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Whiplash - Movie Review


5 stars

Chasing perfection is a lengthy process, one of trial and tribulation, and for freshman jazz band drummer Andrew Neiman (Miles Teller), this is a fact that could be none too clear. Studying at Shaffer Conservatory of Music, in what is assumed to be New York City, Teller discovers the rigors, sacrifices, and overall physical and emotional hell which must be endured if he is to achieve the most prestigious of goals, to play at the famed music hall, Lincoln Center. As the semester lurches forward, Andrew is invited to join the institution’s premiere jazz orchestra headed by J.K. Simmons’s Fletcher, at the reluctance of his older bandmates, because well, the nineteen year old still isn’t old enough to buy alcohol on his own, nonetheless present himself as the core drummer in the nation’s most prestigious jazz band.

Studying from the works of musical legends such as Buddy Rich, and Charlie Parker, Andrew knows that this feat which presents itself to him will be no elementary task. However, from the hours of meticulous practice he has put in, which includes splitting his fingers open from repeated contact with the rapid motion of the drumstick, to ending his relationship to focus on his work to become “one of the greats,” Andrew feels with the guidance and expertise of Fletcher, his dream may subsequently be on the horizon.

Then the music stand is thrown.

As much demanding perfection, as Andrew is chasing it, Fletcher demonstrates the total psychological, and musical domination in his classroom. Preparing his band for competition, Fletcher encapsulates, a rather totalitarian, monarchy type rule over his pupils. Knowing and expressing no boundaries, from verbally abusing, and removing students for being out of tune, to repeated slaps in the face to ensure that the tempo of the band is kept.

The psychological toll is represented extremely well by director Damien Chazelle, as Andrew covers up his split fingers with a lifetime supply of Band-Aids, to punching holes through the cover of his instrument, as well as walking away from a car accident in which his car was just flipped, the looming, haunting, flip-of-a-switch punishment by his conductor makes the others look like child’s play.

Now to J.K. Simmons. As he has already received the Golden Globe for his supporting performance, as well the Oscar nomination (and in all honestly, likelihood to win), BAFTA nomination, and Screen Actors Guild nomination, the proof as the saying goes, is in the pudding. Simmons, with a slew of credentials under his belt, mostly T.V. I might add, delivers a chilling performance. As a man with no physical, nor emotional regret for his actions, a stone-wall demeanor, and an even more audacious only-black attire, seems to know only abuse, for music is God, and he is Jesus Christ, sharing the wealth with everyone. Impressively also, was that of performance of Miles Teller. Teller, who, for the most part, is taking on his first major dramatic role, staring in such goofball, alcohol induced comedies such as (21&Over, and Project X), demonstrates that he is in contention to hold his own on screen.

Whiplash is a perfect representation of the music is portrays, extremely well executed, crafted out of the work of many, and an attack of the sense. Damien Chazelle represents that with a powerful performance from a core cast, beautiful editing, and scoring, can turn a below average plot (a music teacher and student of a jazz band, which doesn’t take away from the film whatsoever) into one of the best films of 2014.


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Whiplash - Movie Review

MPAA Rating: R for strong language including some sexual references
107 mins
: Damien Chazelle
Writer: Damien Chazelle
Miles Teller, J.K. Simmons, Melissa Benoist
: Music | Drama
Memorable Movie Quote: "I never really had a Charlie Parker. But I tried. I actually fucking tried. And that's more than most people ever do."
Sony Pictures Classics
Official Site: http://sonyclassics.com/whiplash/
Release Date:
December, 2014
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
No Details available
Synopsis: A young musician struggles to make it as a top jazz drummer.


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