The best kind of challenge: Earn your highbrow stoner card

by DGO Staff

When it comes to prime stoner entertainment, you may think that Cheech and Chong and Jay and Silent Bob reign supreme. And, to be fair, they do. You will never fully understand the magic of “Clerks” until you’ve watched the darn thing while stoned.

But while every smoker occasionally enjoys watching a big budget Hollywood film featuring a car chase with Seth Green behind the wheel, watching the same 15 films tends to get old after a while. So for your next stoner movie binge, it’s time to expand your mind and think outside of the “Pineapple Express” or “Grandma’s Boy” box instead.

Luckily, there are thousands of other independently produced and distributed films that are waiting to be discovered after a blunt or six. Whether you’re in the mood for a private school caper or a time-twisting thriller, the 10 indie films listed below are great options when you’re high as a kite — and may even ignite a new love of independent cinema. With these films, you’ll be a highbrow stoner before you know it.

1. Rushmore

One of Wes Anderson’s earliest feature films, “Rushmore” sets out the acclaimed indie director’s signature style. Featuring Jason Schwartzmann as a precocious pupil who gets expelled from his private school, this quirky comedy has all the hallmarks of a Wes Anderson film, with less whimsy than many of his more recent features.

2. Whiplash

Whiplash is a dark psychological drama from Damien Chazelle. A world away from his follow-up feature La La Land, “Whiplash” follows an abusive student/ teacher relationship, exploring the cruel nature of ambition and power. Financed by investors following a powerful short concept film, Whiplash is testament to the power of independent filmmaking.

3. Fish Tank

British indie filmmaker Andrea Arnold’s “Fish Tank” is the story of a teenage girl’s relationship with her mother’s new boyfriend. It encapsulates the confusion and vulnerability of adolescence, especially in the shadow of a predatory relationship. The pairing of then-non-actor Katie Jarvis with then-unknown actor Michael Fassbender proves that indie cinema is a great pathway for sourcing incredible acting talent.

4. Lady Bird

Greta Gerwig’s “Lady Bird” is a funny, soulful coming-of-age story that follows Lady Bird — formerly known as Christine — through the trials of adolescence. Featuring Saoirse Ronan and an all-star cast, Lady Bird isn’t exactly a low-budget indie feature, but Gerwig sourced funding for her film outside the major Hollywood production houses — and received rave reviews across the board on its release.

5. Get Out

Many indie films can get lost in the Hollywood hubbub — but not “Get Out.” This horror movie by Jordan Peele sent shockwaves through film circles on its release — and not just for its cinematic style or charismatic lead in Daniel Kaluuya. The film deals with race and eugenics, weaving a terrifying story that proves why it’s so important to hear Black voices in cinema.

6. Parasite

You might think it unlikely for an indie film to win an Oscar for Best Picture — especially a non-Western indie film — but “Parasite: did just that. Created by a Korean production house and distributed by an independent company, Bong Joon-ho’s dark comedy is a thrilling watch, by turns creepy, funny, scary and sad.

7. Memento

Before there was Inception or The Dark Knight, there was “Memento.” Christopher Nolan’s low-budget picture initiated his signature story-twisting style, playing with time to help Guy Pearce’s protagonist decipher his own backstory. Compared with other Christopher Nolan films, “Memento” is relatively easy to follow, making it a great introduction to his auteur approach.

8. She’s Gotta Have It

Spike Lee’s career was launched from the rave reception of “She’s Gotta Have It,” a comedy that follows a young woman who dates three wildly different men. This low-budget film explores female sexuality, idealising the notion that a woman should be able to enjoy multiple sexual partners without judgement in the way men can. It’s feminism in film form.

9. Hunt For The Wilderpeople

“Hunt For The Wilderpeople” was funded in large part by the New Zealand Film Commission, so there was little Hollywood involvement here. Perhaps that’s why Taika Waititi was able to develop his own quirky comedic style in this fun, heartfelt picture, which explores parenthood, adolescence, and loneliness.

10. Reservoir Dogs

Reservoir Dogs was little-known until “Pulp Fiction” came out — and then everyone wanted to see it. Quentin Tarantino’s low-budget heist movie has become a cult classic, and helped cement the director’s legacy as the master of witty dialogue and gratuitous violence. In fact, Empire magazine named
Reservoir Dogs the greatest independent movie of all time — so it’s a must-watch film for indie cinema fanatics. Although all these films were independently produced, their success has led to many of them being bought by major studios or distributors, making independent films more accessible than ever. You’ll find these films — and hundreds of others — on streaming services everywhere, so hunker down with a huge bowl of weed and an equally large bowl of popcorn to find a new appreciation of independent cinema.


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