By Austin Dale, Steve Greene, Eric Kohn and Nigel M. Smith | Indiewire April 20, 2012 at 1:24PM
While not exactly an official holiday, 4/20 has long been a pleasurable calendar marking for many folks. And often something that goes hand in hand with a few hours of movie watching. So Indiewire has decided to offer a few suggestions. But instead of a typical list filled with the expected likes of Cheech, Chong, Harold or Kumar, Indiewire is taking a slightly less conventional approach.
Here's 10 films we dare you to enjoy with your 4/20 celebration:
That Robert Altman's masterpiece seems to show up on every other online movie list is a testament to its immortality, versatility, and singularity. Inspired by a dream and half-improvised, "3 Women" is actually a portrait of two. Pinky, a scrawny and immature girl from Texas moves in with Millie, her annoying, conceited and lonely co-worker at an unusual spa for the elderly. Then, their personalities start to switch. Or maybe they don't. It's up to you. Either way, Shelley Duvall's Cannes-winning performance as Millie is unforgettable. Equal parts "Single White Female," "Persona" and "Ritual in Transfigured Time," it's endlessly quotable and designed to get lost in over and over in whatever state of intoxication strikes your fancy. [Austin Dale]
I have only ever watched Joseph Losey's "Boom!" stoned out of my mind. In its day it was either hated or ignored, and it amounted to one of the loudest flops of the late studio era, and its reputation has never been rehabilitated. It's easy to say why. I couldn't for the life of me tell you much about the plot. What I do remember, however, is writhing in my seat, exhilarated by the delirious barbs exchanged by Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, the intoxicating Mediterranean cinematography, and the overwhelming surreality of Tennessee Williams' world. The costumes are a thesis of camp references, and Taylor, plump and drunk, exudes a twisted elegance. By the time Noel Coward shows up as the Angel of Death - yes, for real - your confusion no longer matters and you just give yourself up to the movie's singular mania. [Austin Dale]
"The Boy Friend"
To call Ken Russell's "The Boy Friend" spectacular would be putting it lightly. It takes Sandy Wilson's of-its-time Broadway fluff and elevates it to a heavenly plane of pleasure uninterrupted for the movie's epic duration. Russell lets his imagination run wild, expanding the straightforward romance into a movie-musical-within-a-stage-show-within-a-backstage-comedy. There are about two hundred plots, four hundred characters, and a thousand musical numbers, each more inventive and invigorating than the last. On second thought, you don't even need to be stoned to be blown away, but it takes your experience off the screen and into cosmos with Ken Russell's frontal lobe. And for the record, Twiggy's debut screen performance is as powerful as anything Judy Garland ever achieved. Imbibe accordingly. [Austin Dale]
If you can handle it, Gaspar Noe's trippy shocker "Irreversible" will take you on a trip to hell and back. Told in reverse chronological order (like "Memento"), Noe kicks off "Irreversible" by trying his damnedest to give you a headache of the highest order, then settles things down to tell a heartbreaking (and extremely graphic) tale of love and revenge, starring real-life couple Monica Bellucci and Vincent Cassel. The camera work on display is some of the most dizzying and inventive to come along, pre-"The Tree of Life," but be warned; the controversy surrounding the film is warranted. This won't be an enjoyable trip, but it will no doubt be a memorable one. [Nigel M. Smith]
"Leave Her To Heaven"
Marijuana fragments my sense of time. Thus, watching movies stoned is especially exciting for me when the film shirks formula and gets weird. "Leave Her To Heaven"? Oh boy, does it ever get weird. It's a 1945 Hollywood blockbuster that history has misplaced under "melodrama" when it is truly genreless. It certainly could never be made to day. It's a film noir, a perverse romance, a horror movie, a psychological thriller, and a character study. Its early Technicolor is anything but primitive; everything from the sunset to Gene Tierney's lipstick is visually calibrated for ultimate audience seduction. The story is about Ellen, a crazy, crazy lady who will stop at nothing to get five minutes alone with her husband, even if it means drowning his family members and - in the movie's most infamous scene - throwing herself down a flight of stairs to induce miscarriage. "Leave Her To Heaven" is as disturbing as it is dreamy. [Austin Dale]
"Meshes in the Afternoon"
Maya Deren's haunting, dreamlike rendition of a woman's surreal experience pursuing a mysterious figure, attempting to murder her sleeping self, engaging in knife battle and regurgitating a key several times over defies easy categorization. The lack of explanation is the explanation, with sudden, shocking events taking the place of story. (It's no surprise the movie inspired David Lynch.) Nearly 70 years after Deren made the film with her husband Alexander Hammid, "Meshes in the Afternoon" (which you can watch on Google Video) remains a total mindtrip that makes the soberest viewers feel like they're under the influence. [Eric Kohn]
"Pi" and "Primer"
This is a double feature to contort your mind, regardless of what state you’re in. While I can’t personally attest to the effectiveness of watching these two films as today would suggest, these would be ones to watch in the hopes of unpacking these thickly veiled stories in any way possible. Shane Carruth’s “Primer” is one of the most honest and well-reasoned examples of a speculative science-fiction narrative in recent memory. As a result, the story of two tinkering scientists who mistakenly create a time machine revels in some dense and downright eerie ambiguity. But I imagine that this would give plenty for your brain to handle. “Pi,” the debut feature from Darren Aronofsky, has a decidedly more minimalist plot, if that’s even possible when detailing the life of a mathematician trying to solve the answer to the universe. Complete with a handful of the director’s signature whiplash-edit scenes, Max’s drug-addled number psychosis is about as cerebral as you can get. Even sober, it’s nearly impossible to digest all of the narrative intricacies of this pair. But as we learned from Terrence Mann in “Field of Dreams” (a possible addition to this list, perhaps?), “There comes a time when all the cosmic tumblers have clicked into place and the universe opens itself up a few seconds to show you what’s possible.” It’s not the point of these films to “solve” them, but it wouldn’t hurt to try. [Steve Greene]
"Prelude: Dog Star Man"
Stan Brakhage's silent opus begins with minute of blackness before exploding in light and color. Described as a "creation myth," the film is one of the most extraordinary cinematic feats ever committed to celluloid, a steadily engrossing barrage of moving forms and fleeting images that interrogate the very act of seeing. Talk about getting high on life. [Eric Kohn]
Watch "Prelude" here:
Paul Verhoeven is a director who elevates sexually explicit and gruesomely violent mainstream schlock into high art by employing a subversive edge, probably best appreciated while baked. His acerbic wit and penchant for dismembered body parts and ample flesh is put to its best use in his 1997 sci-fi epic "Starship Troopers." The film imagines a future where you must do military service in order to become a citizen, which essentially involves killing a bunch of man-eating bugs on distant planet Klendathu. Verhoeven keeps the action fast and furious, the nudity sufficiently titillating and the fascist imagery front and center. It's a trip that makes you think. [Nigel M. Smith]