From the writer of The Last Exorcism Part II comes Whiplash – the Oscar-nominated story of a young jazz drummer (Miles Teller) and his ruthless teacher (J.K. Simmons).
The two leads crash together in style – Simmons is all rage and veins, running his band like Full Metal Jacket‘s Gunnery Sergeant Hartman but with more percussion. Mickey Hart-man. Teller shines as the teen Gene Krupa with breathtaking drumming, and it’s really him playing.
But the jazz drumming is more impressive than the repetitive drama, which hits all the usual competition movie beats – it’s basically Rocky but with jazz. Jazzy. But while we root for Stallone’s reluctant underdog, Whiplash‘s characters are completely deranged.
It’s difficult to cheer for such bullheaded individuals, completely blinded by the misconception that they’re better than their peers. Writer/director Damien Chazelle asks – is this arrogance necessary for greatness? No Damien, it’s not. Haven’t you seen Rocky?
Whiplash is a good ride that moves like a (rim) shot and ensnares with its performances, editing and music. But if it’s jazz drumming you’re after this Oscar season, you’re better off watching the brilliant Birdman. And you know what else has great music? Rocky.
This music movie is loud, bloody and rich. Bluddy Rich. It’s just a shame its characters are such bell-ends. The drumming really is stunning – but if you want to watch a horrible man do some incredible jazz drumming for 100 minutes, there’s plenty of Buddy Rich on YouTube.