Wednesday, November 19, 2014
Miles Teller, J.K. Simmons
October 10, 2014
Sony Pictures Classics
1 hour 46 minutes
I personally believe that Jazz is the best form of music out there, hands down. From the rhythm to the swinging tone to the combination of instruments, I just love everything about it. That might be part of the reason why I was really looking forward to Damien Chazelle's "Whiplash." Poised to be a big player in the awards circuit this year, "Whiplash" won the top prizes given out at this year's Sundance Film Festival and even went on to play at the prestigious Cannes, Toronto, and New York film festivals before finally rolling out to theaters. The film tells the story of a drummer played by Miles Teller from "The Spectacular Now" who gets into a top jazz orchestra band that has given way to the careers of many great musicians in the past. He quickly finds out upon entering the program that his instructor, played fiercely by J.K. Simmons, is a man willing to do anything to have his disciples see the true talent within themselves. When I say anything, I mean anything, as he does some of the most despicable and shocking thinks out there to his students.
Chazelle, an up-and-coming screenwriter and director, doesn't hold anything back in regards to the content shown here. It's pretty easy to tell that this came from personal experiences of his, as the intensity of each scene is heightened and gripping at the same time. It's possible that the way Simmons' character in the movie is portrayed in a bit of an over-the-top manner, but to me this actually sort of added to the character a lot. When people remember their teachers or old acquaintances, the recollection is more exaggerated than it actually was, but they sometimes forget that the teacher's job is to help their students succeed. And just like Simmons' mission in the film to help get the best out of Miles Teller, Chazelle's past helped push him to make this amazing powerhouse of a movie.
"Whiplash" is not a movie for the faint of heart. It is an intense, shocking, and yet mesmerizing film that people I know have called "the most anxiety-driven 2 hours of 2014." Frankly, I can see why many people would think this, as it really is a film that has anxiety as one of the central emotions for both the characters in the movie and the audience members watching it. Miles Teller continues to prove that he is one hell of a talented actor, and at 28 shows that he's not slowing down anytime soon in terms of winning some awards. J.K. Simmons really IS as terrifying and brilliant as people have been making him out to be, and definitely deserves all of the attention he's gotten for his performance. These two actors, along with Damien Chazelle's crisp direction and sharp script helped to make "Whiplash" exactly what Teller's character sets out to be at the beginning of the film: one of the greats.
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