Not all documentaries are able to show humanity or American society so well, and be so funny. And it is so funny, but in a really fascinating way. The Parking Lot Movie is about the attendants at the Corner Parking Lot in Charlottesville, Virginia, situated behind several bars. The attendants are described as social outcasts and well educated at once, several of them attending the nearby University of Virginia.
Not all documentaries do I want to watch twice, let alone in the same night in order to show my friends.
Man. This documentary.
If you put over-educated men into a service job where they do nothing, they have plenty of time to think about the job, as a former attendant points out early on. Often these guys come from departments like the Anthropology or Philosophy, sometimes as grad students and often get the job because they’re friends with other attendants. They make wall art within the booth, decorate and re-decorate the gate, all making observations about the job. And they love it, and respect it, but also admit that this job can drive you insane.
I don’t want to generalize the attendants much, since they’re so different, but there are some patterns that appear in the position. As much as they are educated and in a service job, they love it, but they hate the people who use the parking lot. The criticism from all of them is intense: Hate the frat boys, hate the sorority girls, hate SUVs, hate alumni– but it is justified. These people are jerks, which the attendants make abundantly clear. The attendants will run after cars that will not pay, often becoming violent with the customers.
Contrast that with the zen perspective offered at times, how doing nothing in at this job will lead to a better understanding of self. That’s fantastic.
It’s also funny as hell, whether the interviewees realize it or not. Their comments are often spot on, and while revealing the sometimes ugly parts of the job, they’re still laugh out loud funny. As one former attendant remembers that a classmate wouldn’t pay a $0.40 ticket, he finishes it up by recalling that this classmate’s father was also a jerk. “Fuck that guy!” Between the philosophical and the angry, the way these stories are presented makes them hilarious.
It was a successful screening when I showed it to my friends and I’ve been recommending it all over the place. The Parking Lot Movie: It must be Movie-Love.