Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Review of WHIPLASH: Drumming Up Greatness

October 21, 2014

Andrew Nieman is an introverted 19-year old freshman in the Schaefer Conservatory of Music in New York City. Aside from his dad, he does not relate well to other people, as he is always obsessively practicing on his drums. He catches the attention of a notoriously hard-driving teacher Terence Fletcher, who recruits Andrew to join his studio jazz band. There, Fletcher pushes Andrew to play his drums to perfection using a hard abrasive instruction style, inflicting physical and emotional expected only from military drill sergeants. Will Andrew make it through or will he snap under the pressure?

Miles Teller is a young star on the rise. He was in three other films this year alone, including "Divergent". He is set to be seen as Mr. Fantastic in the reboot of "The Fantastic Four" franchise next year, along with four other films. "Whiplash" proves that he is also a serious actor to reckon with. The role is physically exhausting and emotionally demanding, and Teller nails it. As the drums prodigy Andrew, Teller looks like he mastered playing that drum set for real for this difficult role. Unlike the piano, it is hard to fake playing the drums. His passion in playing is palpable from across the screen.

J.K. Simmons, whom many of us only know as J. Jonah Jameson, Peter Parker's boss, in the Tobey Maguire Spider-Man films, plays the irascible Mr. Fletcher, a teacher who is never satisfied with only good enough. He plays a hateful character who tended to exceed his boundaries as a mentor. Be it in his expletive-laden tirades or with just one penetrating stare, Simmons drips with chilling malevolence. However, Simmons imbues Fletcher with other layers so we do not only see him as just a one-dimensional antagonist.

"Whiplash" features some gloriously-filmed jazz band performances. I personally do not like jazz so much, but the exhilaration of the playing and the richness of the music are very hard to resist. The perfectly-edited scenes showing the band passionately playing their music had the vigor and energy of a sports match. That super-intense final scene alone will literally keep you at the edge of your seat. The audience in the theater where I watched erupted into spontaneous applause when it ended.

This is certainly not just another "Mr. Holland's Opus" or "Music of the Heart". While this also has student-teacher drama and beautiful music, Writer and director Damien Chazelle presents his story in a most unexpectedly disturbing, suspenseful, violent and even horrific way. This extraordinary film is brutally raw and frank, no punches were pulled. You will never hear the words "Good Job" the same way again. Such was its brutal yet exquisite sting. 9/10.


  1. I think I'll like this movie because of the intensity of the scenes and the emotions brought by the main actor. With music incorporated largely in the film, Whiplash will most likely be a good watch for my family.

  2. Sadly, I haven't seen the movie but I will include it in my list. I'm not a fan of jazz but I like music so I'm curious. I agree that playing the drums is hard to fake. For me that's what binds together the band's sound.

  3. Now this I find interesting. I'm glad I saw this review. I'll go ahead and look for it.

  4. Thanks for the review, I've been reading about Whiplash all over Facebook. I rarely watch this type of movies, but I think because of your recommendation I will check this out. thanks!

  5. They have assembled great actors to feel meaningful part of the movie. I'm sure whiplash would be a classic.

  6. This would definitely be something I'd find interesting to see.