Whiplash (2014)

Speechless. For a guy who isn’t into Jazz or into music actually, Whiplash has managed to titillate me so much that I’m only going to be listening to Jazz for the next week or so. Damien Chazelle, the director of the movie has given us a masterpiece. A movie for all music enthusiasts. I haven’t watched all the movies that have been nominated for the Best Film at the Academy Awards, but as of now I’m backing Whiplash to bag the prize.

Andrew Neyman (Played by Miles Teller) is an upcoming drummer and is a student at New York’s prestigious Shaffer Conservatory music school. Shaffer is famous for the stringent teaching methods. The epitome of these methods is Terence Fletcher (Played by J.K.Simmons). The movie has a very upbeat start where Andrew is seen practicing and Terence spots him, disparages him and leaves. This sets the tone of the movie and clearly establishes the nature of the two lead characters. All this happens in the first 3 minutes. Talk about precision and adroit writing. As the movie progresses Andrew is adopted by Terence for this studio band, which is considered one of the best in the country. During his first practice session, Terrence asks Andrew to play to the complex composition that gives the movie its title. Here we get to see the most iconic scene of the year. A scene that will probably change the views of every blossoming musician out there. The Rushing or Dragging scene. This scene is very important because it establishes Fletcher’s need for perfection and the abusive methods he implements to achieve that. The lengths he goes to teach and train his students is well way out of line when he it comes to pedagogy. The drill sergeant-like conductor is something that appeals to me personally, as it shows us how serious and tough the music industry is and how not everyone is built for it.

Later in the movie Fletcher defends his actions by saying that he was looking to make the next Charlie Parker. For all of you who don’t know who Charlie Parker is, Charlie Parker is one of the greatest or probably the greatest musician of the 20th Century. Fletcher highlights the decline of the quality of Jazz ever since the turn of the new century and he wishes to maintain the integrity of the genre no matter what it takes and no matter what means he has to take.

Parker’s a young kid, pretty good on the sax. Gets up to play at a cutting session… and he fucks it up. And Jones nearly decapitates him for it. And he’s laughed off-stage. Cries himself to sleep that night but the next morning, what does he do? He practices. And he practices and he practices with one goal in mind: never to be laughed at again. And a year later, he goes back to the Reno… and he steps up on that stage and he plays the best motherfucking solo the world has ever heard. So imagine if Jones had just said, “Well, that’s okay Charlie. Eh… that was alright. Good job.” Then Charlie thinks to himself, “Well, shit. I did do a pretty good job.” End of story, no Bird. That, to me, is… an absolute tragedy. But that’s just what the world wants now! People wonder why jazz is dying. I’ll tell you man. And every Starbucks “jazz” album just proves my point, really. There are no two words in the English language more harmful… than “good job.”

The movie has numerous plot twists and its completely unpredictable. The viewer is hooked from the very start and is on the edge of his seat till the end. From getting gruesome cuts on his fingers to getting hit by a truck, Andrew never stops drumming. I recently read that Miles Teller himself did the drumming in this movie, which calls for immense respect. Not more than a few years ago he was in comedy 21 and over, and I wouldn’t have considered taking him seriously. But here we are today, with him redefining himself as an actor. Looks like we got another Bradley Cooper in the making. The most fascinating and admirable scene of the movie is definitely the climax where Andrew gives a Kraken length drum solo which leaves you spellbound by the end of it. What I have clearly learned from this movie is that, to get somewhere in this industry, musicians have to sacrifice a lot of sweat and blood, literally.

My rating for Whiplash: 9.1/10

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