Hardcore dope smokers are the closest thing that we as a society have to
comic book Super-Villains.
Now here comes the standard disclaimer: this is not a moral judgment or any
kind of censure. Quite frankly, that which free-thinking adults want to do in
their spare time and harms nobody else is their own business. Do No Harm, and
all that goes with it, is a pretty solid ideology that, as far as morality is
concerned, far surpasses a lot of which passes for organized religion nowadays.
And, to paraphrase George Carlin from memory, marijuana would probably be
legalized by now if the proponents for the cause could ever remember where they
left the petitions.
So what exactly do I mean by the Super-Villain analogy? Consider the commonly
accepted stereotype of the hardcore burnout: laid-back, forgetful, goofy,
generally harmless, rather simple in nature and often intellectually... shall we
say, capricious? But the minute they need to improvise any kind of drug
paraphernalia, they jump into a telephone booth and emerge as PhD-level experts
in mechanical and structural engineering. Hand them a shoe box, a ball-point
pen, and a bag of weenies and they'll hand you a fully functioning bong. Give
them an apple, a toothpick, and a bag of dried pinto beans and they'll devise a
crude but effective cocaine grinder. And if they have to measure their stash and
lack any kind of scale or measuring device, they'll calculate, to upwards of
two-figures worth of significant digits, the weight of their baggies by making
use of a rubber band, the navigational position of the stars, and the
gravitational pull of the moon.
In short, if these fine people utilized their extensive expertise for the
powers of "Good", we'd already have that 300 miles per gallon automobile
engine, flying cars, personal jetpacks, self-peeling grapes, and perhaps, at
long last, a decent Star Trek TV series. But to each their own (hell, if I spent
half as much time studying stock market trends as I did watching DVDs, I'd
roll my own in hundred dollar bills.)
High Times Presents The Cannabis Cup is an entertaining and
certainly eye-opening production. Founded in 1988 by High Times editor
Steven Hager, The Cannabis Cup is an annual competition in which numerous blends
of home-grown buds vie for the coveted award, a silver chalice that is
given to the finest buds of the year. Taking place every November
in Amsterdam, this competition attracts bongloads of marijuana aficionados
from around the world. And make no mistake: these people are professional
connoisseurs, and the buds that are showcased in this documentary are
mouth-wateringly impressive. Interspersed among the numerous clips of the
competition are scenes from Cannabis Castaways - a "reality show"-style
experiment in which several people are chosen to live in a houseboat in
Amsterdam for three days, with round-the-clock access to some of the finest
weed ever grown. There are many other "shows" included on this documentary,
including one that showcases pot-growing tips, as well as the omnipresent
Highwitness News reports. Wake & Bake Amsterdam is just a
lovely concept: a morning show for the toasted. Numerous musical numbers are
present throughout the documentary, including performances from Fishbone and
Starship. And, of course, there are endless scenes upon scenes of
dope smoking. I got a contact high just by watching.
Let me reiterate: there is a lot of smoking going on in this
documentary. Whether or not this intrigues or repels you is a personal matter,
but for the professional hophead, the amateur, or even the curious, High
Times Presents The Cannabis Cup is a riveting, informative, often hilarious and
thoroughly entertaining documentary.
High Times Presents The Cannabis Cup is
presented in its original full frame aspect ratio of 1.33:1. Shot on videotape,
the overall video presentation is very good, if not overly impressive. There is
some noise on the transfer inherent to a lot of videotaped productions, but
nothing overly distracting. I noticed some rare pixellatation and compression
noise, especially in many of the dark and smoky scenes. (And let us be
frank: there are many dark and smoky scenes!) Colors are
adequately represented, although flesh tones seemed slightly unnatural at times.
Haloing, jaggies, and edge-enhancement is minimal to non-existent, and contrast
levels are natural. Overall I noticed few flaws that would seriously detract
from the video presentation. The documentary generally looks fine and without
The audio is presented in both Dolby
Digital 5.1 and 2.0. The 5.1 mix is obviously the more engaging
of the two; you get some serious LFE work, greater depth and spatiality
to the soundstage, and some effective directional and surround effects. The dialog levels
do sound a little on the thin side, as they are often rendered
through the front channels as well as the center, giving it a slightly unnatural feel.
The 2.0 soundtrack is generally satisfactory, but you won't find any noticeable degree of
immersion, directionality, depth of fidelity or spatiality. What you will
find is a decent reproduction of the soundtrack, with clear levels of
dialog reproduction and decent if thin presentations of the musical numbers.
High Times Presents The Cannabis Cup
comes with a surprise smattering of extras. In the Strains section, you
can jump to several sections of the documentary that feature various strains of
marijuana which were entered into the competition. These strains include
"Coffeeshop Strains", "Seed Company Strains", and "Hashish." My only issue with
this section is that, although each selection will take you to the appropriate
scene in the movie, it doesn't return you to the Strains menu when you
are done. The movie continues playing! This is a small but noticeable error in
mastering that should have been rectified during QA, but who am I to judge?
The Cannabis Castaways section allows you to meet
the six castaways who, for three days, had to be the happiest dope smokers in
the universe: Amie, Jeff, Nitro, Dan, Katie, and Jet. Each selection will take
you to each castaway's introduction. The same authoring error that affected the
last section is present here.
Extra Features includes "Meet The Founder", a
fourteen-minute video piece that details the biography of High Times
EIC Steven Hager. This piece is equally eye-opening, funny, tragic, and
hopeful, and is an amazing companion piece to the documentary. See The
Trailer contains the documentary's three-minute trailer.
The Jukebox section contains four musical
performances from The Cannabis Cup: "Pass The Dutchie" by Jr. Jazz &
The Cannabis Cup Band, "Tru Ganjaman" by Rocter T. & The Cannabis Cup Band,
"AIDS and Armageddon" by Fishbone, and "Spell My Name" by Defari. You can jump
to any one performance or play them all. The DVD-ROM portion of the disc
contains a Weblink which allows you to access High Times on the
Internet. And finally, the Credits section displays the credits for the fine folks
who produced the DVD. These include such luminaries as Ken Wesmokenow, Ivana Blunt, and Philip
I enjoyed every second of High Times Presents The
Cannabis Cup. For those of us who have never made it over to Amsterdam
to experience The Cannabis Cup live, the DVD is the next best thing. Truth to be
told, the DVD presents a fairly solid argument that marijuana enthusiasts aren't
simply the wastoid loser burnouts that society would like you to believe they
are. On the other hand, those in society who are fully against the usage of
marijuana for any purpose would most likely point to certain scenes on
this documentary as motivation for their opening salvo in another pointless
"War On Drugs." But no matter where your position on marijuana usage lies,
High Times Presents The Cannabis Cup never fails to entertain
or inform. This is a fascinating documentary, clever and funny and always entertaining.
Perhaps a little envy-generating at times, but this of course depends on
the particular preferences of the viewer. Nonetheless, this DVD comes recommended to both the
faithful and the curious. Now if you will excuse me, I have
to go order a pizza or five...