579. Whiplash

579-whiplashBackground info

Title: Whiplash
Director: Damien Chazelle
Year: 2014
Run time: 1hr 47m

“Andrew Neiman is an ambitious young jazz drummer, single-minded in his pursuit to rise to the top of his elite east coast music conservatory. Terence Fletcher, an instructor known equally for his teaching talents and his terrifying methods, discovers Andrew and transfers him into his band. Andrew’s passion to achieve perfection soon spirals into obsession, as his ruthless teacher continues to push him to the brink of both his ability and his sanity.”

Live blog

1:45 – Drumming actually boggles my mind. How is it possible to go that fast and stay in rhythm?
4:38 – Miles Teller is fab.
5:56 – Are they mixing chocolate in the popcorn? What an idea!
9:55 – Drumming is such a sweaty business too.
12:33 – “No, no, no, other drums.” That’s his new name then.
18:00 – It’s good to command respect, obviously, but it can’t be fun to see all those terrified faces looking at you.
27:55 – “Why do you suppose I threw a chair at your head?” Eeek!
31:58 – So, this bit literally is blood, sweat and tears.
35:03 – “I don’t think they like me too much but, I don’t care too much.”
43:52 – That’s a terrible way to be told you’re the alternate now.
47:11 – “Come play with us.” “Four words you will never hear from the NFL.”
52:36 – I was on his side right up until that ridiculous conversation with his now ex-girlfriend.
53:36 – Is it hard to re-upholster a drum?
57:52 – Literal musical chairs.
1:06:59 – Terrifying accident but it LOOKED amazing.
1:10:33 – I did not see that coming, fighting on stage!
1:21:23 – What if it really was a good job?
1:29:18 – That’s like people’s actual anxiety dreams… being on stage without the right music.
1:38:22 – Drummers do make some funny faces.
1:42:11 – Ten minutes of drumming but it was absolutely captivating.

Conclusions

Whiplash was absolutely incredible. I had slight reservations going into it, because I knew it was about J K Simmons shouting a lot, and I was worried it would be the kind of film that gives me a headache. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

The story is pretty simple but the film never gets boring. Even though there are moments where you’re just watching minutes of drumming, it’s still intense and worthwhile at every stage. I thought Miles and J K put in some fantastic work, all that sweating and shouting and bleeding. The obsessive nature of both was clear and portrayed really well, sometimes so that you felt sorry for them, and at other times despised them for their actions.

I also thought the end sequence was perfect. As mentioned above, ten minutes of drumming that was captivating but more importantly, nothing after it. To see a resolution between the two would have spoiled everything. Instead, the balance of power remains on a knife edge and all it does is help produce even better music. Great stuff.

Rating: 5/5.

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