Pubdate: Thu, 26 Apr 2007
Source: See Magazine (Edmonton, CN AB)
Copyright: 2007 SEE Magazine
Author: Scott Lingley
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Popular)

On Screen: Preview


And Other Pothead Revelations

The Naked Queen

Apr 27-28, Metro Cinema, Zeidler Hall, Citadel Theatre (9828-101A Ave)

It's hard not to like The Naked Queen, Daryl Verville's shoestring 
ode to cannabis, not in and of itself so much, but because it seems 
like the kind of movie that a pot smoker from Nelson, B.C. might 
make-sincere, gentle and deeply in love with weed, but also freighted 
with heady cosmic concerns, hippie self-righteousness, and the 
inescapable hoserish-ness of rural Canada.

Verville seems like a do-it-yourself kind of guy. He wrote, directed 
and produced The Naked Queen, as well as adding soundtrack music and 
performing on screen. Not content to merely play himself in the 
movie-even though he also plays a dream self who sits down to chat 
with Gandhi and Jung-Verville also casts himself as Beethoven.

First and foremost, The Naked Queen is sincere-sincere in its 
pro-cannabis message, sincere in its slightly campy evocation of the 
B.C. neo-hippy vibe, and sincere in espousing the notion that pot has 
sacramental virtues. The Naked Queen is at its best in delivering the 
contemporary rationale for pot legalization, running through its 
environmental and economic potential, pointing out that it's not as 
consistently deadly as drugs like nicotine and alcohol, and noting 
how our culture has been influenced all over the place by pot use and 
pot users.

There's also a reasonable nod to the political side of the pot 
discussion, with doctors, lawyers and pro-pot activists chiming in on 
the yea side for legalization, especially for medicinal marijuana. 
Verville does a nice job of profiling Vancouver's Compassion Club, a 
provider of medical marijuana, and even gets past their pro-pot 
stance to show the more holistic view of the health care they provide 
to their patrons, which extends well beyond pain control. It would 
have been nice to see a more detailed examination of the case in 
which the U.S. government tried to extradite pot activist Mark Emery 
for selling pot seeds out of his Vancouver store, but at least it 
gets mentioned.

Verville also captures some nice moments among the anonymous guerilla 
pot farmers and their secret gardens deep in the southern B.C. 
interior, who seem to be in it mostly for the dreadlocked, 
ecologically sound agrarian lifestyle it affords them. As elsewhere 
in the movie, a restless editing style, which produces some jarring 
visual non sequiturs, tends to detract from something inherently interesting.

This is a minor quibble compared to the half-baked (pun intended) 
spiritual and philosophical self-indulgence Verville strews 
throughout The Naked Queen, accompanied by some of the cheesiest 
"cosmic" visual effects you can achieve with FinalCut Pro. A stoned 
Verville crashes in front of the TV and dreams he is Beethoven, 
dictating a letter to Wordsworth. In what might be another dream, he 
discusses his Beethoven dream with Carl Jung. And for some reason he 
goes and visits Gandhi who, mysteriously, seems to be sporting an 
Irish accent. It's one thing for the execution of these sequences to 
be thoroughly amateurish, but for Verville to think that he should be 
putting words in the mouths of great thinkers, particularly to back 
him up on the innate value of reefer, I can't decide if that's hubris 
or chutzpah. Maybe it's both. Whatever the case, it's all pretty 
ridiculous, especially when topped up with Verville's pseudo-profound 
voiceover about the nature of inspiration.

In the end, The Naked Queen's most effective sequences seem to be 
leveled at people who are already inclined to agree that the 
criminalization of cannabis and the persecution of its users is 
hysterical and unfounded. As for the voyage inside Daryl Verville's 
psyche, I'm not sure there's enough pot in all the Kootenays to make 
that trip seem worthwhile.
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MAP posted-by: Beth Wehrman