Netflix Minute is a weekly feature highlighting a title from Netflix's catalog of instant view films. If you want to spend a night snuggled up with a bag of popcorn and don't want to drive to the video store, this is for you.
Documentaries take the film medium in a direction that many other genres simply can't. By bottling up the world around us, it's up to the people behind the camera to figure out the narrative hidden beneath the surface. In other types of film, the script guides the lens from scene to scene. In documentaries, the world cradles the lens and challenges the filmmaker to make sense of it.
Many times, the chaos around us simply can't be bound by the order of a story. The slices of life possibly make the best documentaries, shifting the responsibility of interpretation from the director to the viewer. The Parking Lot Movie is one such movie, capturing the experiences of parking attendants who worked a Virginian lot at some point over the property's 20+ years of operation.
While that premise might seem mundane, the parking lot acts much like a microcosm of everyday society. From the very beginning, each of the interviewed past and present attendants made it very clear that while they might have gleaned something from their time serving, it was ultimately just a job. This reality makes it easy to connect with the sometimes eccentric men-at-booths, as we all have to deal with how badly we treat each other or how good things can rise from the ashes.
The director Megan Eckman explores all sides of the life, from what you might expect (people who can't read signs, the plague of huge SUVs, lack of understanding for the term "paid lot") to what you might not. While the former is what kept things light and entertaining along the way, the latter kept me thinking about the documentary long after the credits rolled. Many of the guys discuss how so much free time in a ragged old wood booth can lead to some truly deep self-reflection and others take that opportunity to express themselves in ways you probably couldn't make up if you tried.
When all is said and done, Eckman doesn't spell out some universal truth that we were all meant to glean from the stories of this seemingly mundane parking lot. Instead, I was left thinking about how much more considerate I could be to people or even just pondering how I might spend four hours where all that's in my future is collecting crumpled money. I can tell you this much - The Parking Lot Movie has a lot more to it than the name might suggest.