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.
While we’re waiting for Jordan Peele’s Us to scream into theaters next week, Five Feet Apart and Wonder Park can be turned into fine multiplex fodder with the addition of marijuana. On the small screen, the animated Netflix series Love, Death and Robots is a collection of radical cartoons aimed at hard-inflamed brains; the documentary I Am Richard Pryor is a searing portrait of a peerless comedic genius (and drug enthusiast); and Idris Alba goes for laughs on Turn Up Charlie.
Vintage freak-out flicks include the MST3K favorite The Deadly Mantis, and the more recent midnight movie outrage, The Greasy Strangler. In music, killer collaborations arrive from both Chief Keef and Zaytoven and Karen O and Danger Mouse.
Without bogarting any further, let’s get straight — but not “straight” — to this week’s fresh-rolled recommendations.
“Five Feet Apart” (2019)
Director: Justin Baldoni
Cast: Cole Sprouse, Haley Lu Richardson, Moises Arias
A good cry can also be a good high, so why not combine both? That opportunity is at hand in Five Feet Apart, where Tess from Ravenswood and Jughead from Riverdale and make the leap to the big screen with a weepy medical romance.
More specifically, Haley Lu Richardson and Cole Sprouse co-star here as teenage victims of cystic fibrosis, a disease so contagious to those it infects that fellow sufferers have to stand a minimum of six feet apart from one another.
Naturally, our young heroes who can’t hug fall in love and therefore aim to get just a little closer than their disease would otherwise dictate. Imbibe your most emotionally-intense strain on the way in and enjoy the cleansing sobs that follow.
Directors: David Feiss Robert Iscove, Clare Kilner
Voice Cast: Brianna Denski, Jennifer Garner, Ken Jeong
Every stoner worth his stash knows that CGI animated kids movies can be converted with just a few puffs into eye-popping entertainment for intoxicated adults.
Wonder Park presents a potent example as it chronicles the way-out happenings when a 10-year-old girl’s imaginary zoo/amusement park springs to life and she has to help its talking animal inhabitants — which include a blue bear, some crafty beavers, and Mila Kunis as a wild boar — battle “Chimpanzombies.” Pass the Gorilla Glue and we’re in.
“The Further Adventures of Walt’s Frozen Head” (2019)
Director: Benjamin Lancaster
Cast: Daniel Cooksley, Ron Schneider, Molly Carter
Watch It: YouTube
The opening title card of the incredibly nervy and simultaneously sweet semi-sci-fi speculative comedy The Further Adventures of Walt’s Frozen Head makes a clear statement: “The movie was made without the knowledge or permission of the Walt Disney Company or family. Significant portions of the film were shot guerrilla-style on Walt Disney World property."
As the title implies, Walt’s Frozen Head plays off the urban legend that family entertainment tycoon Walt Disney had himself cryogenically frozen in 1965 and that, just maybe, his body is on ice somewhere in the bowels of the Magic Kingdom.
Peter (Daniel Cooksley), a hapless Disney World employee, discovers this is true when he stumbles on the living, talking, decapitated noggin of Walt Disney (Ron Schneider). Naturally, he agrees to take the head out for an romp in the theme park.
Writer-director Benjamin Lancaster shot Walt’s Frozen Head in secret over the course of four years. Watch (and smoke along) in wonder.
“I Am Richard Pryor” (2019)
Watch It: Paramount Network
In the annals of stand-up comedy, no genius ever burned brighter than Richard Pryor. In the realms of celebrity drug consumption, no enthusiast ever flamed hotter than Pryor — as in, he famously lit himself ablaze while freebasing in 1980. Better still, as soon as he recovered, Pryor turned that infernal incident into one of his all-time classic comedy monologues.
That level of rage, danger, and going absolutely anywhere to create rich, resounding laughter is indicative of Pryor’s one-of-a-kind talent, and the new documentary I Am Richard Pryor expertly explores what drove the man and his bold, brazen comedy to such hysterical highs — in every sense of those terms.
“Love, Death & Robots”: Season One
Watch It: Netflix
For years, cutting-edge filmmaker David Fincher (Fight Club, Se7en) was attached to direct a reboot of the all-time feature-length animated masterwork among marijuana buffs, Heavy Metal (1981).
As that project never properly took flight, Fincher instead teamed with Deadpool director Tim Miller to fire up Love, Death, and Robots, an animated anthology series for Netflix that taps Heavy Metal’s renegade spirit, innovative visuals, and gushing geysers of adults-only fantasy. Then it morphs all that into carnal cartoon madness with a global, 21st century spin.
Animators from all over the planet came together to create the show’s 18 standalone shorts, each in an entirely distinct style that both fuse and blow up multiple genres — ranging from sci-fi to comedy to horror to the largely indescribable. Sex, violence, and brilliant eye candy abound throughout. The trips are already there on screen, so dose yourself with whatever works best to rocket along for the ride.
“Shrill”: Season One
Cast: Aidy Bryant
Watch It: Hulu
Lindy West is one of the most provocative writers and essayists in contemporary popular discourse. She writes frequently about her specific experiences as a plus-size woman and how the world treats her as a result — from phonies claiming they want her to lose weight for her “health” to Internet trolls who attack her with unimaginable vitriol.
In 2016, West memoir’s Shrill incorporated those experiences and became a best-seller. Now, on Hulu, there’s Shrill, the TV series adaptation of the book. SNL’s Aidy Bryant stars as “Annie,” a character loosely based on West.
She’s a culture writer who decides to stop listening to everyone insisting she make herself smaller (in every sense) and who just decides to pursue her dreams with no more concerns about her weight. The show is funny, it’s moving, and it’s fun to imagine sharing a joint with both Lindy and Aidy as you watch.
“Triple Frontier” (2019)
Director: J.C. Chandor
Cast: Ben Affleck, Oscar Isaac, Charlie Hunnam
Watch It: Netflix
Triple Frontier is an top-tier action flick boasting heavy-duty star power in the form of Ben Affleck, Oscar Isaac, Charlie Hunnam, Garrett Hedlund, and Pedro Pascal.
They each play former Special Forces operatives who get together years after they shared combat to execute a major heist in South America. All does not, of course, go according to plan. Director J.C. Chandor (All Is Lost, A Most Violent Year) imbues the on-screen adventure and interpersonal fireworks with high style. That’s how you should watch the movie too — in very high style.
“Turn Up Charlie”: Season One
Cast: Idris Elba
Watch It: Netflix
We all know and worship Idris Elba from his dark, bruising dramatic work on The Wire and Luther. Now, in Turn Up Charlie, the man who should be the next James Bond is somehow going for guffaws!
As Charlie, Idris plays a 1990s one-hit wonder DJ who gets stuck having to work as a “manny” for a monstrous brat named Gabby (Frankie Hervey), the child of his hugely successful actor friend David (JJ Feild) and David’s superstar American DJ wife Sara (Piper Perabo).
We may have gotten a taste of the lighter side of Idris when he hosted SNL recently, but on Turn Up Charlie, he aims to make mirth with the full-on ferocity he brings to his serious roles. The result is really something worth rolling up a fatty for.
“The Deadly Mantis” (1957)
Director: Nathan Juran
Cast: Craig Stevens, Alix Talton, William Hopper
Get It: Shout Factory
The Deadly Mantis delivers on what its title promises — a lethal praying mantis the size of a 747 that terrorizes any and all beings in its path. Humanity, in turn, has to try to squash the giant insect, and, from there, one of the most beloved super-schlocky 1950s monster movies ensues.
Stoners have been lighting up to The Deadly Mantis since it became a popular late-night TV rerun all the way back in the 1960s. The movie got a new life among the lit when Mystery Science Theater 3000 dedicated a 1997 episode to goofing on it as relentlessly as the mantis itself pecks at panicked citizenry on screen. Shout Factory’s new Blu-ray contains some killer bonus features, including that entire MST3K episode. So go pack the bong and bug out!
“The Greasy Strangler”: Special Director’s Edition (2016)
Director: Jim Hosking
Cast: Michael St. Michaels, Sky Elobar, Elizabeth De Razzo
Get It: MVD
The titular villain of The Greasy Strangler is a naked, oiled-up, freakishly well-endowed Los Angeles creep named Big Ronnie (Michael St. Michaels). He preys on victims at night while, by day, he runs “Big Ronnie’s Disco Walking Tours” along with his with his, uh, “unusual” son, Big Brayden (Sky Elobar).
All seems like secret homicidal bliss for the Big Boys until one of their tour customers, Janet (Elizabeth De Razzo), ignites a repulsive-romantic rivalry between father and son.
Sickly twisted, gloriously grotesque, and hilariously horrifying, The Greasy Strangler hit big as a midnight movie — like a John Waters flick shot inside the deranged brain of a modern rundown L.A. exhibitionist/masochist/spree killer. Yes — it’s that fucked-up. And, as such, it’s that great to get fucked up to!
By Chief Keef and Zaytoven
Get It: iTunes
At just 23-years-old, the Chicago force to be reckoned known as Chief Keef regularly rewrites both rap and reefer culture in his own image, turning every release into a glorious event to get high by. Again and again and again, despite his age. Teaming up with legendary Atlanta producer Zaytoven, then, for the new release GloToven, only compounds the excitement around where Keef is taking us to this time — and the next time.
By Karen O and Danger Mouse
Get It: Rough Trade
Danger Mouse is the producer. Karen O, most notably of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, is the frontwoman. Together, on Lux Prima, these veteran sonic sorcerers conjure a genuine disco inferno, filtered through 21st century production and sensibilities. One thing’s for sure, though, it’s best to be boogied to while blissfully lit.
Get It: Bandcamp
Drew Daniel and Martin Schmidt, who record as Baltimore brain-benders Matmos, are celebrating their 25th year as a duo with Plastic Anniversary, a rollicking slab of way-out sounds they say is sampled entirely from plastic objects. So take a pull from your various glass, metal, and/or wood smoking agents and get your mind-groove on to songs actually comprised by the sounds of “Bakelite dominos, Styrofoam coolers, polyethylene waste containers, PVC panpipes, pinpricks of bubble wrap, silicone gel breast implants, and synthetic human fat.”
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