Whiplash (2014)

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Warning: After watching this movie, you will listen to jazz music everyday and wish that you didn’t quit band in middle school.  Well, maybe not the last part.

Andrew (Miles Teller) is a first year student at the Shaffer Music Conservatory in New York.  Andrew auditions and makes it into the studio band, which is led by Terrence Fletcher (J.K. Simmons).  Fletcher is an intense (to say the least) band director that using profanity and sometimes physical abuse to push his band students.

Simmons performance in this film was just unbelievable.  He perfectly emulated everyone’s hardest coach, boss, parent and teacher by cursing at Andrew and played multiple mind games to arguably help Andrew’s career.  Simmons was unbelievably harsh to say the very least.  His character was incredibly believably because anyone in the audience can have war flashbacks to that mentor that they have had in their lives that pushed them so far off the edge that they began to lose themselves.  In fact, throughout the movie Andrew started to lose himself the further and further he got into the studio band program.

It was just absolutely insane what Fletcher did to his students to have them become “one of the greats.” I mean think about the worst teacher that you have ever had, times ten, plus the pressure of winning a competition and trying to also maintain other relationships in your life.  Andrew really pushed himself to the point where he would be drumming so hard that he started bleeding on the set.  This movie is so realistic and that is partially because the screenplay is based off of Damien Chazelle‘s, the writer of Whiplash, life experiences from his years in music schools.  Yikes.  But, writers write what they know, right?  I mean it works out for him because this movie is unbelievably good.

One of my favorite motifs of the whole movie is the constant theme of musicality.  There is always a drum set, clarinet, horns and other jazz instruments playing in the background.  It really helps aid the plot along as well as stress you the bleep out when more serious scenes happen.  My friend that saw this movie with me said that she isn’t even this stressed while watching a horror or action film.  I’ll admit that I was mildly sweating throughout this film.  But don’t let the intensity discourage you because this is easily one of my favorite movies in a long time.

Oscar prediction:  It’s hard to say.  I think J.K Simmons absolutely has a chance to get the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor, but I think that this year it is a particularly hard category to be in.  When you are up against Ethan Hawke in Boyhood, Mark Ruffalo in Foxcatcher and Edward Norton in Birdman, it’s really any man’s game.  Any of those nominees could win the award and deserve it.  I personally am happy with any of those guy winning, but I definitely think Simmons has a chance.  However, I don’t think the film was “wow” enough for the Academy to give it Best Picture.  I mean it just isn’t what the Academy gives the Best Picture to (cough cough World War II biopics cough.)  I would love it to, but there are just a lot of solid movies on the list this season.

Overall:

Whiplash is phenomenal.  It is captivating in the sense that any person who has been severely pushed to succeed at something, whether that is in music, to get into your dream college or department or to have your dream job, can relate to this film.  It is even painful to watch how far Andrew is willing to go to prove that he is the best.  It is one of the “realest” films I have seen in a while.  If you haven’t seen it yet, definitely try to before awards season.

4.5 out of 5 stars

 

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