The Garden

GARDEN_IMG3Just arrived: a new documentary from Oscilloscope, The Garden, about the headline-making fight between a group of South Central Los Angeles community gardeners and some back-room-dealing city hall officials who tried to take the gardeners’ land away. The garden was originally given over to the community as a sort of concession following the Rodney King Riots, and over the next ten years grew into a thriving community-run garden — fourteen acres in all — serving a primarily Latino-American population.  The story would have been interesting enough just viewed through prism of the locavore movement gaining popularity through the country right now; but unexpectedly (for me, at least) this is a particularly gripping true-life tale, with a half-dozen unexpected plot twists and a number of nefarious, quietly corrupt political figures who play the role of heartless, self-serving bamboozlers to a T. Honestly, the straight-up evil nature of some of these guys is like something out of a cautionary, near-future science fiction book, and is a sobering reminder of the havoc that corrupt, conniving local figureheads can still wreak, even in the age of information. It all makes for exciting cinema, as tension boils over in the movie’s final act in a scene that eerily echoes the King riots played out at the beginning of the film.

And on a side note: What is the deal with Oscilloscope? Where did they come from? Why are they so awesome? Near as I can tell, Oscilloscope Laboratories was created by the Beastie Boys, but I have no idea what (if any) their involvement in the film side of things may be. Either way, this little production company has spun out a starling number of quality stuff in a very short period of time, many of them small, intrepid documentaries in the vein of The Garden. Among them: Flow, Scott Walker: 30 Century Man, Unmistaken Child, and No Impact Man (which just recently completed its theatrical run at the Cable Car). They also gave a home to Wendy And Lucy, which I’ve written up previously on this blog. And their cache of upcoming films looks just as promising as everything we’ve seen so far. So who are these guys? Where are they getting the cash to put this stuff out? And where and how are they finding these films?

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