Film Review: The Parking Lot Movie (2010)

 

I am not a violent man, but I did once swing a lead pipe at someone.”

So says Tyler Magill, a former parking lot attendant, who is interviewed in Meghan Eckman’s Parking Lot Movie.  Magill’s explanation for this action is that his victim refused to pay the 40 cent parking fee.  But this isn’t just Magill’s way of handling these situations, it embodies the attitudes of all his other fellow attendants.  Some of which are college students, some are mid-thirties and have been doing it for at least ten years.  But they all agree that the job is plenty of fun.

They acknowledge the poor reputation of their title, they say they are being paid to do almost nothing, and they exalt the activity as one of the most worth-while things they will ever do.  But with their enthusiasm and bitter disgust for the lot’s winy customers, comes a dry sense of humor that encompasses the whole film.  The way the parking lot is defined by the attendants’ funny rituals and sarcastic words reminds me of one of my favorite television shows, The Office.

But while The Office gets its hilarity from constant exaggeration, The Parking Lot, being a documentary, consists of cruel sincerity.  Throughout the film, we are shown the duties, habits, pastimes, and philosophies of the employees.  By the end, you will feel like you have actually met them, which is something hardly any Hollywood movies have achieved.

Its only significant flaw lies in the very beginning, and that is that it fails to intrigue the audience enough to watch the picture all the way through.  But none-the-less, there aren’t many slow bits once it picks up.  After all, it is only an hour and fifteen minutes and ends up being a funny, entertaining film that is well worth the time.

Rating: 4/5

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Film Review: The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928)

The power of Carl Theodor Dreyer’s riveting masterpiece doesn’t come from beautiful scenery or a sweeping score.  Instead, The Passion of Joan of Arc is nothing but the bare bones of a historical epic.  It is interesting to take note of the smooth, barren walls and ceilings in which the indoor scenes are filmed.  The costumes as well, though authentic, are equally boring to look at, establishing the film as the complete, polar opposite of the visual delight, Gone With the Wind.  Even without intricate wallpaper designs and fancy props, it is captured in innovative close-ups that show more detailed faces and expressions than one is ever likely to see again.

All of the elements in Dreyer’s film add up to exactly what he set out to make: a documentation of an essential event in the history of France.  Anything that should distract from its purpose (movie stars, special effects, extravagant sets, etc.) was not included.  Dreyer’s refusal to dress up his story not only makes The Passion stand out, it elevates it to the status of an all time great.  Anyone who knows anything about silent films should be familiar with the face of Maria Falconetti.  Her incredible performance as Joan of Arc, a Frenchwoman executed for claiming to be called by God to save France, is one of the most powerful ever put to film.  When considering how silent films had to resort to images alone to express emotion, the success of such a plain film as Joan of Arc may seem like a mystery… until one looks into the eyes of Maria Falconetti and finds all the reasons why.

Rating: 5/5