Movies I Slept Through – Bulletproof Monk

If someone asks you what you did last night and your answer is, “I watched Bulletproof Monk,” your conversation isn’t going to last much longer.

Kar(Sean William Scott) is a pickpocket who meets an unnamed monk while running from the police? The monk, who has been entrusted to guard an incredibly powerful scroll, is also fleeing people working for a former NAZI commander? The two separate, but not before Kar swipes the scroll? The monk follows Kar when he is captured by Mister Funkstatic(There’s a tattoo of his name on his chest if you don’t believe me)’s gang for “boosting” on his “turf”?(This movie was released in 2003, not 1987) The monk sees some promise in Kar and decides to take him under his wing and see if he may fill the prophecy to become the next protector of the scroll?

I honestly don’t think Bulletproof monk gets enough credit for being a terrible movie. It has terrible wire work, NAZIs, ancient scrolls, a protagonist who learned to fight by watching martial arts movies and a machine that I’m not actually sure, but I think it has the ability to steal the thoughts out of someone’s mind. If only there were lasers… if only…

There’s really nothing good about Bulletproof Monk. It’s lazy. From the blatant wire work to the horribly dialogue(I one point the main character explains why he chose the Cantonese word for family as his name: “I figured I never had one so now I’ll never be without.”) Not one of the fight scenes is compelling and every attempt to make you care about anything is lazy at best.

It would be acceptable to watch Bulletproof Monk after meeting the following criteria:

  • You’re with friends
  • It’s after midnight
  • You’re slightly to fully inebriated
  • You can’t find your copy of American Ninja

Bulletproof Monk gets a solid Sleep Throughout because I did enjoy the ridiculousness of the whole piece.

Movies I Slept Through – Blue Valentine

[Note: I spoil Marley & Me in this post. I honestly didn’t think you would mind. Also, if you do mind, you’d probably like to know I use the “f-word” too.(Shame on me)]

Blue Valentine is like watching your parents divorce, but you actually care about the marriage falling apart because your dad is Ryan Gosling.

Dean(The World’s 2nd Sexiest Man Alive, Ryan Gosling) and Cindy(Michelle Williams) are engaged in the type of marriage no one wants, but we’re all inevitably hurtling toward. His dream of making it big as a rock star ukulele player never really panned out.(Fuck you Israel “Iz” Kamakawiwoʻole) Dean now works as a house painter and Cindy is a nurse. They have a daughter, Frankie(Faith Wldaya), whom they both love and you get the sense is the only reason they’re still together. Dean has a line near the beginning of the film that somewhat sums up their situation, “I’m just tired, you know? I’m just fuckin’ tired.”

The action is split between showing how Dean and Cindy came together (he worked as a mover and she helped care for her elderly grandmother) and how their marriage is currently falling apart. In the beginning, Cindy is fed up with the fact that Dean isn’t serious enough. He drinks every morning before work, but sees this as a perk. He has no drive to become something better.  As the story unfolds, however, it’s revealed that things aren’t that simple. The kindest thing Blue Valentine does is getting the death of their family dog out of the way in the beginning.(Fuck you Marley & Me)

The World’s 2nd Sexiest Man Alive, Ryan Gosling, and Michelle Williams give equally great performances. They have great chemistry as young lovers and that lingers over the dead inside married couple.  A lot of praise should go to co-writer/director Derek Cianfrance. His background in documentary film making really shines through as he tells a very real, heartbreaking story.

Blue Valentine is extremely well-balanced. It’s an unabashedly brutal and simultaneously beautiful film. It gets a Full Energy Drink.

The text I sent my friend summing up this movie:

Dude. Blue Valentine is awesome. Also, women are the worst.

What did you think? Let me know in the comments. Also, if you liked this post, don’t be a jerk, share it with your friends.

Movies I Slept Through – The Artist

“The Artist” has less color than the 1952 Hickory basketball team.

“The Artist” is the story of George Valentin(Jean Dujardin), a prominent silent movie star who is handsome and charming. He’s the tits of the town and kind of a dick about it. One night, after hamming it up at a movie premiere, he bumps into an exceptionally adorable young woman who poses with him as the press snap photos.

The woman turns out to be Peppy Miller(Bérénice Bejo), a young dancer and actresses who is just starting in the business.  At another chance meeting, George saves her from being fired; ultimately giving her the first break as an actress.

The main conflict comes when George’s film producer(John Goodman) introduces him to talkies. George laughs in his face because, remember, he’s kind of a dick. He’s essentially laughing in the face of the guy who came up with the idea for microchips and saying, “Piss off. Punch Cards Forever!” George refuses to accept the new medium and sits by to watch talkies and Peppy Miller grow in popularity.

The not-so-secret star of “The Artist” is Uggie, the dog. I’m willing to say that this movie would be near unwatchable if the dog wasn’t involved. Unless you spent your childhood maiming and killing small animals(in which case, you’re probably a sociopath of some sort and should really get that checked out), you’ll be completely mesmerized by Uggie. So mesmerized, in fact, that you’ll be tricked into thinking you’re super artistic and really loving Michel Hazanavicius’s delightful, nostalgic playfulness.(I kid, I kid)

I was a little skeptical going in to watch “The Artist”. From the outside, it seems like it’s going to be work.

“Hey, do you want to see a silent film about a prideful man’s refusal to accept the changing world around him?”

“Uhh”

“There’s a cute dog in it.”

“Ok.”

It actually isn’t a lot of work. It’s compelling and often quite funny. The humour is classic.(So classic, in fact, I felt the need to spell it all weird like that.) You won’t roll in the floor laughing, but it’ll make you smile. Jean Dujardin and Bérénice Bejo both give great performances. Jean’s character often comes off as a jerk, but when he smiles, it makes you smile. If given a choice between Uggie and Bérénice Bejo for an adorable companion, I’d ultimately choose Bérénice, but only because of life expectancy.

“The Artist” is a fun and touching look at a bygone era. It seems intimidating on the surface, but quickly breaks the ice and leads to a nice story. I did get a bit yawny toward the end, but that may be a result of our ultra awesome constant stimulation society. Regardless, “The Artist” gets a Coffee.

Suggestion: If you liked “The Artist” check out last year’s animated silent film “The Illusionist“. It’s just as adorable with some similar themes.

Movies I Slept Through – J. Edgar

“J. Edgar” is the origin story of the FBI and ultimately, “The X-Files”

John Edgar Hoover is a complex figure in American history. He came along at the exact moment when he could accomplish the things he wanted. He served as the creator and director of the FBI for nearly 40 years and created many technological advances used in law enforcement today. His personal life has been subject to speculation following his death. If he were born into today’s 24 hour news cycle society he’d more likely be Augusten Burroughs than director of the FBI. We know too much about people now to make a surprising movie about someone. There won’t be any movies about Herman Cain in 40 years where you find out things and say, “He did what with those women?”

[It should be noted that I saw this movie under the best circumstances. I was one of 4 people in the theatre so I felt like an eccentric recluse who forces his staff to watch films with him.]

J Edgar” takes a look at some of the major accomplishments of his lengthy career. If you think J. Edgar Hoover is President Herbert Hoover, you’re going to learn a lot. If you’re a student of history or just super old, chances are you’ll be familiar with a lot the content, but “J Edgar” also focuses on a lot of his personal life. It takes some strong stands on his relationship with his mother and good friend Clyde Tolson(Armie Hammer).

Leonardo DiCaprio plays Hoover and does a phenomenal job, as expected. For DiCaprio, it’s a character similar in scope and style to Howard Hughes in “The Aviator.”(It’s the way of the future.) He completely becomes the character. It’s really gotten to the point that if he doesn’t blow you away with his performances, the entire film is a failure. DiCaprio is beyond the point of being allowed to phone it in.

A lot of care went into the production of sets and especially the makeup. A good portion of “J. Edgar” takes place when he’s an older man. The makeup looks great when they’re in a controlled environment and intentional lighting, but some scenes, especially the ones that take place outdoors, makes the elderly J. Edgar and Clyde Tolson look like Dan Aykroyd in “Nothing But Trouble.”

“J. Edgar” suffers most in its directing. Clint Eastwood wants to make every scene a poignant one and results in the movie having no ebb and flow. Everything comes off at the same level. The story is told mostly as Hoover dictates his biography and often feels like you’re being dictated to. It also suffers from the fact that J. Edgar Hoover just wasn’t really a likeable or trustworthy guy. He’s interesting, sure, but at no point did I find myself pulling for him.

It’s not a bad movie by any stretch, but also falls short of last year’s great historical biopic “The King’s Speech.” There’s an explosion near the beginning of the movie, but after that feel free to doze off at any point. Anything you miss can be filled in by the members of your house staff you forced to sit through it, or, lacking that, just check wikipedia.

Movies I Slept Through – Submarine

“Submarine” is like an after school special where you learn spying on your parents is necessary and bullying gets you chicks.

When I think back to my childhood, I can’t remember what I was thinking. I can remember what I felt, but more often than not, when I try to remember what was going through my mind, I can only apply what I would think now. I’m very different from when I was when I was 15. Well, except for the fact that I still laugh at farts. (Unexpected body noises are universal comedy truths) The protagonist of “Submarine” approaches the world with that same sort of detachment. Although, I don’t think he’d like farts as much as I do.

Oliver Tate(Craig Roberts) is 15 and going through two mid-puberty crises. The hormonal pressure to have sex is becoming undeniable and his parents have grown distant. He’s made note of their lack of love-making and decides to get them together before it’s too late. His personal sex problem (new band name?) is fueled when Oliver decides to target Jordana(Yasmin Paige) a decision that’s based more on her popularity level than his attraction to her. He’s even willing to relax his rules on bullying people just to impress her.

Craig Roberts and Yasmin Paige really shine as detached teens looking for something to hold on to. The performances of the whole cast are pitch perfect throughout. It’s a rather sad movie, but also very funny in an understated way. You won’t find any one man wolf packs or brides taking a shit in the middle of the street, but there are some genuine funny moments if you’re looking for them. (They seem more precious when you have to find them.)

“Submarine” is directed by Richard Ayoade. If you’re a fan of British shows, you may recognize him as Moss on “The IT Crowd” or a couple of roles in “The Mighty Boosh.” He has directed a few things before, but this is his most ambitious project. It really is quite stunning. His use of colors is impressive. Most of the world is filled with grays and blacks, but occasionally someone’s outfit will pop. There are some “Big Fish” time stop shots that are used a bit too often, but not to the point of annoyance.

“Submarine” explores the subject of relationships. Focusing on one relationship that’s just getting started and another that’s slowly flickering out. I couldn’t quite justify giving “Submarine” a Full Energy Drink, but it’s definitely worth a Coffee for the great performances, directing and subtle sense of humor.

Movies I Slept Through – Red State

“Red State” is like a confused, angry chimpanzee that attacks random people after you lovingly made fart jokes with it for years.

When I was younger, my mom or grandparents would take my brothers and me to the local video store and allow us to rent basically whatever we wanted. We weren’t extremely wealthy so our choices were restricted to the old releases at 5 for $5. In one of the most influential trips, completely unaware of the connection, we brought back “Clerks” and “Mallrats.” From that moment forward, I was a fan of Kevin Smith. It almost bordered on obsession for a while. I’ve seen all of his movies, except for “Cop Out,” but I don’t quite count it because he just directed. I traveled to Jay and Silent Bob’s Secret Stash in Red Bank and bought the t-shirt Brodie wears in “Mallrats.” Hell, I even bought a copy of “Now You Know” because Jeff Anderson(Randal from “Clerks”) wrote and directed it. It should also be noted that if my grandfather was the one to take us we were basically required to get horror movies. On Fridays, we would buy Little Caesar’s pizza and then he would pay money to which one of us could stay awake the latest.

So, when I heard Kevin Smith was working on a horror movie, I immediately got to work on building a time machine so I could travel back and screen it for the 15-year-old version of me. Unfortunately, 15-year-old me was busy watching Kevin Smith movies instead of studying physics, so I didn’t get very far. (Sorry about that.)

Travis(Michael Angarano)is jaded when it comes to life in the small town. He doesn’t even seem to care when he sees members the Five Points Church protesting the funeral of a gay teen who was killed in an apparent hate crime. If there is one thing on the planet that can motivate any male teen, it’s sex, and when Travis is approached by his friends Billy-Ray(Nicholas Braun) and Randy(Ronnie Connell) to meet up with an online sex partner, he’s up(heh) for it.

The teens set out for a simple night of triple teaming a random lady. Boys will be boys, you know? After having a few beers, the guys kinda pass out for a while and wake up a little closer to the Five Points Church than they’d like to be. By “a little closer,” I mean tied up in the basement and shit. There’s a lesson to learned here. If you meet up with someone online, and one of the first things they say to you is, “The devil’s right in here,” run. Run as fast as you can. Unless, of course, you’re into that kind of thing.

The acting for the entire cast is pretty solid. Michael Parks puts in a really great performance as the charismatic leader of the church. Managing to keep interest during the extra long sermon scene is particularly impressive. John Goodman also stands out as a torn ATF agent who doesn’t know if it’s better to follow orders or stand by his morals.

The tone and focus of “Red State” shifts about halfway through. It sets up like it’s going to be a modern horror where teens are tortured for their misdeeds, but it turns to more of a thriller once John Goodman’s ATF agent is introduced. This is where “Red State” begins to break apart. There just end up being too many characters and subplots that don’t get enough time spent with them. All together it’s like “Hostel” meets “The Devil’s Rejects” meets “The Negotiator” meets “The People Under the Stairs” with a tiny bit of “Chasing Amy” sprinkled in. “Amy’s Hostel Rejects Negotiating Under the Stairs?”

Kevin Smith’s touch on the movie can be found in the lengthy dialogue and the one random “Clerks” style title screen that tells you the time. Other than that it feels like a completely different director. The overall feel of “Red State” is gritty and brutal. It certainly doesn’t exist in the same world where James Van Der Beek and Jason Biggs make “Bluntman and Chronic” movies. I found it refreshing to see him take such a different approach(There’s something 15-year-old me wouldn’t have said, for sure.)

The feel, direction and acting performances are enough to make “Red State” worth seeing even if the plot falls apart a bit. You’ll need to Nap Before if you’re going to stay awake through the sermon scene and it’ll be worth it to see Kevin Pollack in a classic “Is That Kevin Pollack?” role.

Movies I Slept Through – The Longest Yard(1974)

“The Longest Yard” relies on all the tropes of 1970s comedies like domestic violence and burning people alive.

Paul “Wrecking” Crewe(Burt Reynolds) is a former NFL MVP winning quarterback who has been out of the league for 8 years. He suddenly decides to leave the woman who’s been supporting him after she questions why he watches football all the time. When she attempts to stop him from taking her car, he fiercely grabs her by the face and pushes her to the ground before taking the police on a wild car chase. The 1970’s were hilarious, weren’t they?

Once in prison, Crewe is approached by the warden to observe the semi-pro football team that’s made up of the prison’s guards. When Crewe suggests they should play a warm up game, (making him one of the few people in football to suggest that preseason is important) the warden tasks Crewe with putting together a team of prisoners to face the guards.

One problem with “The Longest Yard” is I couldn’t sympathize with any of the characters. They’re prisoners and there’s not one attempt to make any of them seem like anything else. The guards are the bad guys because they come off as bullies when they’re trying to control the prisoners, there’s one scene where they’re jerks to a character and one of them demeans one of the black characters. Other than that, they’re mainly just guards. The prisoners actively train with the intent of hurting the guards. One of the prisoners burns a man alive. It’s a pretty startling scene in what’s supposedly a comedy.

The biggest flaw is in their use of Burt Reynold’s mustache. I can forgive a movie for having a stacheless Reynold’s(Deliverance), but “The Longest Yard” gives us the mustache in the beginning, but then takes it away once he gets to prison. How could you do this? It’s like telling your friend you’re going to give him Five Guys for dinner, but then bringing home Burger King and slapping him in the face. Never mess with a man’s burger and never mess with Burt Reynold’s mustache.

“The Longest Yard”  just doesn’t stand the test of time and there’s not much reason to watch it, unless you’re a fan of people burning alive, but then I’d suggest “Mississippi Burning.” “The Longest Yard” gets a Sleep Throughout.

Movies I Slept Through – Deliverance

“Deliverance” is like going on a date with a lovely lady and halfway through realizing she’s a man, but you still have good time talking about football.

[Reason #2 for Burt Reynolds month: Even without his beautiful mustache, Burt is able to demand attention while on-screen. A sign of a truly great man.]

Lewis, Ed, Bobby and Drew (Burt Reynolds, Jon Voight, Ned Beatty and Ronny Cox) are setting out on a canoe trip down the Cahulawasse River. The river, as Lewis puts it, is, “The last unfucked up river in the south.” A dam is being erected in the area and Lewis wants the guys to experience nature in its purest form before the entire area becomes a lake.

Lewis is the only one of the bunch that has any experience, but he’s also a bit of a hot head. At one point he says he doesn’t believe in insurance because there’s no risk. Drew is the guy that just had to bring his guitar on a white water rafting trip, Ed is the one who dresses like he’s trying to find Dr. Livingston and Bobby is the fat one(Way to not be typecast, Ned Beatty). So, what could possibly go wrong in the back hills of Georgia with one kinda crazy and three inexperienced outdoorsmen? Absolutely everything.

There’s a great moment near the beginning of the film where Drew performs “Dueling Banjos” with a local boy they run into. As the battle of banjo and guitar rages on, things  get a little too fast and Drew can no longer keep up. It’s a brilliant scene that sets the tone for the entire film. One of my other favorite moments comee during the early scenes as well, when old school southern curse words pop up like, “God Almighty!” and, my personal favorite, “Shit-Fire!”

“Deliverance” is tough to watch at times. There are uncomfortable scenes of sexual violence that you couldn’t sleep through if you wanted to and, trust me, you will. These scenes, however, create a sense of vulnerability where you feel no one is safe. All of the performances are solid and has two of the most misquoted lines in history. Those being, “I bet you can squeal like a pig,” and, “He got a real pretty mouth, ain’t he?”

[A Note from the Future: This movie was remade in 2014 and those lines were changed to, “Squeal like a pig, bro!” and, “He got a real pretty mouth, ain’t he? No homo.”]

The score has its up and downs. “Dueling Banjos” is used excellently during the beginning, but then it appears in more scenes than a porn star who’s about to be relegated to MILF status. They use it for happy scenes, scary scenes and sad scenes. It works in some of them, but in others it’s almost laughable.

“Deliverance” is often cited as one of the best movies of all time, but I can’t quite see it. It’s a fine movie, and very suspenseful, but the last fifteen minutes were basically useless and the over use of “Dueling Banjos” detracts from certain areas.  “Deliverance” gets a Nap Before, but I won’t blame you if you doze off a little.

Movies I Slept Through – Stroker Ace

“Stroker Ace” is a 1980’s ode to fried chicken, topless dudes and the ultra smooth taste of Winston cigarettes.

[Reason #1 for Burt Reynolds month: Burt Reynolds supposedly turned down a role in “Terms of Endearment”(one that Jack Nicholson won an OSCAR for) to play Stroker Ace.]

Stroker Ace(Burt Reynolds) is the bad boy of the NASCAR circuit. He says and does whatever he wants and wins with almost as much ease, when he has a car that can keep up with him. The only problem is his abrasiveness keeps sponsors away. Stroker’s  pit chief Lugs(Jim Nabors) does what he can to hold things together, but it just isn’t working anymore.

Stroker has no choice but to sign with Clyde Torkle(Ned Beatty) the owner of The Chicken Pit chain of fried chicken restaurants. Mostly through being an idiot, he signs the enormous contract without reading it. Hilarity supposedly ensues when Stroker realizes there were unexpected clauses. He’s forced to do ribbon cutting ceremonies and other brilliantly funny things like wear a chicken suit. Ha. Ha. Classic comedy.

Burt Reynolds is playing his “I’m Burt F’N Reynolds” character that developed after he discovered he could make movies where he plays himself and people will still see them because he’s Burt F’N Reynolds. If you’re down with Burt being Burt, then you’ll be fine with his performance here. Jim Nabors reprises his role as “the guy who’s never been laid” and sings to cement his status as “that guy who people think are really goofy but has a nice singin’ voice.”(Ok… no more “made up names for things” in this review…)

“Stroker Ace”  is really weird when it comes down to it.  Most of the attempts at comedy aren’t successful, but there’s plenty of unintentional comedy and WTF moments. Including seeing how many men in the 1970s/80s didn’t wear shirts and a scene where I’m 95% sure Burt Reynolds rapes the female lead. It does, however, have it’s own theme song written by Charlie Daniels.[Legit Note: Theme songs for crappy movies need to make a come back] Also, keep an eye out for cameos from confederate flags and the “Mistress of the Dark”(I didn’t make that one up) Elvira.

“Stroker Ace” isn’t a groundbreaking piece of cinema. Hell, it isn’t even a decent piece of cinema, but it is the perfect movie to put on for a lazy Saturday and Nap During.

Movies I Slept Through – Tangled

“Tangled” is the animated story of Jaycee Dugard. Wait, that can’t be right…

“Tangled” is an updated story of Rapunzel, the girl with extra long hair who is trapped in a tower by an evil witch. That’s the typical story we’re told growing up, but this is Disney’s spin on it. In the Disney version, Rapunzel is a girl with magic hair who is trapped in a tower by an evil witch and has a chameleon. See how different it is?

In “Tangled,” Rapunzel(voiced by Mandy Moore) is pretty damned happy considering she’s been trapped in a tower for most of her life. She still has the willpower to sing upbeat songs about the things she does all day. When Flynn Rider(voiced by Zachary Levi), a swashbuckling thief makes his way into her tower, she convinces him to take her to see the lanterns that appear in the sky each year on her birthday.

The bulk of the film is the pair trying to get to the lanterns and avoid the guards, witch and horse that are hunting them down. The action scenes are a lot of fun and really engaging. The real strong point is in the animation. Every character conveys great emotion even the ones who don’t speak like the chameleon and the horse, Maximus. Maximus is one of the best characters in “Tangled.” He’s like a mix between Jim Carey and Robin Williams, but not as big of a horse’s ass during interviews.

“Tangled” stumbles at points, especially in the songs. Mandy Moore and Donna Murphy sound great, but instead of being classic songs that people will sing during drunken karaoke in their mid twenties, they feel more like a desperate college student who switches his paper font to Courier New in order to get that extra two pages and meet the minimum requirement. Also, Rapunzel’s hair seems to change length to fit the situation but if you’re able to say to yourself, “Oh, right, magic hair,” you should be fine.

“Tangled” is undeniably cute. The songs are lacking, but the animation and the characters’ ability to show emotions are what push it over the edge and make it a Nap Before.