire of the Sun (A-)
Another of Steven Spielberg's early straight dramas, starring a young Christian Bale (as well as John Malkovich, in a rare non-crazy role, and Miranda Richardson) as a British schoolboy trying to survive in Shanghai following the Japanese invasion in World War II. As one would expect from Spielberg, it's technically excellent, and features a great performance from Bale, displaying all the potential he would go on to fulfill in his later career (a rare male child actor to become an adult star).
144. This Is 40 (B+)
Judd Apatow has directed only four movies, but I suspect casual moviegoers would probably guess he's done a lot more, given how widespread his influence on the comedy genre has been, thanks to his many writing and producing gigs, and the proliferation of his disciples (including, recently, Lena Dunham, who cameos here, alongside expected figures like Jason Segel and Bridesmaids
' Chris O'Dowd).
This is a "sort of" sequel to Knocked Up
, focusing on Katherine Heigl's character's sister and brother-in-law (Leslie Mann and Paul Rudd), but I think they'd honestly have been better-off without that connection, because it really raises more questions than it answers, both in terms of where Heigl and Rogen are despite this movie centering on a big family gathering (Heigl, obviously, was unlikely to return; perhaps as a consequence, Rogen misses an Apatow movie for the first time), and because this movie's Pete and Debbie don't really remind me of what I remember of the earlier movie's couple at all.
That said, it's a fun comedy. Apatow's movies are generally criticized for being overlong, and certainly I could edit this down further fairly easily (excising the stuff with Debbie's employees would be the easiest subplot to ditch), but I didn't think the runtime was a big issue. The movie as a whole is generally observational in style, so it doesn't have a strong plot to begin with. Rudd and Mann are both in top form, and the expansive supporting cast (enabled by the aforementioned runtime) provides for plenty of good moments. The most emotionally affecting work is done by Albert Brooks and John Lithgow as their fathers.
Cinema: 51 (+1)
Home Video: 80 (+1)