WHERE TO WATCH
Few things in life are more depressing than being stuck in a hopeless, dead-end job at a mattress store in a decaying urban strip mall. Native to this environment and products of outdated pop culture are Rob (Mark Greenfield) and Manny (Coolio), the unsuccessful, unrefined and uncouth sales force behind Affordable Mattress. The pair spend their days shifting around unsold inventory, taking smoke breaks, washing windows, and middling with employees from other stores in the strip mall. The story resembles a Bartleby of sorts, but absent Paul Scofield is the store’s irritable manager Preston (Kenneth McGregor), who relieves his endless frustration with verbal abuse bluntly aimed at his miserable employees. How they remain employed is anyone’s guess, which forms the parallel to the Herman Melville story. Desperate to improve sales, Preston hires a pretty woman named Isabelle (Rocío Verdejo) to help sell mattresses. Isabelle turns out to be just what the enterprise needs to stay afloat, and quickly makes friends with Manny, Rob and Martin (C. Clayton Blackwell), the dim-witted gift shop attendant who works next door.
The seemingly charming Isabelle, however, sells not only mattresses but also a scheme to her three new friends that offers them the hope of an exit from the monotonous life they have known for so long – murder her ex-husband and make it look like an accident so that she can collect a $200,000 life insurance payout, which she will split with them. Together, the team comes up with a plan that, when set in motion, would make even Harry and Lloyd from Dumb and Dumber proud, and go about accomplishing the task at hand with not an ounce more competence than what goes into their daily routine at Affordable Mattress.
Aesthetica Short Film Festival
By Erik Martiny
“… one of the choicest dark comedies of recent times.”
FESTIVALS, SCREENINGS & AWARDS
- Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival (World Premiere)
- Festival Cine//B (International Premiere): CLOSING NIGHT FILM
- Anchorage International Film Festival
- Rome Independent Film Festival (European Premiere): RIFF AWARDS FINALIST
- Boston International Film Festival: INDIE SOUL AWARD NOMINATION
- Independent Days Filmfest: OPENING NIGHT FILM
- Vegas Indie Film Fest
- Eye On Films Screening – 66th Cannes Film Festival: OFFICIAL SELECTION
- Manhattan Film Festival: BEST FEATURE FINALIST
- Philadelphia Independent Film Festival
- American Film Market (Market Premiere)
- Pune International Film Festival (Asian Premiere)
- Il Kino Roma (Limited Engagement)
- Ankara International Film Festival
Nobody does the urban strip mall quite like we Americans do it. I really do believe them to be a unique experience. As ultimate concentrations of convenience, pop culture, and consumerism, they often have an uncanny ability to reflect our society. If you want to know just about anything about a given area and its people, hang around one of its strip malls – they can be a sort of local barometer for all things positive and negative.
I suppose that I’ve always had a sort of fascination with strip malls; especially those built in once-upcoming areas that are now forgotten, irrelevant, and often a bit dilapidated. Far from examples of architectural distinction, they’re usually monotonous and unspectacular in their design; yet they seem to stand still in time as ever-expanding suburbs and pop culture pass them by without the slightest hint of mercy. Some now even find themselves part of a “bad part of town”; and, bereft of actual customers, their respective establishments struggle and are sometimes forced to specialize in discounted or exceptionally specific or odd merchandise.
However, despite all of this, and as many of us pass by these places everyday, there are still interesting people doing interesting things to be found. Some of these people and things are good and some are – well – bad. From this point of view is where I think Two Hundred Thousand Dirty and its characters can trace their roots. That and my own personal experiences in terrible, low-end, mind-numbing retail jobs to which I am hopeful many people can relate.