Whiplash (2014)

Rating: 8/10 (Actually a good movie)

 

Synopsis:

Andrew (Miles Teller) is a mild mannered music student with dreams of becoming the best drummer that ever lived.  Attending a prestigious music school he is tutored by the relentlessly cruel Fletcher (J.K. Simmons) who will stop at nothing in an attempt to get the best from his students

 

MPAA Rating:

Rated R because Simmons is a real potty mouth.  Think R. Lee Ermey in Full Metal Jacket only scary.

 

Plot:
Please God let this be his tempo!
Please God let this be his tempo!

Andrew Neimann (Teller) is a young music student with dreams of becoming a jazz drumming legend.  He attends the prestigious Shaffer Conservatory – a fictional music school in New York which I assume is loosely modeled on Julliard.  Hard working and dedicated to his art, Andrew is quickly spotted by Terence Fletcher (Simmons), one of the school’s most respected professors, as having potential and is drafted into Fletcher’s Studio band as a secondary drummer.

 

 

 

"Blistas on me fingers!" - eat it Ringo
“Blistas on me fingers!” – eat it Ringo

All is rosy for the young up and comer, but that’s where the Disney movie ends and we’re dumped into a Scandinavian thriller as Fletcher turns out to be a ruthless dictator, using emotional and physical abuse to break down the young musicians in an attempt to get the best performance.

 

 

 

 

 

Finish with a Jazz hands?
Finish with a Jazz hands?

With practice and rehearsals to the fore, Andrew’s personal relationships are put on the line in an attempt to appease the controlling tutor and become the legend he so aspires to be.

 

 

 

 

 

Not even Paul Reiser can ruin this movie!
Not even Paul Reiser can ruin this movie!

Will Andrew become the next Buddy Rich before he succumbs to the stress and goes postal?  Will I ever look at Juno’s dad in the same way ever again?  Is it now the drummer’s time to get the spot light and overtake the showy guitarist?  Dream on lads!

 

 

 

 

 

Pros:
  • Simmons is excellent – well deserving of the Oscar
  • Teller is good as the mild mannered yet incredibly ambitious youngster

 

Cons:
  • Drum solo at the end dragged a bit (sorry jazz heads)
  • Not enough Jazz hands – how can you have a jazz movie with no Jazz hands?? poor form

 

Verdict:

How can the words “mm, not my tempo” be so scary?  I can sit through movies like Insidious 10 (or whatever they’re on now) and my heart rate won’t go above 90, but those words are giving me nightmares.  J.K. Simmons is excellent, an actor that seems destined to play supporting roles all his career but this movie really showed his range and how he could pull you in all nice and smiles just to land a sucker punch to the gut.  If now isn’t the time for a strong leading role I don’t know when is.  Each line is delivered perfectly with an equal amount of cruelty and comedic timing – yes I laughed at a lot of his insults, I’m a bad person.

In counter point, Miles Teller plays the innocent and naive punching bag perfectly – willing to sacrifice all to please his abuser and improve himself to the extent where his character becomes less and less likable as the story progresses.  Yet all this is done gradually, with no sudden change in character to leave us wondering what happened.  All in all it’s an excellently told story with a very important lesson for us all to learn:  Don’t let your kids go to music school!!  8/10

 

 

Movie Cricket

Stupid movies make me mad >:(

5 thoughts on “Whiplash (2014)

  • 31st July 2015 at 6:32 pm
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    Hey man,
    Cool review…I thought the drumming was cool and you could of talked more about the drumming. I’m in a band…wana meet some time

    Reply
    • 4th August 2015 at 10:02 am
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      I agree on the drumming and I’d love to meet some time…. wait, are you a robot?

      Reply
      • 4th August 2015 at 10:12 am
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        If I were a robot I would hope that this would not make you think less of me. I have a database of musical knowledge which would make for great conversation.

        Reply
  • 6th May 2017 at 9:43 pm
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    Sorry, but this is an awful movie. Great performances and technical mastery over the film making process disguise the lack of depth in the story telling. This is not the way to educate people and it certainly isn’t the way truly great jazz players develop. Creativity and artistry don’t feature. Instead there is an obsession with speed and time keeping. Berstein’s time keeping as a conductor was by all accounts rubbish and no would accuse him of lack of artistry. Stewart Copeland of the Police was always being accused of speeding up by Sting and Andy Summers but he was still thrilling to watch as a drummer (I’ve seen him twice live.) The underlying message of this movie is that educational sadism and fascism is the way to greatness. I don’t think so.

    Reply
    • 8th May 2017 at 12:07 pm
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      Hi Tony, Thanks for commenting.

      Awful is a bit strong! I’ll be the first to admit I don’t know the first thing about drumming, but I agree that the methods used by Fletcher in this movie are by no accounts the way to get the best out of his students. I don’t agree that the story lacked depth however, a story about a kid going to an elite music school to learn jazz drumming could have been inaccessible to the mainstream but I thought they did a great job of making it relatable – we’ve all had an asshole teacher at some stage! I did feel the ending could have offered a little more than slight embarrassment for Fletcher and a kick ass drum solo, perhaps more retribution for the protagonist which may have prevented the underlying message as you stated, but then again why shouldn’t the underlying message be a negative one. Unfortunately, sometimes that’s just how life works!

      For me, Simmon’s portrayal was probably enough to let me overlook a lot of the weaknesses this movie has – also gave me a lot of one liners to throw at my jazz drummer friend… who now hates me.

      Reply

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