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Overall Rating
4.41

Awesome75.86%
Worth A Look: 10.34%
Average: 3.45%
Pretty Bad: 0%
Total Crap: 10.34%

3 reviews, 11 user ratings


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Whiplash
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by Jaycie

"Or, 'How I Learned to Stop Listening to Michael Buble and Love Music.'"
5 stars

Upon exiting the theater, we had two words: "Holy shit."

Whiplash is exactly how aggressive teacher/naive student movies should be done. I couldn't stop myself from remembering (with great shame) 2000's Center Stage, which allegedly illustrates such a dynamic with ballet. Except it doesn't: The students are whiny and ungrateful for the amazing opportunities before them, and their instructors never exact any harsher discipline than short stern lectures. Whiplash, meanwhile, gives us much more complex characters, presented in a style that is orders of magnitude better. There is very little about Whiplash that is not absolutely masterful.

19-year-old Andrew Neyman (Miles Teller) studies at the prestigious Shaffer Conservatory of Music, serving as the alternate drummer for a jazz ensemble that, compared to what's to come, will sound like a fourth-grade recorder club by the end of the movie. Following a chance encounter, famed bandleader Terence Fletcher (J.K. Simmons) hand-picks Andrew to join the school's elite studio band. What appears at first to be an unbelievable stroke of good luck quickly becomes a fierce battle of wills, with Fletcher testing how much of his often abusive teaching style Andrew can take, and Andrew struggling to prove he can take it all, and sacrifice everything else, if it means becoming one of the greats.

These two characters are antagonists 90 percent of the time, but they are bound by a single-minded obsession with their craft. Nobody would want the foul-mouthed, slap-happy Fletcher as a teacher, but it's easy to see why someone with Andrew's ambition would need him as a teacher. He is willing to put it all - sex, his blood supply, a nice dinner with the family - to the side; jazz is his air, water and life, and only someone like Fletcher could comprehend that kind of drive. Having never achieved his own dream of creating the next Charlie Parker, Fletcher needs Andrew just as much, and he needs to be constantly pushing him just a little bit farther to be sure he's not just another in an apparently long line of disappointments. You never know who will yield first - or if either of them will ever yield for good.

And these two characters could not have been better cast. Simmons is always reliable in roles requiring profanity and a hard ass, but his J. Jonah Jameson is sweet as sugar pie compared to Fletcher. He remembers to keep things interesting with occasional moments of vulnerability; his despair over the death of a former student is the finest example, despite the uncomfortable questions over what led to that death. Teller, meanwhile, proves himself far better than his oeuvre of twee young-adult nonsense. You never quite like Andrew - the weakest scene in the movie involves him acting like a Zuckerberg-level asshat to his cousins - but you do sympathize with him, and you definitely care what happens to him. Teller's agent should yank him from this summer's Fantastic Four reboot (seriously, do we need one of those?) immediately and find him some more biographies.

But for all the good things one could say about the characters and the men who play them, nothing measures up to the quality of Whiplash's filmmaking. Director Damien Chazelle and cinematographer Sharone Meir conjured up an ingenious style for this movie, with the shots and sounds of the rehearsal and performance scenes perfectly synced. Jazz is hard to follow, especially the big, fast kind of jazz for which Fletcher's band is renowned, but you feel like you see the music as clearly as you hear it. Nowhere is this more true than the final performance scene, which builds up to a level of tension that literally got my knees shaking. I had originally hoped Wes Anderson would take Best Director for The Grand Budapest Hotel at this year's Oscars; now I say he can wait another year, dammit.

There's a scene in the third act in which Fletcher laments the popularity of "Starbucks jazz." You will find yourself nodding vigorously in agreement and trying to remember if there are any decent jazz bars where you can cleanse your mind of that bland, pretty swill. Maybe Whiplash will destroy it for good, maybe it won't. But it will make you yell "FASTER! FASTER!" at the ceiling the next time you grab a latte.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=26034&reviewer=432
originally posted: 01/21/15 02:42:10
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2014 Sundance Film Festival For more in the 2014 Sundance Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2014 Cannes Film Festival For more in the 2014 Cannes Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2014 New York Film Festival For more in the 2014 New York Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2014 London Film Festival For more in the 2014 London Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2014 Toronto International Film Festival For more in the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2014 Vancouver Film Festival For more in the 2014 Vancouver Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

8/28/17 Ken Extremely well-done! 5 stars
2/13/17 morris campbell very good 4 stars
12/02/15 Bents Very Good - kinda like the 'Black Swan' of ultra competitive jazz 4 stars
6/17/15 Leep In Well acted, well put together, solid but nothing more 3 stars
2/15/15 guena fucking shit 1 stars
2/14/15 movie fan MOST SHIITIEST MOVIE EVER MADE, AWFUL, AND REALLY PATHETIC 1 stars
2/10/15 LANGANO One of the best of the year. 5 stars
2/08/15 russel united states 1 stars
2/08/15 Ricky Brown Good Stuff 5 stars
1/19/15 David just brilliant ! 5 stars
1/18/15 PAUL SHORTT INTENSE, ENGAGING AND WELL ACTED 4 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  10-Oct-2014 (R)

UK
  N/A

Australia
  10-Oct-2014


Directed by
  Damien Chazelle

Written by
  Damien Chazelle

Cast
  Miles Teller
  JK Simmons



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