Staff Recs: Crunchin’ the munchies

The Arts Desk recommends the best movies and music for dozing off into high heaven as you celebrate 4/20.

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Natalia Palacino

Here are some movies to watch and some music to listen to while you enjoy the 4/20 holiday. (Illustration by Natalia Palacino)

It’s twenty past four and you need something to do after toking and coughing on a spliff or devouring a brownie whose chemical makeup is a broken ratio of three parts cannabis, one part cake. If you’re too tired to go on a walk, too lazy to get up from your comfy couch or simply too high to move, you might consider checking out some of these movies and music recommendations to celebrate a holiday designed for those looking to kill time and delight in a little bit of recreational drug use.

“The Beach Bum” directed by Harmony Korine

Nicolas Pedrero-Setzer, Arts Editor

It only makes sense that Harmony Korine’s most sensible film is also his most outrageous. Set in the Florida Keys and following a stoner-poet named Moondog (Matthew McConaughey) who’s equal parts Hemingway and Cheech Marin, “The Beach Bum” embraces the decadence of its geographic fix, that strange, insular and remote part of America often referred to as the Keys. Moondog is a true product of his environment, a creature that reflects both the beauty of the tropical location and the filth that’s come to dominate it. Korine previously explored this dichotomy in “Spring Breakers,” referencing the millions of students across America, including many at NYU, who continue the tradition of visiting Florida every spring break. Like Christiania is to Copenhagen, the Keys are to America: a site of hedonism Korine captures with anthropological precision that translates into cinematic bliss. In its gaudy, colorful cinematography, the Keys become the most attractive site for red eyes by offering up a perfect mish-mash of aesthetics that are as intriguing as they are confusing. Some of these mythological, human incongruencies include Zac Efron as a Christ-loving, vape-addicted pyromaniac, Snoop Dogg living a normal life, and a blind airplane pilot. These are visions of lunacy brought to life by Hollywood’s favorite enfant terrible and as such, they make up the perfect film for people across the globe to bliss out and experience the intoxicating, albeit romantic, madness of a land that is not often recorded with veracity because of its sheer craziness.

“UNLOCKED” by Denzel Curry and Kenny Beats

Yas Akdag, Music Editor

Kenny Beats likes to smoke weed, especially with his friends and collaborators. The hip-hop producer does just that in his YouTube series “The Cave,” where he invites artists to freestyle on a tailor-made beat that he creates on the spot. The series has featured the likes of Rico Nasty, Omar Apollo and of course, rapper Denzel Curry; in Curry’s episode, his and Kenny’s creativity bounce off each other’s with ease. The pair’s 2020 album, “UNLOCKED,” confirms that their musical partnership is special. Wrapping up in just under 18 minutes, the album is a whirlwind and is jam-packed with Curry’s slick, sardonic lyrics and Kenny’s intricate, dynamic production. “I don’t write rhymes, nigga, I write checks / Might rewrite your life if the price set,” Curry raps in “So.Incredible.pkg,” later adding, “Bitches suck the energy, it’s like a Lifesaver.” The rapper’s performance is energetic, unpredictable and irresistible — at times his delivery is guttural and raspy; at others it’s straight and clean-cut. As always, Kenny pays attention to detail in his production, peppering it with his usual sample flips, beat cuts and old-school drums. Though the songs’ right-off-the-hard-drive titles aren’t entirely convincing, “UNLOCKED” is an enticing collaboration from some of hip-hop’s finest musicians — and stoners. 

“Good Time” directed by Josh and Benny Safdie

JP Pak, Film & TV Editor

For those viewers who favor intensity of experience over comfort, the disturbingly tense films of filmmaking duo the Safdie Brothers are as immersive as they come. Their degenerate protagonists and fast-paced, unpredictable plots will leave you riveted — or, in some cases, writhing and sick with the worst panic attack of your life. The gamble is part of the fun. Before their 2019 smash-hit “Uncut Gems,” the Safdies found their footing with “Good Time,” a dirty crime thriller that redefined Robert Pattinson’s career. Fans of his work in the “Twilight Saga” will be repulsed by his portrayal of Connie, a misanthropic small-time criminal who plans to rob a bank with his developmentally disabled brother, Nick (Benny Safdie). When his plan goes wrong — who would have thought? — and Nick is arrested, Connie scrambles to find $10,000 for his brother’s bail, screwing over a host of East Coast ne’er-do-wells along the way. It’s technically a love story. At its core, “Good Time” is about the lengths we go to take care of those closest to us. But the line between compassion and egomania becomes a little clearer with every passing scene. As the night gets out of his hands, Connie is left with no choice but to lean into his recklessness, hurting everyone around him — even the viewer — in the process. Paired with the Safdies’ fast-paced cinematography, Pattinson’s shocking performance induces anxiety like nothing else — an instrument of sadism or bleak beauty, depending on who you ask.

“Aquemini” by OutKast

Isabella Armus, Deputy Arts Editor

In the Southern rap duo’s career-defining 1998 opus “Aquemini,” OutKast creates a sprawling synthesis of sound that pads out this hazy, ever-iconic LP. Clocking in at just over an hour and 15 minutes, André 3000 and Big Boi take their disparate artistic perspectives and diverging astrological signs and weave together a pointed memoir with apocalyptic narratives of ghoulish Frankenstein-esque creatures. Their signature lyrical dynamism is carried by trippy synths and slacked-out drum motifs on 16 distinct tracks. These loopy sonic experiences range from energetic jam sessions like “Rosa Parks” to sleazier cuts like the horn-dotted “SpottieOttieDopaliscious.” It’s an album that possesses the addictive variety to either blast above the ubiquitous smoke of a house party or to occupy a lone, spaced-out listener on a slick summer day. At every one of its meandering twists and turns, this project finds a way to siphon sluggish 4/20 vibes into a record defined by the precision and mastery of its performers. “Aquemini” is an album that at once reinvented hip-hop’s complex universe and cemented itself as a literal ever-green classic for music nerds and stoners alike.

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