Friday, February 13, 2015

Whiplash review; an intense portrait of perfection

Whiplash is a film Written and Directed by Damien Chazelle, and stars J.K. Simmons as an intense music instructor, and Miles Teller as his young protege.  The movie is actually inspired by a short film of the same name, that Chazelle wrote and directed a few years ago.  Don't be fooled by this simple premise.  Simmons and Teller are electric in this film.  Let's go like a jazz band on Bourbon Street!

What I liked about the film:
The Acting
Holy crap the acting in this film is ridiculously good.  I considered J.K. Simmons to be one of the most versatile actors today, before this film.  Now?  Now I think he's one of the best.  Simmons owns the screen from the first frame we see him in.  The way he carries himself, the way he speaks, the way he screams; all lead you to believe he IS the character.  This is NOT the Farmers Insurance guy, ladies and gents.  Simmons' character is obsessed with perfection.  He feels that the worst thing a mentor can do, is to 'baby' a student, and say something as damaging as 'good job'.  I've seen most of the performances nominated for a Best Actor Oscar, and I'd have to give it to Simmons if I had a vote.  His involvement alone is worth the price of admission.

Miles Teller is turning out to be a great actor.  This is not your average teen heartthrob.  He has the ability to go toe to toe with some of the best in the business.  And that is certainly evident in this film.  Teller plays a young man who works tirelessly to impress the Simmons character, with his incredible drumming skills.  He practices his hands to the bone... literally.  The determination Teller portrays makes you want to do better at your job!  He was able to make me care about him, and cheer for him, with very little dialogue in the film.  The two main actors are incredible and certainly carry the film.

The Music/Cinematography
It's not really fair to clump these two categories into one, but for the sake of time, I must.  I'm not a fan of jazz music at all, but this movie had me tapping my foot like a mad man.  The music pieces chosen for the film, and the way they're shot, takes us into a world we really don't know much about.  I mean really, how often are jazz bands the subject of Oscar nominated films?  The incredibly fast paced filming, cinematography and pacing, make the movie feel like it's flying by.  The music was written by Justin Hurwitz and the Director of Photography was Sharone Meir.  Awesome!

The Ending
I'll be vague here, and still try to explain.  There is a musical number at the end of the film that lasts close to 5 minutes and it is one of the most impressive things I've seen in a movie in a long time.  You see some of the best filming, acting, directing, of this year.  Just watch the eyes of the actors as you enjoy the ending.  You will appreciate their art on a whole different level!

What I didn't like about the film:
The 'Twist'
Oh the stupid twist in this film.  The movie is OUTSTANDING... 90% of its runtime.  Then Chazelle writes a twist scene that simply does not fit.  It tonally didn't work for me, and it definitely didn't make any sense within the context of the plot.  I'm obviously being careful how I word this, but you'll know exactly what I'm saying when you see the film.  I had a true 'what the hell' moment during the film, and could barely regroup before that stellar ending.

The Verdict:
An Intense Portrait of Perfection
The movie is outstanding in so many different ways.  Chazelle has put together a stellar cast, wrote a riveting script, and directed the hell out of this movie.  I can look past the silly plot, because so many other great things happen during the film.  Please go see this movie, and tell me you don't see J.K. Simmons taking home the gold, at this year's Oscars.  I'll be

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