So I watched this movie yesterday for two reasons, I needed something relatively short (this movie is 71 minutes) and I had to see if a documentary about a parking lot could be interesting. Surprisingly it was. See it’s less about the parking lot itself, that would be ridiculously boring, but more about the people who work there and their interactions with each other and the people who use Corner Parking Lot. Part of what makes Corner Parking Lot in Charlottesville, Virginia interesting is that it’s independently owned, not part of a professional chain of parking lots. The owner, Chris Farina is more of a zen cat herder than a boss. The cats are the eclectic crew of parking lot attendants he hires. Due to it’s proximity to the University of Virginia, these are not normally what you think of as typical parking lot attendants For one thing, they are more educated than you average low-wage earner. Many have Masters degrees, even a professor works at the lot.
The Parking Lot Movie is part day in the life, part philosophical, and part sociological look at one of the commonalities in life, finding somewhere to park your car. The lot sees the changes in car sizes over the years as well as the sense of entitlement based on vehicle. How someone in a $20,000 vehicle will fight you over forty cents, how a large car owner believes that everywhere should accommodate the size of his vehicle and has no guilt in blocking other cars to do that. There is also the socioeconomic differences perceived between customer and employee. The thought that someone working for a lower wage is automatically beneath you in every way. That they don’t deserve respect or sometimes common decency. But the employees of the parking lot are not shirking violets, they give as good as they get, sometimes even more so. It’s hard to figure out sometimes if they were that way before the parking lot or did the parking lot turn them into the cynical, surly person they are becoming.
Seventy-one minutes is a good run-time for this documentary. Any longer and it would get really boring. It’s a good mix of interviews and actual working shots of the lot. But this isn’t about war zones or crime ridden streets, it’s a parking lot and most time there isn’t a lot going on. So while the bursts of actions or the funny and sometimes introspective interviews do a good job of filling in the gaps they couldn’t have supported a longer movie. If nothing else The Parking Lot Movie is sure to spawn some interesting conversations.