REM: Really Entertaining Movies/Music

Robert Duvall in the 1979 classic Apocalypse Now.

Formerly published in The Other Press. Mar. 5 2013

Great movies and albums I can’t stay awake for

By Elliot Chan, Staff Writer

Great films and albums aren’t always the ones that keep us on the edge of our seats or send us dancing until the sun comes up. Some fantastic works of art have a drowsing effect; they challenge the senses and cause the brain to concentrate extra hard on picking up the subtleties. These exhausting marathon films and albums are not meant for large groups of friends, nor are they the type of entertainment for a casual night in. They are a commitment you make, and patience, perseverance, and maybe a cup of coffee will help you reach the credit without snoozing.

Apocalypse Now (1979): Touted as one of the greatest war movies ever, the 153-minute running time felt like an endless anticipation for a battle scene that never comes. The film opens with those famous lyrics from The Doors, “This is the end…” Ironic. I have never watched it in one conscious sitting. During multiple screenings I recall Martin Sheen’s character Benjamin Willard getting on the boat and riding down the river, then fade to black and suddenly there is Dennis Hopper and an ox is getting sliced in half. I always wake up for Marlon Brando’s “The horror… the horror!” and then doze back to an uncomfortable sleep and waking up to the smell of napalm in the morning.

Bon Iver (Bon Iver) (2011): If you have a long study session or a workout and would like the accompaniment of music, avoid this album. Like a sunny day at the beach, Bon Iver has the ability to suck energy from mortal men. How can anyone be productive with his soothing ambient vocals? If you want to enjoy this album in its entirety, cancel all your plans. But trust me, it will be worth it.

jj n° 2 (jj) (2009): Based from Sweden, the members of jj have transformed R&B and hip-hop classics by such names as Akon, Lil Wayne, and Kanye West into soft-melodic tunes. Incorporating their own lyrical twist and adding a psychedelic aspect to familiar beats, jj has joined a large group of independent musicians in a subgenre called dream pop. Jj’s n°  2 is a terrific album for an afternoon on the porch with a friendly companion and a cup of Earl Grey, but what the artists recommend is another element they suggest right on the album cover (Spoilers: it’s weed).

Lord of the Rings – The Two Towers (2002): I sometimes do nerdy things, but I am not the most persistent nerd, proven by my many failed attempts at watching theLord of the Rings trilogy in a marathon. I can watch the first one, Fellowship of the Ring (2001), with little or no problems. Frodo takes the ring, Gandalf falls in Moria, and Boromir dies—bing, bang, boom. But the second one is an absolute struggle, and it is because of the scenes with the Ents (talking trees). While Merry and Pippin were trying to convince the passive tree race to join in the battle for Middle Earth, the dreadfully slow dialogue had already defeated me. Maybe one day I’ll watch The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings together… then again, maybe I’ll sleep on it.

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