Review: Mudbound
Review: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Mainstream Chick with Greta Gerwig @Middleburg

Whiplash

whiplash posterWhiplash is intensely good, and about as far from formulaic and predictable as you can get from a movie these days. With any luck (and word of mouth), it will cross over from ‘indie’ and ‘arty’ to mainstream in a Juno sort of way, thanks in large part to the performance of the guy who played the dad in Juno – J.K. Simmons. Even if his name escapes you, his face and voice will surely ring a bell. He’s that character actor you’ve seen so many times in the movies and on TV – in The Closer, Spiderman, and those commercials for Farmer’s Insurance.

In Whiplash, Simmons plays Mr. Fletcher, a music instructor at a cutthroat music conservatory who will stop at nothing to realize his students’ potential for greatness. Miles Teller (Divergent, The Spectacular Now) plays Andrew, a promising young drummer obsessed with doing whatever it takes to become the next Buddy Rich. He hopes to do so under the psychotic tutelage of Mr. Fletcher. Let’s just say – this aint no Mr. Holland’s Opus. Whiplash is dark and twisted and entertaining, with a drum solo near the end that will stick with you long after you leave the theater, even if you didn’t know (or think) you were a fan of jazz drumming. Whiplash pic

The film has a rhythm that seeks to leave the audience feeling bruised and battered – and cinematically satisfied. And it works – even for someone like me who generally marches to the beat of a much more mainstream-minded drum. Watch- and listen- for it come Awards time.

3 Comments

  1. Steve, November 5, 2014:

    Hi Hannah,
    I’m glad you liked it. I really liked it too. While I’ve never had a teacher quite so tyrannical, I can certainly relate to the pressures that the musicians experience throughout the film. I think the acting and music are quite good. I also appreciate the respect the filmmakers show towards jazz music and the drumming greats like Buddy Rich and Jo Jones.
    They also did a good job syncing the drumming visuals with the soundtrack – no easy task when it comes to accurately replicating complex drum parts. The actor’s skills coupled with adroit editing make it look real.
    My only (very minor) criticism is that, no matter how much I’ve practiced and played over the years, my hands never poured blood like that. Blisters yes, but not gaping wounds. : ) I realize it was for dramatic effect.
    Finally, it’s nice to see a movie with a drummer as the lead character. With some rare exceptions, drummers are usually relegated to the background, as in real life. ; )

  2. Hannah Buchdahl, November 5, 2014:

    Thanks Steve! Great to get the opinion of a ‘real’ drummer/musician!!

  3. Marika Olsen, December 23, 2014:

    That looks intense. I hope the ending is worth all the pain.

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