Cinematic Releases: Whiplash

Jazz drumming takes center stage in the phenomenal character study, Whiplash. 

No, dude. I refuse to play
Moby Dick again.
Just not a Bonham fan."
The fall season brings forth one of the best movies of the year in the form of a smaller feature starring Miles Teller and the always gripping J.K. Simmons. Both actors are in prime form as they battle it out in an arena not commonly exposed in theatrical releases: competitive music conservatory jazz band. With Whiplash, Simmons brings back that seething quality of his Oz character, Vern Schillinger while Miles Teller finally flexes his abilities and becomes a dramatic star worthy of far greater things than That Awkward Moment or 21 and Over.

Whiplash tells the tale of one student's journey to become the best jazz drummer he can be while being ployed, manipulated, and scrutinized by a characteristically unrelenting Simmons. The film takes an off hand topic that's never been fully realized on screen before and turns out to be a captivating story about the loving and often times disappointing commitment to the craft of jazz drumming. The live music scenes are unbelievably realistic as music fans are treated to scene after scene of skillful percussion work and two actors that are determined to create an on screen chemistry brimming with musical rage. 

Going in to this film, it was a relatively fair assessment that there would be something I'd like. Walking away from the theater (by myself), a small mumble escaped from my lips, "best movie of the year". While that statement might not be my final decision come the end of December, Whiplash takes the cake as far as domestic dramas go. Simmons and Teller work here is profound and representative of what two actors can do when their focus is shifted to creating something smaller, something palpable, and something that the creative community can sink their teeth in to as multiple forms of art collide into a perfect display of tangible dedication. Simmon surely deserves an Oscar for his role here and Teller is close behind. 

"These drums make me sad.
Time to write some METAL!!!!"
If you're a fan of jazz or music in general, Whiplash is a film you'll want to experience. It's a character-centric piece of cinema that takes audiences through the struggles of a musical student as his formative teacher does everything in his power to scorn and manipulate the driven youth. The performances are emotive, pragmatic, and treated with care by a sophomore director that is destined to do great things.