Promise me this: If ever you and a few marijuana advocate/actor friends find yourselves low on pot and high on filmic ambition, please—put down the camera and pick up the phone before your dealer goes to bed. Better your ideas go up in smoke than be realized in something as hateful as Cevin Soling’s The War on the War on Drugs. Stashed since 2002, War on . . . strings together 60 supposedly comedic vignettes parodying our government’s anti-drug efforts. But instead of addressing governmental hypocrisy regarding its drug policy or New York’s arcane Rockefeller laws—real issues, dude—Soling offers profoundly assailable logic like “George Washington grew the chronic, man, why can’t we?” Twice. Dazed and Confused‘s Slater dispensed that treasured bit of stoner history with Aristotelian grace, compared to Soling’s leaden delivery. Ineptitude is so thorough here that War on . . . could only make sense as a sinister governmental smear campaign to justify the war on drugs and total sobriety.
Inspiring sobering thoughts of a different kind, Roger Weisberg’s PBS documentary Waging a Living chronicles the lives of four low-wage earners whose struggle to support their families becomes, as profilee Barbara Brooks notes, a paradoxical form of “hustling backwards.” Weisberg, whose stripped-down style seems refreshing amid the current spate of super-produced docs, gives you what you want, if what you want are dismally deferred American Dreams and harsh economic realities. And you should. The New York Times‘ Sunday Style-ized “Class Matters,” in fact, matters much less in light of Weisberg’s film, which spent three years with its subjects, painting with a vibrant vérité brush what the Gray Lady’s tones missed.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on June 14, 2005