Monday, January 31, 2011

Netflix Movie Monday - January 31

It's Monday!  And time to bring you a movie I found streaming on Netflix that entertained, enlightened, or enthralled me in some way.  Today's choice:

One feature I LOVE about Netflix is the 'Movies You'll Love' recommendations.  The site tracks what I watch, and suggests other movies that go along the same lines.  When 'The Parking Lot Movie' popped up on my 'Movies You'll Love' feature I just had to try it, based on the title alone.  I mean, who would seriously name a movie 'The Parking Lot Movie'?  It had to be a gag.

The Netflix synopsis reads, "Over the course of three years, filmmaker Meghan Eckman tracked the comings and goings of a solitary parking lot in Charlottesville, Va., chronicling the lives of the attendants who were working there. This inspiring documentary is the result. Hanging tough as they navigate the range of human emotion -- from hope to frustration, from a sense of limitless possibilities to stagnation -- the film's subjects embody the pursuit of the American Dream."  Even with this incredibly boring intro, I still watched it, because of my faith in the title.  

The Corner Parking Lot is located across from the University of Virginia, behind some seedy bars that cater to the endless college hooligans.  Chris Farina, proud owner, is a recovering hippie / world traveler.  Defined by his employees as "more of a guru than a boss", Chris relates fondly of how he once came across an orange juice stand operator in Morocco.  The Moroccan owner spent his life simply sitting and interacting with people who passed by, something that Chris tries to emulate in the running of his parking lot.  

Not just anybody gets to work at the Corner Lot.  The employees relate with pride that you have to "know somebody" to get hired.  Employees have Master's degrees, are professors and graduate students, a "ragtag group of fractured poets," and "otherwise unemployable misfits."  They spend their time at the Corner Lot, "considering the existential implications of the job, which were what does it actually mean?  Where does it fit in? ... Which is the problem with having an insanely over educated group of people working a service sector job.  They have plenty of time to think about it."  

That existential thinking highlights the inevitable "power struggle with humanity" that the attendants engage in.  One worker describes his job this way:  "The parking lot attendant is the tollbooth operator on the expressway to the weigh station of the American dream."  The group of misfits who populate the Corner Lot have found a little fiefdom where they can finally have a measure of power over the better looking, more socially adept and richer class of people who have bullied and dominated them since grade school (explains an attendant wickedly as he passive aggressively sets the parking brake on a Beamer).  

With its endearing cast of characters and hilarious quotes, this film will have you rolling in laughter and cheering for the underdogs who finally gave the bird to society and created their own world where they are kings.

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