In Charlottesville's nondescript open-air Corner Parking Lot, located near the prosperous University of Virginia, service-industry work is not merely a way to scrape out a living but also a vehicle for class warfare and self-discovery. Or at least so say the attendants of The Parking Lot Movie, Meghan Eckman's documentary valentine to the male ticket collectors—most of them overqualified anthropology and philosophy grad students, poets, and musicians like former employee and current Yo La Tengo bassist James McNew—who spend their days and nights managing both the establishment's sundry automobiles and their equally diverse, often unpleasant, owners. Proprietor Chris Farina's personnel are a cheerfully gregarious group whose arrogance and navel-gazing more closely aligns them with their despised frat-boy and sorority-girl customers than they might like to imagine. Nonetheless, their sense of superiority toward the petty SUV drivers and rude midlife-crisisers who frequent the lot is matched by introspective considerations of traditional social contracts and, specifically, the ways in which money and entitlement warp public codes of conduct. It's a nonfiction Clerks with reflections on identity, self-worth, and communal civility subbing in for Star Wars chitchat, with only a runtime-padding climactic music video bogging down its otherwise amusing slice of subcultural life.
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