WHIPLASH does for classical jazz what BLACK SWAN did for ballet. This film is an epic tour de force that is in the running for my number one film of the year. WHIPLASH and BOYHOOD will go head to head for Oscar glory come March and here is a film that has lived up to every bit of its hype. As soon as I saw the trailer my jaw dropped, I had to see this film, it looked intense and it was. WHIPLASH is out next Thursday 23rd October in Australia BUT it has previews this weekend. It is being released by SONY CLASSICS , it is rated MA15+ and runs for a perfectly tempoed 107mins.





Simple premise: student enters elite conservatory of music that creates the best. You want to be the best you have to do the best, you have to go all the way. You can with one teacher, but if he sees potential he is going to tear your flesh off and drive you to the doors of hell to realise your potential.

And so it is, Andrew (Miles Teller) wants to be the best drummer, the classical drummer that can do it all, be the fastest and he is willing to lose everything else and ONLY focus on that one thing. He has no friends, he is alone in the world with his drums, oh and a father who cares for him but does not understand him. Andrew is not the nicest person, he is single minded, driven and determined. But compared to Fletcher (J.K. Simmons) he is a saintly babe in arms. You side with Andrew, because, Fletcher is satan. He is skilled, he has a perfect ear, he knows music better than most but he has no line, he will push and push the kids he thinks have it until they are perfect or dead. He is bloody scary!




WHIPLASH is the lovechild of writer/ director Damien Chazelle. This is his first Hollywood film and he has been trying to make it for years. He could not get funding so he made it as a short, submitted it to Sundance, won the Jury award, resubmitted for funding and in it came. He shot the entire film in 19 days, made the entire film from go to woe in ten weeks and never said cut to Miles Teller as he wanted him to be exhausted from playing. Right there it is already winning for me. Chazelle believed so much in the film he made it magic. He films a superb looking film that has the added benefit of mostly being filmed in studios or on stage, it makes for beautifully harsh or soft lighting pending on mood required. He also gives us a well paced edge of your seat psychological drama that takes place in front of a drum kit on a stage and the film never loses pace. The pure drive from the characters is just remarkable and it is all thanks to an incredible script, also from Chazelle.

Oddly, the lead for this was meant to be Dane DeHaan, my favourite actor of the moment, but he turned it down. I can find nothing online that says he plays drums, so this may be his reason for turning it down. Miles Teller has been playing drums since he was 15 and on top of that took 4hr lessons 3 days a week in the preparation for the film. A lot of that blood you see on the drumsticks is real folks. Teller threw his soul into this film.

Teller’s performance is easily the best in his career and it definitely makes up for his “tool” comments dissing his role in DIVERGENT. He is Andrew, he is flawless as Andrew and I do believe he will be nominated for best actor Oscar come March. I do not think he will win, but he will be nominated. Regardless of how good Teller was going to be he was owned on a next level by J.K. Simmons.




Now J.K. Simmons as Fletcher, a career defining performance from a career longer than most. He has 143 movie credits dating back to 1983. He has notably been in THE FIRST WIVES CLUB, THE JACKAL, CELEBRITY, THE CIDER HOUSE RULES, LAW AND ORDER, all the Raimi SPIDER-MANS, ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT, ALIENS IN THE ATTIC, AMERICAN DAD and a bunch of other stuff. Well I say to you Mr Simmons – welcome to the A-League. This defines him as an actor, he truly would have had a ball making this movie, he can be the biggest mofoing asshole in existence and spend the entire film abusing a guy in his early twenties – I would pay people to do this!!

An example (a less profane one) of his dialogue:

Were you rushing or were you dragging? If you deliberately sabotage my band, I will fuck you like a pig. Oh my dear God – are you one of those single tear people? You are a worthless pancy-ass who is now weeping and slobbering all over my drumset like a nine year old girl!

Yep – that was one of his mild lines. Simmons owns this role, he has more presence in this film than Hopkins in SILENCE OF THE LAMBS, he is a true asshole that takes intimidation of proteges to a new level, he is nothing like Williams in DEAD POET’S SOCIETY and is more like freaking Annie Wilkes in MISERY – ok maybe not, but you get my point 🙂




Another winner of this film is the music, most written by Justin Hurwitz but also come classics from Hank Levy, Juan Tizol and Duke Ellington, and Dana Williams. The film is about classical jazz and the perfection of achieving it, and the songs of the film embrace perfection in jazz. The one thing that confused me was the soul searching and destruction for obtaining perfection in this field. To me the perfection would never be found in a conservatorium and more found in a seedy jazz club in New Orleans. It would come from listening to the greats and just endlessly playing, something Andrew does well in his own time, to have Fletcher destroying him even further at a school is horrendous. I do not think the greats of jazz come from perfection, they come from soul.

One thing I loved about the impeccable chemistry between Andrew and Fletcher, Fletcher is never ashamed of what he does, he is there to find and make greatness, he tells Andrew what he is in for, hell Andrew knows, he sees it, he wants it. There relationship is like the moth and the blue zap light – they all see other moths getting zapped and coming to their demise – but Andrew still flies in but instead of dying something else happens. SEE THE MOVIE TO FIND OUT 🙂

This is one of the films of the year, it is for anyone over 16yrs old. It is extraordinary, take your parents, take your grandparents – it will earn you abundant brownie points. This film will be in my Blu Ray collection and watched regularly. Brilliant!


5 Pops



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