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2010 Heartland Film FestivalRating: 4.5 of 5 yaps

The Parking Lot Movie

An interesting study of, of all things, parking lot attendants, “The Parking Lot” is as unlikely a choice as you’ll EVER have, but I promise you won’t regret it.

Full of guys on strange power trips, and their own distinctive way of looking at the world.

They look at the workers of a parking lot behind a series of bars in Charlottesville, Va., where workers have only a small, ramshackle wooden booth to sit in, collecting money from patrons they largely look down upon (one guy derisively discusses people who park their “$50,000 SUVs that get 9 miles to the gallon”).

You see their hilariously mundane activities, playing with parking cones, deal with rude, condescending customers, and discussing their lives (one guy breaks down the typical day for an attendant, which invariably ends with him locking up and walking through a dark parking lot behind bars and restaurants with a large wad of money in your pocket).

Among the interesting bits of trivia: poets tend to be drawn to the job, and they all identify with Travis Bickle,

There’s one guy who just acts a little too zany, saying a few too many non-sequitir, and some display obsessive behavior (one reveals he dresses nicely because it “f**ks with people’s heads,” that he a compulsion for buying shoes, then pulls out an enormous poster for “The Lizzie McGuire Movie”).

But the ultimate point of thefilm is that, even though these guys are a little…different, they have jobs they stress about just like the rest of us, with hours full of tedium, others that are incredibly frustrating, and others that are completely rewarding.

The attendants are all full of personality. Some are disenchanted toward humanity, some are are bemused at the humanity (or lack of) they see every day, and others just want to get out of there safely.

“Everyone should have a set of keys thrown at them by a fat rich guy with a popped up collar,” one says.

And you see the things you’d expect to see, attendants bickering over 50 cents with customers driving $40,000 vehicles, and chasing down people who run off (and going to extreme lengths to collect their $3). Then there are drunk frat boys breaking the wooden gate, with a police officer who patrols frequently recounting stories of giving the vandals the option of either paying $35 to replace the gate, or be arrested for vandalism.

The things that go on in the minds of the attendants are enough to scare you. Many of them laud the power they have (and on more than one occasion guys discuss how they feel like “all-powerful gods,” and how it’s not their job to mete out punishments for transgressions against civility.

It’s not quite train-wreck cinema, but it’s certainly a telling look at the psychology of bitterness. These look at the world from a detached perspective, watching and not realizing they’re part of it.

Tally “The Parking Lot” under “must see.”

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