Zerograd 10/18/22

Deaf Crocodile Films / Vinegar Syndrome

A truly fascinating rarity from the U.S.S.R., Karen Shahknazarov’s wickedly droll satire proves that the country Reagan called an ‘Evil Empire’ was radically changing in the late 1980s. Half Kafka paranoia and partly a Valentine to American freedoms, it takes the psychological temperature of a society that just plain no longer functions. Leonid Filatov’s unflappable engineer arrives in a rural Russian town and might as well be a Soviet Alice dropped down a rabbit hole — things get crazier and crazier, and nobody wants to let him in on the cosmic joke. The weird tale’s strength is its impressive visual creativity, but it also generates an unexpected affection for its characters, nice people caught in a frustrating system. On Blu-ray from Deaf Crocodile.