The Parking Lot Movie Meghan Eckman

The Parking Lot Movie Meghan Eckman
"Parking lot attendant" is probably not the job most people would want to pop up on their tenth grade profile, but Charlottesville, VA's Corner Parking Lot seems an especially deep pit of hell. Located behind an often foul-smelling restaurant, the attendants must frequently deal with drunken, college age vandals, customers who drive away before paying their two-dollar fine and uber-rich SUV-drivers who complain endlessly when their 50-minute parking time has been rounded up to a one-hour fee.

According to one of the employees, working at the lot means "long periods of tedium punctuated by moments of 'Fuck you, buddy!'" and The Parking Lot Movie suggests that the Corner Parking Lot is a microcosm of man's inhumanity to man.

Describing a day on the job, one of the attendants says, "Then the night would be over and depending on how many violent interactions you'd had, you would go home and lie awake thinking about how much you hated those people and how stupid they were, and eventually you'd fall into a fitful, troubled sleep." Poetic stuff, but director Meghan Eckman is more interested in compiling horror stories from talking head interviews than evoking the lot's atmosphere in visual and aural terms. And the bland, generic synth music that accompanies this and many other statements stifles any atmosphere these descriptions might evoke on their own.

The lot has employed over 100 attendants and The Parking Lot Movie interviews 18 of them. That's still too many. Crammed into an 84-minute documentary, none have a chance to become memorable characters on their own. Instead of Eckman's interview-dependent, warts-and-all approach, how about a documentary that follows one or two attendants during a typical working day? This might have given this episodic film some much-needed structural coherence, and undoubtedly would have done a better job conveying the deep, sometimes Zen-like emptiness of the job.

It also might have spared us the closing music video, in which, alas, several of the attendants are called upon to rap about their job. If you're in the market for a dignified portrait of white rappers, may I instead suggest Cool as Ice? (Redhouse Productions)