Welcome back to Heady Entertainment, MERRY JANE's weekly guide to just-released movies, books, and music — all fresh, dank, and THC-friendly. In specific, we choose our picks based on how they can enhance your combined consumption of cannabis and entertainment.
This week, the shock-fest Hereditary and the cool caper Ocean's 8 make for two majorly different, but similarly smoke-ready, big-screen movie releases; Netflix is dealing out dope nugs by way of the true crime doc The Staircase and the send-off for the sci-fi mind-blower Sense8; the new book Psychedelic Revolutionaries supplies head-feeding facts about the scientists who fought for LSD to elevate humanity; and Peso De Mafia lights up Baltimore — and way, way beyond — via high-energy hip-hop, while Witch Skull positively dooms all comers with smoldering stoner grooves.
So let's get straight — but not "straight" to this week's fresh-rolled recommendations.
Director: Ari Aster
Cast: Toni Collette, Gabriel Byrne, Alex Wolff
A scorching buzz has been coming off Hereditary since it flipped out audiences on the film fest circuit earlier this year. Toni Collette stars in this scare storm as a mom who hops on to the discovery-your-ancestry craze only to discover and unleash a demonic family history that taps deep into our deepest fears about the unknown dark parts of our own past. As a result, Hereditary is all kinds of heavy and heady, and just screaming to be paired with your favorite paranoia-inducing weed strain.
"Ocean's 8" (2018)
Director: Gary Ross
Cast: Sandra Bullock, Rihanna, Cate Blanchett
Flipping genders on the stylish heist flick franchise established by George Clooney and Brad Pitt's previous numerical hits, Ocean's 8 casts Sandra Bullock as Debbie Ocean, the sister of Clooney's character, and demonstrates how lush larceny runs in the family.
Teeming with an A-list lineup of female superstars — including Rihanna, who dazzlingly steals this movie about stealing jewels from New York's Met Gala — Ocean's 8 boasts glamour, grit, and grifting in a slick package that proves to be pure pleasure to revel in after rolling (and imbibing) a J full of top-shelf.
"Sense8": Series Finale (2018)
Creators: The Wachowskis, J. Michael Straczynski
Cast: Tuppance Middleton, Brian J. Smith, Bae Doona
Watch It: Netflix
Co-created by the makers of The Matrix, the mind-bending series Sense8 has flown a bit under the radar in our present age of blazingly-brilliant, made-for-TV (and marijuana) sci-fi on the high order of Black Mirror and Westworld.
Now, as the Netflix series about the cosmic connections between eight strangers is signing off, don't let Sense8 slip by without smoking up and easing back for its metaphysical mysteries to properly ignite your imagination.
"The Staircase" (2018)
Director: Jean-Xavier de Lestrade
Watch It: Netflix
If you toked your way through the instant classic crime documentaries Making a Murderer and The Jinx — and, if not, what are you stuffing that pipe with, Sherlock Homie? — prepare to bust out your favorite brain-activating strain anew for The Staircase.
French filmmaker Jean-Xavier de Lestrade has been chronicling this bizarre real-life mystery since it happened in 2001, originally making a documentary film also titled The Staircase (2004). This new Netflix series not only updates all the elements, it raises whole new questions about the stairwell death plunge of Kathleen Peterson.
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Some observers in the course of the investigation suspect Kathleen was pushed by her philandering, openly pansexual, military-record-faking novelist husband Michael Peterson, while other experts remain convinced she was done in by (inhale deep for this one)… an owl!
"Just Another Immigrant" (2018)
Creator: Romesh Ranganathan
Watch It: Showtime
Billed as a "docu-comedy," Just Another Immigrant chronicles top-notch UK stand-up Romesh Ranganathan as he suddenly uproots his family — wife, three kids, Sri Lankan mom, and cranky uncle — and moves them to the USA.
Because compounding international relocation with an insane challenge only makes everything funnier, Romesh books a show at the 6,000 Greek Theater in Los Angeles and has only three months to sell it out.
Romesh is a killer comic to smoke to under any circumstances, but watching him in Just Another Immigrant trying to keep up with all these moving parts is both pressure-filled and poignant, thereby providing all-new elements to each puff you'll take.
Director: Sheldon Letitch
Cast: Jean Claude Van Damme, Ashely Johnson, Brian Thompson
Get It: MVD
One of Jean-Claude Van Damme's best-loved big-screen hits, Lionheart, is also one of the most gratifyingly goofy — without skimping on the ass-beating martial arts mayhem.
Aside from a no-holds-barred, action-blasted saga about an underground mixed-martial-arts ring operating in Los Angeles, Lionheart also provides the best-ever explanation for why The Muscles From Brussels has that accent (he starts the movie out by quitting the French Foreign Legion and, at least in part, swimming to America!). As such, if any JCVD opus ever demanded to be enjoyed with THC, Lionheart roaringly smokes all other contenders.
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"Ninja III: The Domination": Collector's Edition (1984)
Director: Sam Firstenberg
Cast: Lucinda Dickey, Sho Kosugi, James Hong
Get It: Shout Factory
Don't worry about seeing the first two Ninja movies, because Ninja III: The Domination is in a lunatic league all its own. Lucinda Dickey, the pop-locking leading lady from the Breakin' movies, stars here as an aerobics instructor who gets possessed by the spirit of an evil ninja who may be in cahoots with corrupt yuppies — and, yes, it would be hard to imagine a more "extreme '80s" plot than that.
So do keep that bong packed and don't stop passing it around, because the movie only ups its insanity from there. The wicked warrior spirit then uses Lucinda's feminine allure and athletic skills to exact revenge on his enemies. Martial arts movie legend Sho Kosugi turns up to combat the bad-guy-in-spandex'ed-aerobicizer form — even when it takes that battle to a sunny, crowded golf course in broad daylight!
"Psychedelic Revolutionaries: LSD and The Birth of Hallucinogenic Research"
By P.W. Barber
Publisher: University of Regina Press
Get It: Quimby's Bookstore
Psychedelic Revolutionaries recounts cutting-edge, deep-dive research into Canada's history-making hallucinogenic drug trials during the 1950s and '60s — specifically focusing on groundbreaking work done with LSD and mescaline in relation to mental health.
Aside from introducing us to the genius team that made it happen, the hugely compelling book further connects their efforts to iconic figures such as visionary author Aldous Huxley (who, while tripping, coined the term "doors of perception") and Alcoholics Anonymous founder Bill W. (who himself examined if LSD could help treat addiction).
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Fascinatingly, the book also paints largely-revered '60s acid guru Dr. Timothy Leary as a nemesis, claiming that his public ballyhooing ignited societal fears and political grandstanding may have impeded scientific progress — as well as countless enlightening trips.
By Witch Skull
Get It: Rise Above Records
With their down-tuned stoner doom from Down Under, Aussie natives Witch Skull emit clouds of blues-stained psychedelic heaviness potent enough to flip the Earth's axis. Now they can do it for you, too, by way of their dopest disc to date, Coven's Will. Just add schwag!
"Never a Drought"
By Peso Da Mafia
Get It: iTunes
Baltimore's blazingest hip-hop trio follow-up their 2017 breakout single "Money Man" with the EP Never a Drought, a stunningly-energized, engagingly-danceable (and doob-inviting) rap spin on life among the chaotic streets of the Charm City. If there's weed near you now — and, if you're reading MERRY JANE, of course there is — crank up PDM's "Winning," spark up your stash, and smoke in time to what's already one of the year's stickiest tunes.
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