Hot Docs: The Parking Lot Movie Review


 

What happens when you throw a bunch of over-educated graduate students, slacker musicians and other creative and testosterone-loaded souls into a job where absolutely nothing is required of them except sitting there and taking money from customers? Well, Kevin Smith more-or-less answered this question with his indie-hit Clerks in 1994, but here is a documentary seemingly populated entirely with Randals.

The Corner Parking Lot is a sodium-lamp lit stretch of broken asphalt and dumpsters for the restaurants along the downtown area of Charlottesville Virginia. Being a sleepy town and a college town (the University of Virginia) there a mix of class that grind against one another in the evening and weekend nightlife. A number of the philosophy and anthropology graduate students work under their very employee-friendly boss and owner of the lot. They are (more or less) given free reign to release their creative energy in passive-aggressive prankery against the ‘parkers.’ The gate board is adorned daily by existentialist aspects of the job and pop culture trivia applied ritually with stencils and spray paint. Guitars, flip coning (soon to be an Olympic sport) and graffiti scrawls on what it means to park become performance art. In short, hanging out is what these guys do best. They serve you but they do not have to like you, and if you are in the rich lawyer, drunken frat boy or air-head sorority set then they are very much judging you by what you drive, how you park. They see the delightful irony of someone driving a $70,000 Cadillac Escalade desperately trying the squeeze it into the crevices of the smaller parking spaces, and then trying to not pay the $4.00 lot-fee. They could explain why you have to pay, they could explain the fundamentals of capitalism if they chose, but mainly they will mock you. Perhaps they will engage your parking break, just to see if you notice before you make it back to your home (you know you don’t use the damn thing!) Have no fear, they equally rail against the other end of the automotive economic scale, those smug and oh so superior Prius owners. Apparently, you should drive a Honda Civic to not be in the CPL doghouse – it is good on gas, easy to park and otherwise non-offensive aesthetically.

Would you like to know more…?