It’s exciting to see Shyamalan on such confident footing once more, all these years later.
In the alley, I see them at least once a week, the men with their grocery carts, collecting tin cans and other treasures. Some will accumulate a heap as tall as themselves. I learn from the documentary "Scrappers" that the same trade happens in Chicago on a larger scale, with men trolling the city for scrap metal and emptying their trucks at scrap metal yards. For this valuable work, they could make a living, until the economy collapsed.
An urban legend has grown up that such men steal copper gutters and the aluminum off the sides of garages. Such theft has been committed, but by desperate creatures of the night, not family men like Otis and Oscar, who are the backbone of the scrapper trade. "I paint my name and my phone number on the side of my truck," Otis says. "They know this truck down to 157th Street."
These are happy men. Otis is almost poetic about his joy in cruising alleys and vacant lots for salable metals. He's on his own, alone in the truck, chatting with his wife every half hour or so. Housewives know him and flag him down to carry out an old refrigerator. For one lady, he removes two old boilers from her basement, no charge, just for the resale value, and considers himself lucky.
They are strong. With dollies but no forklifts, they lever heavy loads into the backs of pickups with high plywood sides. Their trucks are weighed on the way into a scrap yard and on the way out -- they're paid for the difference. They work in all weathers, 14 hours a day, collect cash money at the end, come home to their wives and kids. The film reports there are thousands of scrappers in the Chicago area. I'm reminded of Agnes Varda's great "The Gleaners and I" (2000), about the French vocation of scavenging.