Monday, February 23, 2009
There's a place that's not so close to where I live called Humboldt County. Along with the neighboring counties of Mendocino and Trinity, Humboldt is notorious for it's marijuana production. Multiple reports have noted that marijuana accounts for two-thirds of Mendocino's economy. Besides the pot, this region of California is also famous for it's giant Redwood trees that can grow up to 380 feet tall and it's proximity to the Pacific Coast.
I bring this magical place up because I recently watched a movie entitled Humboldt County. It's basically about a disillusioned medical student who finds himself in Humboldt living amongst the pot farmers. Similar to Zach Braff's overly-melodramatic films, the film felt like a mixture of Pineapple Express, Into the Wild, and Garden State. And like Braff's films, Humboldt County had some great indie music. Despite its controversial subject matter, the film was touching and interesting, almost introspective. And though the movie does present pot in a positive light, it doesn't overwhelm you with propaganda. The movie maintains an ominous mood throughout, never forgetting that growing pot is still illegal. Instead, the movie focuses on the people and their lives in Humboldt. The themes are familiar: strained father-son relationships and confusion about one's place and direction in life. And it's these themes that drive the characters to act the way they do, making the drugs more of an afterthought and one aspect of the setting and background. Filmed in the Redwoods of California, the film takes full advantage of Humboldt's natural beauty with some exquisite cinematography. The characters are well-developped, and the actors bring raw emotions to the film, reminding the viewer that pot is not just a hippie drug, but a way of life and sometimes a last resort.
But what really makes the film memorable was it's selection of great indie folk artists on its soundtrack. Before watching this movie, I had never heard of any of the bands on the soundtrack. As someone who is more into heavier rock and hip-hop, I usually don't stray beyond Death Cab or Snow Patrol for my indie rock, but the moment the film ended, I immediately googled "humboldt county soundtrack." After a little research, I found that Junip, Radical Face, and Earlimart were the main artists that provided the film with it's dreamy, folksy sound. If you are into Animal Collective, Fleet Foxes, Band of Horses, or Rogue Wave, you will most likely like these bands.
And after all, "It's just a plant."
Posted by akshay at 7:08 PM