Film & TV

Rakontur's Square Grouper Premieres on Showtime Tonight

Here's one more film to watch during your blissed-out smokefest tonight: Square Grouper, Miami media studio Rakontur's documentary offering an inside look into '70s pot smuggling in our fair city.

The Billy Corben-directed movie makes its TV debut tonight on Showtime at 8 p.m., giving you another chance to revisit the histories of Robert Platshorn, the Black Tuna Gang, the Ethiopian Zion Coptic Church, and all the drama that went down in and around Everglades City during the kick-off of the war on drugs.

New Times has long had its eye on the history of pot smuggling during that period. In 2008, we profiled Black Tuna Gang leader Robert Platshorn, the "hippie at heart" responsible for transporting millions of dollars' worth of weed from Colombia to South Florida, shortly after he was released from a 28-year prison sentence. Last summer, Riptide reported that another Black Tuna associate, Mark Steven Phillips, had been belatedly sentenced to five years after living in hiding ever since the gang's 1979 trial. And just a couple months ago, we noted that Platshorn had returned to his pot-friendly ways, albeit in a more legal form: advocating for legalization at gatherings for seniors.

If you missed O Cinema's screening of Square Grouper during the Rakontur retrospective last month, 4/20 is the perfect date to watch these stories, and the others that Corben and company included in the film, come to life on your TV screen. Especially since the film has received a string of great reviews. In its review, the Miami Herald noted Corben's journalistic research chops. called it "a hilarious, tragic tale of Florida ganja," which, even though the words "hilarious" and "tragic" apply to most stories about South Florida, is still high praise.

But perhaps the greatest compliment came from the New York Post: "You could get a contact high just watching it."

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Ciara LaVelle is New Times' former arts and culture editor. She earned her BS in journalism at Boston University and moved to Florida in 2004. She joined New Times' staff in 2011.
Contact: Ciara LaVelle