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Category:    Home > Reviews > Special Interest > Drugs > Laws > Politics > Drama > Grow Like A Pro (2011/High Times/MVD DVD)/A NORML Life (2011/Cinema Libre DVD)/Hempsters (2011/Cinema Libre DVD)//Mr. Nice (2009/MPI Blu-ray)

Grow Like A Pro (2011/High Times/MVD DVD)/A NORML Life (2011/Cinema Libre DVD)/Hempsters (2011/Cinema Libre DVD)//Mr. Nice (2009/MPI Blu-ray)


Picture: C/C/C/B-     Sound: C/C/C/B-     Extras: C-     Main Programs: C



Outside of serious documentary, there are four kinds of releases that deal with growing and using Marijuana.  You can have those programs that go out of their way to show you how to cultivate/grow it like Grow Like A Pro from the infamous High Times Magazine, Hempsters argues that growing for a sturdier competitor to cotton is harmless and could be very environmental and help the future of the U.S., then you have the new pro-medical argument A NORML Life (2011) where everyone suddenly has a medical reason for using it despite current laws and you have dramas like Bernard Rose’s Mr. Nice (2009) which inadvertently glamorize the lifestyle, especially in these tales of kingpins who have it made.


Grow Like A Pro comes with a guide book and the disc is loaded with everything you need to know to break the law…, I mean spawn the healthiest plants for your use.  It is free speech and it has not been pulled yet.  Nico Escondido is your expert host with massive experience on the subject (no stereotype jokes please) and convinced me of his knowledge.  However, the cover almost looks like another National Lampoon comedy.


Michael Henning’s Hempsters warns us that other countries will overtake the U.S. in hemp production if we don’t legalize it and reminds us that we had big production during (and up to) WWII before new drug laws, changes in the country and the growth of the cotton industry ended that.  Woody Harrelson is among the name people here and it is not underhanded, but I did not always buy the arguments here.  In addition, the cotton vs. hemp argument is too simple.  There are not other plants that can be grown or be competitive to hemp or both?  It plays like an inadvertent push for legalization, intentionally or not.  A trailer, Alternative Ending (for a story that has yet to end) and two featurettes are the only extras.


Rod Pitman’s A NORML Life includes an interview with former Doors member Ray Manzarek (guess he’s an expert too) as its only extra, but the main program argues that this is a substance that can really help people and the NORLM of the title stands for the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.  I find the argument they make extremely limited and unconvincing, but some medical use could help people.  However, you give fans and chronic users of chronic a little room and they want 40 acres of the stuff, so I could only take this one so seriously too.


Mr. Nice has Rhys Ifans as an accidental kingpin (because everyone who gets involved is innocent and would never hurt anyone?) named Howard Marks who landed up becoming one of the biggest kingpins in British history to the point that the British Secret Service had him work for them and one of his friends was a member of the IRA.  He is convincing and the film has some good moments, but it is still everything we have seen in these films for the most part and the screenplay never develops anything different or any sense of ironic distance stuck on a simple sense of history.  Chloe Sevigny and Crispin Glover are good, while David Thewlis turns in another one of his usual burnout performances which reflects the more typical, generic nature of the whole venture.  A Trailer and Making Of featurette are the only extras.


The anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image on the DVDs can be a little softer than usual and the 1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image on Nice is styled down as if the 1970s were always that dark, which they were not, then it continues this clichéd strategy in the 1980s, so I guess they all live in a clichéd world.  Detail suffers too.  The Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo on both DVDs have some location audio issues, while the DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix on Nice is more towards the front speakers than I would have liked.  A PCM 2.0 Stereo track is also included, but it is not as good, yet still better than anything on the DVDs.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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