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.
In theaters, TV’s Gina Rodriguez reinvents herself as a multiplex marauder with Miss Bala. Netflix invites you to bong-and-binge the new Natasha Lyonne sitcom Russian Doll, as well as the savage art world fright-comedy, Velvet Buzzsaw.
Vintage flick thrills come from special editions of the gore-orgy Color Me Blood Red and the punk nugget Suburbia. New music made for marijuana includes drops from freak squad Le Butcherettes and electronic icons Ladytron.
So let’s get straight — but not “straight” — to this week’s fresh-rolled recommendations.
“Miss Bala” (2019)
Director: Catherine Hardwicke
Cast: Gina Rodriguez, Cruz Cordova, Cristina Rodlo
Gina Rodriguez leaps from her Jane the Virgin TV stardom to explosive big-screen badass in Miss Bala.
Hollywood makeup artist Gloria Meyer (Rodriguez) dips down to Tijuana help her friend Suzu (Cristina Rodlo) compete in a local beauty pageant. Just as the friends are chilling at a party, drug thugs invade, wreak havoc, and kidnap the potential beauty queen. From there, Gloria has to go full Liam Neeson to rescue her bestie. She runs across rooftops in high heels, fires high-powered weapons with remarkable accuracy, and all-around stomps scumbags nonstop.
So, yes, Miss Bala really does turn Jane the Virgin into Gina the Action Star. You don’t have to be high to believe it — but why not get high anyway just to make sure?
“Russian Doll”: Season One
Cast: Natasha Lyonne, Yul Vazquez, Elizabeth Ashley
Watch It: Netflix
Co-created by Amy Poehler and series star Natasha Lyonne, Russian Doll is a loopy, time-and-space-upending sitcom that plays like a lit version of Groundhog Day set among a circle of aging New York hipsters.
Pothead fave Natasha Lyonne (Orange Is the New Black) stars as Nadia, a woman who goes to her own 36th birthday party, dies there, and instantly wakes up again as she enters the same party. She’s caught on a loop through time, space, and her own life, eventually hoping to learn something new with each go-round. She does, most times at least, and it’s a riot in the process.
“Velvet Buzzsaw” (2019)
Director: Dan Gilroy
Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Rene Russo, John Malkovich
Final Destination meets snooty culture snobs in Velvet Buzzsaw, a “satirical thriller” written and directed by Dan Gilroy (Nightcrawler) that takes hard, hilarious, occasionally even horrific aim at L.A.’s contemporary art world.
Sending up the mercenary aspects of making mega-bucks off questionably worthwhile artwork, Velvet Buzzsaw follows pretentious critic Morf Vandewalt (Jake Gyllenhaal) and cash-grabbing gallery owner Rhodora (Rene Russo) as a series of works by a dead, unknown artist cause a sensation, first as sales pieces, and then because they seem to be killing anyone who buys them.
The laughs are strong, the scares are solid, and the food for thought regarding creativity and capitalism are dope in Velvet Buzzsaw. Roll yourself a masterpiece of a viewing enhancement device and enjoy it.
“Color Me Blood Red” (1965)
Director: Herschell Gordon Lewis
Cast: Gordon Oas-Heim, Candi Conder, Elyn Warner
Get It: MVD
Scrappy drive-in filmmaker Herschell Gordon Lewis earned his nickname “The Godfather of Gore” by essentially inventing the extreme-splatter horror genre with his cannibal gut-buster, Blood Feast (1963).
For Color Me Blood Red, Lewis flipped from edibles to artwork, concocting a preposterous saga of struggling painter Adam Sorg (Gordon Oas-Heim), whose creations earn raves and sell big once he adds human plasma to his palette. From there, Sorg must continually slaughter victims to keep pumping out his paintings, and The Godfather of Gore gloriously delivers the gross-out goods. Smoke up and fight hard to keep from tossing your munchies!
“Splatter University” (1984)
Director: Richard W. Haines
Cast: Forbes Riley, Ric Randig, Dick Biel
Get It: Vinegar Syndrome
Initially distributed by schlock-house Troma Films, the zero-budget slasher bash Splatter University came off as bizarre — even for fans of the studio that spawned Toxic Avenger.
Set in a mental hospital and two separate college campuses populated by amazingly amateurish anti-actors, Splatter University is inept, it’s incomprehensible, it’s completely off-the-wall, and, as such, it’s also a must-smoke-to masterwork of “what were they thinking?” madness.
Director: Penelope Spheeris
Cast: Chris Pedersen, Flea, Jennifer Clay
Get It: Shout Factory
An all-time classic of angry youth cinema and punk-rock iconography, Suburbia chronicles the smash-ups and beat-downs both received and bestowed by a pack of teenage outcasts in Los Angeles who live collectively at a squat and deem themselves “The Rejected,” or, for short, “The TR’s.”
Writer-director Penelope Spheeris made Suburbia in between her rockumentary masterworks The Decline of Western Civilization (1982) and The Decline of Western Civilization II: The Metal Years (1988): two of history’s all-time greatest nonfiction films to get high to. Spheeris’ authentic connection to LA street kids rings entirely true in Suburbia, and it fuses dynamically with the punksploitation edge insisted on by its producer, B-flick kingpin Roger Corman.
Plus, now that Suburbia is on Blu-ray, you can even mosh along at home to live performances by T.S.O.L., The Vandals, and DI in high-definition.
By Le Butcherettes
Get It: Le Butcherettes Official Site
Fronted by thunder-throated human hallucination Terri Gender Bender, Mexico’s premiere acid-core garage-psych skull-smashers Le Butcherettes unleash their fourth long-player with noise, fury, and fever-scorched imagination anew. Tapping historical punk-rock titans, Bi/Mentals impact is bolstered by production from Talking Heads’ keyboardist Jerry Harrison, and vocal drop-ins from the Dead Kennedys’ Jello Biafra and the legendary Alice Bag.
Get It: Pledge Music
The first new music from electro-pop mega-titans Ladytron in seven long years is such a sizzling, pulsating, explosive embodiment of the fearsome foursome’s sound, aesthetics, and overall concept that it could only be titled exactly what it is: Ladytron. As indicated by the album’s first two knockout singles — “The Animals” and “The Island” — Ladytron is back to once again lay siege to dance floors, dope dens, and chemically-enhanced minds alike through their heightened electronic conquest. Just let the music take over.
By Big Wild
Get It: Big Wild official site
With Superdream, A-list DJ, composer, engineer, producer, and overall electronic music sorcerer supreme Jackson Stell — best known as Big Wild — drops a hugely hypnotic debut solo LP. Traveling through 12 tracks of cinematic synths, whirling atmosphere, and consciousness-cracking highs, Superdream is just as its title states.
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