The rules are simple: The good get spared. The bad get spoiled.
Whiplash (Sony Pictures Classics)
Written & Directed by Damien Chazelle Based on Whiplash by Damien Chazelle
What an original film! I didn’t know what to expect and I was pleasantly surprised. Whiplash is a true music movie. It reminded me at times of Amadeus, where the music is the true star of the film. In this one, it’s the tempo. The tempo is the true star of this film.
The cast of Whiplash is its strongest characteristic. Miles Teller is outstanding as usual. I have loved him since seeing him in The Spectacular Now. And J.K. Simmons is amazing as his instructor- conductor-tormentor. He should win all of the awards. Paul Reiser as his father and Melissa Benoist as his love interest fill out the cast nicely.
I am not a big fan of the big band sound. And frankly the frenetic tempo of the two main pieces in the film; the title piece and an even faster one called Caravan, make me feel like I’m going to have a heart attack. But these are songs where the drummer is the lead. Like Buddy Rich, Max Roach or Billy Cruppa. This is some amazing precision drumming.
Whiplash is a fantastic film. A film about the obsession with perfection, the drive to be great and how far you can push a student before he snaps. But it is unlike anything I have ever seen before. And I’ve seen a lot of movies.
I recommend Whiplash highly. One of the best films of last year. But with one caveat… if you can’t stand to hear the sound of a jazz drummer wailing away on the drums then you should avoid it. It is a movie about drumming. The drum is the main character and the tempo is the star. Whiplash is a movie about a young music student who dreams of being “One of the greats” and an instructor who dreams of finding the next Charlie Parker and the mess they make of each other’s lives. Fan-fucking-tastic.
Whiplash is a music-centric movie where I am not even a fan of the style of music and I still enjoyed it profusely. The performances are incredible. And the movie is exhilarating.
What a great film.