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. Plus, with the holidays in the air (among other aromas), Heady Entertainment can serve as a little ganja-pumped gift guide. So let's go straight — but not "straight" — to this week's fresh-rolled recommendations.
The Disaster Artist (2017)
Director: James Franco
Cast: James Franco, Dave Franco, Seth Rogen
The Room (2003) is anti-masterpiece of gloriously horrendous filmmaking and utter insanity that truly must be seen to be not believed. In the course of packing midnight showings and winning devotees worldwide, The Room has also made a freak icon of Tommy Wiseau, its longhaired, vampiric, impenetrably-accented creator and star.
Of course, the movie is also a video rite of passage among smokers who, when entering The Room for the first time, inevitably wonder, "Okay, what exactly was in this weed?"
With The Disaster Artist, multi-hyphenate James Franco (teaming with his champion partner in stoner cinema, Seth Rogen) adapts the 2013 book of the same name about the making of The Room, co-authored by Greg Sestero, who was Wiseau's frequently overwhelmed roommate and co-star when it all went down.
In the role of Wiseau, Franco erupts off the screen and plunges us, hilariously, into the bizarre sideways genius of a genuinely one-of-a-kind "talent." His brother, Dave Franco, who plays Sestero as a wide-eyed innocent, provides a perfect foil for the larger madness surrounding him. The Disaster Artist may not pack the same wallop as The Room, but what movie — or, really, what anything — ever actually could?
The Shape of Water (2017)
Director: Guillermo del Toro
Cast: Sally Hawkins, Octavia Spencer, Michael Shannon
Leading cinema fantasist Guillermo del Toro (Pan's Labyrinth, Pacific Rim, Hellboy) reimagines Creature From the Black Lagoon as a 1960s-set romantic fable. Love blooms between Elissa, a janitor at a scientific research facility who cannot speak, and Asset (Doug Jones), an amphibious humanoid captured from the waters of South America and kept in a tank for ruthless experiments.
Amidst beautifully trippy visuals and heartfelt drama, del Toro and the actors weave quite the spell en route to an ultimate tale of triumph. As the head heartless scientist, Michael Shannon (the religious fanatic fed in Boardwalk Empire and General Zod in Man of Steel) cranks up his stone-faced fascist persona here to a terrifying high. He's like Stacy Keach as Sgt. Stedenko in the Cheech and Chong movies, only deadly serious. Adjust the paranoia-inducing levels of your pre-screening light-up accordingly.
Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (2017)
Director: Luc Besson
Cast: Dane DeHaan, Cara Delevingne, Rihanna
Watch It: Amazon, iTunes, On Demand
In 1997, audacious visionary Luc Besson blew a lot of minds (and prompted a lot of smoke to be blown) with The Fifth Element, his still stunning sci-fi favorite.
Twenty years later, Besson returns to similar brain-bending concepts and magnificently overwhelming optical onslaughts by way of Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, a 28th-century-set adaptation of a sumptuous graphic novel series.
Dane DeHaan and Cara Delevingne co-star as a young adventurers who trip through time, space, and dimensions both real and imagined. Keep this one around: the special effects alone require multiple revisits while you're freshly lit.
Easy: Season 2 (2017)
Director: Joe Swanberg
Cast: Aubrey Plaza, Kate Micucci, Hannibal Burress
Watch It: Netflix
Slice-of-life specialist Joe Swanberg returns with another funny/serious season of Easy, his anthology of interconnected stories set among Chicago hipsters as they teeter over into actual adulthood.
Using largely improvised dialogue and an ace cast of actors who specialize in laid-back cool, the series makes us feel like we're eavesdropping or even just hanging out with them. Prepare to attempt to hand your bong to the likes of Marc Maron, Judy Greer, and Aya Cash.
So watch for weed, romance, remixes, rock clubs, microbrews, and whole lot of entertainingly uncomfortable opportunities to grow (or not). Easy goes down just like the title says.
Cult Classic Reissues
Liquid Sky (1982)
Director: Slava Tsukerman
Cast: Anne Carlisle, Paula E. Sheppard, Bob Brady
Buy It: Vinegar Syndrome
As one of the 1980s archetypal midnight movies and one of the all-time most brain-boiling masterworks of drug cinema, the fact that Liquid Sky was "lost" for the past two decades is tragic. Alas, the cinematic archaeologists at Vinegar Syndrome have come to the rescue and put out an extras-loaded Blu-ray of this narcotic/new-wave classic.
Intergalactic aliens in a tiny flying saucer land on the Empire State Building and set their sights on perma-wasted fashion models Margaret and Jimmy (both played by Anne Carlisle). As definitive downtown decadents, Margaret and Jimmy smoke, snort, and screw their way through the early-'80s Manhattan club scene with all-out abandon.
The space-pervs, it turns out, get high off a brain chemical produced by Margaret's sex partners at the moment they orgasm — after which the fuckers immediately die and disintegrate. Yes, we see it all.
Director Slava Tsukerman brings epic scope, brilliantly inventive visuals, and unique rhythms to this wild scenario. Although utterly of its time-and-place, the neon-scorched psychedelic ecstasy of Liquid Sky is eternal.
Bat Pussy (1973)
Special Features: Commentary, trailers, bonus feature
Bat Pussy (1970) is not just the first "adult film parody" of note, it's also one of the amazingly deranged films ever made — adult, parody, or otherwise.
Almost all the action centers on Buddy and Sam, a naked married couple in a chintzy bedroom who each look like parking lot rejects from the world's scariest truck stop. With hard looks and even harder redneck accents, Buddy and Sam alternately curse one another and copulate, with the emphasis on the former.
Intercut with this, on occasion, is the title character, another cracked Southern belle who dons a fake Batgirl costume and awkwardly bounces through a park on a "hoppity hop" toy. Eventually, all three of these heroes (ahem) come together.
It's tough to imagine anyone getting "turned on" by Bat Pussy — but, at the same time, this no-budget, too-pooped-to-pop-art freak-out is an absolute natural for "turning on" with copious cannabinoid enhancements.
Dark Side of the Spoon
by Joe Innis, Ralph Miller, Peter Stadden
Buy It: Amazon
As the follow-up to Rapper's Delight: The Hip Hop Cookbook (2015), Dark Side of the Spoon applies the same sonic-and-culinary sensibility to interpreting various dishes through the names and aesthetics of rock-and-roll icons.
From appetizers on the order of Fleetwood Mac and Cheese and Rolling Scones, to entrees like Mötley Stüe and ZZ Chops, and on to desserts such as Iron Raisin and Smashing Pumpkin Pie, Dark Side of the Spoon is fun and filling. Enhance each recipe with cannabis as needed (and, of course, it's always needed!).
"The Dedication" — Chief Keef
The brazenly original, occasionally reckless, unmistakably weed-fueled Chicago rapper Chief Keef returns on The Dedication with most of his go-to crew on board (Tadoe, Ballout, Fredo Santana). This time, though, Keef's beats, rhymes, and crazily creative song structures get further boosted by heavy-hitter guests on the high (in every sense) order of Lil Yachty and A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie.
Even the cover image is a trip: it's a "word search" grid loaded with letter combos that designer Colourful Mula said, "could always be a hint at future song titles." So throw on The Dedication, spark up, and dive into the sounds as you search for those clues!
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