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 multiplex is lit with a triple feature of made-for-marijuana new releases, each one appealing to a different strain (in every sense) of getting stoned — Gotti, Superfly, and Tag. In addition, CBS All Access launches Strange Angel, about the real-life, demon-invoking rocket science psychonaut Jack Parsons; pioneering Krautrock über-group Can gets its own autobiography; and new albums from Leon Vynehall and SOPHIE supply a full spectrum of intoxicating soundscapes. So let's get straight — but not "straight" to this week's fresh-rolled recommendations.
Director: Kevin Connolly
Cast: John Travolta, Kelly Preston, Stacy Keach
John Travolta stars as The Teflon Don in Gotti, a biopic directed by Kevin Connolly (aka "E" from Entourage — go figure). As the highest-profile mafia kingpin in New York during rap's rise throughout the 1980s, Gambino family boss John Gotti came off like an Italian Scarface straight outta Queens — the last of the real OGs. So spike your linguini with something stronger than oregano before heading out to the theater; it will help you take in this exercise in mobster mythmaking while you're appropriately loaded.
Director: Director X
Cast: Trevor Jackson, Lex Scott Davis, Rick Ross
Here comes Superfly, an action-slammed, hip-hop-adjusted remake of the 1972 blaxploitation classic about an urban drug mover who aims to make one big score before getting out of the game — as if it's ever that easy! Moving the action from Harlem to Atlanta, Trevor Jackson stars as Youngblood Priest, the pusher with an eye on what's next. In addition to rival gangs and dirty cops, this time Youngblood's got to contend with the Mexican cartels, as well. Overall, this modern spin does right by the original while delivering the dope goods audiences have to come to expect in 2018.
Director: Jeff Tomsic
Cast: Ed Helms, Jeremy Renner, Hannibal Buress
Tag delivers what the title promises. It's an off-the-wall slapstick comedy about a group of grown men who have kept a game of tag going for the past 26 years, no matter what it takes or where it takes them. The movie is based on IRL goofball dudes who actually did this and, lest any of us think that's too preposterous to be true, let's look back on the grand schemes we hatched with our own friends while getting high… Not so far-fetched after all, is it?
Creator: Mark Heyman
Cast: Jack Reynor, Bella Heathcote
Watch It: CBS All Access
Strange Angel, a boldly daring new series from CBS All Access, explores the trials and tribulations of an inventor, delving into areas nobody would expect from the network best known today for The Big Bang Theory — kinky sex, black magic, and rocket science.
Speaking of big bangs and theories, the show is based on the wild existence of Jack Parsons, a real-life aerospace engineer who innovated solid rocket fuel when he wasn't otherwise pursuing interdimensional transcendence by combining the sex magic rituals of occult guru Aleister Crowley with his own technological innovations. Like the man himself, Strange Angel is a trip.
"The Strangers: Prey at Night" (2018)
Director: Johannes Roberts
Cast: Christina Hendricks, Martin Henderson, Bailee Madison
Watch It: Amazon, iTunes, On Demand
The Strangers: Prey at Night serves up a stylish, slick, and sometimes sick follow-up to the freaky 2008 home-invasion horror favorite about a trio of masked murderers who pick random targets to trap and terrorize. This time, the cold-blooded, costume-adorned Dollface (Emma Bellomy), Pin-Up Girl (Lea Enslin), and Man in the Mask (Damian Maffei) unleash their homicidal terror on a trailer park. Naturally, Prey at Night's tone pairs well with some paranoia-inducing schwag, but it's funny, too — so be prepare to giggle out a couple of lungfuls between gasps.
"The Addiction" (1995)
Director: Abel Ferrara
Cast: Lili Taylor, Christopher Walken, Annabella Sciorra
Get It: MVD
Gritty NYC filmmaker Abel Ferrara (Bad Lieutenant, King of New York) takes on Lower East Side vampires with Lili Taylor and Christopher Walken. Shot in black-and-white and loaded with high philosophy, The Addiction is a slow-burn chiller set in dank, dark Manhattan just before its happy face makeover. Get stoned and let the neck-biters on screen feed your head.
Director: Raphael Nussbaum
Cast: Candice Rialson, Joan Blackman, Ed Bishop
Get It: Vinegar Syndrome
Pets is a bizarre, astonishing, sometimes literally-roaring grindhouse thriller that chronicles the sleazy and surrealistic journey of blonde runaway Bonnie (Candice Rialson) as she moves from one would-be carnal captor to another. In time, our heroine falls prey to a rich weirdo who keeps human female "pets" caged in a zoo inside his swanky mansion. Bonnie's liberation from that particular pitfall — not to mention seemingly every hang-up that society ever tried to pin on her — makes for prime, smoke-yourself-silly viewing as you ponder how vintage drive-in audiences must have perceived this insanity.
"All Gates Open: The Story of Can"
By Rob Young and Irmin Schmidt
Publisher: Faber & Faber
Get It: Quimby's Bookstore
Inside the evolution and subsequent revolution of Can, the German experimental music collective formed in the combustive drug culture of 1968 with their ears forwardly pointed at the future (days). Can redefined prog rock, krautrock, and spacey psychedelia with dance beats and avant-garde jazz that ultimately begat a multitude of new genres, including, most directly, ambient, post-punk, new wave, and electronica. Co-author Irmin Schmidt is a founding member of the group, and he spins a hypnotic saga of cutting-edge experimentation and ever-upward aesthetic and aural ecstasy.
"The Complete Future Shocks: Volume 1"
Edited by Alan Moore and Peter Milligan
Publisher: 2000 AD/Simon & Schuster
Get It: Quimby's Bookstore
"Tharg's Future Shocks" is the title of an ongoing comic series in the British sci-fi magazine 2000 AD (the very publication where Judge Dredd was born). Each edition is created by a new writer and artists, many of whom are — or went on to become — absolute legends of the comic book industry, including Alan Moore, Al Ewing, Kevin O'Neill, and Jon Davis-Hunt. The Complete Future Shocks gathers each adventure into a dizzying collection prime for readers to get lit and dive in to.
"Oil of Every Pearl's Un-Insides"
Get It: Transgressive Records
One again attempting to blast past the previously-knowable limits of all things sonic, UK producer SOPHIE's musical juggernaut stuns anew on the just-released LP, Oil of Every Pearl's Un-Insides. SOPHIE does to pop music what the right combination of marijuana and hallucinogens do to your brain — bending, twisting, remaking, and elevating everything you previously knew about culture and the world-at-large.
"Nothing Is Still"
By Leon Vynehall
Get It: Ninja Tune
It's officially mid-June, which means temperatures are soaring, which means, in turn, that "chilling out" takes on extra importance. With that in mind, crank the AC, pack your mellowest strain, spark up, and cool down with Nothing Is Still, the debut long-player from British DJ and producer Leon Vynehall. Conjuring an all-encompassing universe of sound and emotion that's at once entirely relaxed and engagingly-inspirational, Vynehall's deep-textured, atmospheric grooves are positively transformational. Ease back, exhale, and float away with him.
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