Friday, November 21, 2014

"Whiplash" Review - Written by Tim Hellman

'WHIPLASH': Five Stars (Out of Five)

A critically acclaimed (and Oscar hopeful) jazz musician character study that plays more like a psychological thriller than a heartwarming drama. It was written and directed by Damien Chazelle and stars Miles Teller and J. K. Simmons. The film tells the story of a young jazz drummer studying to become great at an acclaimed music school, under the obsessive guidance of an abusive instructor. It also features Melissa Benoist and Paul Reiser, in supporting roles. I found it to be nothing short of great and a true masterpiece.

Andrew (Teller) is 19-years-old and just started school at the Shaffer Conservatory, which is widely known as the best music school in the country. He really wants to be one of the great jazz drummers and to do so he'll need to gain the approval of a highly respected conductor, at the school, named Terence Fletcher (Simmons). Fletcher is determined to find the next great musician and his tactics for bringing out the best in students are highly questionable, and border on psychological abuse (and torture). Andrew is just as determined to become a great musician though, and the two engage in a battle that turns into one of the most epic showdowns in cinematic history.

Simmons is great in the movie (and he's now seen as the Best Supporting Actor frontrunner, at this year's upcoming Academy Awards). I've been a fan of his, as a character actor, for years and it's great to see him taking on a lead role that he's this powerful and memorable in (it showcases all of his best talents). Teller is just as good as the main character though, he's a new actor but he's already shown an amazing gift for acting. The two very flawed but inspired characters, these actors bring to life in this film, are classic. It's a great story but what's even more impressive is how visceral a film going experience it is; Chazelle's directing is always breathtaking and beautiful to watch. I don't think a character study could possibly be more intense and thoroughly involving than this (and it does feel like a thriller or fast paced sports drama). It's one of the best movie experiences I've had this year!

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