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Showing 1-10 of 43 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 72 reviews
on October 14, 2014
I remember seeing this when it was first broadcast on PBS. It was just as enjoyable the second time around. Don't watch it when you have something real important to do. Rather, when nothing else is pressing, get something good to drink and settle down to get a good insight into some interesting characters living (at least when the film was shot) in the south - particularly the panhandle of Florida. When I saw this the first time I had just moved from Florida to Michigan, however I had not encountered the kind of people that one finds in a small town in the Florida panhandle. I particularly enjoyed the tales from the turkey hunter. You don't run into someone like that in Orlando. Through it all one has to be careful as to what one believes. I have a jar of white sand and it has not grown to fill the jar (I obtained the small sample after I had seen the show the first time). Since seeing this the first time I had the opportunity to travel to Florida from Texas and purposely took a detour to Vernon. Yes it is there and having seen the show a second time, it looks like it does in the show. The show is well done but if you watch it, just relax and enjoy it.
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"Vernon, Florida" is an extremely quirky stream-of-consciousness documentary by Errol Morris about a tiny Florida town that time forgot, and the people who live there. The film's narrative is told through interviews with several loveable and unusual people, who have often-amazing viewpoints. Most heavily featured is a turkey hunter, who has some odd thoughts, expressed in various degrees of eloquence, but whose conversational dialogue is eminently memorable for both his observations and his turns of phrase. I was also taken by the police officer who sat in a conspicuous spot to deter speeding, but who couldn't do anything about it as his radar gun had been sent out of town for calibration. I appreciated his work ethic of pursuing a noble cause, even when his hands were technologically tied behind his back.

Probably my favorite character was the gentleman who explained about gemstone examination and how he took a picture of the sky through a camera held next to a pair of opera glasses ("I don't know if it's the moon or not; it looks like some clouds.") He was genuinely mesmerizing to listen to and I would have loved to have seen all the interview footage he participated in. I also loved the old gentleman with the unusual pets. I laughed out loud when he explained he wasn't holding a turtle, but rather a gopher, and that he was hoping to sell his pet opossum at auction for between $1200 and $1500. Understand that I didn't think these men were laughable, I thought they were loveable characters, and supremely interesting. Likewise at the end, I enjoyed the couple explaining how they took a driving vacation to the White Sands Missile Range, and collected some sand in a jar. They were absolutely convinced the sand was growing, and would soon outgrow the jar it was kept in. ("It grows!")

I found the characters absolutely wonderful and was sympathetic to all of them. They reminded me of many of the vanishing small towns in America, and I found their tales disjointed and delightful. From the elderly pet owner to the preacher who earnestly prayed for a van (and got one), I would easily give the entire group of people interviewed five stars. I was sometimes uneasy that the final film may have been condescending to these people, and was encouraging entertainment through mocking these wonderful people with their strange habits, hobbies, pastimes, and beliefs. I think these people are wonderfully refreshing, and this is a documentary that's well worth seeing. It's certainly like no other.
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In the Florida panhandle, halfway between Tallahassee and Pensacola but nowhere near a four-lane road, lies the village (2000 pop. 743) of Vernon. Renowned documentarian Errol Morris brought his camera to this town -- I don't know how he did it but the people reveal depth and demons that you wouldn't think they would express even before close friends. The town cop hates giving tickets and hopes that he and his squad car "just over the bridge coming into town" will be enough deterrent to speeders. A local minister seems blissfully unaware that the word "therefore" to illustrate linkage in the King James Bible was chosen not by St. Paul but by a panel of early 17th-Century academics -- until he turns around and scores with a novel interpretation. A nice couple relates that their one major vacation has been to the White Sands proving ground in New Mexico, and other than snow-bound mountains it's hard to find a place in the continental USA more unlike Vernon, with its year-round warmth and humidity and pervasive fecundity. As a souvenir, the couple brought back a mayonnaise jar of (what else?) white sand with claimed unusual properties.

The most stunning and significant revelations come from the most far-out Vernonites, the old sage men who are so open they'll tell of any aspect of their lives, from dry heaves to the finer points of wild-turkey hunting. On a pristine lake in late afternoon one man claims he can hear the buzzards (turkey vultures) murmuring in the trees (or is he trying to put us on?). At sundown in a tea-stained bayou an even older man noiselessly paddles around drowned trees and ruminates on life, while the changing light and color put us viewers into nearly a transcendent state from the sheer beauty of it all. It's at those times the interviews stop sounding like auditions for "Hee-Haw" and more like a real-life "Spoon River Anthology." What could have been a city-slicker's satire becomes instead a meditation on grace and how it happens, the subtle charms and profundities of the American backwoods, not specifically Florida.

VERNON, FLORIDA is a short film, less than an hour, but it contains a lot. IMHO the DVD will warrant multiple viewings; I know I want to see mine over and over again.
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on May 12, 2014
You must understand this is the type of documentary I watch repetitively. I love quirky stories with subtle and outrageous humor. This is a cool story about some of the characters living in this small town. I should exercise caution showing it to my friends because they will either love it or not talk to me until I seek counseling. Makes me laugh, so who cares. I had recorded it years ago and when it became available, I had to get a professional production.

If you profess to be high brow or have snoot in your pants, put it down and walk away after announcing you have left the building so everyone (in your imagination) can be impressed.. If you don't care what anyone thinks because you didn't buy it as a gift, go for it. If you love Dancing Outlaw or the Christopher Guest/Eugene Levy movies, you'll be right at home.
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on February 16, 2013
Saw this film on IFC years ago and found it again recently. I'm not sure why this little gem ends so suddenly and unexpectedly without even a decent fade out. It just seems to end in the middle of one of the story/interviews and really doesn't go back to cap off any of the other stories or offer any kind of wrap up. It just STOPS! And that really hurts the flow of this otherwise wonderful documentary. The other star gets taken because you really have to turn your volume up to hear everything and its doubly frustrating because parts of the film really do rely on the sound being excellent quality, which is lacking. It also doesn't help because some of the dialect used is a little difficult to understand and the muddled sound confuses things said even more.
I don't agree with many of the other reviews relating to its making fun of people or being mean spirited. In fact, I think that this film should be in the National Film Preservation Registry for its capture of a culture and way of life that is rapidly fading, if not gone already, slice of American humanity.
If one choses to see these people as ignorant and uneducated, and thus funny, rather than seeing them as totally connected to their home and place in ways that no college or school could ever instill, then the point is missed here, I think.
Still, this is a great documentary that doesn't need a storyline or plot because it is what it is.
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on March 16, 2014
Ok, so I was FORCED to watch this as a child since my parents are from the Panhandle of Fl. They thought this was hilarious. As I watch it now as an adult, it is indeed hilarious! It wasn't intended to be funny, but you have to hand it to these older folk in the show.
One man believes that you have sections of your brain that controls how many things you can multi-task at he claims to have 5 bowls of brains which means he can do 5 things at once. ;) Another couple claim that sand can grow, cause every night the street sweepers sweep it off the road and by morning "it's dun grown back over the road"
Oh if you're from the South, you can SO appreciate this film. Turkey hunter is the best! ha ha Cracking up just thinking about it again. So worth the $ for a good laugh.
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on November 25, 2014
One of the great hidden documentaries of the South. It is unfortunate that the four laneing of the highway from the beach had removed most of the buildings in the documentary. Also, most of the participants have probably passed away by now so this is an amazing collection of the unique people that lived in the panhandle during the late 20th century. This is a time and place that will never come again. Well worth the time of viewing. I laughed my ass off and am still amused each time I view it!
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on November 3, 2014
Beautiful piece of Americana that captures backwoods Florida of a generation ago. Erroll Morris documentary that catches the eccentricities and misinformation of small town pundits. Many of the lines in this film have been incorporated to catch lines embedded in our family legends, e.g, "a fine piece of meat for the dining table." "Sand grows," according to one couple and they swear that a jar of sand has increased its volume several fold over the years. Helps understand belief systems that emanate from superstition; misinformation; and non-empirical fairy tales.
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on May 2, 2014
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on March 13, 2017
Thank you.
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