Mark’s Verdict 4.5/5
(aka- the movie where J. Jonah Jameson slaps Mr. Fantastic as he tries to date Supergirl.)
Whiplash was a movie I was only mildly interested in going to see. The subject matter didn’t really seem that inviting, but I’ve been a big fan of J.K Simmons for years, so I know he was going to bring the acting chops. Anyone who’s seen him in Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man movies knows he’s a scene stealer. This character is like J. Jonah Jameson unhinged, and it’s a stunning performance. This is a fantastic David vs. Goliath story that plays out in a music school. It builds until the end where you feel like you’ve just finished watching a championship boxing tournament! There is literally blood, sweat and tears in these performances, and it’s captivating.
Miles Teller (aka future Mr. Fantastic) has played characters with so much self confidence, that it was odd to see him so awkward. Eventually I forgot about the actor, and just followed the character. You can’t help but feel for him as the story goes on. Especially as he tries to win over future Supergirl Melissa Benoist.
This is definitely a good drama and a slightly dark comedy. It’s one of the strongest on-screen battles I’ve seen in years, and it’s about Jazz drumming of all things!! Loved it.
Adam’s Verdict 5/5
Relative newcomer to the movie industry Damien Chazelle delivers one of the most gripping and tense movies of 2014. The story is simple and straightforward, the cast is small, the performances are incredible and the tension is huge.
Andrew (Miles Teller) is a skilled drummer in his first year at Shaffer Conservatory, a Juilliard inspired institute for only the best of the best. In this elite musical school is one jazz band that is portrayed as being above all the rest. The band is lead by Fletcher (J.K. Simmons), a teacher who calls it like he sees it with absolutely no patience, no give, and no compassion. Andrew is desperate to be in the Shaffer competition band, but also to win the approval of Fletcher. Becoming obsessive, Andrew consciously lets all of his personal relationships slide. The more progress he makes the harder Fletcher pushes. The constant pressure will either make or break Andrew as a musician.
Miles Teller is a young actor but already has an impressive filmography to his name. Doing some of the standard roles young male actors in their 20s tend to do, Teller seems to dig a little deeper in his characters. Whiplash is the best performance of his career so far. As amazing as Teller was as the talented jazz drummer, at only 27 years old he will definitely be an actor whose career should be followed. Obsessed to a crazy degree and unable to interact with his peers socially Andrew isn’t the run of the mill college student looking to get ahead. A poignant scene at his family’s dinner table illustrates perfectly how this curmudgeonly teen sees the world. J.K. Simmons mostly known as a character actor and as J. Jonah Jameson. Fletcher is a haunting character. Every scene he is in he commands. His presence and quick wit make the audience want to like him but hate to love him. He is funny, cruel, demanding, and perfectly motivational all at the same time.
With a tight run time of just over one hundred minutes. Whiplash wastes no time. Opening on some impressive drumming and both lead actors giving the audience a very clear picture of what’s to come, Whiplash grasps audiences the second the movie starts. While Whiplash is, on the surface, a story about an aspiring jazz drummer under the lead of a jazz legend, it is not a prerequisite to be into jazz, music, play an instrument, or know anything about the performing arts to enjoy it. The real message of the movie is a mentor to student story, what it takes to achieve and create greatness, and (my favorite) the blunt message in one of Fletcher’s most memorable quotes “There are no two words in the English language more harmful than good job.”
Given a somewhat limited release Whiplash may not be playing in your area. It is well worth the effort to seek it out, or jump on Amazon and pre order the DVD. The performances are as mesmerizing as the final fifteen non-stop tense moments. The plot is a roller coaster of emotion and a few plot points will keep even the most astute audience member on their toes.