When You’re Strange: A Film About The Doors
Writer/Director: Tom DiCillo
Producers: Dick Wolf, John Beug, Jeff Jampol, Peter Jankowski.
Starring: Jim Morrison, Ray Manzarek, Bobby Krieger, John Densmore
It is strange, indeed, that a band so scrutinized as to be the subject of a blockbuster Hollywood film (1991’s The Doors), a classic rock bio (No One Here Gets Out Alive) and scads of post-breakup albums should remain so bloody mysterious. But nearly 45 years after their first jam session and 39 years after the death of incendiary frontman Jim Morrison, The Doors have remained one of rock ‘n’ roll’s most enigmatic acts. Until now.
When You’re Strange at last manages to decode the DNA of The Doors by letting the seminal ‘60s band’s creative powers do the work for us. Using never-before-seen clips (including footage shot by one of Morrison’s UCLA classmates), the film captures the chemistry and tension between band members as they journey from their first tour to their breakup following Morrison’s death in 1971. Haunting and authentic, the documentary has been packing in audiences at film festivals around the world. Check out the official website, www.whenyourestrangemovie.com, for dates and locations of upcoming screenings. (James Lang)
Online Video Review
Writer/Director/Co-Producer: Abe Schwartz
Starring: Lionel Sam, Jessica Watkins, J.R. Lemon
Newbie writer/director Abe Schwartz shot this dark and humorous stoner comedy about an über-potent batch of brownies on a budget provided by his grandparents. If that isn’t textbook indie filmmaking, we don’t know what is. Believing that one doesn’t have to get location permits or spend millions of bucks on a film (and he’s right), Schwartz managed to assemble a top-notch cast and crew for this mumblecore entry.
Hannah (Jessica Watkins) purchases some Purple Urkle from a rabbi-in-training (Schwartz) and whips up some dangerous dessert for new Facebook pals, footballer Jenkins (J.R. Lemon) and his cousin Lavar (Lionel Sam). The conversations among the three and their voiced-over inner thoughts are equal parts mundane and hilarious (discussions range from deciding to sell McDonald’s a “concept” for an Italian Chicken McNugget to realizations that Slimer from the cartoon Ghostbusters was a sell-out), and are so realistic that it’s a wonder Schwartz had a script at all. As the trio gets higher and higher (they don’t know the pot was laced with codeine cough syrup) the snickers build—until the night takes a sudden, fateful turn.
But don’t fear, Bad Batch isn’t a warning against weedy culinary delights—nor is it an endorsement of them. It’s just a clever, entertaining look at one wily night for three very average middle-class kids. Download Bad Batch at www.potbrownies.net for—what else?—$4.20. (Stacy Davies)
Marijuana Grower’s Handbook
Author: Ed Rosenthal
Publisher: Quick American Publishing
If you’ve ever gone in search of a good book on cannabis cultivation, then you’ll know how hard it is to find one. Most run the spectrum from the Illustrated Guide to Pot Growing for Complete Idiots (heavy on the art, light on the info) to the Encyclopedia Ginormous Le Cannabis (heavy on the info, light on the accessibility). Ed Rosenthal’s Marijuana Grower’s Handbook isn’t a good book—it’s a great one: Visually gorgeous, comprehensive and written in crisp, clear prose that’s a pleasure to read.
The handbook opens with a fascinating history of the legalization movement by veteran activist Michael Aldrich, and proceeds to breezily present everything you need to know about growing, harvesting and consuming your favorite plant. From proper lighting and CO2 levels to soil maintenance and pest control, the Marijuana Grower’s Handbook is so richly detailed it’s like suddenly having Maestro Rosenthal on your speed dial. We’re not alone in this assessment—Oaksterdam University was so impressed that it made the work an official course book.
You can order it online at www.mjgrowers.com or finer bookselling websites. (James Lang)