“13 Tzameti,” 2006’s Sundance Grand Jury Prize winner, is a clipped, tight and exciting piece of genre filmmaking. Gela Babluani‘s directorial debut concerns a layman who accepts a mysterious envelope meant for another man, only to learn that the payday promised therein forces him to participate in a Russian Roulette tournament. The film is stark, black and white, and French, a minor minimalist masterpiece that lingers in your head for days afterwards. If we told you Babluani remade his own film in color with American money and huge Hollywood stars, would you not believe that it was probably terrible? And would that pessimism be highlighted by the film’s over two year post-production period?
“13,” which stars Sam Riley, Jason Statham, and 50 Cent, amongst others, has finally found a home, two years after it was yanked from the 2010 SXSW festival before its U.S premiere (rumored to be because of in-fighting on the final cut between the director and producers). Either way, “13” was announced as a Toronto International Film Festival pick-up by Anchor Bay. While they haven’t announced their distribution plans, the film is already listed as opening up on one screen in L.A. on October 28th at the Laemmle Theaters, and its Blu-Ray release is already slotted for a week later on November 8, so it doesn’t seem like the final product will have much of a shelf life at all.
In addition to Riley, Statham and Mr. Double Quarter, “13” also features a powerhouse cast, including Ray Winstone, Alexander Skarsgard, Michael Shannon, Ben Gazzara, Emmanuelle Chiriqui, and Mickey Rourke. For the record, it might be worth skipping a rental and simply asking Rourke his opinion, as he said the movie had been been shelved for so long because it’s “terrible.” Normally, actors make terrible film critics, but he was grouping “13” with “Passion Play” which actually was quite genuinely, eye-rippingly bad, so maybe he’s on the money here as well.