Tick Tock

Look, I'm old and short, but I'm still the starHot Docs is now in full swing, so I’ll be rushing down to the CBC studios later this afternoon to talk about my picks for the festival’s best entries.

Assuming I can get a cab, you’ll hear me at 12:25 pm EDT on Radio One — 99.1 FM in the Toronto area, and streaming online here. (Click the “Listen Live” tab.)
In the regular world, there sure are a lot of movies opening today …

“Ben X”: All I know about this imported drama is that it seems extremely of-the-moment, with nods to both Asperger’s syndrome and World of Warcraft-like online gaming. Oh, and neither Adam nor Andrew liked it.

88 Minutes“: Jon Avnet’s sluggish real-time thriller — with Al Pacino stumbling through the laziest ticking-clock plot I’ve ever seen — slouches into North American release after spending more than a year working through European markets. And if that doesn’t scream “wait for the DVD”, I’ll point out that Leelee Sobieski is in it.

Emotional Arithmetic“: An all-star cast (including Susan Sarandon, Gabriel Byrne, Christopher Plummer and Max von Sydow) stands around feeling bad about the Holocaust in this utterly average melodrama, which feels very much like an HBO issue movie that escaped from the mid-90s. Naturally, it was the Closing Night Gala at last year’s Toronto Film Festival.

“The Forbidden Kingdom”: Jet Li and Jackie Chan finally make a movie together, and it’s one of those bland Western constructions that plays on the actors’ martial-arts pasts without giving them anything really interesting to do in the present. The fight sequences — choreographed by the redoubtable Yuen Woo-Ping — are impressive, but the story, a conflation of “Back to the Future” and “Journey to the West”, is a bit on the lumpy side. That said, Andrew liked everything about it that I didn’t.

“Forgetting Sarah Marshall”: Josh Segel — the big doof from “How I Met Your Mother”, as well as a long-standing member of the Apatow posse — comes into his own as the screenwriter and star of this hysterical romantic comedy, which manages that nifty trick of being both a star vehicle and a generous ensemble picture. And for once, the meta-Hollywood gags (involving both Billy Baldwin and bad J-horror remakes) are really sharp. Jason agrees.

London to Brighton“: Paul Andrew Williams’ tense gangland thriller follows two young women — one of whom is very young — fleeing from something awful. There’s nothing new here, but it’s put together in a complex and involving way, and sometimes that’s enough.

“Young @ Heart”: A documentary about a choir of lovable seniors who sing uptempo pop hits about mortality and stuff. You know how some trailers make you want to slap the movie industry? This one did that for me. Adam had similar feelings about the film as a whole.

Right, that’s it. Off to my morning screening …