SXSW Review: The Parking Lot Movie


The Parking Lot Movie

Contributor Rod Paddock returns to Slackerwood, this time with a review.

Every once in a while at film festivals, you come across a film with a strange title, some spare time and if you are lucky a seat in the theatre. A lot of times these movies turn out to be lumps of coal, but sometimes, these movies prove to be a gem in the rough. Well, I had some time on my hands this week during SXSW and found a 100 percent hidden gem: The Parking Lot Movie.

Seeing The Parking Lot Movie reminded me a lot of viewing Kevin Smith's debut Clerks at the Seattle International Film Festival in 1996. This movie treats the viewer with 90 minutes of witty banter and exposition from people who work or worked in a parking lot over a period of many years. There is one major difference: These people didn't have a talented scribe like Kevin Smith writing their dialogue, they lived it.

The Parking Lot Movie, a documentary by Meghan Eckman and Christopher Hlad, tells the story of a ragtag lot who make their way in the world as parking lot attendants, in a place known as the Corner Parking Lot in Charlottesville, Virginia. This film basically lives with these attendants through the many long nights, long days, good weather and bad that fill the seemingly endless days of a bunch of real-life clerks.

This documentary does a great job of showing the camaraderie of the parking lot attendants in their own private "war" against the elites, the pretentious and obnoxious customers who park their BMWs, Hummers, Suburbans and other vehicles. The attendants -- some struggling college students, some underpaid philosophers, some musicians and some misfit toys -- wage this war with all the weapons at hand, the main one being humor. Their philosophy: Quit trying to dodge the 40-cent parking fee, you overpaid, over-manicured elitist. It's not vicious --  it's really fun actually and these dudes seem to keep it all in proper perspective.

It definitely requires perspective in dealing with drunken puking college students, soccer moms in monstrous SUVs and people who forget that these are simply human beings trying to make their way in the world.

I highly recommend seeing this flick before the fest is over. The Parking Lot Movie plays the Ritz on Friday, March 19 at 3:15 pm.