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Philly Film Fest Day Five: So That’s What Real People Look Like

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A light day. Started off with Chilean import Time Off. The time off in question is a woman’s from her boyfriend. One week to be exact. The boyfriend is none too happy about it, but meets an unusual girl in the meantime with some problems of her own. As much as the story reminded me a bit of the “Mr. F” subplot on Arrested Development, the film works off it’s own charm though, ultimately, it’s kind of forgettable.

Later on, decided to see what three-dimensional people look like and attended a reading of the screenplay that won the “Set In Philadelphia” Screenplay Competition. It’s called Middle Aged White Guys, by Bruce Graham, and its titular characters, down on their luck in various ways, decide to rob a bank. The racial aspect of this comedy spins on the notion that they think they’ll get away with it because cops, generally speaking, will let middle-aged white guys get away with anything. For example, one of the MAWGs sneaks copious amounts of beer into Eagles Stadium unmolested while a group of black youths are searched relentlessly by the cops.

There’s a lot of comic potential here and the screenplay has plenty of laughs but, and this is partly a function of the table read, which morphs tone and lacks context, certain parts come off as genuinely racist as opposed to racist-from-a-safe-satirical-distance (and a little misogynistic, too). Deft direction, casting, and maybe a little rewriting might solve some of that, but the bigger issue I think has to do with the premise itself. As it is, the screenplay kind of uses it as a jumping off point, but never really mines the concept for all the commentary and satire it could provide, not just on racism, but on classism and ageism as well. But more often than not it settles back into a more routine, albeit dark, comedy. Frankly, it’ll be easier to sell that way, but I don’t know if that’s what it wants to be. Or what the screenwriter wants it to be.

Regardless, it was really neat to hear the story play out radio-style, casting my own dream team of middled aged actors (everyone from Drew Carey to Philip Seymour Hoffman came to mind) in the parts – though the actors on hand were fantastic, and clearly had fun with their roles.

The award for winning the contest includes $10,000, but it makes me wonder. If you won a contest like this, and you had a choice between $10,000 in cash, or five minutes with the studio head/filmmaker/producer/agent, etc. of your choice, which would you pick? And if you picked option B, who would you want to meet and/or pitch?

Tomorrow: I have to choose between Fuck and Lady Vengeance. Yes, those are movies.

About David Dylan Thomas