Heady Entertainment: The Best Pop Culture to Spark Up the First Weekend of 2018

Heady Entertainment: The Best Pop Culture to Spark Up the First Weekend of 2018

Featuring the reissue of an '80s classic, some banging new music (and television) out of Chi-town, and Tom Cruise in his first likable role in years.

by Mike McPadden

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's highlights include Tom Cruise as a suave drug-runner, teenage psychos on Netflix, rapper Cupcakke's fresh dirty jams, and an '80s teen classic that serves as a testament to the bonding powers of pot. Without further bogarting, let's go straight — but not "straight" — to this week's fresh-rolled recommendations.

"Insidious: The Last Key" (2017)
Director: Adam Robitel
Cast: Lin Shaye, Angus Sampson, Josh Stewart

Attention all smokers who get off on pot-enhanced paranoia: the fourth installment of the Insidious supernatural horror series is a trippy redirection for the franchise, typified by swarming ice ghosts in New Mexico and a lead monster who has keys for fingers.

Phantom-catcher Elise Rainier (Lin Shaye) returns from Insidious 3, and this time dives ever deeper into the anything-terrifying-is-possible realm known only as "Further." It's a rich setting for combining schwag and scares, so dump some gummy edibles inside your popcorn bucket and grip those multiplex armrests tight.

STREAMING

"American Made" (2017)
Director: Doug Liman,
Cast: Tom Cruise, Sarah Wright, Domhnall Gleason
Watch It: Amazon, iTunes, On Demand

Director Doug Liman (Swingers, Go) has delivered two underrated Tom Cruise ass-kickers in a row now. The first was the lame-named but mind-bending sci-fi blowout Edge of Tomorrow (2014). Now comes American Made, a fact-based, action-comedy-crime biopic starring cruise Cruise as Barry Seal, a TWA pilot recruited in the '80s to fly secret missions for the CIA and the DEA to Central America — for reasons other than "law enforcement" purposes.

So if you're thinking that any story involving that particular time, those particular players, and that particular place is bound to involve drugs, guns, and money measured in tons, then you know what American Made is made of.

The movie also provides a spotlight for Cruise as we rarely get to see him anymore: cocky, funny, brash, fearless, and perfectly embodying someone you'd be dying to smoke with, all the while knowing that doing so could get you killed at any moment. Wildest of all: everything in American Made actually happened IRL.

"The End of the F**cking World" (2018)
Creator: Jonathan Entwistle
Cast: Jessica Barden, Alex Lawther, Steve Oram
Watch It: Netflix

As with Black Mirror and other high-impact British imports, Netflix has sparked up big buzz and even a fair bit of controversy with The End of the F**cking World.

The series, which is based on a graphic novel, chronicles Alex Lawther as James, a teenager who's convinced he's a psychopath and becomes determined to kill someone to prove it. Joining him in this endeavor is Jessica Barden as ornery high school outcast Alyssa. Together, the disturbed duo embarks on a cross-country road trip that generates all manner of unforeseen consequences.

Lest you think this all sounds too heavy to light up to, think again: The End of the F**cking World is a pitch-black comedy, the very sort of dark farce and sanguine satire that always hits harder when accompanied by flaming green.

TV

"The Chi" (2018)
Creator: Lena Waithe Cast: Jason Mitchell, Ntare Guma Mbaho, Mwine
Watch It: Showtime
Stream It: Amazon, Showtime

Showtime's ambitious new series The Chi presents a contemporary kid's-eye-view of Chicago's South Side, where people live right, get by, and do better every day amid the political skullduggery, police corruption, and gangland combat that many say only serve to dismiss and dehumanize the community. The Chi, now, is on hand to get the stories right.

As a Windy City native, Chi creator Lena Waithe knows the terrain and its citizens on a soul-deep level. She imbues the hard-edged, challenging show with the stunning wit, heart, and insight that won her an Emmy Award for writing on the Netflix series Master of None, where she co-stars with Aziz Ansari.

So fire one (or more) up for The Chi. This tough, funny show will expand your consciousness on its own, and a few hits of herb can only help enhance that.

CULT CLASSIC REISSUE

"The Breakfast Club" (1985)
Director: John Hughes
Cast: Molly Ringwald, Anthony Michael Hall, Judd Nelson
Buy It: Criterion Collection

Many devotees of the Criterion Collection squawked over the normally art-film-focused, societally highbrow company issuing a super-deluxe Blu-ray edition of The Breakfast Club.

To them we say: light up and lighten up! In fact, do what the detained teenagers do in John Hughes' definitive '80s coming-of-age favorite: spark a joint, pass it among whoever's nearby, and bond over the same lessons that, in the movie, forever cement The Brain (Anthony Michael Hall), The Athlete (Emilio Estevez), The Basket Case (Ally Sheedy), The Princess (Molly Ringwald) and The Criminal (Judd Nelson).

MUSIC

"Ephorize" by Cupcakke

After blowing away the Internet with viral classics on the order of "Deepthroat" and "Vagina," Chicago-based raunch-rap goddess Cupcakke announced last year that she'd release her third long-player as soon as she hit the milestone of "2,017 dicks sucked." Now it's 2018 and, indeed, Cupcakke's kicking it off by unloading Ephorize. On every conceivable count, that's a score.

Fifteen tracks showcase Cupcakke's inspired writing and intoxicating delivery, pumped up and blasted out with imagination and invention that expands above and beyond crotch-level obsessions. Still, don't worry, our girl still makes it clear that nobody's out-fucking her this year — or ever!

"Hard to Be King" by Michael Millions

Richmond, Virginia's powerhouse rapper Michael Millions spent most of last year working on Hard to Be King, his epic 19-track follow-up to the knockout 2016 musical tribute "Ali," and you can hear (and feel) his smart, hyper-focused ideas and meticulous execution in every rhyme, beat, and groove.

Hard to Be King also features slammin' features by Francoise Hamilton, Anakin, Nickelus F, Melodic, Brionya James, and Angie Doe. The record's production team is equally muscular: NameBrand, Nickelus F, JL Hodges, Mitchy Luv, EPTheOutkast, Melodic and Sycho Sid. All those efforts groove together here royally, and will amplify your reefer intake as much as a pack of Raws.

Follow Mike McPadden on Twitter


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Mike McPadden is the author of "Heavy Metal Movies" and the upcoming "Last American Virgins." He writes about movies, music, and crime in Chicago. Twitter @mcbeardo



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