The Marijuana Conspiracy
A never-released Canadian cannabis study dubbed Project Venus in 1972 is the subject of Craig Pryce’s film. Twenty women were recruited for the three-month research project; 10 of the subjects smoked joints twice a day. Funded by the Addiction Research Foundation, the results were expected to be negative and bolster the government’s continued prohibition of pot. However, it turned out the women were quite productive under the influence. Kept in “volunteered captivity” (they weren’t allowed to contact anyone or even venture outside), several go somewhat stir crazy, but the rest make the most of it. There’s plenty of weed smoking, nice moments of camaraderie and a few needed heart-to hearts. Mary (Julia Sarah Stone), who’s homeless, gets the most attention. Her best friend there, Jane (Britanny Bristow), plays the hippie chick, artist Marissa (Morgan Kohan) has a secret and Mourinda (Tymika Tafari) stresses about her father who’s in prison on a pot charge. Janice (Geddy Lee’s daughter Kyla Young) performs a version of “One Toke Over the Line” on guitar. An engaging subplot involves closet lesbian Nurse Alice (Marie Ward) and the project’s house shrink (Paulino Nunes), who recommends conversion therapy. But mostly it’s about the young women who gave chunks of their lives to research and are still waiting for answers nearly 50 years later.
There’s no greater love in The Matrix digital universe than between Neo (Keanu Reeves) and Trinity (Carrie-Ann Moss), who are "resurrected" in the fourth installment of the series, and the first since 2003's Reloaded and Revolutions, directed by Lana Wachowski. Under the supervision of The Analyst (Neil Patrick Harris), Neo is recovering from a psychological break. But mostly the legendary video-game designer wants to find Trinity, his partner in the previous three films. The new Morpheus (Yahya Abdul Mateen II replaces Laurence Fishburne) offers Neo the same selection of pills as in the past: red and blue. He’s been on a steady diet of the blue, which maintains status quo; only the red pill can reconnect him with Trinity. (The scene is backed by "White Rabbit.") So, this is a love story with a lot of shapeshifting, wall climbing, shootouts and dazzling CGI landscapes. Enjoy the ride.
In theaters, HBO Max
DRUGGY DRAMA/POP MUSIC
The Space Between
Aging actors playing aging rock stars is a pretty standard Hollywood option. Meryl Streep (Ricki and the Flash) and Al Pacino (Danny Collins) have done it, and now Kelsey Grammer gives it his all in Rachel Winter’s shaggy stoner movie. The fictional Mickey Adams topped the charts in the early ’70s, but then became a Malibu recluse. Record exec Donny Rumson (a wonderfully unctuous William Fichtner) wants to release Mickey from his contract and sends young staffer Charlie Adams (Jackson White) to get his signature. Things get trippy from the start when Mickey doses Charlie, who gets increasingly drawn into the crazy world of Mickey Adams. He’s also attracted to Mickey’s daughter Julia (Julia Goldani Telles). Another attraction is rock singer Cory, played convincingly by Paris Jackson. But it’s really all about Mickey. The predictable ending detracts from this offbeat film.
Edgar Winter’s exhaustive tribute to the ’70s rock group Sparks is about an hour too long. All 24 of their albums are covered, from 1971’s Half Nelson, their original name, to last year’s A Steady Drip, Drip, Drip. Sparks are the Brothers Mael, singer Russell and mysterious keyboard player with a Hitler mustache, Ron. Now both in their seventies, they appear to not to have any other family members; it’s all about the music, which is rock operatic like Queen, but also moves around stylistically, especially in the late’70s when they hooked up with German producer Giorgio Moroder. Despite testimonials from Beck, Flea, Jason Schwartzman, Jack Antonoff and others, Sparks’ story is not very interesting; in fact, it’s pretty dull (no drugs; Russell having a brief fling with the Go Go’s Jane Wiedlin is about as exciting as it gets). Winters’ animations and editing are clever, though he could have started by chopping down this two-hour and twenty-minute epic doc to a more manageable size.