Garden Of Scorpions

The first feature (1991) of Russian critic and filmmaker Oleg Kovalov, who specializes in eccentric found-footage films, this is a wild compilation feature spanning at least half a century and suggesting at times a Soviet equivalent to The Atomic Cafe and That’s Entertainment! Playfully experimental and irreverent in sound and image, the film gets some of its eeriest effects from excerpts of a mid-50s melodrama of cold-war paranoia called The Case of Corporal Kotschetkov, in which the young hero’s beloved and her grandmother turn out to be capitalist spies. There are plenty of times when one might emerge from this skillful postmodernist frenzy wishing one knew more about the original clips, but there’s no doubt that what Kovalov has brought together is fascinating. (JR)

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