NUMBER 13 Image


By Scott Von Doviak | May 17, 2000

As spaghetti western music twangs on the soundtrack, the lonesome paletero pushes his cart of frozen fruit bars through the barrios of Tucson, Arizona. The paletero is the Mexican equivalent of the Good Humor man – in this case Michæl Alvarado, a sweaty guy in a straw hat who looks like he’d rather being doing anything else. If this minimalist short from director Michæl Toubassi was any longer, the audience would most likely start feeling the same way. Taking a slice-of-life approach, Toubassi follows Alvarado along his route and documents a series of encounters, none of which amounts to much. Alvarado meets a woman with an unfriendly mutt, a man walking while reading the newspaper, and a way-too-happy guy on a pogo stick. There’s some nice local color, and an effective slow motion shot wherein a woman working in her garden cools the palatero down with a watering can. Less successful is Toubassi’s use of the “Spike Lee glide” – that trademark tracking shot where the subject appears to be floating about the ground is a lame enough effect when Lee himself uses it. Otherwise, “Number 13” has a home movie look that may be intentional, but still has “Intro to Film” written all over it.

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