Welcome back to Heady Entertainment, MERRY JANE's weekly guide to just-released movies, books, TV shows, 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: J-Law goes Russian and rogue in Red Sparrow; Jessica Jones wins while wasted; OG Jean-Claude Van Damme takes on kung-fu flick legend Sho Kosugi; and, above all, Donald Glover drops the new season of Atlanta and knocks us all for a loop. So let's go straight — but not "straight" — to this week's fresh-rolled and smoldering recommendations.
"Red Sparrow" (2018)
Director: Francis Lawrence
Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Joel Edgerton, Jeremy Irons
Following up Mother! (2017) — an apocalyptic head-trip for the elevated ages — Jennifer Lawrence lands in Red Sparrow as a Russian super-spy sent to find a CIA agent who may be a mole. While it may not be the most original premise, J-Law rocks the entire planet here. This is high-octane fun that will require little of your cortex — perfect for those who like to spike their candy box with some heavy-duty edibles.
"Jessica Jones": Season 2 (2018)
Creator: Melissa Rosenberg
Cast: Krysten Ritter, Mike Colter, Rachael Taylor
Watch It: Netflix
Krysten Ritter returns in Jessica Jones as Marvel's hopped-up, hard-boozing, hookup-loving super-powered private eye for another dose of taboo-busting bad-assery of the highest order. No other comic book hero exists who'd be more fun to toke up with — or who'd more happily accept the invitation.
Jessica kicks off season two with her head throbbing and her fists aching for some proper faces to punch. She's broken up with Luke Cage (Mike Colter) — who moved on to his own milestone Netflix series — and finds herself accused of being a psycho vigilante.
From there, our girl attempts to figure out exactly how she came by her abilities while contending with normal urban headaches such as a landlord who's openly prejudiced against "super-powered people."
"Atlanta: Robbin' Season" (2018)
Creator: Donald Glover
Cast: Donald Glover, Brian Tyree Henry, Zazie Beetz
Watch It: FX
Auteur and future EGOT'er Donald Glover is one of the most ebullient and mind-expanding talents in showbusiness right now. After a long delay, his critically and commercially-hailed FX show Atlanta is back for season two — subtitled "Robbin' Season."
Once again, we drop deep into the funny, frightening, awesome, absurd and, above all, realer-than-real lives of Princeton dropout turned hip-hop manager Earn (Donald Glover), his cousin and up-and-coming rapper Paper Boi (Brian Tyree Henry), and their conspiracy-friendly buddy Darius (Lakeith Stanfield). But to say Atlanta is simply about hustling in the music game is about as tone-deaf as noting that The Sopranos is about the Italian mob.
The new season starts with an episode titled "Alligator Man," featuring Katt Williams as the eponymous reptilian proprietor — yes, you read that right. We won't spoil it for you, but let's just say the gator's scales aren't the only green on screen. Instead, we recommend that you read this new New Yorker profile of Glover to get excited. Just peep this quote and try to resist:
Glover said, "You know what I always wanted to do for an episode?" Just then, that week's director, Amy Seimetz, called, "O.K., action!" The actors ran the scene again. On "Cut!," Glover continued his thought: "Yeah, so it's the exact same thing, only with a bunch of white people who kind of look like us. And in the middle of the episode you realize it's called 'Boston.' "
"Girl Gangs, Biker Boys, and Real Cool Cats: Pulp Fiction and Youth Culture, 1950 to 1980"
Edited by Ian Mcintyre and Andrew Nette
Publisher: PM Press
Buy It: Quimby's Bookstore
Sizable enough to use as a rolling surface, the hefty new book Girl Gangs, Biker Boys, and Real Cool Cats: Pulp Fiction and Youth Culture offers insight into the rise of the teenage hellraisers and their various subcultures through the years by way of cheap, tawdry paperbacks.
Loaded with dope essays (many actually about dope!) and illustrated with eye-bulging vintage book covers, this is your one-stop guide to greasers, bikers, beatniks, hippies, punks, and, of course, stoners. Naturally, our favorite is the fun, funky analysis of the 1951 backroom bestseller, Marijuana Girl.
"Black Eagle" (1988)
Director: Eric Karson
Cast: Jean-Claude Van Damme, Sho Kosugi, Doran Clark
Get It: MVD
Just before breaking out with Kickboxer (1988), Jean-Claude Van Damme battled ninja movie hero supreme Sho Kosugi in this nutzoid Cold War thriller. Restored and rolled out by MVD's VHS-inspired "Rewind Collection," Black Eagle is chock-full of bad acting, great fighting, and insane plot points — you're guaranteed to soar along to this gem, especially with some help from our favorite herbal supplement.
"Eaten Alive!" (1980)
Director: Umberto Lenzi
Cast: Robert Kerman, Janet Egran, Me Me Lai
Get It: Severin Films
Many extreme horror fans have attempted to keep their munchies down during bong-passing viewing parties of Italian splatter horror classics on the order of Cannibal Holocaust (1980) and Make Them Die Slowly (1984).
Now Severin Films is unleashing Eaten Alive!, one of the original European gut-bucket gore-fests, on Blu-ray. As usual, big city interlopers venture deep into a remote jungle, where natives make a meal of the invaders.
Eaten Alive!, however, combines standard human meat tropes with suicide cult madness. For an insane viewing experience, we recommend smoking stuff that looks like all the lush green fauna on screen.
"Anatomical Venus" by Black Moth
Get It: Spinefarm Records
UK toner titans Black Moth spread their psychedelic wings further and more furiously than ever on Anatomical Venus, their third long-player. While rooted like most marijuana metal in Sabbath black bleakness and Stooges' scuzz fuzz, Black Moth inhales and roars forth a hot stash of atypical influences on AE — from the art shrieks of PJ Harvey to the prog-burn of Atomic Bitchwax, as well as the cannabinoid noise contemporaries like Jex Thoth and Royal Thunder.
"Esoteric Malacology" by Slugdge
Get It: Bandcamp
The planet's foremost (only?) "mollusk metal" duo, Slugdge — try pronouncing that name 10 times fast when you're stoned — slops together prog-rock, death metal, and pure sonic slime into a dank, damp magic mushroom harvest of musty, misty, marijuana-spawned musical mayhem. Esotetic Malocalogy, their latest, sounds like bong-water smells — and do consider that high praise!
"Memories Don't Die" by Tory Lanez
Get It: iTunes
Memories Don't Die, Tory Lanez's second album, defies all notions of the sophomore slump with complex grooves, ear-spearing production, rhymes that are at once heavy and heartfelt, and a roster of guests befitting one of contemporary hip-hop/R&B's most visionary genre-busters.
The eerie impact of "Pieces," Tory's collaboration with 50 Cent, is an instant standout (and could be daunting should you indulge along with a paranoia-producing strain). The rest of the record, however, is no less engaging and intoxicating, and not just because it features the likes of Future, Nav, Fabolous, and Wiz Khalifa (although they're all there).
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