Whiplash Review

So I watched Whiplash..

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I love going to the cinema, I think it’s the best way to watch movies. There’s a grander scale of depth and magnitude that comes with watching a movie on the big screen. I’d watch all movies this way if I could but not all movies require a cinema to be enjoyed. I just watched Whiplash on dvd and even though it’s a beautiful movie and I loved it; I wish I could have seen it at the cinema. This movie deserves the scale of a threatre.

Okay, basic plot: Andrew Neiman (MIles Teller) is an ambitious jazz student at Schaffer Conservatory who plays the drums and dreams of becoming a musical legend. Terrence Fletcher (played to perfection by J.K. Simmons) is an abusive musical conductor at the school who demands perfection from his students. When Fletcher notices Neiman, the two begin a professional relationship that will push Neiman to his breaking point and beyond.

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This movie is a masterpiece. It’s such an exhilarating ride. I’m not the biggest jazz fan in the world but this movie had me hooked and completely invested in the world of jazz. It’s not a movie about jazz actually – it transcends the genre. It reminded me a lot of Foxcatcher in that it gives you a look into the relationship between competitors and their mentors. And those relationships are pretty dark. I mean whenever a top athlete or coach releases a memoir and you learn about the relationship they had with the people around them it’s pretty intense. There’s abuse, violence, malice but all of this is justified because the end result is all that matters. The backdrop of Whiplash may be jazz music but it’s telling a story that is universal and present in almost every aspect of life.

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But it is still a great jazz movie and that’s probably the main reason I wanted to watch this movie at the cinema. It’s score and sound editing are amazing. Whenever the bands perform (or even just practise) you’re transported to a grand hall and the music washes over you. It really is brilliant and I don’t know if Miles Teller can actually play the drums but he does an amazing job convincing you that he’s an aspiring musical great. His acting is this movie is a revelation. It’s not top quality yet but it’s a statement of intent. Watch out for this guy. I’ve seen him in multiple movies and he can play a character on either end of the spectrum.

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Now we can’t talk about this movie’s acting without mentioning J.K. Simmons. The commitment and the intensity he brings to this role is breathtaking. Yes, he swears a lot and has a lot of dynamic moments in this movie but it’s in the quieter moments that his skill becomes truly apparent. I love looking at the details of characters because, for me, that’s the mark of quality acting. It’s easy to scream, easy to look disabled but to convince me that you are a character with nothing but a look in your eyes takes exceptional skill. You can see the devotion in Simmons’ eyes – he isn’t pretending, he’s living the character and when an actor does this, you have to give them an Oscar. Simmons does a truly remarkable job because even though he’s this movie’s villain, he has a likeable quality to him. He’s a ‘necessary evil’ and even though you probably won’t like him, you have to respect him.

In closing, this movie is triumphant. It draws you in, plays on your emotions and takes you on a ride that you won’t soon forget. Definitely worth a watch. 8/10

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