A young and talented drummer attending a prestigious music academy finds himself under the wing of the most respected professor at the school, one who does not hold back on abuse towards his students. The two form an odd relationship as the student tries to achieve greatness, and the professor tries to stop him.Written by imdb
October 15, 2014
Painfully Inspiring Masterpiece, Whiplash will leave its mark on you.
In Whiplash, Miles Teller plays Andrew, a freshman at a very prestigious and exclusive music program in New York. His talent and work ethic gets him noticed by Fletcher (J.K. Simmons) who invites him to be part of the schools award winning jazz band. Although once a part of the band Andrew learns how extreme Fletcher’s teaching methods are in getting the great performances he demands.
Don’t call it a comeback J.K Simmons has been here for years. J.K. Simmons has been the unsung hero of movies for years. It’s great to see the man get his day in the sun. From Juno (2007), Extract (2009), Up in the Air (2009) to the Spiderman franchise J.K. never disappoints. He plays grumpy sarcastic to an art form. In Whiplash we get the J.K. we love at fever pitch. He is the drill sergeant from Full Metal Jacket (1987) and a little of Gene Wilder’s Willy Wonka (1971) without the whimsy and all the sadism. J.K.s is a phenomenal stand out performance that transcends the movie and creates this force of nature character that is unforgettable. Not to take anything away from Miles Teller. His drive and determination are similar to Rocky (1976) or Rudy (1993). This film is inspirational on par with them. Relative new comer director Damien Chazelle nails this film. His tempo is right on key, this film does not drag or lead. It is air tight storytelling at its finest. It’s also great to see Paul Reiser getting some work. He is great as Andrew’s father Jim. I also think that after watching this movie, I have a new found respect for drumming. Gone are the days of me using the drum solo at concerts to go use the restroom.
This film really inspired me. Have you ever had a boss, mentor, coach or teacher who pushed you to the edge? Someone you grew to despise because of how hard they were on you. If so, you must see this movie. There is a line in the film where J.K. Simmons says, the worst thing you can tell a person is “that’s good.” We live in a society that gives way too much credit to mediocrity. This film is a harsh commentary on America’s, everyone gets a trophy policy. To sharpen a knife you need a hard surface to sharpen it against. Some may say J.K. Simmons character Fletcher is a bully in this film. I say we need more positive bullies. Now I’m not taking about jerks who pick on the handicapped or beat up small kids for their lunch money. We need mentors who will push people to their limit to get greatness. To steal and alter a quote from Gordon Gecko (Michael Douglas) in Wall Street (1987) “The point is, ladies and gentleman, that Bullying, for lack of a better word, is good. Bullying is right, bullying works. Bullying clarifies, cuts through, and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit….And bullying, you mark my words, will not only save Teldar Paper, but that other malfunctioning corporation called the USA.” Now it’s amusing to transpose bulling and greed for the sake of a point here, but that is the overall message of this film. The minute we think we have it all we come complacent, that can be linked to the decline of all greatness in the world. You have to stay hungry and competitive. Another great quote comes from Orson Wells in The Third Man (1949) that I think illustrates this point perfectly. “Italy for 30 years under the Borgias they had warfare, terror, murder, and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and the Renaissance. In Switzerland they had brotherly love – they had 500 years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock.” Push hard to greatness dear friends. Our great country desperately needs more of it.
J.K. Simmons will win the Oscar this year for Whiplash. He was outstanding. The lead, Miles Teller, was outstanding. Seeing Paul Reiser back on the screen was outstanding. Whiplash is, in a word, outstanding.
This film will make you feel uncomfortable. You will question what happens next. You will be inspired to push through pain, fear and the people who don’t believe in you to pursue being the best at something (if that’s on your agenda). Whiplash is moving, dramatic, at times funny and at times on the edge of crazy. I wasn’t expecting to take the journey Whiplash gave me. I am, again, so thankful for the awards shows that nominate great acting so we didn’t miss this gem.
Whiplash will give you an interesting view on, for a lack of a better term, bullying. It’s not pretty. It’s not always right. But it is a part of life. The anti-bullying movement is strong and definitely has a place. Making fun of someone for who they are is absolutely not right.
However … We need to slow down the train on telling everyone they are winners of the game. Not everyone needs a trophy. There are winning and losing in life (or as my Dad calls it — “winners and lessons in life” — Brilliant). Sometimes you are the winner and sometimes you are the loser. What’s amazing about free will and life is that you can choose what you want to win and how hard you will work to win it. What if Michael Jordan wasn’t cut from a team? Would he have the countless hours practicing free throws to get better, and eventually, the most well known basketball player in history? What about Abraham Lincoln? He lost elections … a lot … before he won.
When you watch American Idol, do you want to see the best and/or most hard-working singers make it through or do you want the pitchy ones to make it to the next round? There is a reason they show you behind-the-scenes during the competition — we want to see how hard someone is working to move forward and be the best. It inspires us to do the same for our passions. It would be a very boring show if everyone got off stage and were given “participant” ribbons instead and sat around talking about how great everyone is.
(FYI – I haven’t watched American Idol in years… since the Simon days. But you get where I’m coming from.)
Truth hurts sometimes. It’s also essential if you want to be one of the best. Truth tests your character, perseverance and passion. If you’re not good at something and you don’t want to pursue it — ok, sounds good. You’re free to take that path. If you are not very good but you really really want it — I’m sure deep down inside you want to work hard to get it — you don’t want it given to you. Even the most talented people in the world need to hear the truth. One of my favorite quotes attributed to Thomas Jefferson — “I find the harder I work, the luckier I get”. Exactly.
What will it take to be the best? Whiplash is an interesting and painful look at that journey. Please check it out and let us know what you think. I promise it’s better than the current season of American Idol (it’s still on, right?)