Saturday, March 28, 2015

The Procrastinator's Movie Review: Whiplash

Whiplash

Release Date: October 15, 2014

Who was in that one again? Miles Teller, J.K. Simmons, Paul Reiser

I can't remember the plot. A really good jazz drummer attends a conservatory and gets pulled into the top shelf jazz group with a conductor that will do anything to weed out the weak and bring out the best in the strong.

The review: I have to admit, I was really riding the emotional train on this movie. You hate Terrence Fletcher from the very first minute of the movie, and your hatred grows even more, and then you kind of understand him, but then you hate him, and then you find out he was lying when you had that moment of "understanding him," and then you're pleased because he got what he deserved, and then you think you understand him better than the first time, and then you HATE HIM WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, and then you actually do understand him. And then the movie's done.

That's pretty much the mindset of Andrew Niemann, the hotshot drummer played by Teller, as well. And by the end of the movie you're thankful for those moments of almost-levity, because if you were surfing on a wave of hatred for the entire movie you'd probably have to eat a pound of chocolate to make yourself feel better.

The idea is hard to grasp - you have to push someone past their breaking point to see if they can overcome and achieve the greatness you feel they have inside. This could have been a movie with any plot device at its base: basketball, writing, technology, etc. But since they chose jazz ensemble music, it hit me a little harder.

As a conductor, I have a reason to give my all in my music: I give it my all to serve my Savior. If I was a musician in the real world (as is the case in this movie) there has to be some other motivation to be the greatest and do the greatest work you can. It is an interesting, yet depressing thought.

However, the final piece at the very end of the movie was such a rush of adrenaline. The motivation was achieved horribly, but the triumph almost makes up for the horribleness. Almost.

MVP: They may have given the Oscar to Simmons, but Teller was the one that actually had to play the drums. I'm sure he didn't do all of it, but he did enough to earn my praise. So many actors "play" the instruments and I can always tell when they're not. Teller did it, and did it awesomely.

Blurb Musing Rating (out of five): Four bloody drum kits. (That's not a British swear word - they're literally bloody.)

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