An absolutely fascinating look at plasmodial slime mold and a few of the people who love it, The Creeping Garden just might be my favorite documentary of 2017. Granted, it’s probably only the third of fourth one I’ve seen this year thanks to too much going medical drama going on and less time to watch stuff. But every second of this film is fascinating and well worth a watch.
Of course, if you hate stuff like strange plant life that can move around (slowly), nature flicks, amateur mycologists poking around dead trees (ewwww, bugs!) and artists making projects based on the care and feeding of slime mold, you might find the film a bit on the weird side. But it’s a compelling sort of weirdness when you discover a world you know nothing about and see through the eyes of others how this particular slice of life affects them. This is one of those Blu-Ray/DVD sets where you might find yourself passing off the DVD version to a friend just to share what’s here. Great films have a tendency to spread (kind of like slime mold, I guess?).
Co-directed by Tim Grabham and Jasper Sharp with a great, eerie score from Jim O’Rourke, the film covers a few bases from the scientific to the artistic. While the idea of staring at languid time-lapse shots of odd plant life seems dull, there’s absolutely not a slow moment to be found here. Even better, the film clocks in at a brisk 84 minutes and manages to make you want to see more. From the novice mycologist poking at not quite dead logs to the artist who manages to “train” her mold and later, concoct a great public experiment that turns normal people into human slime molds that have to work together to solve a few puzzles (yes, there’s booze and free t-shirts involved), this is a film that will leave a smile on your face some point.
Hell, you may even want to go outside and poke around to look for your own slime molds. But it’s not exactly a hobby you’ll pick up if you’re at all skittish about getting your hands dirty or stuff gummed up under your fingernails. Arrow Academy (Arrow’s recent art house spin-off) has also packed the disc with features as well as added a bonus music CD you’ll want to slap on a pair of headphones and weird out to (if that’s your thing):
High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentations
Original 2.0 audio (uncompressed on the Blu-ray)
Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing
Audio commentary by directors Tim Grabham and Jasper Sharp
Biocomputer Music, a short film by Grabham on the first biocomputer music system, allowing a two-way musical dialogue between man and slime mold
Return to the Fungarium, a featurette revealing further treasures of the fungarium at Kew Gardens
Feeding Habits of Physarum, a featurette on the feeding preferences and dislikes of slime molds
Three cinema iloobia short films: Milk (2009), Rotten (2012) and Paramusical Ensemble (2015)
Angela Mele’s animated slime molds
US theatrical trailer
Reversible sleeve featuring two pieces of original artwork
THE CREEPING GARDEN SOUNDTRACK [Limited Edition Exclusive]
Bonus CD containing the rearranged soundtrack to The Creeping Garden by legendary producer and musician Jim O’Rourke
FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Illustrated collector’s booklet containing writing on the film by Jasper Sharp
So yeah. Get this film and go outside afterwards to stick your nose into a hollow log or under a bush. Just let the neighbors know what you’re up to or else. In America, stuff like poking your head through the bushes looking for creepy stuff might not be taken too kindly under certain circumstances.
Score: A (95%)
Review copy provided by the publisher