For once, a documentary that matches the spirit of its subject. Mitch Dickman’s Rolling Papers charts Colorado’s first calendar year of legalized marijuana through the lens of Ricardo Baca, the cannabis editor at the Denver Post; this appointment, it probably goes without saying, was the first of its kind from a major daily newspaper (ditto the pot critics who were also taken aboard).
Dickman laces early scenes with both the good-times vibe of bassy hip-hop and the paranoid scrawl of onscreen text, enhancing the experience without overwhelming it. But the film’s not just for potheads. It proves a compelling examination of the state of print journalism, from the financial realities behind its decline to the possibility of changing with the times.
Thoughtful, serious coverage has both helped legitimize the weed industry in the wake of its state-sanctioned status and reminded readers of investigative journalism’s adaptability and relevance: Baca spearheads a report on improperly labeled THC levels in edibles while his reviewers break down different strains the way a sommelier might describe various vintages.
Without coming across as a soapbox for narcs or unserious stoners, Rolling Papers gives a clearheaded account of things as they stand and where they might be headed — the ink-stained wretch as pot-smoking aesthete. There’s no haze, but it’s a good trip all the same.
Directed by Mitch Dickman
Opens February 19, Village East Cinema