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October 09, 1997 - Image 18

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1997-10-09

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[~Television Feature ' -
Sci ence-fiction programs inspire Viewers imaginations
By Gabriel Smith eral categories, from the serious ("The how has sci-fi evolved over time; and But sci-fi is so much more. Sci-fi is sci-fi shows dealt with human emoti
For the Daily Outer Limits"), to the bizarre ("The why is it so popular? what it says it is - science. "The X- "The Outer Limits" premiered
"Do not adjust the picture, we are con- Twilight Zone," "The X-Files"), the out- The most popular misconception Files" is arguably the most popular sci-fi September 1963, and stretched
trolling transmission." With those words rageous ("Mork and Mindy;" "3rd Rock about sci-fi shows is that they take place show right now, and deals with a prover- boundaries of television during itsr
uttered more than 34 years ago, a brand- from the Sun") or to the spacefaring in outer space. Granted, one of the most bial question that permeates the minds of Every week, not only monsters buta
new age of television arrived on the ("Star Trek," "Babylon 5"). popular sci-fi shows currently on televi- researchers and scientists ... "What if?" issues ofjealousy, revenge, rage and 1
scene: science fiction. The genre of sci- Several questions, however, arise: sign, "Star Trek," takes place in the far This aspect of "The X-Files" is exempli- were discussed. "The Outer Lim
fi on television can be divided into sev- What is sci-fi; what does it represent; reaches of the galaxy, with aliens galore. fled by the lead character, Fox Mulder ranks as a groundbreaking sci-fi shov
(David Duchovny)jr- T ca .Muc sne ot Later, ivyser ~ine nere

* 0The;Mic 'gar,jyWpenif Mg z Aie-%trgdQctober 9,199 12
Idefilm eploespotcultu\vQ ksn ex orsre 7


N featuring the new single
~PTut ALdiS OK 9f 10
along with the smash hit, "Hell"

(David Duchovny). Mulder's sense of
paranoia and open-mindedness is key to
the show, and is complemented by his
physician partner, skeptical Dana Scully
(Gillian Anderson). By chasing paranor-
mal activity and fighting conspiracies,
both attempt to uncover the truth.
"Star Trek" is another example of
shows that deal with the keys to human
existence. The original "Star Trek" series
turned into a commentary on the world's
problems; Captain Kirk and his crew
dealt with issues such as racism, war,
homelessness and drug use.
Not only was the evolution of human-
ity important, but one of the great early

Later, "Mystery Science T heater
3000" and today's "3rd Rock from the
Sun" wowed the sci-fi genre. Sci-fi com-
edy has metamorphosed into the concept
of alien-meets-human, thus creating a
distinct culture shock.
Sci-fi has always caught fans' atten-
tion. Some enjoy it as a change of pace,
some because of its creativity. But most
important, sci-fi is an extension of the
mind and of the imagination.
Who knows, maybe one day we will
be able to journey beyond the boundaries
of our galaxy. For now, however, we are
stuck watching this on TV, waiting, and
believing that anything is possible.


Sunday, October 19
8:00 pm
Hill Auditorium.
Tickets available at the
Michigan Union Ticket Office
Charge by phone 763-TKTS

By Joshua Rich
Daily Film Editor
For the uninitiated, High Times mag-
azine is a hemp lover's dream: a publi-
cation devoted to the growing, selling
and use of cannabis, that includes in its
monthly layout a state-by-state drug
price guide and photos of readers' pets
with doobies in their snouts.
High Times is
also the sponsor of
the annual P R
Cannabis Cup &
Hemp Expo in
Amsterdam, the At
8th installment of today an
which is the sub- an
ject of "Weed," a
documentary that opens today for three
showings at the Michigan Theater.
"Weed's creator, independent film-
maker Doug Wolens, also arrives in
Ann Arbor this weekend to answer
audience questions about his picture at
its first two screenings. He hopes his
pot-themed movie will appeal to the
many locals whose politics are general-
ly known to swing slightly toward the
left of center
To be sure, "Weed" is at once a pro-
file of the unattractive plant that capti-
vates masses of people the world over,
and a testament to the hard work of its
up-and-coming director.
A New York lawyer displaced to the
relaxed atmosphere of northern
California, Wolens entered the movie-
making world a few years ago when he
took a screenwriting course and real-
ized that filmmaking is his true passion.
He quit his lucrative job and went into
the motion picture business full-time
T'he transition wasn't easy, Wolens said
in a recent interview with The Michigan
Daily. "I was making a lot of money
and then I was making zero:
But he persevered, working as a
camera assistant on commercials and
feature films like "Mrs. Doubtfire"
and "Getting Even with Dad." His big
break arrived at the 1994 Sundance
Film Festival where his first project, a
short movie called "Happy Loving
Couples," was screened along with the
popular film "Clerks." And people
Indeed, Wolens knows that his rapid
journey to success has thus far been
atypical. "I was lucky. After only nine
months in the business, the Sundance
experience gave me a lot of confidence
and inspiration."
That inspiration shines through in
"Weed," an our-long look at this pecu-
liar annual gathering in the Netherlands
- where marijuana is legally sold and
smoked in designated "coffee shops:'
People from all over the world arrive
each year to pay $100 to judge which
coffee shop sells the best hemp in
Traveling through Europe a few
years ago, Wolens, an admitted "daily
smoker" of pot, knew that he needed a
topic for his next film. "My wife and I
were in Europe and we stopped in
Amsterdam, where the festival was
going on. I thought it was interesting. It
was the second year that it was opened
to the public; they had expected 100

event to carry me
through (the film)," Wolens remem-
bered. "One day I saw two Americans
- a gay man from New York and a
straight man from Oklahoma - hap-
pily smoking together. This showed
me that hemp breaks down social bar-
riers, and I tried to focus on the fact
that people were making their own
choices there,"
As a result, what the viewer sees are
numerous, very-contented American
pot smokers praising the marijuana
plant, waxing poetic about how it can
save the world by serving as a fabric,
plastic and food substitute. As one man
says (in relative awe of this phenome-
non of nature), hemp can be used to
make an entire personal computer -
except for the metal parts.
There are also plenty of glimpses
into the grand cannabis consumer cul-
ture that has sprouted up in Amsterdam.
"The coffee shops are as commercial as
Starbucks, and they do depend on a
huge tourist market," Wolens observed.
"They have big signs that just flash

people and more than 700 showed up,"
Wolens said.
Video camera in hand (he later used
his PC to transfer the more than 25
hours of video tape to 35mm film),
Wolens returned the following year to
document an even larger gathering.
Choosing to focus on the dominant
American contingent, Wolens had trou-
ble finding an
interesting angle
E V I E W amidst the throngs
of stoned, often
the Michigan Theater, cannabis connois-
d Sunday at 9:30 p.m. seurs.
d Monday at 8:30 p.m. "I needed an


Oct. 00
4" Wo

Qct. 11

A Time To Kill Saturday Night
9PM Coffeehouse
9pmsoFeaturing folk and
$1 admisoon acoustic music, comedy,
storytelling, & more
or email
to receive a weekly update
of U-Club events

But, surprisingly, the movie does not
behave similarly. While it shows a
group of temporary American expatri-
ates indulging in an activity currently
illegal in their native land, "Weed" stays
away from making any sort of political
"The movie is about freedom of
choice; it does not tell the viewer what to
think;" Wolens said. "I leave to the view-
er the option of believing in the event:'
When pushed a little harder on the
question, however, Wolens got to the
heart of the matter: "Really, people
weren't there to talk about politics
(some people were so stoned that all
they could do was laugh). They just
wanted to have fun:'

Two of the many marijuana lovers featured in Doug Wolens' "Weed."

on the first floor of the Michigan Union
IM U t Wb to a o*44 A fof.bbMl., and N*r

-, -.

A Major Events/Division of Student Affairs presentation

Practicing Pharm. D.'s discuss.
Career Options
Doctor of Pharmacy Graduates
A U-M College of Pharmacy seminar
open to all students
Thursday, October 9 7-9 p.m.
1544 C.C. Little Building
(corner of Church & Geddes)

Buy the Squirrel Nut Zippers MS1
album or any Mammoth title
and receive a free Mammoth Cd sampler at:
(while supplies last)
ANmN Arbo 3-900
- www.mammath.com .523 East Liberty, Ann Arbor 313-930-0017

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