Thursday, April 23, 2020

RIP to the Heavenly Shirley Knight

The accomplished, sensitive, and exquisitely beautiful actress Shirley Knight has died at the age of 83.

Knight appeared as Heavenly Finlay in the 1962 movie Sweet Bird of Youth, based on the Tennessee Williams play in which Paul Newman tries to blackmail an aging actress over her hashish habit. The story is about hypocrisy and corruption, with Knight's character trapped into playing a pure paragon of womanhood by her politician father, and Chance (Newman) desperately trying to break her free. (The play was written for Tokin' Woman Tallulah Bankhead.)

Knight was nominated for an Oscar for her performance in Sweet Bird, one of two nominations she earned while still in her 20s. She won a Tony Award, a Golden Globe, and three Emmys during her career.

Towards the end of her career, Knight played an older woman who gets to enjoy cannabis tea without ramifications in Grandma's Boy (above).  In on the fun with Knight are Doris Roberts and Shirley Jones, who beat out her fellow Shirley for the Supporting Actress Oscar in 1961 for her role as a Jezebel in Elmer Gantry; Knight was nominated for The Dark at the Top of the Stairs.

Other notable appearances from Knight include roles in The Group, based on the Mary McCarthy novel; The Divine Secrets of the YaYa SisterhoodAs Good as It Gets where she plays Helen Hunt's mother; Hot in Cleveland as Valerie Bertinelli's mother; and Redwood Highway, a wonderful movie she made in 2013 at the age of 77 about a woman who walks 80 miles to the coast of Oregon. Also in that film are Tom Skerritt, who was so good as the comical motorcycle cop in Harold and Maude, and Sam Daly, who plays the marijuana lobbyist on TV's Madam Secretary.

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

SF Mayor Recommends Netflix and Chill for 420 Revelers

If you're going to San Francisco
Be sure to wear some flowers in your hair...

But not this year. And don't smoke your flowers there either, this 4/20.

It's long been known that the April 20 celebration at Golden Gate Park in San Francisco—which has been happening spontaneously since the 1970s, drawing upwards of 10,000 celebrants—has been out of control. Organizers tried to take over the event a few years back, holding a celebration in Robin Williams Meadow with vendors and sponsors to pay for services and clean-up.

Organizers cancelled the event and San Francisco's Mayor London Breed has a strong message for anyone tries to show up this year: don't. Robin Williams Meadow will be fenced off, and officers will patrol the area, making sure people don't gather there or elsewhere. “We will not allow this unsanctioned event to occur this year, especially in the height of a pandemic,” Breed said

Her pledge to cite and arrest people is real: It's technically still illegal to smoke (or vape) in the park, so violators could be cited for that, as well as charged with a misdemeanor with a $1000 fine for violating sheltering orders.

On Twitter and Facebook, Breed suggested an alternative: "Order food. Watch Netflix. Stay home and stay safe."

What to Watch

Mary-Louise Parkers Stays at Home with a Pot Plant on "Weeds"
Luckily, there are plenty of weed-themed shows to watch on Netflix, starting with "Weeds," the series in which Mary-Louise Parker plays a comely widow who grows marijuana to save her family. It's a good time to catch up on the series because a sequel, "Weeds 4.20," is due to come out next year, on the Starz network.

(Actually, I notice several of the movies I recommend on my 420 movie list this year are available with Starz subscriptions via Amazon Prime).

Rita Moreno  after eating an edible in "One Day at a Time" 
Other Netflix shows with Weed (and Women):

-"Grace and Frankie" (of course; a new season is planned for it this year)

-"The Last Laugh" in which Andie MacDowell turns Chevy Chase onto pot and more.

-"Dead to Me" on which Linda Cardellini "reacquaints" Christina Applegate to weed.

-"Disjointed" with Kathy Bates running a marijuana dispensary

-"One Day At a Time" - Rita Moreno enjoys eating an edible on the "Nip It In the Bud" episode, which raises some interesting questions about race and marijuana.

-"Cuckoo" with MacDowell's wacky character running a pot farm

-"That 70s Show" where the gals and guys sit in The Circle and even mom has some brownies.

Also on Netflix:

- "Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle" (a cut above the usual stoner buddy movies).

- "Cheech and Chong: Up in Smoke" - a classic.

- "Grass is Greener" - a 2019 documentary with Snoop Dogg, Killer Mike & others talking about the history of cannabis from the jazz era until today.

On Hulu:
- "The Breakfast Club" - a group of teens stuck in detention learns to bond over a joint

- "Grandma" - Lily Tomlin plays an awesome pot-smoking feminist poet

- "Saving Grace" - Brenda Blethyn grows weed to save her Conwall home

- "9 to 5" - Tomlin, Jane Fonda, and Dolly Parton have "an old fashioned ladies' pot party" and plot to overthrow their boss

- "Bad Teacher" - Cameron Diaz lights up the screen in more ways than one

- "Life of Crime" - Jennifer Aniston enjoys being kidnapped so much more with a little weed

- "It's Complicated" - Meryl Streep and Steve Martin "poke smot" and feel groovy.

- "Being John Malkovich" - Diaz, Catherine Keener,  and John Cusack get stoned together and explore consciousnesses in this brilliant, offbeat comedy.

- "Bored to Death" - with Jenny Slade as the pot-loving love interest of Jason Schwartzman with Zach Galifianakis, Ted Danson. Wickedly funny. (Also on Amazon Prime.)

- "Half Baked" - Dave Chappelle's marijuana movie; he quits smoking to please a girl (unless you watch the alternative endings). 

On Amazon Prime: 

Maude Instructs Harold
- "The Only Living Boy in New York" where Jeff Bridges plays a much more interesting stoner than The Dude.

- "Ride" where Helen Hunt learns to surf, smoke, and fall in love with Luke Wilson.

- "Annie Hall" with Diane Keaton in her Oscar-winning pothead role. (Also on Hulu)

- "Harold and Maude" where 80-year-old Maude turns on a young man, and teaches him to love life.

- "Mozart in the Jungle" - classical musicians and their drugs in NYC.

- "The Dressmaker" - where Kate Winslet and Judy Davis bake special cakes for their neighbor in pain.

- "Fleabag" has Phoebe Waller-Bridge flashing back to toking up with her lost girlfriend Boo.

Also on Amazon:

- "Grass" - excellent 1999 documentary narrated by Woody Harrelson about the history of hemp.

- "Super High Me" - Comedian Doug Benson's amusing take on "Supersize Me"

- "A NORML Life" - A history of the OG marijuana rights organization.

- "Cheech & Chong: Still Smokin" - self-explanatory. Also on Hulu.

- "Emperor of Hemp - The Jack Herer Story" - the man, not the strain.

- "California 90420" - a 2013 documentary about California's attempt to legalize marijuana in 2010.

- "Reefer Madness" - the 1930s anti-pot propaganda film. Also viewable is "She Shoulda Said No," an even worse documentary starring Lila Leeds, the starlet who was arrested with Robert Mitchum for pot in 1948.

Saturday, April 11, 2020

Top 20 for 4/20 Women and Weed Movies (Part 2)

I don't like many of the "Stoner Movies" that people like to list: I much prefer a good movie that has a pivotal scene involving pot's power to transform, and connect us to each other and our deeper selves. 

Here are the Top 10 movies that, to me, fit that bill (and include women).  Also see Top Women in Weed Movies #11-20 and the many Honorable Mentions below.

(Hint: just Google the name of the movie to find out what streaming services have it, and at what price.)

#10. The Breakfast Club (1985)
As we're all in detention right now, let's kick off this list with Molly Ringwald and Ally Sheedy getting over their hangups and bonding with their fellow detainees with the aid of marijuana (and music) in this classic teen movie. This was quite a breakthrough in the "Just Say No" 1980s, so enjoy the "Detention Dance" video (and go make one of your own).
Free with Hulu subscription. Rentable at from Amazon Prime, YouTube, Google Play, iTunes, and Vudu. 

#9. Grandma (2015)
Unlike Tomlin's character in Netflix's "Grace and Frankie," where she's ridiculed by the alcoholic Jane Fonda character, in Grandma, Lily as the feminist poetess Elle is back in all her power, signified by the "Violet" tattoo she wears on her arm (the name of the character she played in 9-5). She takes down her granddaughter's asshole boyfriend and afterwards steals his stash, smoking it with old boyfriend and silver fox Sam Elliot. The film even has a bit of a poem by Tokin' Woman Anne Waldman, plus a final appearance by Elizabeth Peña (La Bamba), who died of cirrhosis of the liver at the age of 55 in 2014. (One more reason to be more like Frankie than Grace.)
Free with Hulu subscription, rentable on Amazon Prime, YouTube, Google Play.

#8. Ricki And The Flash (2015)
Meryl Streep rocks as a rock singer mother who opens up communication with her estranged family assisted by a bag of pot she finds in the freezer. Directed by Jonathan Demme and written by Diablo Cody, the film re-unites Streep with Kevin Kline (Sophie's Choice) and also co-stars Rick Springfield and her real-life daughter Mamie Gummer. Streep and Steve Martin “poke smot” in the 2009 movie It’s Complicated, giving the movie an "R" rating due to a lack of "negative consequences." Reportedly Streep also smoked medicinal pot in One True Thing, a film in which she plays a cancer patient who takes her own life with an overdose of morphine (I guess that consequence was bad enough for the censors).
Rentable from Amazon Prime, Google Play, iTunes, Vudu, and YouTube.

#7. Bull Durham (1988)
Oscar winner Susan Sarandon plays the philosophical pot smoker Annie Savoy who, after trying other religions, worships at "The Church of Baseball." She romances both ballplayers Kevin Costner and Tim Robbins, who she hooked up with after shooting. Pot is subtly depicted, as when she's left alone and puffs thoughtfully in her bed, and when she finds a roach on the floor after a date with Costner, musing, "This world is made for those who aren't cursed with self-awareness."
Free on Vudu and Tubi; rentable at YouTube, Amazon Prime, Google Play, and iTunes.

#6. Peace Love & Misunderstanding (2011)
Jane Fonda plays a better Grace in this film than she does on the "Grace & Frankie." Here she portrays the hippie mother of an uptight attorney (Catherine Keener) who brings her two teenage children to their grandmother's house after her marriage breaks up. Grace, whose home reeks of pot, deals a little on the side and introduces her grandkids (Elizabeth Olsen and Nat Wolff) to the wonders of the weed. It's done intelligently, with Grace resorting to it before losing them to an evening of them closing down (as so many teens do). With Chace Crawford, who played the stoner on "Gossip Girl," and Rosanna Arquette, howling at the moon while wearing a pot-leaf necklace.
Available for rent at iTunes and for purchase on other platforms. 

#5 - Saving Grace
Academy Award-nominated actress Brenda Blethyn plays another Grace, a widow who grows weed to save her Cornwall home in this charming British comedy from comedian Craig Ferguson (who co-stars). It gets a little preachy in parts, as when Grace tries to smoke and gets ill, but it's hilarious when two old ladies from the town try making tea from her crop, and the ending is delightful. (I asked Ferguson at an pre-screening event if he'd been pressured to add "negative consequences" to the film. He said, "Oh yes, some wanted my character to die.")
Included with Hulu subscriptions; Available for purchase at iTunes, Google Play & Vudu.

#4 - Ride (2015)
Written and directed by actress Helen Hunt (Mad About You, What Women Want), Ride stars Hunt as a high-powered New York editor who follows her wayward son to California and ends up on a quest of her own, learning to surf and smoke pot (and fall in love with Luke Wilson). It's particularly gratifying to see Hunt depicting marijuana (mostly) positively, since in 1980 she played a schoolgirl who smokes pot and is unable to complete a book report in the sitcom "The Facts of Life," during the time when the US drug czar's office was offering advertising credits to shows with anti-marijuana messages.
Included with Amazon Prime, Vudu and Tubi subscriptions; Available for purchase at Amazon, iTunes, Google Play, and You Tube.

#3 - Annie Hall (1977)
Sweeping the Oscars in 1977 was this film starring Diane Keaton as a sweet but insecure pot smoker who tries to turn Woody Allen onto weed so that he can start to enjoy life (the original title of the film was Anhedonia, the inability to be happy). Having an argument about why she must smoke before they make love, she tells him if he'd only try it he wouldn't need so much psychotherapy. Keaton also smokes pot on film (in a bathtub) in 1982's Shoot the Moon. Also a nod to Allen's movie Alice in which Mia Farrow smokes opium and takes some trips of her own, Alice in Wonderland style.)
Included with Amazon Prime and Hulu subscriptions; Available for purchase at Amazon, iTunes, Google Play & Vudu.

#2 - Harold and Maude (1970)
The amazing screenwriter/actress Ruth Gordon plays Maude, an 80-year-old free-spirited woman who turns a young Harold (Bud Cort) onto marijuana, enabling him to open up to someone about the source of his strange behavior, and learn to love life. With a Cat Stevens soundtrack and Hal Ashby directing, it's probably no accident that this film is Cameron Diaz's favorite movie as the title character in There's Something About Mary (1998), since Mary and Ted (Ben Stiller) smoke a joint together after they reunite.
Included with Amazon Prime subscriptions. Available for purchase at Amazon, iTunes, Google Play & Vudu.  

#1 - 9 to 5 (1980)
Jane Fonda plays a naive woman who returns to work after her husband runs off with his secretary. Soon she and co-workers Lily Tomlin and Dolly Parton have "an old fashioned ladies' pot party" and scheme to overthrow their sexist boss. In one scene Fonda announces to her ex-husband that she smokes marijuana as part of her awakening. It also contains an intelligently written scene where Tomlin and her son discuss drug use and moderation. Parton contributed the movie's theme song, and it and the film have become statements for women's empowerment.
On Hulu and Sling TV (subscription); Available for purchase at Amazon, iTunes, Google Play & Vudu.

Also see: Top Women in Weed Movies #11-20 and:

Honorable mentions (click on the title links to read more):

- Madonna turns a spa salesman onto pot in Desperately Seeking Susan (1985). Philosophical musings ensure.

- Tina Fey and Margot Robbie puff a hookah in the excellent Whiskey Tango Foxtrot (2016).

- Andie MacDowell turns Chevy Chase onto pot and more in the Netflix film The Last Laugh (2019), also featuring Richard Dreyfus and Kate Micucci from "Garfunkel and Oates."

- Catherine Zeta-Jones is the hottest MILF ever shotgunning her young date in The Rebound (2009).

- Danneel Harris turns Kai Penn (Kumar) onto pot in Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay; in A Very Harold and Kumar 3-D Christmas she convinces him not to stop smoking.

- Cameron Diaz lights up more than the screen in Bad Teacher where she opens up co-worker Phyllis Smith ("The Office") with a doobie. 

- Kate Winslet and Judy Davis bake "special" cakes for a neighbor in pain in The Dressmaker (2015).

- Liv Tyler turns on an ailing Jeremy Irons in Stealing Beauty (1996), wherein Rachel Weisz also tokes.

- Eva Amurri Martino, Sarandon's daughter, drives a pot dealer around one summer to make money for college in Middle of Nowhere (2008). The scene where he justifies his career choice is one of the most cogent arguments for legalization ever.

 - JoBeth Williams, Mary Kay Place and Gwen Close toke in The Big Chill (1983). JoBeth also tokes up in Poltergeist (1982), but then she pays.

- Karen Allen puffs with her college professor/lover Donald Sutherland, bringing the boys along, in Animal House (1978). She also smokes in a bathtub in Scrooged (1988)

- Linda Cardellini is the life of the party in Grandma's Boy (2006), where Shirley Jones and Doris Roberts drink some interesting tea.

- I’ll See You in My Dreams (2015) features a pot party followed by a munchie run with Blythe Danner, Rhea Perlman, Mary Kay Place and June Squibb.

- Elizabeth Moss brings a bag of pot on a retreat with her husband in The One I Love (2014)leading to some bizarre consequences.

- Charlize Theron turns Seth MacFarlane onto pot brownies in A Million Ways to Die in the West (2014), setting him up for his drug-fueled Native American vision quest that puts him on the right path.

See an almost-complete list by date of women and marijuana in Movies and on TV. 

Friday, April 10, 2020

Top 20 Women and Weed Movies (Part 1)

It's somehow fitting that this April, when the whole month is 4/20, we should be forced into being couch potatoes while safely sheltering at home.

Here then, for your home viewing enjoyment, is the first installment in our Top 20 Women and Weed Movies, most of which are available on streaming services. Pass the munchees, and watch 'em stoned for maximum diversion.

#20. Lady Bird (2017)
The movie that won Greta Gerwig a scriptwriting Golden Globe and an Oscar nomination for best director depicts actresses Saoirse Ronan and Beanie Feldstein trying some "primo" and feeling the first effects, like getting the munchees and giggling joyously. Oh, and not feeling your arms. Seems the gals were subtly stoned on prom night too, leading to the line, "We ate all the cheese." Gerwig went on to direct Ronan in "Little Women," by and about Tokin' Woman Louisa May Alcott.
On Amazon Prime, Vudu, YouTube and Google Play. 

#19. The Family Stone (2005) 
Sarah Jessica Parker plays an uptight perfectionist who travels with her fiancé to meet his family at Christmas and loosens up with the help of the holy herb and her boyfriend's brother, played by Luke Wilson (ever the appealing stoner). Diane Keaton plays the cancer-stricken family matriarch who takes "special" medicinal brownies. SJP also toked on TV's "Sex in the City" and is one of the few actress who can actually play "stoned" (not drunk or stupid; more giggly and aware).
On Hulu (subscription); rentable on other services.

#18. How to Make an American Quilt (1995)
Anne Bancroft, Ellen Burstyn and Winona Ryder share an intergenerational joint on the front porch in this film, where Ryder's character comes home to write a dissertation on quilting while she ponders a marriage proposal. A rare appearance by Maya Angelou as the master quilter is a treat; Lady Jean Simmons also appears. From the book by Whitney Otto, based in a town called Grass, California.

#17. Being John Malkovich (1999)
Catherine Keener rolls a joint for her admirers Cameron Diaz and John Cusak in this audacious comedy that intriguingly explores the nature of consciousness, who controls it, and what it takes to break out of the confining mundaneness of life. I think my favorite moment is when it's revealed why a chimpanzee has post-traumatic stress. "You don't know how lucky you are being a monkey," Cusak tells him. "Because consciousness is a terrible curse."
On Hulu (subscription); rentable on other services. 


#16. Life of Crime (2014)
Jennifer Aniston stars as a society wife kidnapped by a couple of pot-smoking Detroit hoods in this Elmore Leonard film. Aided by a supporting cast starting with her heinous husband (Tim Robbins) and his scheming girlfriend (Isla Fisher, who played Mary Jane in the Scooby Doo movie and Myrtle in The Great Gatsby), Aniston has a little fun as a hostage laughing at the classic "Sanford and Son" scene involving marijuana. In the film, as so often in life, smoking a little weed leads to a woman looking at the world in a different, better way.
On Hulu (subscription); rentable on other services. 

#15. Finding Your Feet (2017)
This charming British film stars Imelda Stanton as solid senior citizen Saundra who moves in with her Bohemian sister Bif (Celia Imrie) after leaving her cheating husband. She soon joins a dance troupe and re-discovers life, love, and marijuana. "I'm not like you, Bif," Saundra protests. "I just can't open up like a lotus flower." With the aid of a little weed, she finds her footing and begins to flower herself.
On Hulu (subscription); rentable on other services. 

#14. The Time of Our Lives (2017)
Pauline Collins (Shirley Valentine) plays Priscilla, a pensioner housewife out on an adventure with Joan Collins, in a tour-de-force performance as a faded movie star. Priscilla ends up smoking a joint "for her arthritis" with Franco Nero; both actors were 76 years old when they played the scene. Collins (Pauline, not Joan) also appeared in 2016's Dough wherein a bakery business suddenly becomes popular when it starts adding weed to its recipes.

#13. The Women (2008)
In this remake of a Clare Booth Luce–penned movie, Meg Ryan plays a cheated-on wife who goes on a retreat where she puffs pot proffered by a shamanesque Bette Midler, and subsequently finds her way to her own bliss. You'll have to go to the deleted scenes on the DVD to hear Ryan saying, "I'm really stoned." The all-female, star-studded cast includes Candice Bergen (who was the first medical marijuana patient on TV in "Murphy Brown"). Midler also inhales onscreen as Mel Gibson’s psychotherapist in What Women Want (2000), although the scene is sometimes cut when the movie airs on TV.

#12. Ocean's 8 (2018)
Rihanna smokes in more ways than one playing a Rasta computer hacker on the female A-list, multiethnic jewel-robbing team (Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Mindy Kalig, Awkwafina, Sarah Paulson, Helena Bonham-Carter, Anne Hathaway) working to pull off a daring and intricate caper. It just goes to show you that girls can do whatever the boys do, even (or especially) when we're stoned.

#11. I Love You Alice B. Toklas (1968)
Breakthrough for its time, this Paul Mazursky film is really more of a male fantasy about a middle-aged man (Peter Sellers) who takes a walk on the wild weed side with Leigh Taylor-Young, who is luminous in her debut role as the hippie baker of brownies. Actresses Jo Van Fleet and Joyce Van Patten inadvertently get in on the brownie action, and this trailer is priceless. Mazursky brought out Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice the following year, where Natalie Wood and Dyan Cannon partake (with no perceivable effects).

Also see: Top Women and Weed Movies #1 through 10, and some Honorable Mentions too.