4 items from 2014
The Overlooked Hotel is a new column in which we throw the spotlight behind the front line, champion those unfairly lost in the shallow focus of fame and feed the hungry underdogs.
Our maiden guest in the Hotel is character actor and master storyteller Stephen Tobolowsky.
There are plenty of superstars out there. The Tom Cruises and Brad Pitts and George Clooneys of this world who, with a sprinkle of their magic pixie dust, can get a film made, with their name above the title on the poster and a big cut of the profits to boot. Likewise, hundreds of films (deservedly or otherwise) have their moment in the sun, awards and box office success lavished upon them as they are admitted to the ranks of “The Acclaimed”.
Then there are the other guys. The other films. Actors who always add something great to the films they appear in, but »
- Dave Roper
Some people are content simply doing things. Work, art, music. The act alone justifies the time spent before the next thing comes along that captures their interest and affection. But for others, the idea of contentment is a foreign concept left behind in the urgent march forward to be the absolute best. These are the greats, the ones the rest of us know by name or by the images/sounds they create. Andrew (Miles Teller) wants to be one of those greats. His focus is drumming, jazz drumming in particular, and his immediate goal is to catch the ear of the Schaffer Music Academy’s legendary professor, Terence Fletcher (J.K. Simmons). The man makes and breaks musicians, but his method of channeling R. Lee Ermey’s meaner cousin threatens to destroy Andrew’s dream before it even begins. Whiplash is a percussive thriller that drops viewers into the middle of an obsession, one »
- Rob Hunter
It’s going to be a memorable Sundance Film Festival if the rest of the movies can keep up with the beat that Whiplash laid down last night. The opening-night premiere from 28-year-old director Damien Chazelle tells the story of an ambitious jazz-drummer prodigy (Miles Teller) who bumps up against an intimidating tyrant of a music teacher played by J.K. Simmons. Bad-ass bald, with bulging biceps that fill his fashionable black t-shirts, Simmons’ Terrence Fletcher is a cruel taskmaster who bludgeons his students with torrents of mocking, often homophobic, invective in his mission to create true genius. Fletcher toys with »
- Jeff Labrecque
Miles Teller drums his heart out — and then some — in writer-director Damien Chazelle’s stellar career-starter, “Whiplash,” which demolishes the cliches of the musical-prodigy genre, investing the traditionally polite stages and rehearsal studios of a topnotch conservatory with all the psychological intensity of a battlefield or sports arena. Chazelle proves an exceptional builder of scenes, crafting loaded, need-to-succeed moments that grab our attention and hold it tight, thanks largely to co-star J.K. Simmons as the school’s most intimidating instructor — a talent evidenced a year earlier by the three-scene teaser that took Sundance’s top shorts prize.
The short was partly the brainchild of producers Jason Reitman and Jason Blum, whose hopes that “Whiplash” might break out beyond the niche confines of staid young-musician movies were boosted significantly by its high-energy opening-night berth at Sundance. Substitute its jazz-band specialty for hip-hop, and the commercial prospects would skyrocket — though it’s »
- Peter Debruge
4 items from 2014
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