|WHIPLASH (director/writer: Damien Chazelle; cinematographer: Sharone Meir; editor: Tom Cross; music: Justin Hurwitz; cast: Miles Teller (Andrew Neyman), J. K. Simmons (Terence Fletcher), Melissa Benoist (Nicole), Paul Reiser (Jim), Austin Stowell (Ryan), Nate Lang (Carl), Max Kasch (Dorm Neighbor), Damon Gupton (Mr. Kramer); Runtime: 105; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Jason Blum/Helen Estabrook/David Lancaster/Michel Litvak; Sony Pictures Classics; 2014)|
|"Could have easily been a sports
by Dennis Schwartz
Sundance favorite, meaning it's a populist film. The
theme covers the challenges of being a musician as if
the music field is related to the art of warfare. An
aspiring jazz drummer prodigy, Andrew Neyman
(Miles Teller), is roughly challenged by his
terrifying mentor, Terence Fletcher (J.K.
Simmons), at the Shaffer Conservatory of
Music in Manhattan, to be the best he can be or
leave his group. In true sports film formula fashion,
the kid comes through in the clutch in the Manhattan
jazz concert piece at the climax. The pic
could have easily been a sports film.
29-year-old writer-director Damien Chazelle ("Guy
and Medeline on a Park Bench"), in his second
jazz-themed film, aims to bring new light to the
musical-prodigy experience as he covers the teacher's
tough love bullying sessions with the prodigy. The
teacher's abusive mentoring can be compared to the
monster drill instructor in Full Metal Jacket. The
agenda invested pic rigs the action to make its point
that giving your all for art is sometimes questionable
if it can destroy you.
finale, don't act surprised that the troubled student
rises to the big sports-like occasion to hit the ball
out of the park for a walk-off win despite being
verbally abused by his teacher. I found its lecture
points over this messy scenario hollow and hardly
compelling, but was impressed with the drumming and
how physically strenuous it is.
hard-nosed demanding jazz instructor at the fictitious
elite conservatory, modeled after Julliard, Terence
Fletcher, tells his deflated Buddy Rich idolizing
drummer student, Andrew Neyman,
that in aiming for greatness "there
are no two words in the English language more harmful
than good job."
a relentless stream of pearls of wisdom coming from
the ruthless conductor, someone whose sanity should be
challenged because of his volatile anti-social
actions. Teach seemingly knows only one way of
teaching and motivating his students-- through the use
of fear. The so-called great teacher (someone with
obvious psychological problems) seems to think that
you can teach everyone the same way and that
overcoming fear of failure is the great motivational
tool to reach the top of your craft.
subplot, the shy 19-year-old Andrew shows a romantic
interest in Nicole (Melissa Benoist).
She's the attractive, vulnerable concession-counter
gal at his neighborhood movie theater who is bullied
by him and dumped when he deems that his career is
more important than romance.
confused about what I was supposed to get out of this
film. If it's meant as a lesson about the dangers of
one blindly sacrificing his life for a career or a
warning of the dangers of capitulating to a monster
teacher just because he can advance your career, then
so be it. However, its strained story never was music
to my ears.
REVIEWED ON 7/20/2015 GRADE: C+
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
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