Whiplash (2014)

whiplash_2014_poster
Whiplash (2014)
  • Time: 106 min
  • Genre: Drama | Music
  • Director: Damien Chazelle
  • Cast: Miles Teller, J.K. Simmons, Melissa Benoist

Storyline:

A young and talented drummer attending a prestigious music academy finds himself under the wing of the most respected professor at the school, one who does not hold back on abuse towards his students. The two form an odd relationship as the student tries to achieve greatness, and the professor tries to stop him.

15 reviews

  • There has been an incredible amount of movies about kids who are following their dreams and have a tough couch that they hate. This formula has become quite cliché, luckily, Whiplash escapes it.

    Ernest Hemingway once said about his profession, that “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” This line, thought directed at his job as an author, is, in fact, applied to life. The movie’s main character has this perfectly applied to his talents. He isn’t a Mozart, who was born with the incredible gift to perform as musician. He, as most out there, had to become a good player through practice: Sitting down at the drums and bleeding.

    Thought there are a certain number of characters who play an important part in it (such as the ones played by Paul Reiser or Melissa Benoist), the movie truly goes around Andrew and Fletcher, who receive tremendously incredible performance from Miles Teller and J.K. Simmons.

    In fact, the entire crew did a good job with this movie and, exactly because of this, it is one of thee single greatest masterpieces of the year.

    For anyone who decided to follow something that matters for themselves, ignoring how profitable it must be, this movie will captivate you. For anyone who has a passion towards jazz, the drums or simply music, this movie will captivate you. For anyone who simply loves movies, with well done shots and a good screenplay, this movie will captivate you.

  • Andrew (Miles Teller) has one goal: to be one of the greats. The young jazz drummer’s all-consuming, single-minded focus is nurtured by Fletcher (J.K. Simmons), the star instructor of the top-ranked Shaffer Conservatory of Music. The mesmerising Whiplash examines the nature of that nurture.

    Feared and admired, Fletcher eschews encouragement in favour of emotional and physical lacerations. “There are no two words in the English language more harmful than ‘good job,'” he intones and so he spurs on his students with intimidation and invectives. In an early scene, he halts the rehearsal, there’s someone out of tune. Identify yourself, he demands, isolating each section until he singles out one cowering student who confesses to be the culprit. After ejecting the player, Fletcher coolly informs the class that the student wasn’t out of tune, but he didn’t know if he was or wasn’t and that’s crime enough.

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  • This film is highly recommended.

    The need to create and the artistic challenges that go along with that innate desire are the force empowering the characters in Whiplash, a wonderful melodrama about a controlling teacher and his talented student. Their ongoing conflict is the basis for this film. Despite some overdone moments, it is one of this year’s best.

    Skillfully written and directed by Damien Chazelle, Whiplash tells its conventional story very well. Andrew Neiman (Miles Teller) has a dream of becoming a first class jazz drummer and nothing will stand in his way. He practices daily, to the point of bloody self-destruction, and gets the attention of Terence Fletcher (J.K. Simmons), a demanding conductor at the school whose high standard of excellence becomes Andrew’s mantra.

    Chazelle has made a stylish film with superb editing by Tom Cross that follows the riffs and rhythms of its musical score while focusing on its central players. The passionate performances by Teller and Simmons are remarkable. Their rehearsal scenes crackle with tension as their relationship builds to become a master class in acting. Teller conveys the youthful eagerness to please with the vulnerable side of a gifted musician’s fervent interest in his art. Simmons has been given the role of his career. There is no beloved Mr. Chips on campus. This professor lobs his barbed words at his class for direct impact and makes his tirades sting with indignation. If Simmon’s memorable role as the overly zealous Fletcher is overlooked this award season, then the rules need to be revamped immediately.

    However, the logical question does arise and make one pause to the actual reality of academia: Could a music professor be so sadistic and cruel and still be in charge of this class? The physical and mental abuse he inflicts on his pupils is layered with constant profanity, racial slurs, and acts of violence that certainly would never have given him tenure, let alone keep a job. This leap of logic almost tilts the story to absurdity.

    But the dramatics on screen outweigh the reality of the situation. The film is so well crafted and boasts two of this year’s finest performances that it demands your attention. Whiplash remains emotionally involving from its first note to its last. GRADE: B+

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  • Mark Avery

    When someone at work asked me what I was doing for the weekend I replied that I was going to see Whiplash, “What’s that?” came the reply, “a movie about a drummer” I proclaimed, “well that sounds riveting”. Despite the apparent air of sarcasm I couldn’t have found a more appropriate word if I tried. Don’t worry, I’ll drum into them just how ‘riveting’ on my return.

    Director Damien Chazelle is a mere spring chicken at the ripe old age of 29, yet with ‘Whiplash’, his first full feature, he hasn’t just crept into Tinseltown through the back door, no he’s rather smashed his way straight through its lavish front. For this movie will draw you in, punch you in the face, chew you up and then spit you back out.

    Miles Teller plays Andrew Neyman, an aspiring 19 year old Jazz drummer who worships the virtuoso’s, yet believes that he too harbours that same ingredient for greatness. On venturing into a musical academy he runs into Fletcher, played by J.K. Simmons, a music teacher who never considers how much is too much when striving for perfection. He recognises Andrew’s potential for genius from the opening scene and will do whatever it takes to get him there, even if mental breakdown could be the result. To Fletcher, human collateral damage is immaterial when stood in the face of brilliance. “The worst two words in the English vocabulary are good job”. Similar themes can be found in 1996’s ‘Shine’, a true story where our musical prodigy’s father was the abuser and mental breakdown was the result.

    Fletcher will be viewed as the villain, this terrifying monster who has his musicians kept on tender hooks. A puppeteer if you will who has each member, quite literally, held and conducted by the palm of his hand, how he conducts himself however is another question. J.K. Simmons will more than likely be holding the Oscar for ‘Best Supporting Actor’ come February, but I felt his best came in the more understated and subtle moments, a mute gesture or raised eyebrow. Actions speaking louder than words. Come the sweaty palmed finale we don’t see a congratulatory ending, we don’t need to as Simmons look and nod of approval say more than a thousand words.

    At its core ‘Whiplash’ is the story of an abusive relationship, I’ve heard it being likened to war movies like ‘Full Metal Jacket’, yet ‘An Officer and a Gentleman’ would be more precise. This battle of wills and minds between its two core protagonists. To me this felt more like a sports movie, like two boxers gearing for war, preparing to do battle on the final stage. It’s certainly a fair fight too with Simmons owning the first 6 rounds only to be more than matched by Teller come the final 6. Just like ‘Rocky’ this ones going to the scorecards.

    Structurally Chazelle keeps things surprisingly slick with no excess fat. Artistically almost every scene is purposely framed off-centre with whizzing pans and elaborate angles, all servicing the frenetic moments when our leads are locked into battle, keeping you on the edge of your seat. The confidence with which Damien Chazelle operates is astounding and promises of great things to come, if he was in my film class I’d have been pushing him to near breaking point too.

    What can be said about that finale, my god. My throat was on fire, my brain had starved my mouth of all its moisture, I was literally crushing my own knee caps with sweaty palms. Bravo.

    Whiplash, without doubt the best sports movie I’ve ever seen about drumming. This movie will put you through a whole gamut of emotions from grief to joy, sadness to elation. We may only be in January but 2015 may not bring another movie as brilliant and brutal, savage and joyful all at once as this one. This will most certainly leave you in need of an encore.

    Bloody brilliant 9/10

  • As a drummer first and foremost in my life, you can probably imagine how excited I was to hear about a critically acclaimed movie surrounding a jazz drummer attempting to impress a damn near psychotic tutor at a prestigious music school. The knowledge that JK Simmons gives what many call his greatest performance in his career also acts as a great incentive to view this film. So, as both a movie and a study of the struggling music student, does Damien Chazelle’s Whiplash en’snare’ you the way it should (pun intended)?

    The film follows Andrew Neiman (played by Miles Teller) as he starts his life of music study in the Shaffer Conservatory. He impresses jazz maestro/conductor Terence Fletcher (J.K. Simmons) in an audition and is immediately invited to join his ensemble. However Fletcher is revealed to be a shockingly masterful manipulator of emotions and begins to berate and humiliate Neiman in front of the class because of a slight timing issue in one of the pieces. The tension amps up between the two and Neiman becomes obsessed with meeting Fletcher’s near impossibly high standards, sometimes to disastrous consequences outside of his musical life…

    Firstly, the foremost positives about this film are the fantastic acting performances; Teller and Simmons are both stunning in their roles, with Teller oozing an arrogance and self confidence through Neiman’s unstable attitude and Simmons absolutely owning the role of Fletcher, yelling insults and barbs that you would have to think are partially improvised. They both have Oscar potential in their roles, but make no mistake about it, this is Simmons’ film. He gives an absolutely outstanding performance, owning the screen with an eery focus and an apparent lust for every line he spits and spews towards the students. The supporting cast are practically unneeded for the film; they are all brilliant in their performances but they only seem to make any real screen time when playing music, otherwise this is very much Neiman vs Fletcher: The Movie.

    The direction outside of the musical performances is pretty average; the scenes between characters away from the music are shot with pretty clear, familiar angles and shots, with the occasional blurry shot or artsy zoom. However, when the lights are on bright and the musicians hit the stage, Chazelle’s direction takes a huge leap forward with really solid and original ways to view a swinging ‘Big Band’. Especially as the tension builds up between Neiman and Fletcher, the performances/rehearsals are captured in ways much more befitting that of a war film or a psychological thriller. Each performance becomes a film within itself and Chazelle delivers in spades on every one. Outside the music however, there isn’t a huge amount to talk about visually.

    One of the main criticisms I have for this movie is the approach to musician attitudes. There is no middle ground in this film between that of a non-musician and a musician. This film seems to state that if you aren’t a musician, you couldn’t possibly understand the struggle of one and if you are a musician, you absolutely HAVE to be the best! This comes off as a little pretentious, and this is coming from a drummer who views himself as predominantly a Jazz drummer. Neiman is an intense character, but it goes to an unrealistic level at points. With a breakup scene coming across as almost inhumanely cruel, Neiman makes assumptions about the girlfriend, basically stating that no matter what happens, he’s the bigger man for stopping the relationship before she dumps him for being too dedicated. While some people are cruel, this comes across as downright horrible. They also make a light suggestion that Neiman may be autistic with an ‘inability to look people in the eye’. This does also come across in the breakup scene as a statement, saying ‘he’s only this cruel because he’s a little weird’. It’s creates this strange inconsistency between what real life musicians are like and the characters in the film. In the end Neiman’s lasting message to me was ‘the only way you’ll succeed in music is if you dump your girlfriend, treat everyone else like crap and practice all the time instead of having friends’. No amount of practice will bring you more success than if you are approachable, and that is something that Neiman is certainly not. Make no mistake about it, I like unhinged and dislikable lead characters (Jake Gyllenhaal in Nightcrawler was one of my favourite performances last year), but Neiman’s character, while motivated and clearly passionate about music, does come across as a little too much for one character.

    The music itself is fantastic, with brilliant renditions of classic jazz standards. However it did have one primary flaw, and this is something I can happily admit to being simply a pretentious musician’s issue with the film. The drums and other instruments on-screen are frequently out of sync with the audio track of the music. This did take me out of the performances somewhat, with drums or cymbals crashing when they were never hit on camera and instruments playing at different speeds to the audio. Most of the time it was minimal, but on a couple of occasions it became really off-putting. Obviously this is coming from a drummer who is familiar with the instruments, but I can put this as a minor flaw in the grand scheme of the film, which overall is still a pretty damn good thrill ride!

    Overall Whiplash is a very intense and enjoyable film, with a great plot leading to an outstanding finale that truly encapsulates the journey that Fletcher and Neiman have been building towards. With a career high for J.K. Simmons and a great performance from Teller, it is a very high standard for 2015 to match. However some large flaws with Neiman character traits and a general ‘black-or-white’ approach to musicians does hinder the film somewhat. Music students will likely find some irritation with the audio syncing issues and I doubt anyone looking to study music in future will ever want to bother after seeing what this film show music schools to be like. Overall a flawed but very good effort from Chazelle. I will look forward to seeing what he does next.

    7.5/10

  • In our memory we all have a teacher that was truly hard on us. Someone of them we admired and resented at the same time. Sharing my personal story, I use to have been a professional ballet dancer and had teachers who mentally and physically assaulted me and put me through some of the worst experiences of my life. My first female ballet teacher from age 10 till 13 use to, on a daily bases, would break a wooden ruler on my body or if I was lucky on bodies of someone else in the class. From age 13 till 17 we had psychopathic male teacher who apart from constant psychological abuse, would actually be assaulting us physically, which eventually got him suspended from the school many years later when he unleashed his rage on someone from the younger students who eventually got concussions. Now, those memories of my early ballet training with people that should have never been allowed around children created in me sense of willingness to work hard and succeed in this difficult artistic profession. After 12 years of professional career dancing in some of the best companies in the world, I am able now to forgive the horrors of my youth and try to look for positive spin on the training I had with people that in it’s core were full of resentment and pain. They simply found position of power in their relationship with pupils and ultimate power corrupts, specially if they themselves did not had fulfilled careers in the first place. Would I have been less successful if I had normal teachers, I don’t know. Motivation to prove someone wrong can also be a powerful fuel…

    “Whiplash” written and directed by Damien Chazelle won an Audience Award at this years Sundance Film Festival among other awards and is gathered plenty of positive review, like this one on it’s way. It seems everyone can identify with this subtly told story of the relationship between student and his mentor that takes dramatic turns as the story progresses.

    “A promising 19-year-old jazz drummer Andrew Neyman (Miles Teller) enrolls at a cutthroat Shaffer Conservatory where his dreams of greatness are mentored by an instructor Terence Fletcher (J. K. Simmons) who will stop at nothing to realize a student’s potential.”

    Young people specially in artistic professions are often very sensitive. They express their pain through artistic expression. Their life might not be the most financially stable and often a good teacher will demand more from the students that have a lot of potential. In “Whiplash” character played by Miles Teller displays that masochistic dedication to his craft that usually have potential to be turned in to a successful career. This is precisely why he is being pushed by J. K. Simmons character beyond exhaustion and mental breakdown. I am not a huge Jazz fan and yet I was absolutely captivated by the scenes of countless rehearsals and performances which created the state of constant tension and fatigue for the characters. The mixture of sweet, blood and tears is literally on display here. The way those scenes are edited created in the viewer sense of anticipation to look for a breaking point that will end the movie in a valiant outburst of a tragedy from one of the students. To Damien Chazelle credit he keeps the audience not only entertained but also surprised by twists and turns of story that with lesser writer/ director could become very predictable.

    But the ultimate highlight here are two roles of the main actors. Miles Teller who apparently has been drumming since he was 15 years old, took additional lessons 4 hours a day, 3 days a week to prepare for the movie and let me tell you, he displays masterful control over the instrument. On top of the physical challenge he wonderfully displays the emotions that makes us root for him to succeed. In the past he played mostly in comedies however here he truly showcases his dramatic edge that works as a counter part towards J. K. Simmons character. There has been talk of J. K. Simmons might be getting a Oscar nomination for this role of sadistic, narcissistic teacher and indeed it would be justified one. In “Whiplash” the amount of venom that comes out of his being is intoxicating for the characters around him, as well as the audience. I am glad that he finely received opportunity to showcase his dramatic edge that might indeed bring him more work of this kind in the future. To be very picky I must say the Academy always likes to reward with nominations characters that display duality and bring aspect of sexuality to their performance which this character had plenty potential for which J. K. Simmons shy away from. That might have been a fault of the director though. Never the less J. K. Simmons delivers arguably his best work in his prominent career. As I mentioned before I am not a huge Jazz fan but I was very entertained by this complex character driven drama that is worth seeing for the performances alone. This film forced me to go back to my childhood and reevaluate my relationship with teachers that scare my inner self and yet in some way made me the person I am today for better or worse. Perhaps as they say what want kill you will only make you stronger…You decide this weekend by watching excellent “Whiplash”.

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  • An up and coming drummer is recruited and mentored by an instructor who will stop at nothing to get the best out of him. Don’t be confused with the title, this is not a film about a car crash, this is a actually a piece from the notorious Hank Levy. With five nominations from the Oscars, is Whiplash worthy?

    First of all, if you’re a lover of music (not musicals) then you will really appreciate Whiplash, it has a great soundtrack, but also some great music played within the film. The dedication Miles Teller (Divergent) put in to not only look believable on the drums, but to actually be able to play the drums, is beautiful. It’s really a shame when actors take on a role they have no intention on learning themselves, I don’t expect them to take up death defying stunts for their role, but for something like this, it’s really commendable to Teller for making that dedication.

    The battle between Miles Teller and J.K. Simmons (Spider-Man) is fantastic and really interesting to see play out. Simmons is that kind of teacher you can relate to, the person you…
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  • Whiplash tells the story of Andrew Nieman, a promising young jazz drummer who enrolls at a cutthroat music observatory where his dreams of greatness are mentored by an instructor who will stop at nothing to realize a student’s potential. Written and directed by Damien Chazelle and starring: Miles Teller and J.K Simmons, Whiplash is a heart-pounding, exhilarating ride that is driven by it’s two main stars and their fantastic performances. The film is so incredibly intense and I honestly can’t remember the last time I saw a movie as intense as this one.

    Miles Teller is very talented actor, a star in the making and he shows exactly how much talent he possesses in this breakthrough performance playing the protagonist Andrew Nieman. While Teller is very good he is somewhat overshadowed by J.K Simmons and his electrifying performance as Terence Fletcher, Nieman’s teacher. Simmons is one of the best character actors in Hollywood, He’s known mostly for his supporting performances as J. Jonah Jameson in Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man movies and supporting roles in just about every Jason Reitman movie, However the performance he has on offer here is truly something else unlike anything he’s ever done. Playing the antagonist Simmons’s performance is sadistic and captivating his character is very reminiscent to R. Lee Ermey’ character from Full Metal Jacket. Simmons also gives us perhaps one of the greatest cinematic villains in Terence Fletcher, one which rivals the likes of Anton Chigurh, The Joke and Hans Landa.

    While Music is the central theme of the movie it is about so much more than just that. Whiplash is essentially a film about a student who is willing to kill himself to accomplish his goal and a teacher who is willing to kill his student to get the best out of him. The movie is very moving emotionally and gripping. The film is loaded with intense and amazing scenes. the writing from Chazelle is top- notch, the dialogue is well-written and the character development is also excellent the movie s fast paced and the direction is incredibly deft.

    All in all, Whiplash is a fantastic, past-paced exhilarating movie that features two outstanding performances from Miles Teller and J.K Simmons. It’s one of the most intense films you are ever likely to see and one of the best movies of 2014.

    Final Score: 9.5/10

    -Khalid Rafi

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  • Very few movies comes in your life which are thought-provoking and pumps up your blood to do the best in your hobby. Whiplash is one of those movies which ignites the fire in your heart and scales up your spirit to the extreme level.

    Whiplash tells the story of Fletcher, a fearsome Jazz music teacher who would go to any level to extract the best out of it. Andrew Leyman loves drumming and is offered to join Fletcher’s band. However, the chemistry between the two gives away and Leyman loses the opportunity. He does not give up and fights back to earn the respect from his master.

    Newbie Damien Chazelle shows splendid talent in keeping you on your toes for the next 1.5 hours and that is the beauty of a solid script and brilliant direction. The movie is fast-paced with not even time given to blink your eyes. Every scene has been perfectly blended with smart camera work and foot-tapping background score. To put icing on the cake, editing and art direction with punching dialogues will add to the charm. Miles Teller and J.K. Simmons are the soul of the film. Both actors performed magnificently in their respective roles. The vibes they shared in the movie was so natural and alluring.

    On a whole, Whipllash is for those who loves to play hard to achieve something in LIFE. RESPECT earned !!! 5/5

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  • I don’t think anyone can question Miles Teller’s acting talent after watching “Whiplash”. He is getting better with every role and it’s only a matter of time before he is also being nominated for an Oscar. J.K. Simmons plays the ultimate jacka** teacher, who looks to other means of educating the Jazz band, abuse. When I say, I don’t think there has ever been more of a despicable character I mean it. I can’t even describe his character without cursing and wanting to yell in this review. Whiplash is truly an exhilarating experience that anyone with a superior who pushed them too far, can relate to.

    The story is mainly about passion, ambition, and desperation to achieve one’s goal. It also sheds light on the things one decide to sacrifice in order to achieve their goal.

    Positive reinforcement vs negative criticism, which is more effective? This is a debate that has been going on for ages. The former might work for some, while the latter might work for others. Ultimately, it depends on the individual and his/her upbringing; everyone responds to different things.

    The story is packed with humour and inspiring moments. Simmons’ dialogues are just fantastic; it might seem vulgar to some, but they’re just hilarious. Other than the actual instruments being played, no background score is used at all; this works quite well for the movie. Nothing seems staged, everything takes place with such natural ease.

    When it comes to writing, Whiplash is excellent. When it comes to performances, it’s impeccable. When it comes to pacing, it’s jumpy and rocky at points, but when it comes to overall quality Whiplash tells an excellent and believable story. It’s not something I’d watch again, but definitely something I’d recommend.

  • I probably waited too long to see 2014’s Whiplash. In fact, I have already comprised my list of top ten picks for said year. Regardless, if I had to revise things (which is something I don’t normally do), this small yet loud Sony Pictures release would be right up at the top. I mean what a tantalizing title for a flick and even a cooler title for one about jazz drumming. One minute you’re tapping your feet to its infectious groove. The next minute you are wincing and cringing at its mean spiritedness. Ultimately, Whiplash is powerful and heartbreaking. It’s a cold sweat of movie, a real rat-a-tat-tat.

    The storytelling starts out a little slow only to pick up mega speed. Andrew Neiman (played by Miles Teller) is a 19-year old student at the prestigious Shaffer conservatory (in New York City). He plays the drums and is ambitious as anyone who has ever walked through its doors. He wants to be one of the great musicians of the 21st century with Buddy Rich and Charlie Parker being his full blown idols. He’s also fixated on just playing percussion and nothing else. Finally, he doesn’t need friends, a girlfriend, or any type of support system in his life to get the job done. In his way however, is conductor Terrence Fletcher (played by J.K. Simmons, who riffs on a sort of bi-polar version of Lee Emery). He has a boot camp approach to getting his orchestra to play the type of perfected tempo he wants. A moody perfectionist, Fletcher berates everyone physically and mentally. He messes with their heads while pounding their fragile psyches into complete submission (there’s a scene where he calls someone a worthless pansy ass, that’s a new one). Basically, you fear him every time he enters a room. He is the main antagonist but I’d like to think of him more as a bandshell’s version of Bill “The Butcher”.

    That brings me to the ending of Whiplash which is one that I can’t quite describe. It’s high tail and it’s completely exhausting. Just think of the band Led Zeppelin and its late drummer John Bonham doing the solo to “Moby Dick”. That might just give you a clue.

    Anyway, kudos to the performances featured here. This is a total triumph for actors Miles Teller and J.K. Simmons. It’s in an arena like you’ve never seen them before. J.K.’s persona as a loving dad in Juno plus the softy who does those Farmers Insurance commercials, gone! Teller’s dopey characterizations from his plethora of forgotten romcoms, gone! J.K.’s Fletcher is a total hard ass, a real Nazi. Teller’s Neiman is cut off from the outside world but in the end, he’s a mad cymbal junkie incarnate, a real godsend. Together they make beautiful magic as actors and musical czars. Listen, I know this is a vehicle about excelling in an east coast conservatory, but both of these characters are seen more as sergeants and privates than anything else. This isn’t your normal drama, it’s Full Metal Drum Kit.

    Kudos also goes to the rousing level of film making for “Whip’s” one hour and forty-seven minute running time. Director Damien Chazelle deals in a frenzy of close-ups whether it be the actor’s faces, their bloodied hands, or just objects in general. He also provides Whiplash with a couple of whip/swish pans accompanied by the constant sounds of Jazz music (one of the oldest forms of popular music known to man). The film has a shadowy look, it’s sullen. Watching every scene feels like you’re in a wine bar or a darkly lit restaurant. And the editing which won a coveted Academy Award, is designed to put Neiman’s character’s romantic life and his relationship with his father (Jim Neiman played by Paul Reiser) off to the side. It then becomes strictly a two person character study, a mishmash of nurse Ratched and convict Randle McMurphy or Andy Dufresne and Warden Norton if you will. Whiplash’s themed morality: Sometimes you need to go through hell to find success in what you do. It takes sweat and guts, hits and bruises to achieve greatness. The little people who lack ambition, are nice, and coddle you, matter very minimally in the grand scheme of things (yes I’m talking about Andrew’s weak-minded father). Dare I say that this is the best movie of 2014. Whiplash has real “whip” appeal.

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  • “The truth is, Andrew
    I never really had a Charlie Parker.
    But I tried.
    I actually fucking tried.”

    “Whiplash”. You could think that this film tells the story of a drummer (the movie poster is a bit of a spoiler when it comes to this) who has suffered this injury by violently playing his instrument. Or he lost control of his car while drumming rhythmically on the steering wheel and crashed into the car driving in front of him. You could link the movie title to these assumptions, because the arrangements that Andrew (Miles Teller) has to play in this masterful and highly rhythmic film may result in a neck injury. And when it comes to losing that control … well … then you should go and watch the movie to find out yourself. Anyway, the film title refers to a song written by the American jazz composer Hank Levy. The central theme of the film is about the influence you can have on someone and drive that person to exceed certain inhuman limits of his own ability. Now, for me you’re already a top musician when you know the complete arrangement of “Whiplash” and “Caravan” (written by Duke Ellington) by heart. Even if there’s a little mistake here and there or you are little bit offbeat, eventually I will have a boundless admiration for the musician after completing such a superhuman performance.

    I’ve never had such a desire to pull someone through the screen and then smack a huge cymbal against his face as now with the presumably extremely talented music teacher Fletcher, brilliantly played by JK Simmons. A man who lives for his music and has a huge passion for it. It’s a bit exaggerated that passion though. Exaggerated to such extent that it exceeds the limit of human dignity and by his passion for creating a perfect musician, his way of teaching tends to be sadomasochistic. A kind of militaristic attitude towards his traumatized and frightened students who are wary of any unexpected outburst. A disrespectful howler, suitable as “drill sergeant” in the US Army, and first-class bully, who suddenly swings around music stands, slaps his students in the face and throws out a member of his orchestra, just because he plays a bit out of tune . Afterwards, the accused doesn’t appear to be the culprit, but he’s just thrown out of the classroom because he didn’t know he wasn’t the one playing out of tune. A worse stain on the reputation of a professional musician, according to Fletcher.

    That’s also what Andrew, an ordinary American teenager who studies at the Shaffer conservatory and whose only envisioned aim is to be the best jazz drummer ever, undergoes. The moment he’s being asked to join Fletcher’s school orchestra, which only consists of a select group of musicians, it becomes the best day of his life. His confidence gets such a boost that he even overcomes his shyness and dares to ask a girl, who works at the cinema, on a date. That it’s subsequently leading to a veritable psychological warfare, goes beyond his wildest dream. Gradually the terror policy of Fletcher drives him to the utmost to meet Fletcher’s expectations. Even his relationship with Nicole (Melissa Benoist) is terminated abruptly by him. The love for music is displaced by a bloody battle for a wanted spot in the orchestra. The obsessional takes the upper hand, tending towards self-destruction.

    I’m not exactly an expert myself when it’s about jazz. And I’ve read reviews where it’s suggested that the essence of jazz is completely misrepresented here : “The idea about jazz in this movie is brought in a grotesque way and looks like a ridiculous caricature”. The whole history about Charlie Parker and the anecdote Fletcher tells everytime, apparently isn’t exactly true at all. Could be, but for me the jazz section wasn’t of essence in the story. It’s the emotional and physical brutality that Fletcher uses to bring students to a higher level. In this way Fletcher tries to create “HIS Charlie Parker”. The whole movie does follow the rhythm of the used music: uplifting, rhythmic and intense. Only the end was predictable and presented us of course the well known rule that the oppressed kicks the oppressor’s ass again. Actually I hoped Andrew would put his drumsticks there where the sun doesn’t shine at Fletcher.

    The performances of Teller and Simmons are obviously extremely stunning. It took me a while before I realized that I’ve seen Teller in “That awkward moment”. A movie I wanted to forget about as soon as possible. Here, however, I thought he was brilliant. And apparently he’s an avid drummer and he did all the drumming himself. Hats off and respect ! But the most brilliant achievement was undoubtedly that of Simmons. What a great character sketch with lots of charisma. A character that scares you. Someone you start to hate thoroughly after a while. But in the end I understood a bit what drove him to this behavior. He won an Oscar for this role and in my opinion well deserved. An energetic musical thriller, with a fairly predictable outcome and which is so extremely rhythmic you can’t sit still. Highly recommended!

    http://opinion-as-a-moviefreak.blogspot.be/2015/03/whiplash-2014.html

  • For a film primarily focused on the relationship between teacher and student at a prestigious music school, Whiplash actually feels like one of the best American thrillers in years. Yes, it is about one young man’s struggle for absolute greatness in his field and poses questions about how hard one should push themselves to achieve artistic integrity, but it is the verbal sparring between lead Miles Teller and the scene-stealing J.K. Simmons, and the sight of Teller pounding his drums to dizzying effect while his palms gush with blood, that really causes the heart to race.

    Andrew Neiman (Teller) is a first-year jazz drummer attending Shaffer Conservatory, playing as an alternative to core drummer Ryan Connolly (Austin Stowell). When his class is paid a visit by notorious conductor Terence Fletcher (Simmons), Andrew is given a brief moment to shine and is bumped up to Fletcher’s class with immediate effect. He again plays as alternative, this time to core Carl Tanner (Nate Lang), and believes he’s bound for greatness until he is asked to perform ‘Whiplash’, a particularly tricky – and extremely fast – jazz number. When Andrew struggles to keep to Fletcher’s tempo, he has a chair hurled at him and is emasculated in front of the class. And so begins a tirade of mental abuse as Andrew strives for his master’s acceptance.

    J.K. Simmons quite rightly won the Best Supporting Actor at this year’s Oscar’s for his terrifying portrayal of a passionate yet sadistic man. His drive is his desire to a find a new Charlie ‘Bird’ Parker, who, as the legend tells it, had a drum symbol hurled at his head during a disastrous early career performance. Rather than being deterred, Bird practised his arse off and, of course, the rest is history. Fletcher beats down on his students, shattering them with verbal assaults as they try to prove themselves worthy. Only Fletcher doesn’t seem to have a limit; they are not on his tempo, as he repeatedly tells them. He wears black t-shirts, has muscly arms, and a giant, zig-zagging vein pulses on his forehead. He is a formidable presence, highly charismatic and, in the end, almost sympathetic.

    Teller is impressive too. A drummer in real life from a young age, he appears in every scene of the film, and pours his blood and sweat (literally) into the extremely physical musical performances. His showdowns with Fletcher provide the spine of the film, but the intimate moments with Andrew alone, pounding his drums as his face twists and turns, that provide the brain. Is the sacrifice truly worth it? We see Andrew push his body to dangerous limits, isolate himself from his family and his concerned father (played by Paul Reiser), and call for an early day on a brief relationship with a girl from his local cinema (Melissa Benoist). Just when the plot seems to be steering into conventional territory at the finale, director Damien Chazelle provides one of the most satisfying climaxes in recent memory. It’s a dizzying orgy of cuts, close-up’s and sheer style, which is as toe-tapping as it is awe-inspiring.

    Rating: 5/5

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  • “There are no two words in the English language more harmful than good job.”

    Jazz drumming at an elite conservatory didn’t puncture my curiosity initially, but Whiplash has more to offer than a tremendous jazz score. The film shares a dynamic duo whose relationship heavily blurs the line between right and wrong. Miles Teller rips through this film with an elevated level of dedicated ferocity that I haven’t seen from a young actor recently, while J.K. Simmons is both electrifying and terrifying to glimpse on screen. Whiplash is knocking on Oscar’s door, and I think the Academy may listen to what Whiplash has to offer.

    A lot of people seem to be shrugging off Whiplash as a “music movie” or a movie about a kid who’s got a real knack for playing the drums, but Whiplash is one of the best-reviewed films of 2014 for a reason. It has the strength to get under your skin and challenge you–should you settle at mediocrity or strive to be the best? A question both relative to the film as it is relative to our present day culture who perpetually settles at the margin. The film pushes the envelope with this question combining the driving force of Black Swan dedication under the severe command-style of Full Metal Jacket. This tour de force is not one to miss and certainly one to learn from this year.

    Whiplash follows Andrew Neiman (Miles Teller), a 19-year-old jazz drummer who attends one of the best music schools in the nation and lands a coveted position in a jazz troupe under the fearsome command of a maestro (J.K. Simmons) loathsome enough to make any man erupt into tears under pressure. Neiman’s determination is to be “one of the greats” like his idol Buddy Rich, but is set on a pedestal measured in how much blood ones fingers can spill onto the drums. Neiman learns in his first session that his life will shut down in this class; Fletcher looms a chair, slaps and berates Neiman after he performs Hank Levy’s “Whiplash” off tempo as the classroom watches silently.

    This is a definitive role for Miles Teller (The Spectacular Now) as a young actor who portrays both arrogance and insecurity to rise to the top. I had my reservations about Teller too, but boy can this kid act and drum! This isn’t the type of movie that hassles a good actor to learn to play an instrument on a mediocre level while the camera perpetually pans to hide the actor’s inability to play. Teller does both, and he does both really well.

    To get the drumming right in Whiplash, writer-director Damien Chazelle (himself a drummer) had the idea to hire a real musician. Nate Lang, an actor and a member of the New York band the Howlin’ Souls, plays Teller’s rival, Carl.

    But the true guts and glory of the film belong to the villain maestro of the film, J.K. Simmons, who will certainly strike the attention of the Academy. Simmons (Oz, The Closer, Spiderman, Juno) is so ferocious in this film that his piercing stare and drive to find the next great jazz artist blurs the line of how far a teacher should push a student. But while his teaching methods aren’t tactful, appropriate or moral, his bottom line is to scrape mediocrity off the board. Either be great or quit.

    What some critics don’t grasp is that the philosophy of Fletcher isn’t tolerable, nor is this a movie attempting to be about jazz. The film is an exploration of two characters and their dynamic relationship together in the musical quest to triumph over mediocrity and its public acceptance.

  • Everyone in attendance of the Sundance Film Festival this year all have one movie in common to praise, Whiplash. Winner of the U. S. Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award, Whiplash has been gaining early Oscar buzz already. Starring in the film is upcoming actor Miles Teller who is preparing for his first blockbuster film playing Reed Richards, also known as Mr. Fantastic in The Fantastic Four. Teller has done a lot of teen directed roles in his early career but when a high performance is demanded from Teller just like in The Spectacular Now, he delivers. But is Whiplash’s Oscar buzz worth all the hype? In 2013 Fruitvale Station, the winner of the U.S. Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award, ended up not getting a single Academy Award nomination. Take that with a grain of salt as Chazelle’s second feature is the best way to kick off the Oscar season.

    “A talented young jazz drummer experiences a trial by fire when he’s recruited by a ferocious instructor whose unyielding search for perfection may lead to his undoing. For as far back as Andrew Neyman (Miles Teller) can remember, he’s been watching his father fail. Determined to make a name for himself no matter what it takes, Andrew enrolls in a prestigious east coast music conservatory where his talent quickly catches the attention of Terence Fletcher (J.K. Simmons) an esteemed music teacher who’s notorious for his caustic approach in the classroom. The leader of the school’s top jazz ensemble, Fletcher promptly transfers Neyman into his band, giving the ambitious young drummer a shot at true greatness. He may achieve it, too, if Fletcher’s methods don’t drive him to madness first.”

    As soon as Simmons appears as Terrence Fletcher, his presence is not only dominant but terrifying. It’s as if Simmons’ refound his inner Schillinger and broke out of prison and became a jazz conductor to hide his identity. Instead of finding the best in his students and perfecting it, Fletcher hunts for their weaknesses just so he can make use of it by straining out the bad of his students. From Fletcher slapping Neyman around to help teach him the difference between rushing and dragging tempo to Fletcher’s presence making another student cry while ONLY questioning him if he was out of tune or not, Fletcher’s emotionally harmful teaching methods make this movie unforgettable. To Fletcher, nothing can be more damaging to a student than telling them “Good job.”

    Whiplash might not only be the birth of the next Hollywood superstar in Miles Teller, but the birth of the next hot director in Chazelle. Chazelle, who played the drums in a competitive big-band ensemble while in high school, used a lot of his own experiences to make the film. Like a true musician, Chazelle’s film flows a beautiful melodic pace, rarely rushing or dragging; Fletcher would be proud. The film hits a mini speed bump towards the end but it all aids towards a crescendo that is the final act. With Teller playing majority of his scenes live, if he wanted to, could become a professional drummer if he ever decides to leave acting. The two will team up again in Chazelle’s next feature La La Land which will also star Emma Watson.

    What really makes Whiplash shine is the war between the two leads. Neyman and Fletcher share little dialogue but they battle each other with their respected skills: Neyman beating the drums as fast as he can while Fletcher tells him he is doing it wrong even faster. As if Neyman was attempting to build a house during a hurricane. You do not need to enjoy jazz or music in general to appreciate this film. If you have ever put yourself in the position where success is all you’ve ever wanted, then you will truly understand Neyman’s journey.

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