Whiplash (2014)

whiplash poster 2014 movie
9.5 Overall Score
Story: 9/10
Acting: 10/10
Visuals: 9/10

Great cast and interesting story to accompany the visuals and music

Nothing

 
Movie Info

Movie Name:  Whiplash

Studio:  Sierra/Affinity

Genre(s):  Drama

Release Date(s):  January 16, 2014 (Sundance Film Festival)/October 10, 2014 (US)

MPAA Rating:  R

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Faster, faster, faster, fasther!!!

Andrew Neiman (Miles Teller) is a young gifted drummer with dreams of being the best.  When famed (and feared) instructor and composer Dr. Terence Fletcher (J.K. Simmons) opens him up for an opportunity in his elite performing band, his dreams might come true.  Teller’s dreams are dashed when Teller learns that he’s become the brunt of Fletcher’s attacks and trapped in Teller’s game of control.  Neiman is pushed to the limit and beyond…is Teller making great musicians or abusing his power?

Written and directed by Damien Chazelle, Whiplash is a drama based on the director’s own experience in band and expanded from an original short.  The film was well received by critics and won Academy Awards for Best Supporting Actor (J.K. Simmons), Best Film Editing, and Best Sound Mixing with nominations for Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay.

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Blood on the drums

Whiplash is one of those different movies.  It is original and takes you into a world that you might not know.  This sets it aside in Hollywood since so many film (even well received ones) are sequels, remakes, or adaptations.  Whiplash feels original and keeps you guessing on which way the story will go and that is a nice refreshing feeling.

The story for Whiplash is rather well crafted.  You have two characters who aren’t entirely likable.  J.K. Simmons’ character is sometimes outright evil, but there is the idea that he’s doing it for the art and to force players to be great.  Miles Teller’s character has some very borderline autistic or Asperger’s signs and is obsessed with being the best.  He isn’t gracious and his insecurities lead him to attack people.  The two combine and make a rather tense drama where even the ending has you questioning if either character is in the right.

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Nothing like a romantic drink with my former psychotic band instructor…

The acting is top notch.  Despite smaller roles by Paul Reiser as Andrew’s father and Melissa Benoist as Andrew’s potential girlfriend, the movie is really about both Miles Teller and J.K. Simmons.  It is really tough to fake music and it helps that Miles Teller can act and is a musician.  I’m sure that his skill level is nowhere near where his character’s level is supposed to be, but he makes it look real with smart editing.  He is both admirable and pathetic at the same time since he allows this to consume him to the point of hurting others…and taking it from Simmons for as long as he does.

J.K. Simmons rules the movie however in a supporting role which makes you question the idea of “supporting roles”.  His character is the inspirational coach mixed with R. Lee Ermey’s Gunnery Sergeant Hartman from Full Metal Jacket.  He breaks down all his “cogs” just to force them to be better (the worst thing you can say is “good job” to anyone).  It is a flawed method but in Neiman’s case, it ends up working…but is that a good thing for all the pain it caused?

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I’m either here to disco dance or conduct!

The movie is stylish and flashy.  With a jazz theme, as you would expect, you have a very snappy editing style with has a lot of energy to it.  I’m a horrible judge when it comes to music quality because some of the stuff that is stated as “good” in the film I think sounds questionable while other stuff I find good is said to be bad…it adds to that different world feeling that the whole movie provides to outsiders to the music society.

Whiplash is a great movie with great moments.  I loved Birdman but I also feel that this was a valid contender for Best Picture despite many of the other more mainstream films getting more attention.  Like Birdman, it is a movie about ideas and concepts and it doesn’t provide easy answers for the viewers…which in my opinion is the best type of filmmaking.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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