The Parking Lot Movie (2010) - Can't Stop the Movies
Can't Stop the Movies

The Parking Lot Movie (2010)

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The Parking Lot Movie is a long dull slog through what has become a generation of apathetic rebels. Exerting what little power they have, generations of slackers sit in a three by four shack on the corner of a tucked away parking lot in Charlottesville, Virginia, goofing off and making change. The lot is bordered by a railroad track and the backs of a half dozen bars.

What else is there to learn in this film?

Not much, really.

That's subjective, of course, and a lot of it come from how you may have spent your college years. Mine were spent behind a counter at my local indie videostore. It's nothing like Clerks, mind you, since most of the people who work at those places give a shit about movies above and beyond Star Wars (as will anyone rational, I imagine), creating an environment full of passionate people with a common love, the cinema, and a common enemy, the customer.

This gets a lot of play in Parking Lot: The Movie. Tales of boys annoyed with customers who break their gate, park badly, and act rudely. The stories that get the most relish involve these guys getting revenge in some small way, from overcharging a jerk to kicking a bumper of a fleeing customer. It's the small victories that count.

But there's a life beyond that. I know anyone reading this who remains engaged in the retail world will no doubt believe I've sold out to 'the man' or other equally bizarre suppositions, but there is a world beyond the self-involved college stage. The Parking Lot Movie touches on this briefly at the end, but is much more eager to tell you how interesting and unique it is.

Okay, okay. So I'm going to put up all of these rules that people believe businesses go by and cross them out. The parking lot is wacky and crazy! We're so smart and clever! Look how smart and clever we are by being non-conformist. No one else is non-conformist right?

And that's also an importantly adolescent concept. The film is a good representation of it's themes, but that doesn't make it very tolerable. It's just a lot of the same awkward white guys looking at the screen and telling in-jokes that, believe it or not, just don't really work outside of their context.

Instead, the viewer, unless simply captivated by shiny things, is left with plenty of questions to ponder. Is there a large market for parking lot based films? Does the director know this material was insipid or is she simply trying to cash in on a trend towards manchildren? Why there are no female parking lot attendants?

There's the possibility that the director, Meghan Eckman, could be or could have been an attendant for all I know, but she's never seen nor heard. She handpicks her subjects, and it looks like a number of interviewees were picked from an off-screen reunion, that certainly plucked out a few crazies.

However, Eckman's style involves using several horribly flashy shots that interrupt the dull series of talking heads to stand out and illustrate that she's either not engaged with her subjects or not sure what sort of visual style she's aiming for. The opening has a shot that pans across the lot and then cranes down to an attendant doing his best not to look at the camera. It creates an air of artifice both unnecessary and off-putting, and pulls you out of the documentary.

Also, and this doesn't flow well but I'm putting it in here anyway, but the animations that pop up for every person's name take like ten to fifteen seconds longer to finish than the actual talking head takes to talk. It's awful!

Oh yeah, just ignoring the camera that's up on that crane and about to come down. This is totally natural. Seriously, fake documentaries do documentary filmmaking better than this film.

The film is both annoyingly smug and too close to my reality for me to judge it with a modicum of reason. I've lived like that, I've felt like that, and I know people who still do. A life spent in retail (or watching over a parking lot, apparently) is a life full of struggle against the banality of your own existence. If you're lucky, you will make it out alive and cherish the memories.

If not, you're doomed to be stuck in that lifestyle forever. Even worse, you may have watch The Parking Lot Movie on top of it.

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Posted by Danny

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