It’s exciting to see Shyamalan on such confident footing once more, all these years later.
The strange and utterly fascinating talent of Errol Morris, director of "Gates of Heaven," the haunting documentary about pet cemeteries, will be featured on the first two programs of the new Facets/Columbia Cinematheque, a joint venture of Columbia College and Facets Multimedia, an alternative film showcase. The inaugural program is the new Morris documentary "Vernon, Florida," produced for PBS. Like "Gates of Heaven," it is a seemingly deadpan but actually very involved record of a group of people and their obsessions.
Morris went to Vernon, Fla., in the first place to develop ideas for a documentary about American retirement communities. He never made that film Instead, he turned his camera on such Vernon residents as a philosophical old man, a band of fanatic wild turkey hunters, and the local cop.
His approach is diabolically simple. He places them in their environment and listens to them. They talk of their dreams, superstitions, fantasies and lifetimes. In the measured words of the old man, speculating on what a turtle must be thinking about, we hear a condensed philosophy of life.
The movie is often very funny. The local policeman, in particular, seems to have studied for his job by watching cop shows on TV, and he uses such a bewildering array of law-enforcement jargon it is sometimes impossible to be sure whether he's kidding you or arresting you. His squad car is outfitted with a dazzling array of late-model police equipment, including a two-way radio. But since he's the only cop in, town, there's nobody on the other end of the radio except his wife.