Saturday, February 7, 2015


WHIPLASH kicked my butt! The most intense film I saw last year wasn't LONE SURVIVOR nor was it NIGHTCRALER. No, WHIPLASH utterly drained me. Between the scenes of Andrew (Miles Teller) playing the drums till his fingers bleed and countless moments of Fletcher (J.K Simmons) the band leader/conductor drawing blood from a stone to make sure his jazz band is the best, I was white-knuckled for most of the films 107 minute runtime.

No way am I a musical prodigy, but in a small way I could relate to WHIPLASH. A very small way. I played saxophone for 8 years, 5th grade through my senior year in high school. Up until high school I thought I was pretty great. It was in high school that I found out that being excellent at sight reading music wasn't going to cut it. And my jazz band experience humbled me quite a bit.

While I never had a band teacher that was driven quite like Fletcher, I did see glimpses of my instructors from high school. So if you were ever enrolled in band at school, you might be able to say “I remember that” if you see WHIPLASH.

Andrew is enrolled at a elite music school in New York. He is a jazz drummer in hopes of becoming the next Buddy Rich. He's good. He's so good that he catches the eye of Fletcher, a instructor/mentor who stops at nothing to get the best out of the students of the conservatory. Sometimes Fletcher can push a little too far. But how far is too far if students like Andrew truly want to be the best?

I've been a fan of Miles Teller since the FOOTLOOSE remake. Take note kids, this guy is going to be one of the next great movie stars. But the real star of WHIPLASH is of course J.K. Simmons as Fletcher, the instructor who will break a student to reach their potential.

The role is mesmerizing. I found myself laughing one moment only to be shockingly speechless the next. It makes you wonder if this guy is crazy, or does he truly have a point? While I disagree with his teaching methods, I totally believe the message of Fletcher.

We as a society, as a culture are dumbing down the future with “just okay” becoming the new “that's great”. It's a variation on the “everyone's a winner” and “no one's a looser” mentality.

WHIPLASH is the second feature from filmmaker Damien Chazelle. He also wrote the screenplay for the highly entertaining thriller GRAND PIANO. Now playing on Netflix, which I highly, highly recommend. I'm expecting great things from Mr. Chazelle in years to come. A true wonderkind.

So go see WHIPLASH for the amazing performance from J.K. Simmons, and stay for the cool jazz music.

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