Even if the premise is tired, this grim thriller holds the attention by focussing on the raw intensity of the characters' personal lives. It's also grisly enough to work as a bone-dry black comedy about a hapless guy who will do whatever it takes to protect his loved ones. But just a little more complexity in the story and characters would have helped a lot.
The film opens as nice guy Elliot (Mark Webber) is sacked from his New Orleans job at exactly the wrong time. Not only is he planning his wedding with his pregnant fiancee Shelby (Rutina Wesley), but he also helps support his retirement-age dad (Tom Bower) and mentally disabled brother (Graye). So when a stranger phones to offer him a place in a cash-bonanza game, he doesn't mind that the 13 tasks are increasingly deranged. It starts with killing a fly, but soon escalates to making a child cry, starting a fire in a church and desecrating a dead body. But if he wins, his worries will be over. Then he realises that he's not the only contestant.
Without a hint of subtlety in the script, we never have any questions about what is happening, what the moral implications are and where the story's going next. So there's no way to join in with Elliot's disorienting dilemma. Instead, there's nothing to do but sit back and watch. In another actor's hands, Elliot might have come across as an idiot who deserves whatever's coming, but Webber has a vulnerability that makes us care what happens, even as he does one stupid thing after another. His family seem eerily oblivious, but Ron Perlman adds some deadpan humour as a detective following Elliot's trail. And Pruitt Taylor Vince is on hand as his usual bug-eyed, shifty nerd who knows more than anyone else.
Continue reading: 13 Sins Review
Khumba is a young zebra who was born missing half of his stripes. Following his birth, there came a deadly drought threatening the survival of the herd and killing his mother. To his superstitious peers and his father, Khumba's unusual appearance is an extremely bad omen and he is eventually driven to run away from the herd to find water and acceptance elsewhere, leaving his only friend in Great Karoo, Tombi. On his travels, he meets a motherly wildebeest named Mama V and her wacky friend Bradley the Ostrich who are willing to travel with him and protect him from the ills of the wild, namely Phango the Leopard whose presence is a threat to every other creature in Great Karoo. He also meets Mantis, who reveals a map that could lead them to a waterhole - or will it instead lead Khumba to find his stripes?
'Khumba' is a heart-warming animated flick about that timeless message of accepting people's differences. It has been directed by Anthony Silverston in first direction, who co-wrote the screenplay alongside previous writing partner Raffaella Delle Donne ('Zambezia'). It was nominated for a Cristal award for best feature at the 2013 Annecy International Animated Film Festival and has already been released in the US.
Allie is a teenage girl who has been dragged from one city to the next by her parents who are both travelling professors who specialize in King Arthur's legend. When her parents tell her that she'll stay in one school until graduation she's over the moon, finally she can join the track team and be a proper student. Avalon High is her new home and as she begins to settle in and start writing a paper on the tale of King Arthur, she begins to see similarities between her life and students in the school to those of King Arthur and the nights of the round table.
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Mike and Cal are brothers but since the death of their father - almost ten years earlier - they haven't spent much time together. Mike is a lot older than his brother and has been lost touch with his mother. Feeling a need to re-connect with his brother and the want to achieve something, Cal joins the wrestling team dispite his slender frame. The brothers connect over a love of the sport although their mother isn't over enthusiastic about the idea.
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Richard Gabai and Devon Graye - Richard Gabai, Devon Iott, Devon Graye, Aimee Teegarden, Ariel Gade, Kameron Knox, Veronica Cartwright, Timothy Bottoms Saturday 24th January 2009 at Santa Barbara International Film Festival Santa Barbara, California
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