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13 Moons is an ambitious, unusual film that works really well. It has beautiful imagery, great music and fantastic acting. And it manages to feel spontaneous and free in a way that big-budget studio films never quite do. In fact, it's exactly the kind of movie a big studio would never attempt. It features a huge, eclectic ensemble cast in a wild series of events that are, at first glance, pretty far-fetched. But the result is surprisingly smooth and genuine. First of all, the cast is fantastic. In addition to Steve Buscemi and Jennifer Beals, I recognized many of the actors from television and other (mostly independent) movies: David Proval from The Sopranos, Karyn Parsons from The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, Daryl Mitchell and Sam Rockwell from GalaxyQuest, and Peter Dinklage from Living in Oblivion. The plot doesn't exactly ramble, but there are definitely points where it's unclear where the story is moving. It's hard, with so many interesting characters, to maintain a perfect narrative balance. But the great thing about 13 Moons is that it is a little off-balance. It's basically a collection of strange little moments, but they all feel so sincere that it's easy to lose yourself in them. And in the end, everything and everyone comes together. In fact, it's one of the most satisfying movie endings I've seen in a long time. It's a shame 13 Moons wasn't released to the public the way it deserved to be. I hope more people can find a way to see this movie.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This indie was shown recently on cable. Alexandre Rockwell (any
relation to Sam?) directs this strange account of a night in L.A. While
the film is interesting there are a lot of things that make absolute no
sense in the way the director, working with Brandon Cole in the screen
play, presents the story and then proceeds to solve it in the next 90
Mr. Rockwell has to be congratulated in employing these young talent. Given the choice between a studio film and and independent one, I will always choose the latter one. That said, there are a lot of unanswered questions in the film.
We have no inkling at the beginning of the film that Timmy is a sick boy, he is suddenly in the hospital where a donor has been matched and will undergo a kidney transplant. The donor is Slovo, a man who was hit by the boy's father, and it's an obnoxious man. The quest for the search of this man, who disappeared from the hospital, is at the core of the action. It gives the writers an excuse for bringing the assorted characters into the picture.
Another thing that doesn't make sense is how can anyone be arrested for attending a T&A club? Evidently it can only happen in the city of Angels! There is the rapper with the gorgeous girlfriend who can't carry a tune who come to help the boy and his father and in the process take us into the streets of a seedy section of town and end up in the rapper's mansion where everyone jumps in the pool.
There are a lot things that don't make sense, but we go along the ride because the director, at times, shows signs of brilliant film making, but ultimate, the movie leaves us questioning a lot of things as to why they happen.
The cast is wonderful. Daryl Mitchell and Rose Collins are perfect as the rapper and his girlfriend. Steve Buscemi and Peter Dinklage as the clowns, don't get a lot to do. Pruitt Taylor Vince, an actor's actor makes an incredible Owen, the man who will eventually save the boy. David Proval and Elizabeth Bracco are the estranged parents of the sick young boy, Timmy, who is portrayed with an uncanny maturity by Austin Wolff. Jennifer Beals and Sam Rockwell have only limited time in front of the camera.
While we wished "13 Moons" would have been better, it shows a great team of writers as well as an excellent director.
I knew every character in this movie as a real person. I knew the
depressive clown and the hard-boiled midget and the drug addicted drag
queen and even the self-doubting priests. While "13 Moons" was not set
in New York City in the seventies, it might as well have been. Granted,
I've been out of that crazy, all-night life for a long time, but I'm
sure it hasn't gone away. People don't change, and the same kinds of
tormented souls have to be there, pursuing their crazy odysseys, all
night long. Perhaps you've missed them if you've been cocooned in the
enclaves of the middle class, but if you're brave enough to go out and
find them, you can.
I was totally engaged by "13 Moons." The ensemble acting was first-rate, so the characterizations were virtually perfect. The plot may be slightly less than believable, but if you tossed that particular batch of odd characters together under the right circumstances, something like it just MIGHT have happened.
Many reviewers refer to this film as "quirky." Well, LIFE is quirky, children -- and if you don't think Bananas and Binky and Lenny and Slovo and Mo and Lily and Suzi are real enough, you haven't been drinking in the right bars.
See "13 Moons." Believe in it. It's a close approximation of a world you may not have encountered, but which certainly is real.
Writers Alexandre Rockwell and Brandon Cole managed to do the
impossible: combine ten misfit characters into a storyline that gives
each individual characterization bona fide arc and dimension.
The combination of Steve Buscemi and Peter Dinklage as an out of work clown and his loyal sidekick is priceless. Peter Stormare uses his entire acting arsenal to bring his homeless drunk to life and Sam Rockwell is terrific in his smaller part as an enterprising strip club bartender. Daryl Mitchell and newcomer Rose Rollins nearly steal the show as a P Diddy-esque record mogul and his tone deaf girlfriend, respectively, and Karyn Parsons is a long way from Bel Air as the stripper who is the object of Steve Buscemi's affection. Jennifer Beals is effective and stunning as ever as Buscemi's wronged wife. Austin Wolfe is touching and believable as the little boy who brings them all together and David Proval does a great turn as the kid's absentee father.
After a night of unparalleled shenanigans, in the end, the message is simple as delivered by Elizabeth Bracco as the little boy's mother. Having been told that this group of strangers has risked life and limb to help her son, she asks innocently, "Why would they want to help Timmy? They don't even know him." And therein lies the question that in a more compassionate world none of us would be compelled to ask.
Thank the cinema gods that movies like this are still being made -
inimitable, expressive visions you'll never see in a studio boutique
division's wildest dreams!
Doing his best work since the very funny "In The Soup," Alexandre Rockwell again works with a large ensemble cast of fine but often under-used actors to tell the niftily interwoven stories of an unlikely set of characters all of whose paths cross because of a marital spat and a life-weary bailbondsman getting saddled with his waifish son - who's in desperate need of a kidney transplant. Problem is, it seems the only good match is sloshing about in the innards of the bedrugged, drunken, wacked-out Peter Stormare (in a Santa suit, continuing Rockwell's ongoing leitmotiv in several films). The movie, beautifully shot on hi-def video by the estimable Phil Parmet, with an insinuating score, all takes place in one night, an extended but befuddled chase after the wayward, reluctant kidney donor.
Among an as entertaining group of actors as you're likely to find, Daryl Mitchell, Rose Rollins, and Peter Dinklage are especially sharp and funny. Keep an ear peeled for Rollins's perfectly pitched horribly bad rap song!
Lots of incidental pleasures along the way, and, typical in the Rockwellian oeuvre, an uplifting moment at the end - literally and figuratively. All in all, a shaggy-dog delight.
One of the BEST films I've seen in a long, long time! Interesting
characters & storyline! The film manages to follow it's multiple
sub-plots in a skillful & stylistic manner. Steve B. & Peter D. prove
to be a winning pair on camera. Overall this film was well cast.
I've seen allot of negative reviews for this film and I must say that I am at a loss to understand why. Perhaps these reviewers were expecting a more predictable film. The usual Hollywood tripe! This film conforms to no such standard! In summary: I really enjoyed the quirky characters, Clever dialogue, Touching storyline and the overall style of this film. I Highly recommend it!! :)
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
At first glance the initial scenery was enough to make me change the
channel until I saw that Steve Buschemi was one of the leading
The dull grainy cinematography in combination with sad clowns performing poorly before a local TV station child audience, was enough to make me think, OK this is just weird.
But even during those first few scenes I saw a dark humor typical of today's attitude towards the unfailing reality of life, so given that, I decided to watch on. What I witnessed was a film about one of those strange nights when the Moon is full, the mystical powers are strong in the air and the lives of strangers will cross.
The relationships of these strangers center around the Bail bondsman "Mo" (David Proval) but the events of the night surround his estranged son "Timmy", whose mother comes to the father in a babysitting emergency.
Unbeknownst to the father his son has only one kidney that is barely functioning and he is waiting a beeper call from the hospital for a donor. While this is happening most of the other characters also need Mo for Bail at the very same time, sort of a convergence of need all at one moment. After going to the Jailhouse to perform his duties, the child wanders out in the parking lot and almost gets hit by a car. At this very moment the story changes from a group of quirky adults trying to solve their own problems to a group of adults realizing that all of their selfish desires are nothing compared to the needs of this child.
From this point forward the scene changes are chaotic and bizarre in a Pulp Fiction type fashion, but the message remains clear, even while whining about their pathetic lives these adults keep their focus and do all that they can do to help the boy and find his Kidney donor who has wandered out of the hospital.
There are defining moments that will remain with the boy, the scene in the hospital, the trip his father takes after hours to the zoo to see the monkeys and when everyone jumps into the pool, giving the child a sense of joy you feel he has had yet to feel in his pitiful little life. There are several epiphanies amongst the cast of characters. One of my favorites is when the night watchman from the Zoo tells Mo "shooting me with that gun isn't going to make you a better father". In the end the child is saved by the supreme sacrifice of the priest "Owen", who had been suffering from doubts about his priesthood and searching for the meaning of his life.
This Movie has genuine moments of dark humor and a very meaningful and happy ending. If your looking for something a little different that doesn't leave you feeling haunted, you will enjoy this movie.
13 Moons, surprisingly, is one of the most lucid and hopeful flicks to emerge from the muddled dreams and frequently vengeful psyches of Los Angeles in years. A quest film every bit as compelling and complex-- and considerably less tricked out-- than Lord of the Rings, it's Alexandre Rockwell's valedictory to a city which may have little use for the independent filmmaker, but which offered him a way back to his own larger, more magnanimous instincts as an artist. An ever greater number of characters, from a clown Steve Buscemi to a bail bondsman and dead beat dad (David Proval) to a remarkably bad and self aware rapper/singer/ho (the extraordinary Rose Rollins), find themselves inhabiting, momentarily, a similar platform, a little piece of Los Angeles in the dead of the night. Like most of us, their dreams only bubble rarely to the surface of their lives, jostling there with their disappointments until they're submerged again under the monotony of their day jobs. But unlike most of us, these 7 people, in spite of themselves, find purpose in their movement. They go from a downtown bar to a bail bureau, from a cop station to a memorable moment in the zoo; and in their sojourn, they intersect with real need an 8 year old, whose kidney is failing, whom dialysis only momentarily helps, who's thrown on the mercy of a city whose larger, social impulses seem deadened and yet. A strong ensemble cast, energetically directed and brilliantly shot by Phil Parmet, makes 13 Moons that rare independent LA flick: one whose ambitions are so much greater than an audition for a studio picture. 13 Moons wants to give us a different way of imagining ourselves and the city we inhabit but so little know.
SLAMDANCE pulled a major coup by opening with a quality film by one of the directors who gave SUNDANCE such a sterling reputation for indie films. One of the great things about film festivals is on rare occasions you get bragging rights to having seen a quality film before the rest of the world gets a look at it Steve Buscemi is always killer, and here he's given material to match his talents. He's probably the last guy you'd pick to play a clown (he's seems a crying on the inside AND outside actor), but the counterintuitive comic casting works like a dream. Hard to p*** and moan and be funny at the same time, but Buscemi and the writers pull it off. Karyn Parsons, who was so good on THE JOB with Denis Leary and was so much better than the material in such crap as MAJOR PAYNE and THE LADIES' MAN -- is killer, and hot to boot. A smart, genuinely funny comedy for adults that doesn't suck. Rarer than a perfect spring day and just as welcome.
To me it's pretty obvious what this movie tries to attempt. It tries to
put together many different story lines, featuring different
characters, that all come together pretty fast into the movie. A
storytelling technique that later got much better used and done by for
instance director Alejandro González Iñárritu.
The movie is basically being presented as one big adventure movie, in which a whole bunch of characters go on a quest to safe a little boy's life. Only thing is, this 'adventure' is done as a drama. It has a s serious story, which just doesn't connect to well with the movie its quirky characters and all of the unlikely events happening in this movie.
The way all of these characters get thrown together in this movie is pretty weak. Basically they have absolutely nothing to do with each other but still for some odd reason they all stay together throughout the entire movie. At times the movie desperately tries to connect all of their stories together and weave them in with each other but it's all really thin. Everything that seems to happen in this movie seems as a coincidence and the movie is really hanging together from its coincidences.
And the characters aren't much good either really, despite the fact that they are being played by some well known actors. So they basically all have their issues but you just never get to care enough about any of the characters to to care or to feel attached to any of them. Their problems also aren't too 'deep' and the way everything gets resolved is again also hanging together from its coincidences and comes across as some lazy writing. It's almost as if its writing and its directing don't connect at all with each other, as if the director had a totally different movie in mind than the writer had, which is strange, considering that both were the same person.
For most part I still liked watching this movie but toward the end things really got worse, when the movie seemed to run out of ideas and everything just became less and less interesting and more and more of a pointless dragging movie that was heading towards an ending that wasn't much satisfying either. Once you start thinking about this movie, nothing gets really explained or resolved, so watching this movie is a very unsatisfying experience.
Still the entire idea behind this movie must have been good, not in the least because all of these great actors seemingly showed up for free to appear in this movie. Because it just didn't seemed as if this movie had an actual budget to work with. It's also a really cheap looking movie, that has a sort of TV look, or as if it got done by a couple of friends shooting a movie in their weekends.
You could say that the movie still have plenty of redeeming qualities, that still keep the movie somewhat watchable, such as its acting for instance but overall, in the end this is a very unrewarding movie, that is literally hanging together from its coincidences and some highly unlikely events, which all comes across as some weak and lazy writing.
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