Archive for Tuesday, October 19, 2010

‘Independent Lens’ shows class struggles

October 19, 2010

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“Independent Lens” (9 p.m., PBS, check local listings) returns for a ninth season with the quirky, funny and sometimes sad little film “The Parking Lot Movie.”

Clearly inspired by Richard Linklater’s seminal 1991 comedy “Slacker,” “Lot” follows the employees of The Corner Parking Lot in Charlottesville, home to the University of Virginia. Just as “Slacker” captured the overcaffeinated theorizing of the overeducated denizens of Austin, Texas, this film makes stars of the grad students, fired professors and bookish drifters who park the cars and oversized SUVs for entitled college students and their condescending parents.

The first part of the movie explores the “philosophy” of the attendants, many of whom are otherwise engaged working on novels, dissertations or their other job in a band. The calmest of them convince themselves that toiling at a job most would consider menial has given them plenty of time to think about the Buddhist concept of spiritual detachment.

Most of the second half of “Lot” is a catalog of resentment toward the gigantic cars they have to park and the boorish behavior of their owners. Too many of their customers, they contend, drive and fuel a $50,000 Escalade (or daddy’s Escalade) and yet resent paying their parking fare. Class war erupts on a daily basis, with many of these would-be Buddhists battling back with gusto. This being a group of grad students, they come up with any number of opinions about such behavior and what it says about society.

Like “Slacker,” I’m sure “Parking Lot” will spawn many imitations. It has all the trappings of a big-budget “indie” comedy, or an instantly canceled Fox sitcom. But you’d have to add some women. There isn’t a female employee, or a girlfriend, in sight. Why? I have my theories.

• It would be fun to have the “Parking Lot” guys watch the season premiere of “Millionaire Matchmaker” (9 p.m., Bravo) and explain how much they hate it.

• Ex-pop stars try to put the bad life behind them on the nine-part series “K-Ci and JoJo … Come Clean” (8 p.m., TV One).

Tonight’s other highlights

• The San Francisco Giants host the Philadelphia Phillies in game 3 of the National League Championship Series (3 p.m., Fox).

• “Nova” (7 p.m., PBS, check local listings) enters its 38th season with a look at the medieval science behind the construction of great cathedrals.

• Teens with special powers find themselves in an enchanted academy in the new animated adventure “Tower Prep” (7 p.m., Cartoon Network).

• The New York Yankees host the Texas Rangers in game 4 of the American League Championship Series (7 p.m., TBS).

• “The 30 for 30” (7 p.m., ESPN) film “To the Limit” profiles Tim Richmond.

• A recruiting office comes under siege on “NCIS: Los Angeles” (8 p.m., CBS).

• An errand has unexpected consequences on “Raising Hope” (8 p.m., Fox).

• “Death by Fire” on “Frontline” (8 p.m., PBS, check local listings) visits Texas’s decision to execute a man despite ample evidence of his innocence.

• The cast of “Lost” reunite for the award show “Scream 2010” (7 p.m., Spike).

• Steve throws a bash with a green theme on “Running Wilde” (8:30 p.m., Fox).

• Sticky ethics put Alicia’s career in jeopardy on “The Good Wife” (9 p.m., CBS).

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